I don’t know about the rest of you but I’m getting more than a little frustrated with our political system. I’ve been doing a lot of remembering and re-reading of historical documents relating to the founding of our Republic and while I know we’ve had two primary sides since the beginning I’m beginning to consider that it may be time to rethink the two-party system we’ve allowed to obstruct the will of the electorate.
Do I favor the electoral college? Yes, because it does what the crafters of the Republic intended; it denies the excesses of the mob, think French Revolution and the guillotine (although there are times I’d like to introduce some of the more arrogant politicians to the French “humane” method of political control.) Do I favor Democrats versus Republicans? I do not, because I have seen up close the effects of power on politicians. Lord Acton had it right: “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Power is a drug and the majority of our politicians seem addicted and like all drug addicts they need continual fixes to keep the high going.
Now you might say that if we did in the two-party system we wouldn’t be far off the mob rule of going to a straight democracy system vice a republican system (see the irony in those names?) but I don’t think so. For example if we had a law or even a constitutional amendment that limited from where election funds could originate we might be able to return control to the actual voters. What I mean is: if we limited the origination of funds to the district in which the election was being contested and prohibited funds from outside that geographic area we could lessen outside influence on office holders. Plus if we had a formula for how much could be spent in an election we would level the playing field. We would need, of course, to take corporations and political pacs out of play and that would require a constitutional amendment noting that only individuals eligible to vote could provide funds for candidates. Think about it, if only individuals within a voting district could contribute funds then the loyalty of the candidate would have to be to the voters and not to Pacs or the “National Party.” Why should Pacs in New York get to throw money into an election in Tennessee?
There’s lot we could do, although it would be resisted by elements on the left and the right, to take back control of the political system; like, oh how about some amendments wherein the voters get to say how Congress will work, what their retirement plan will be, what perks they will receive and so forth. Right now we have almost no control over how our representatives conduct themselves after they’re elected and don’t give me the old “vote them out of office” routine. As I’ve noted the ability of outside interests to control the outcome of elections with money and influence has become such that getting a nationally supported incumbent out of office is a non-starter.
I’ve included a political polemic I wrote some time ago: it’s fairly long but is told in the form of a short story about an independent candidate elected to the Presidency. I am invested in any and all comments.
If I Ran the Zoo
A Treatise on How to Begin a Reform of Government
“If I ran the zoo I know just what I would do, if I ran the zoo,” said young Gerald McGrew. Well now I do run the zoo,” he whispered to his wife.
“Or you’re about to as soon as you take the oath. And don’t you dare quote Dr. Seuss in your speech,” she whispered back. She squeezed his hand and they walked into the ballroom of the White House.
The Justices of the Supreme Court were arrayed on the left with the leaders of Congress on the right. There were no party officials since he was the first Independent elected President. There were no generals or admirals, no nominees for Secretary of State or Defense. In all there were less than a hundred people in the ballroom. This was the beginning of what he had promised the American people. No elaborate ceremonies, no inaugural balls, no parades, just hard work. His wife stood on his left and the Chief Justice on his right. His wife held a highly polished wooden box made from bird’s eye maple. Inside were compartments holding small copies of the King James Bible, The Vulgate Bible, The Torah, The Koran, a condensation of The Vedas, as well as a condensation of the Tipikta, an empty space for the atheists and a copy of the Constitution of the United States of America. And while there was an empty space for the Atheists he would swear “So help me God” because he did believe in God.
His speech was exactly ten minutes which did not surprise the television commentators looking on from their studios, for while cameras from the networks were present there were no media invited to the event. All his campaign speeches had been short and to the point. He always covered only one topic in each speech and that topic had always been issue driven. In his inaugural address he once again explained that the basis of his presidency would be responsibility and duty, both personal and social. He did note that he would provide one-hour weekly interviews to news organizations in turn, but those news organization had to agree beforehand to run a banner on all its programming when people were offering opinions and not quoting discernible facts. He would have the White House press office checking and if a network didn’t comply they would be passed over for an interview.
He also noted that he had asked for and would accept the resignations of all Executive Branch employees who were either political appointees or had been a political appointee and then managed to secure a permanent Civil Service job. Those who did not offer their resignation would be transferred to a new office he would create that would be located in Front Royal, Virginia. It would be the Necessary Tasks Office and all employees would be paid at the GS-12 level. Those former political appointees who had become imbedded Civil Servants in the Senior Executive Service would be allowed to keep their current grade for one year but after that one year they would be relegated to a GS-12 pay grade. He said he would provide more details in his first news interview.
He ended the speech by telling the American people that he would be going to work. No parades, no balls, he and his team would begin work immediately for that was what he had promised. And that was what he did.
At the end of his first week he sat down with a commentator from NBC news. Before the commentator asked a question, the President said, “Ok, here’s how this works, no leading questions, no polemics on your part by making statements disguised as the lead-in to a question. And I may ask you a question from time to time about your predilections since how you think and what you support colors your perception and thereby influences the questions you want answered.”
The first question was, “Some people have said that you expect to close down embassies overseas. Isn’t this rather an isolationist action? Do you intend to withdraw the United States from the international arena?”
