Re-write our chapter

Published: Post Independent. October 30, 2013

http://www.postindependent.com/opinion/columns/8688142-113/amendment-state-chapter-congress

Constitution

Someday our children and grandchildren will be handed a battered, secondhand American history text book (or maybe an ebook subscription, whatever).

What will our chapter read?

“Congress threatened the first of many American loan defaults in 2013 after lawmakers ‘shut down’ the government and were unable to reach a compromise.” Or, the 28th Amendment to the Constitution.

Today we have a choice. This is the moment we decide what gets written. And we need a new chapter.

Today’s frustrations are bipartisan. News anchors from every network complain about the “disconnect” of congressmen and women, about the endless “bureaucracy” that ties up millions of hours of manpower and tax dollars. They all sigh at the tantrum-throwing political posturing that brought us to this deadlock in the first place and, by the end of every broadcast, we all yearn for a voice to shout into the backseat, “You two stop bickering or I turn this car around and nobody gets ice cream!”

While we may never (and should never) agree on specific policies, or the exact allocation of monies, we can all agree that somehow the system is broken.

It is time to write the title to a new chapter in the history books.

So here’s how we do that. Ready? Because this is on you.

One. Simple. Thing.

We propose Amendment 28, which puts a cap on the number of terms a congressman or woman can serve, and removes other benefits that make it a “career” instead of a “public service.”

Stop there. How, you ask, could we ever get the members of Congress agree to tank their own careers and forfeit their pensions?

Well, luckily, there’s this beautiful little part of our Constitution that lets us bypass federal Congress when proposing an amendment. It’s called a constitutional convention, or an amendments convention, and it allows state legislatures to propose an amendment if two-thirds of the states support it (in this case, apparently, two thirds of 50 is 34). Then, of course, the ratification process involves getting just four more states to approve it.

Remember your history textbooks? This is the biggest check and balance that our much-referenced “founding fathers” created, yet it is the one least used.

In fact, this “one simple thing” has never been accomplished before. Not one amendment to the constitution has been added using this method. Probably because before now, each state was an island unto itself — unable or unwilling to coordinate that closely with each other across the abyss of state lines and cultural differences.

Today is different.

Thanks to Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and associates, that isolation has been irrevocably (if sometimes obnoxiously) blasted away. We can, and do, communicate all the time with anyone anywhere in the country. We can organize rallies with complete strangers. We can all call our state congressmen and women without even leaving the comfort of our breakroom (where most of us are reading this little rant on a phone).

This is not a perfect solution, but it is the perfect beginning to a finding a solution.

So here’s what you can do, right now, if you are sick of the deadlock and embarrassed by the ineptitude of our current government.:

Call or email your state congressman or woman with the following request:

“I would like to see a 28th amendment to the constitution be proposed, using an amendments convention, which will limit the number of terms a federal congressman or woman can serve. Also, I feel it is important to remove any monetary reimbursement beyond a reasonable salary paid during time in office. Other benefits such as health insurance and pension should come from their own private employment and not the taxpayers. I do not want anymore “career” senators or representatives.

I believe that the position should be citizen-serving, not self-serving.”

This is action we can take. This is action we must take. Do not let this moment be another faded caption on the side of a page in the history books.

We really need a new chapter.

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