Sunday, January 01, 2017
What is old is new again
Power for one Day
By Stephen L. Wilmeth
The whole thing starts over today.
I’ll bet some of you out there in the hinterland have a bit of throbbing between the ears, but there are others of us who got to see another sunrise with our full senses. This is a big weekend in our neck of the woods weaning calves and getting ready to conclude our marketing season.
We have made some changes to our process and hope changes are improvements and not just a new and different way to spend money. If anybody has been watching all the hoping and changing of our cow market, it has mostly been negative. Most of the substantive changes have come on the expense side of the ledger and not too many businesses can commit to a constant tightening before catastrophe arrives.
Something has to give, but the idea of getting it done through the long arm of Uncle Sam doesn’t appeal to us. We’d rather deal with our own devices (if we could only discover what those might be).
There seems to be energy in the idea of a constitutional convention. Arkansas has joined the states supporting the idea. If it gains more momentum, we can all bet the news services will begin the warnings of doom and gloom and, without referencing the term overtly, rail yet more about all that newly coined democratic categorization, “deplorables”.
Over the weeks since the election, it is astounding the number of folks who have openly declared their membership into that market basket of citizenry. In fact, it is becoming harder to find anybody in my neighborhood who voted for Rodham-Clinton. They seem to have gone underground or maybe even Canada.
This all makes the constitutional convention, though, a more interesting discussion.
I think I have some idea of what I would suggest if I was given the floor to offer motions. Better yet, if the power to set in stone just four points as amendments or clarifications would be a life time and epic opportunity. All I would want is four points.
Certainly, there would be preference to debate the Supreme Court’s role as the moral arbiter of the branches of government because I think Ben Franklin’s original suggestion that the moral bastion of our government should be the primary role of the House of Representatives and not the Court. I would, however, defer this point because the same end could be gained through other avenues. For example, our Constitution cries for a “Definitions” amendment. That would be the first of my precious choices. In the definitions, the “Supreme Law” of the land would be defined solely as the Constitution and no succeeding laws or regulatory imagination would fill the proxy of such supreme standing. All litigated tests of constitutionality would be subject to originality. Another example of a definition would be to clarify what a “natural born Citizen” actually is. In my right to define this matter correctly, only those citizens born on American soil to a mother and a father of standing as American citizens would be eligible to be qualified for President. We must remember the Framers didn’t want any opportunity for a cloaked King George to reappear and restore a monarchial state in our homeland. Not everybody is in line to be considered for this important role. Natural born citizenry is most important, and, if American parents want their children to have a future opportunity to run for president, they had better be in the homeland at the time of that child’s birth.
The second Constitutional change is the requirement of a balanced federal budget. I have long resisted this amendment because I had the ill conceived notion that good men would adhere to economic discipline. I no longer believe that. Washington has demonstrated pathos of history by altering the goodness in all but the rarest man. As such, no single elected official can now be trusted to act with such supreme authority. The citizenry has long been the literal cupboard to be robbed. That must be stopped. The citizenry is the cornerstone, not the eternal flowing federal purse.
I would follow the second change with a third that could actually fit in the foregoing, but I take my responsibility seriously and remain committed to four simple changes. Amendment or change number three is the point that term limits must be instituted. Congressman should be elected to a single six year term and Senators should be appointed to a single ten year term. Serving in one capacity, however, does not preclude serving in the other and will be explained herein below.
The fourth change is the need to repeal the 17th Amendment. The 17th Amendment has been a primary culprit in the theft of constitutionality. The argument of why can be found in the misguided notion of going to a popular vote for the presidency that now abounds in democratic circles. It is the same argument couched in a different subject. If anybody was actually taught American history, one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome was the matter of small state sovereignty. The small states were terrorized by the power exerted over them by the big, more populous states. In reality, there were only two mechanisms to maintain any degree of state self preservation. The first was the Electoral College and its oversight of the election of the president. The concept simply restated and weighed the state voting results. Future state California and original state New York are not allowed to supercede small state authority. The Electoral College works and it is critically important. No argument of popular vote should ever be considered.
That is now doubly important because the 17th Amendment removed the second controlling mechanism to maintain and protect state rights. States don’t have dedicated representation. They did when the Constitution gave them two senators their legislatures appointed. They lost that important concept when they succumbed to the same argument that a popular vote for those positions was the better way. With popular vote, the upper chamber became the domain of special interests. There is no longer a dedicated advocate for state rights that must stand in front of state legislatures and remind the folks how good a job they have done protecting their interests. An assessment of the Senate today should reveal the Wilderness Society, the Chamber of Commerce, the NRA, and any number of other high powered, extra legal governing bodies actually control representation that was created to defend state rights. Special interests now fill that role and their priorities have nothing to do with the priorities of the states.
What is old is new again
So, my priorities would be the requirement to add a definition section to the Constitution, an amendment to balance the federal budget, an amendment to install term limits, and the rescission of the 17th Amendment and a return to originality with senators being appointed by the respective states and not a popular vote. That is fairly simplistic and allows the resumption of checks and balances without descending into minute details that must be avoided.
Men still must govern but solid leaders should be kept wholesome longer.
States must exercise their rights which includes the appointment of senators they want to represent them as dedicated and not conditional national representatives. They also have the right to appoint a retiring congressman into their senate position(s) if he demonstrates good leadership. In fact, the reliance on the House as a proving ground to reveal quality senatorial picks is a very good method to make those higher chamber selections. That is why cross over extensions in Washington should be allowed. No member, however, would be welcome following a House to Senate or Senate to House crossover combination.
As for the myriad of matters such as the retention versus disposal of federal lands, the imbecilic expansion of the commerce clause, and the misuse of the first, second, tenth and other amendments, the expectation would arise that corrections would occur if the original checks along with these new changes were installed. Narrow definitions based on strict originality would help immensely.
The realization, however, that men left to their own devices tend to be corruptive is a fact of history. Checks on their ability to spend the citizens’ national treasury must be installed even in wartime. They must also remember their place within the framework of the system and be disallowed to become lifetime politicians and rulers of self created fiefdoms. They need to come home and live among their constituents and experience first hand their leadership when their terms of office expire.
Our Constitution remains a timeless document.
Certainly, it can be amended, but any change must be done through the process as set forth rather than legislative or regulatory corruption. We are beset by corruption and it's time that it is remedied.
Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Happy New Year!”