The President thought for a moment before replying, then, “I do intend to close some embassies and I intend to cut the staff at many of the larger embassies we have overseas. For example, there are eight political officers in our embassy in Rome. Do we really need eight officers to follow Italian politics? No, we need only one. Do we need to keep huge support staffs and housing units? No, we should have our diplomats living on the economy so they will have a much clearer idea of actual living conditions in the country. Do we actually need Ambassadors in each country? No we don’t. In fact, we don’t need ambassadors at all because the concept of an Ambassador is archaic. It is from a time when distance prevented timely input on relations between two countries. We now have instantaneous communications capabilities from Washington to any foreign capital so why do we need ambassadors and their attendant staffs? Again, we don’t. There is no need for the American taxpayer to support large ambassadorial residences, staffs and other such archaic accoutrements. We will be reducing the number of embassies and going to a regional representation model. We will keep consulates to assist Americans traveling abroad and for visa purposes, but they will be small. And speaking of visas it is my intention to remove the Consular Service from the Department of State and place it in the Immigration Service. There is no reason we should have one department issuing visas and a second manning the border entry points allowing or refusing entry to visa holders. Details of this change will be announced shortly in a press release.
“So you don’t think cutting back on diplomatic representation is a form of isolationism?” This was the interviewer’s follow-on.
“No, we are not isolationists but I personally do not believe that young American men and women should die to give freedom to people who either don’t want it or don’t know what to do with it if they get it. That is not to say we won’t be inserting ourselves into international situations but it means we won’t be doing it with overt military forces or by attempting to buy our way into influence with foreign aid. On the contrary we will attempt to lead by example and we will do that by getting our own house in order. As for relations with foreign countries I plan no foreign travel in the next four years. As I’ve said we have secure instantaneous communications with every foreign capital so I propose to have more telecommunication meetings with my foreign counterparts. I see little reason to disrupt either their or our country’s daily processes by me going there or them coming here. And while I’m happy to have them come we’ll not be having any State dinners or large events. Again, that isn’t what the U.S. taxpayer should be funding. This should not be taken by other governments as a demonstration of weakness for we have significant resolve but we will go about demonstrating that resolve in a somewhat different manner than before.”
“So then what are the particulars of this downsizing.” The interviewer thought she was on to something.
“The details are being drawn up in a letter of direction from me to the Acting Secretary of State. I expect a plan to meet our goals in less than five months and I expect implementation of that plan to begin on the 181st day of this administration. If the current Acting Secretary isn’t up to the task, we’ll reach further down into the Foreign Service until we discover someone who is. And speaking of plans, I have letters of instruction to the Acting Secretary of Defense setting forth the goal of a single support service for our military branches. There is no reason we cannot have one set of instructions and forms for all the military branches. The Acting Secretary also has six months to develop a single set of forms and a plan for reorganizing all support services into one cadre. We estimate this will reduce the number of support personnel over the three services by approximately a third. With the reductions we’ll see from no longer having departments of the Army, Navy and Air Force and going to one centralized acquisition center and contract management office, we should achieve much greater efficiency while significantly reducing the number of personnel. At the same time, I have given instructions to the Acting Secretary of Defense to set up a separate DoD team to draft a plan for consolidation of the Armed Forces. Just as the Foreign Service can no longer be allowed to continue in an archaic fashion, I believe it is time we reorganize our armed forces into a single entity. Certainly, we have far too many generals and admirals and too many military units that perform the same functions. I mean, are you aware that we have one Admiral for every two ships in the Navy?” He paused for that to sink in then continued,
“Consolidating into one service will save us tens of billions of dollars. It won’t be easy, change never is, but just as I’m sure that somewhere in the Foreign Service there’s a group of officers who will see the wisdom in our plan and step forward to implement it, so too do I believe there’s a group of officers and DoD civilians who will agree with our reorganization plan. For the seniors who do not, well, I’m sure plenty of them have served long enough to collect a nice pension.
And speaking of military pensions, I will propose to Congress that we change the military pension system so that personnel who experience actual combat receive more credit towards retirement that those service members who do not. For example, if an infantry soldier is in combat for a year then they will receive a year and a half towards retirement. We will also change the retirement age and years of service for the different military specialties instead of having one across the board requirement. By this I mean that if you’re in computers you shouldn’t be on the same retirement plan as someone in special forces unless that special forces someone never sees combat. My proposal is to reward those who actually have to fight. Additionally, I want a program to retrain combat personnel when they are being retired or are otherwise leaving the service. We take years to train people to fight but when they’re through we just give them a piece of paper and send them on their way. We need to have a program that trains them to do other things and allows them to divest themselves of the stresses of combat before they’re sent off into the civilian world. I’ll be addressing this in one of my weekly presentations in the next month.”
The interviewer had not been prepared for this and was slow to respond. Her producer kept giving her the hurry up signal but this latest tack by the President had completely taken her off her course. The next question showing on the teleprompter seemed banal with what he had just pronounced. She stumbled, “You…you…you want to do away with the Army, Navy and the Air Force?” It was all she could muster.
“Yes, but not straight away. It will take some time but it is my intention to have one U.S. Defense Force equipped and trained to defend the United States and its interests. We will still project force abroad but it won’t be through large surface vessels full of personnel or deployments of cooks, clerks, computer technicians and such to live in container cities built in the desert. No, we’re going to find methods to project force without sending lots of people in harm’s way and to that end I have instructed the Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to expand their robotics and long range weapons programs research. My proposed budget to Congress will reflect increases for DARPA in both budget and personnel.”
Force projection was not something the interviewer could speak to. It wasn’t, as they say, in her wheelhouse, so without even attempting a segue she jumped to her next question.
“We’ve heard all sorts of rumors about the names you’ll be sending to the Senate for Secretary of State and Defense. Would you care to comment and maybe give the audience a heads up before you send the names over?”
The President chuckled which spread to a belly laugh and then another. The interviewer seemed almost afraid and leaned as far back in her chair as she could.
“My goodness,” the President said, “my goodness you people are something.” But then he leaned forward and lowered his voice almost as if he were about to whisper a secret.
“Well, yes, I’ll be happy to give you the names of my nominees.” Every journalist watching the broadcast groaned for they would miss the scoop. Every senator and senate aide leaned into their televisions sets like a cat watching a mouse hole.
Now the President leaned back in his chair and pronounced, “There aren’t any nominees. I don’t intend to send any names to the Senate.” He allowed time for the open mouths throughout the studio and in the millions of homes, offices, bars and online lookers to close.
“It is my opinion we’ll get more work done by using professionals instead of political appointees. Therefore, I will be interviewing professionals from within each department and from those professionals I will designate Acting Secretaries to lead each of the departments or agencies. There isn’t anything in the Constitution that requires I appoint anyone, so we’ll go forward from there. We’ll save time, we’ll save some money and the Senate can be about discussing and passing the laws we need and as you’ll discover in the coming weeks, they’ll be preoccupied with a number of initiatives this administration will be proposing. They’ll be far too busy writing laws to worry about who’s administratively running this Agency or that.
“As we go along if we discover we can’t work with whomever is first appointed, we’ll reshuffle the deck until we get a hand we can play. As I’ve discovered in life there is no greater frustration than to have a sports writer tell you how to correct your swing or an economist tell you how to run a small business. For example, when I said earlier we intend to look at combining the Air Force, Army and Navy I meant I have no intention of filling the offices of Secretary for any of those services. Their jobs will be absorbed by existing assistant secretaries in the Department of Defense. Now I cannot disestablish the departments of Air Force, Army and Navy because they were created by Congress in law, but I can adjust sizes, resources and other day to day items through Executive Order since they all fall under the Executive Branch and I’m the Commander in Chief. Just think of the office space we’re going to free up in the Pentagon. Oh, and I’ve also directed that the military services close any congressional liaison offices they currently have staffed. Our object is not to have services competing against one another for Congressional funding. In the future all military funding requests will be consolidated in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and be passed to Congress through the Office of the President. All Congressional enquiries to the military services will go through the Department of Defense office assigned to support the service to which the request is directed.”
Deciding he had done enough for the morning the President rose from his chair and extended his hand to the woman. She remained seated only remembering after she had taken his hand that when the President stands so does everyone else. With one hand holding her notebook and the other in the President’s grasp she tried to rise as elegantly as possible. It appeared then that the President was offering her his hand to help her stand. Once she was up the President politely shook her hand, thanked her for the interview, turned and proceeded off camera beginning to remove his jacket so the stage assistants could get the transmitter and mike off him. This left the interviewer standing mid-stage staring at her producer looking for some sort of clue as to what she should do.
The President reached the suburban at the curb and the multi-car caravan pulled into traffic. There was a helicopter overhead and motorcycles from the Capitol Police in front. Traffic piled up on the side streets as they were closed to allow the Presidential motorcade to return to the White House. Noticing the traffic, the President commented. “This isn’t going to work. We have to have a way to move around that doesn’t cause all this commotion. I think we’ll do any future interviews in the White House press room and let’s think about a small helicopter for moving from place to place within D.C. and environs. Those H-3’s the Marines fly are too big to land on rooftop landing pads so let’s find something smaller that has two engines and we’ll use nearby helipads and walk from there to any meetings outside the White House. Something with four seats or so should work. Something like a Sikorsky S-76 would fit the bill and whatever we choose don’t buy foreign.” His aide made a note which he handed to the Secret Service as soon as they walked back into the Oval Office. “Have a plan by tomorrow,” he told the team chief. “He has a steel trap memory and he’ll want to know where we stand on this.” The Secret Service was not happy, neither was the Marine Corps.
The President took off his jacket, threw it on one of the sofas and returned, in a comical manner, the stern face of his secretary who stood at the door with a plethora of message forms in her hand.
“Let me guess, every member of the House and Senate.” He smiled.
“Mostly the Senate,” she said, “Some three or four times. House members know better than to call directly but we do have multiple calls from the Speaker and the leader of the minority party.”
“Well then let’s have someone on our staff call each of them back and inform them I intend to meet with the Senate and House Majority and Minority leaders and that it is scheduled for…when is it scheduled for?”
“Wednesday at two in the afternoon.”
“Wow, glad it’s two in the afternoon cause those two in the morning meetings are hard as hell to get up for.” He smiled the infectious grin that had won him more than a few votes in the election and sat down behind the longish writing table he used as a desk. No oversized pompous carved walnut desk for him. The décor in the Oval Office was a contemporary shaker with clean lines and tapered legs. He had the requisite George Washington portrait over the fireplace flanked on the left by one of Thomas Jefferson and on the right by Theodore Roosevelt on horseback. In fact, they were his favorite three presidents. There were twelve-inch brass busts of Winston Churchill and Michele de Montaigne atop the four drawer Shaker chests that flanked the writing table which, like the rest of the room’s furniture, was a natural light cherry, the walls were a corn silk yellow above white wainscoting, the curtains a Nordic blue. The chairs and sofas kept with the Shaker inspiration in that they were smallish leather covered accent pieces produced by the American Leather Company in Dallas, Texas. They were a light blue with dark blue piping. It was a pleasant and comfortable room. He had foresworn the carpet with the Presidential seal that other presidents had used. In its stead he had chosen a number of brightly colored smaller oriental carpets that were scattered across the contrasting colored oak hardwood floors. It actually made the office look larger than it had when one large carpet had covered up what he thought were beautiful floors. He was pleased with the look and it was so much less expensive than the large Presidential carpet.
He turned to his Chief of Staff, “So the leaders of the House and Senate will come thinking we’re going to discuss my deciding not to appoint Cabinet members and ambassadors, but we’ll surprise them with the amendments and law changes, is that right” His grin made him look like an impish six year old who had just put one over on his parents.
“Do we have all the details of the proposed Constitutional Amendments we want to take up? Has the team made initial contact with the leaders of the fifty state legislatures and asked for appointments?” He shot these questions out as the Chief of Staff was pulling a sheaf of papers from his portfolio. He laid those papers on the desk.
“We’re ready to go. You know, of course, this is going to cause an even greater wailing and gnashing of teeth than your refusal to appoint permanent secretaries and ambassadors.” The latter was not a question, but a statement accepted as fact by the both of them.
“Yes, well like everything else it will take them some time to get used to it but we’re going to take it to the American people in our Friday address. Make sure the press understands this is to be a policy proposal and we’re not going to take questions. Make sure we have all the bound copies of the amendment changes ready to hand out to the press but also make sure that the press doesn’t get them before a copy goes to each member of Congress. And we want several copies for the members of the leaders of the state legislatures. Electronic versions should be ready to upload onto the White House web site, but don’t push the button until the Speaker and others have their hard copies in hand.” He rested a moment.
“And let it be known that anyone, regardless of how high they think they may be in our little family; anyone let’s this leak before I’d had a chance to make the proposal public, will be looking for a job the very next day.” He was a nice man, but discipline was one of his watch words and woe be unto anyone who broke the code of trust.
Thus, on Wednesday he met with the leadership of the Senate and House who came to challenge him on his decision not to nominate permanent secretaries or ambassadors and who were surprised when the President opened the conversation:
“Ladies and Gentlemen, members of your state legislatures are going to be calling you about members of our administration requesting meetings with them. Our people have done so at my direction because we are proposing to the state legislatures that we hold a Constitutional Convention here in Washington and that each of the legislatures consider this matter and hold a vote no later than June to choose two representatives for a convention that will take place in October. Here are the amendments we are proposing. The Chief of Staff handed out the books and when the members of Congress opened them, they read:
Elucidation of, and addition to U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 9: Congress shall grant no title of nobility and no person having held an office of election or appointment shall retain the title of that office after the completion of their elected or appointed term. Each of these people will revert to citizen status and will not receive any emolument or privilege from having held such office.
Change to the First Amendment of the Original Bill of Rights: While freedom of the press is a cornerstone of democracy, experience has shown that theory and practice create realities which are very different. To curb abuses the press has made in the past it will be illegal to quote unnamed sources in media stories. In a court of law, the accused has the right to confront their accuser. Because the media has turned public opinion into a court, often more powerful than a judicial trial, this right will now be applied to any accusations made by the media against any individual, group or entity. To protect the public’s right to know Congress may pass whistleblower laws sufficient to protect those who want to come forward with accusations, but it will also pass laws to hold accountable those whose claims are proven false. Also, if a whistleblower has not exhausted all available internal remedies prior to exposing sensitive or classified information to the media, they will not be afforded the protection of the whistleblower law but will be subject to punishment under several statutes of U.S. Law. Additionally, if a member of the media shields a lawbreaker in any manner that media member will be subjected to legal action for accessory before or after the fact of the crime of the criminal they are shielding. If the media knows an accusation to be demonstrably false, but publishes it anyway, the author and publisher may be charged with libel and must defend their actions in a court of law. As with any professional in the psychiatric or legal professions, if a member of the media has knowledge of intent to commit a crime, they will be held responsible as an accessory to that crime if they do not report it to proper authorities beforehand. For the purpose of this amendment “media and press” are defined as any mechanism which reaches out beyond the immediate environment of the author, thus those publishing fallacious material on social media sites would be libel; just as would someone working for a major media outlet.
Change to the Second Amendment of the Original Bill of Rights: Militia is defined as the National Guard and any reserve force of the United States military or Auxiliary of the United States Coast Guard and any recognized and lawfully established reserve or auxiliary of law enforcement whether national, state or local.
No other definitions of “Militia” will be used to interpret this amendment. Further, the right to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged to any citizen of the United States if that citizen is not a convicted felon; a person upon whom there is an outstanding warrant for arrest; a person who is on a terrorist watch list of any Federal, State or Local government instrumentality, providing there are legal and timely procedures for individuals to challenge whether their name should be included on the list. Such reasons must be produced in open court and shared with said person; a person under the care of a psychiatrist who determines said person poses a danger to himself or others; has registered the weapon’s serial number and place of keeping with appropriate Federal, State and Local governments. Such governments shall make no laws that are considered overly burdensome to obtaining and maintaining weapons that are considered non-military in nature; i.e. air guns, shotguns, revolving pistols, semi-automatic pistols with twelve or less round magazines, single shot, bolt action or semi-automatic rifles with magazines of ten or fewer rounds. It shall be illegal to possess magazines greater than ten rounds for any semi-automatic weapon.
No citizen shall have the ability to possess a fully automatic weapon nor shall there be waivers issued for any reason to collectors or others to possess such weapons. Also, weapons that expel lethal projectiles not specifically mentioned above are prohibited with the only exception being a bow and arrow. Crossbows are to be treated like single shot rifles.
Local instrumentalities wishing to restrict the ability to purchase and possess firearms and /or ammunition mentioned above must first demonstrate that existing laws have been enforced appropriately and are insufficient. They must have also addressed the issues of why people may be using firearms in an unapproved fashion, to include culture, mental illness, and general lawlessness.
NEW AMENDENT: Federal Judges
Federal Judges at all levels will be nominated by the President of the United States and consented to by the Senate of the United States for a term not to exceed ten years. Upon the completion of that term the Judge will step down and not be considered for another Federal Judicial post for five years except for those judges nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States. The Senate will confirm the nominee with a simple majority of the members of the Senate. This amendment applies to all Federal judges including those of the Supreme Court of the United States of America.
No Federal Judge, regardless of court, shall make, declare, comment upon or otherwise engage in any activities that might be construed by the average voter as support for or opposition to any candidate running for local, state or federal elected or appointed positions nor will they comment upon the positions or actions of current office holders. Should such activities be engaged in the penalty is a $100,000 dollar fine and a six-month recusal from all cases that come in front of that judge’s court. A second offense results in dismissal and this responsibility falls upon the senior judge of that court unless the offender is the senior judge in which case the responsibility moves upward to the next court. The responsible official for the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is a panel comprised of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President of the Senate and the President of the United States.
No Federal Judge, regardless of court, will render opinions, oral or written, on political matters or economic matters unless it is in an official capacity as a member of a Federal court and on a matter within the area of responsibility for that that court. No regional Federal judge may sanction or issue stays on matters outside the geographical authority for which the court is appointed to oversee. Such offenses are to be penalized as those above.
NEW AMENDMENT: Term Limits and Elections
No person may serve more than eight years in any federally elected office or collection of offices regardless of whether those offices are in different areas of government. Having served an aggregate of eight years a person must wait five years before he or she may stand for election again except that those elected to the office of President of the United States may two four year terms.
TERMS OF OFFICE:
Senators will be elected for a four-year term. Elections will be staggered so that one half of the Senate is standing for election every two years. Upon implementation of this amendment one senator from each state will be selected to stand for election in the next cycle. Such selection will be made by placing no less than ten pieces of paper with each senator’s name in an opaque container, shaking the container and then drawing one piece out. That senator shall stand in the next cycle of elections. This procedure will be followed unless one of the senators is already scheduled to stand for reelection in the next cycle in which case that senator’s position will be the one chosen for the election.
Members of the House of Representatives will be elected for a four-year term. Elections will be staggered so that one half of the House will be standing for election every two years. Since all House members will be scheduled to stand for election in the next election each state legislature will place the numbers of the districts on pieces of paper and place those papers into an opaque container. The designated representative of each legislature will draw out pieces of paper until they reach half the number of districts allotted the state. Those districts represented by those numbers drawn will be standing election for a four-year term. Those not drawn will be standing election for a two-year term. In states having odd numbers of congressional districts one more than half will be drawn. Thus, a state with twenty-five districts would draw thirteen slips of paper.
The President of the United States will be elected for a four-year term.
Election procedures will be established by the constituent states and territories. Picture and/or biometric ID proof of voter eligibility may be required provided states have established cost-free methods of obtaining that proof (not to include transportation or obtaining necessary background documents). It is up to the individual voter to acquire such proof. Only U.S. citizens may vote in Federal Elections and picture proof of U.S. citizenship will be required at the polling place. Such proof will be either a valid passport or a U.S. Citizenship card issued by an appropriate agency of the U.S. Government. All new immigrants will be issued an U.S. Citizenship card upon their naturalization.
Institutions and organizations of any sort are not considered individuals for the purpose of campaign contributions. Immediately upon confirmation of this amendment all campaign contributions must originate from within the geographical confines of the contested office. That is either a congressional district for the House of Representatives or a state for the Senate. Only individuals may contribute, no organized groups, blocks, commercial enterprises or other multi-party entity may contribute money, time or labor to a candidate. Amounts that may be contributed will be determined by the U.S. Federal Election Commission.
Upon confirmation of this amendment a limit of spending for campaigns will be imposed. This limit will be set by a formula reviewed every two years by the Federal Election Commission. It will set forth an amount predicated upon the number of voters who voted in the previous election for the office being contested. No candidate will be allowed to spend more than the amount determined by the FEC for the office being contested. The formula will be: number of voters who voted in the previous election within the jurisdiction multiplied by a reasonable amount per person for conducting a campaign in the area concerned. Any funds collected by candidates exceeding this amount will be turned over to the U.S. Treasury for inclusion in the general fund. No national party funds are to be funneled into any district or state. Violations of this amendment will be punished by a mandatory five-year sentence in a federal prison.
NEW AMENDMENT: Citizenship
A person is a U.S. citizen when he or she is naturally born to a U.S. citizen who has resided in the United States for five of the past fifteen years. Members of the Armed Forces and other U.S. Government officers abroad on official business are considered to have resided in the United States for the purpose of this law. Any person born naturally within the recognized territorial confines of the United States is a citizen of the United States providing that the mother is in the territory of the United States legally (see below and statutes for certain exclusions.) Individuals born to mothers who are not in the territory of the United States legally are not entitled to the privileges of citizenship nor may they exercise any of the rights thereof. No birth to a foreign national in the United States as a result of a parent representing a foreign government or international organization, in any capacity, shall meet the requirements for citizenship. No person in the United States for the purpose of tourism or otherwise on a temporary visa shall obtain for their offspring the status of citizen of the United States. Certain other restrictions to this amendment may be added by statute but no statute may overturn the provisions of this constitutional amendment.
Any person who is a US Citizen and serves in the Armed Force of another nation or who joins any armed group that engages in violent acts or advocates overthrowing the US Government by force or covert action shall lose their United States citizenship. This determination will be made in a federal court in a legal proceeding initiated by the Federal Government’s Executive Branch.
NEW AMENDMENT: Requirements for Receiving U.S. Benefits, Positions, Grants and all other forms of U.S. Compensation
Any person, eighteen years and over, who receives benefits or employment of any nature from the U.S. Government must pass an examination on American Government and American History. Those who pass the Naturalized Citizenship exam will be considered to have satisfied this requirement. The Federal government will make available self-study materials that will assist those who need to study for this examination.
All school districts or independent schools that receive Federal monies will require successful completion of a standardized United States History and Government examination given during the last year of secondary school.
All colleges that receive any Federal grant, regardless of nature, will require graduating students to successfully complete a course in United States Government and History and pass a standardized test of those subjects in their final year of undergraduate studies.
Any person applying for a position of employment with the United States Government, regardless of the level of the position, will be required to pass a standardized examination on United States Government and History at the time of their application.
Any person receiving Federal benefits which are not part of a contributory plan like Social Security and who is younger than sixty-five and older than eighteen will be required to work at least half-time to qualify for those benefits. Exceptions are those who are mentally or physical handicapped and have proof of such handicaps from competent medical authority certified by the Federal Government to make such determinations.
NEW AMENDMENT: Government funded Intellectual Property Rights
Any intellectual property developed with funds provided by the U.S. Government regardless of branch shall remain the property of the U.S. Government. The Congress will pass a law that allows for the licensing of that intellectual property with all funds going to the general fund in the U.S. Treasury. So as not to create an unfair advantage to businesses; any business with its headquarters and manufacturing capabilities in the U.S. or U.S. Territories will be eligible to license the intellectual property. No company may, however, license intellectual property that will be taken outside the U.S. nor shared with any foreign entity. Congress will ensure any laws dealing with intellectual property include adequate protection against transfer to foreign entities without express approval of the appropriate appointed authority.
NEW AMENDMENT: National Service
Commencing at graduation from secondary school or at the age of eighteen if not in secondary school, all U.S. citizens will be required to perform two years of national service. There will be no deferments or exceptions. Those who are handicapped but able to perform tasks in the economy will also be required to participate. The U.S. Government will provide training in a variety of basic skills including firefighting, masonry, carpentry, medical assistant, emergency medical technician, piloting aircraft, operating small boats and other appropriate skill sets. Participants will be used to perform government undertaken tasks like fighting forest and grass fires, building and repair projects in inner cities and depressed rural communities, medical assistance groups will be formed and deployed to out of the way sections of the country. English as a second language will be taught to all newly arrived immigrants and legal clerical teams will be trained and deployed to assist in speeding up immigration hearings. Other projects such as may be needed will be serviced by those doing their national service. Upon the completion o of the two-year service requirement individuals will become part of a national reserve cadre within the specific area of expertise in which they have been trained. They will remain a member of that reserve for a period of five years during which they may be recalled if a National or Regional Emergency is declared by the President and Congress. Enlistment for four or more years in the U.S. Armed Forces will satisfy the National Service requirement.
During this required service the Government will make available, at no costs to the participants, on-line college level education courses which participants will be able to take only while actively participating in the National Service program. These college credits may be used for advanced entry into college and university programs after completion of the National Service requirement. Any college or university receiving Federal funds will accredit and accept as transfer these course credits. Additionally, for those preferring the skills areas to a college degree there will be courses offered towards achieving standardized certifications in a number of skill-based areas. There will also be required physical training during the National Service program.
All costs associated with the National Service will be borne by the U.S. Government. Participants will be provided housing, food, standardized clothing and a monthly cash stipend for incidentals.”
“Wait a minute, just wait a minute!!!” This from the Leader of the Majority in the Senate. “How are we going to pay for this program, do you know how many eighteen-year old’s there are in the United States in any given year? And what about people who get married or have children before they’re eighteen. What about all the unwed mothers and such.”
Before he could get further wound up, the President cut in, “There are on average roughly four-hundred-thousand citizens turning eighteen each year. That would mean that at any given point in the future there would be approximately eight-hundred-thousand people in the program. As for paying for it we will have more than enough from savings we’ll garner from personnel reductions in the various Executive Branch Agencies. You don’t think we would propose this requirement if we didn’t have a detailed plan for carrying it through do you. As for people with children one of the areas in which we’ll be providing support through the National Service Program will be child care for government workers and people with children will be assigned to those efforts. They’ll have their children in the program they’re supporting. They’ll receive training in child care, first aid, nutrition and other areas that will enable them to continue in the child care industry after their service if they choose to.
The Chief of Staff will provide you with a funding memo we’ve prepared showing a dollar for dollar offset from savings we will realize through economies elsewhere in the government and the cancellation of several existing training programs that are still funded but are not accomplishing their intended purposes. We’ll talk more details later, but we have more proposed amendments to go through so let’s make sure we get everything on the table before we start parsing sentences.
“OK, then we have two more amendments and they’re going to be the most controversial, at least in this room they’re going to be the most controversial. I have a feeling that of all the amendments it is the first of these which will resonate most with the public.” He motioned for the Chief of Staff to continue reading.
NEW AMENDMENT: HOW CONGRESS SHALL BE ADMINISTERED
- No member of congress either representative, or senator, nor any employee of either of the houses of Congress or any of congressional staffs may accept any gift, renumeration, trip, meal, unpaid service or any type of emolument, physical or otherwise, from any individual, group, commercial undertaking or other entity. This includes accepting white papers and other studies that have been prepared to support legal consideration in the houses of Congress.
- The House of Representatives and the Senate shall vote on all matters with a simple majority required to pass the matter. The only two-thirds majority votes required will be in overturning a Presidential Veto; approving treaties and the matter of an impeachment trial in the Senate during which process it will be a requirement that every Senator cast a vote. Given the importance of an impeachment proceeding there must be two senators from each state present for the entire trial of the impeached official. If a Senator is unable to attend during the trial, the entire state delegation shall meet and elect an alternate to attend. Presided over by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court the Senate shall act as jury but will not be permitted to ask questions or otherwise participate in the proceedings and a gag order is automatically imposed on members of the Senate and the members of the House of Representatives when first the House of Representatives announces it is considering impeachment proceedings against a federal official. No media releases are authorized and no discussion in public fora will be undertaken by anyone associated with the procedure. Anyone breaking this admonition will be held in contempt by the Chief Justice and sentenced to federal prison for not less than one year.
- Congress shall not exempt itself or any of its employees from any legislation it passes, and which is signed into law by the President.
- Congress shall not have a separate retirement system but will participate in the retirement system it establishes for Federal Civil Service employees. Since no member of Congress will be able to serve more than eight years consecutive the retirement system must be portable.
- No member of Congress may, for a period of five years after they leave Congress, engage in employment of any type with any entity doing business with the United States government.
- No member of Congress will receive special treatment because of their position as an elected member of the government. Since members of Congress are employees of the people of the United States, they will adhere to the same regulations provided to direct the conduct of any Civil Service employee.
- Selection to committees within the House and Senate shall be based on a lottery system of qualified applicants. The qualifications for each committee shall be set by the College of Electors meeting once every four years. These are the same people who shall cast votes for the President of the United States. They will determine the requirements of experience and education needed to be a member of specific committees. Elected representatives and senators who meet the requirements may submit their names for selection. The elected Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate will then draw names in lottery fashion until the seats on the committee have been filled. No consideration of party may be used in setting up the committees nor selecting members.
- Members of the House and Senate shall be seated alphabetically from the right of the Speaker’s or President’s dais, without regard to party. Members are reminded they are colleagues and should act as such.
- Offices for members of the House and Senate will be assigned in lottery fashion with the offices in one draw against which another draw will be the name of the Representative or Senator. No consideration will be made for party of affiliation nor seniority. Officers serving a second consecutive term of four years may, however, opt to keep the office they have.
- Members of Congress will not use unpaid staff and all staff members must have security clearances at the Secret level or higher. No provision will be made for people awaiting clearance to work in Congress. The Election Commission will establish and review every four years an amount of money to be provided to every elected official for the purpose of running their office and hiring staffers. Each official will receive the same amount regardless of their position within the Congress.
- No member of the House or Senate may add an amendment to any proposed legislation that is not directly related to that proposed legislation. Any proposed legislation that involves the allocation of funds must stand on its own merit for approval and must be submitted to Congress as an independent bill.
- When each Congress is called into session that Congress must first pass a budget for the succeeding two years before they can entertain any other legislation or action including committee hearings of any nature.
- Congress may not substitute itself for the public concerning suitability for office for any current office holder or candidate. It is not within the purview of Congress to overturn the election of individuals by the voters unless that individual has committed a crime for which there is an existing statute in law.
- Members of Congress will not participate in travel abroad funded by the U.S. Government unless it is in an official capacity and is requested as support for foreign policy by the Executive Branch of the Government. When members of Congress do travel abroad, they will be accompanied by no more than one aide who will be from the established staff supporting that particular member of Congress. No family members shall accompany any member of Congress at government expense. Members of Congress travelling aboard will do so via commercially available travel in the lowest cost manner available at the time. The U.S. Military will not be tasked to provide transport for Congressional travel.
- Members of Congress and their staffs must meet the same requirements for access to classified information as any other member of the U.S. Government to include polygraphs or other such methods as are in use at the time of the request for clearance. No member of Congress will retain this clearance after they have finished their elected term, nor shall any member of their staff.
- The Franking privilege previously granted to members of Congress is rescinded.
- When a member of Congress is accused of a criminal or civil crime the investigation shall be conducted as for any other U.S. Citizen by the appropriate law enforcement authority. Congress as a whole or any individual member shall not participate in that investigation unless called upon by appropriate judicial authority.
- When a member of Congress is accused of an ethical violation that accusation shall be investigated by a civilian panel of five people appointed by the Chief Justice of the United States. Determination of culpability shall be made by the Chief Justice upon recommendation of this panel, funds for which shall come from the House or Senate budget. If the individual is adjudged culpable the Chief Justice will either recommend impeachment, censure or, if necessary, a criminal referral to the Department of Justice.
- Both houses of Congress will institute and maintain electronic voting and secure conferencing methods to provide members not physically present the ability to participate in the proceedings and to vote on bills before the House and Senate.
- No member of Congress may vote present on an issue before the assembly. The votes will be Yea, Nay, or Abstain. With electronic voting all members of Congress are expected to vote on all issues coming before their respective assemblies. Only serious illness should prevent any vote.
- No member of Congress shall retain the title Representative or Senator after completing their term of office. See amendment to Article I, Section 9.
New Amendment: Veto Power of the President
In addition to his ability to veto proposed laws passed by Congress the President shall have the authority to strike through budget line items with which they do not agree and sign the remaining legislation into law. To restore the line item the President has vetoed will require a two-thirds majority both in the House and the Senate.”
The Chief of Staff stopped reading and silence fell on the room like the coyote hitting the bottom of the canyon and the faces of the Senator and Congress people looked cartoonish as well. They were beet red, eyes as big as saucers and shirt collars much too small to contain the explosion that was about to happen. They flipped back and forth in the document in their hands, the flipping of the pages became the only sound until the President said, “Well that about does the first round. I’m sure most of you can find something to complain about but you have to understand; the reason I’m the first non-party affiliated President elected is the American people think something is wrong with the system as it has developed over the past couple of hundred years and they want changes made. Well, in my meetings with people across the country this first tranche is what they want the most. They want more control over what is said and done in Washington. They want the Federal government’s powers to intervene in their lives limited and they want more power given to the state and local level. They want to be governed by people they know and people they trust. They don’t want the collectivism of the left nor the business authoritarianism of the right. What they really don’t want is a political class left or right that tells them how to live their lives. These Constitutional amendments address some of those concerns.
Now I do not propose to have a discussion today about the merits of any of these proposals. This is just an information session to tell you what this administration proposes to do about addressing the concerns of the American voters.
I’m sure all of you want to say something and if you hurry you can make the evening talk shows but before you go let me point out there is a way for you to get in front of this matter. If the House and Senate propose these constitutional amendments and vote on them, you can have your say before they go to the states. That may make a Constitutional Convention unnecessary but, mind you, these proposals are being distributed to the media as we speak, and they are being delivered to members of each and every of the state legislatures this afternoon as well.”
And now if you’ll excuse me, I have a meeting with a group of young men from New Jersey who were the winners of last year’s Little League World Series where, by the way, I intend to throw out the first pitch at this year’s tournament in Williamsport this coming August.
Thank you for your time and please remember, there is a reason I am standing here as neither a Republican or Democrat and keep that foremost in your minds when considering these proposals.
“Whew!!” This from the CoS as the door closed to the Oval Office. “I thought the Senator from California was going to do you grievous bodily harm when I read the part about Congress being required to pass a budget before they could undertake any other action. She almost came out of her chair.”
“Well she’s been in the Senate for more than twenty-years, did you expect less? She feels threatened, as they all do. We’ve pricked their balloon and they don’t like it. Truth is, if we succeed in actually having a Constitutional Convention these very same politicians will probably have maneuvered themselves into the positions of delegates which, of course, will mean we don’t get anything substantive through. That’s why we have to have our people working in the state capitols to push procedures that prevent members of the political class from being sent as delegates. That’s a number one priority.”
“Yes, we’re on it.” The CoS was red eyed from late night discussions with various state representatives but he believed in the President and he was prepared to stay red eyed for the next eight years.