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January 31, 2014

Vote to Return Our Civil Liberties

Joe Charlebois

We have the ability to forge major change over the next few election cycles. Not the type of change that President Barack Obama spoke of in 2008 – which was a fundamental transfer of power to a centralized government – but rather a government that believes in civil liberties; one that belongs to the people.


We were a country founded on the reasoning that man is not born to be subservient to the laws of a governing class, but to one where man is born with natural rights that allow him to choose who should govern the society in which he lives. Ours is a society that lives under the laws proscribed by the people in a ratified constitution.


The society that our Framers created was a powerful system of checks and balances designed to discourage one branch from taking control of the government and suppressing the people’s liberties. It has subsequently become a system of absolutes where power has been usurped by one branch at the expense of another and ultimately at the expense of the people.


The Judicial and the Executive branches have – over time – transferred power from the Legislative branch through the use of Judicial Review and far reaching Executive Orders. Many of the Supreme Court’s decisions have been described as the “law of the land,” even when no law was ever passed to establish the will of the people. Likewise President Obama continues to show his open disregard for the role Congress plays in our Constitution government. He has abused the power of executive orders in a way that either legislates or alters existing laws without the approval of Congress. 


The Constitution clearly puts all the power of legislation in the hands of the bicameral Congress. “Article I, Section 1: All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.”


In contrast under Article II, Section 3, the role of the Executive plays in respect to laws is that “…he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed…” nothing more, nothing less.


So, it is interesting that the Congress does not act when there is a clear infringement of their duties when this president issues an Executive Order that acts as legislation and not an executive directive.


Congress has become increasingly weak and simply too impotent to carry out its duty to hold the Executive Branch in check. This includes matters that can be accurately deemed extra-constitutional.


The Congressional establishment – which consists of career politicians – has to fight back because these senators and representatives seem to only be concerned about the consolidation of power and politics that lead to re-election.


According to Roger Davidson and Walter Oleszek, a study of the length of service in the House and Senate confirms the average length of service for representatives and senators has risen significantly over our history.


Historically the House of Representatives in its first hundred years – from 1789 to 1891 – had only 2.6% of its members serve more than six terms. In fact, those who served only one term accounted for an astounding 44.0% of those elected. Taking a look at the second century – from 1891 to 1995 – Mr. Davidson and Mr. Oleszek calculated the number of representatives that held office for seven or more terms had risen to 27.0%, with only 23.3% serving a term or less.


The Senate results mirror that of the House as the first century shows that nearly two out of three – 65.6% – served up to six years, while 11.0% served three or more terms. The Senate's second century saw a decrease in the citizen legislator as only 28.0% of its members served one term, while the number that had served more than three terms jumped to 45.0 percent.


According to current statistics for current members of the113th Congress, the shift toward career politicians increases once again. In fact only 19.5% of current Representatives are in their first term, with 32.2% currently serving more than six terms.


The most likely reason that Congress as a whole won’t act to undue any usurpation of their powers is that many of its members are comfortable with the current arrangement. Few act as citizen legislators – as was the case over 100 years ago. Instead they are most interested in taking part in legislation that furthers the existence of “crony capitalism.”


A return of the citizen legislator is what is required to return this nation to true liberty. It would lend focus to the needs at hand as opposed to needs of special interests.


The long-held argument has been made that each election allows the constituents of a district or state to decide whether they should return their congressman or senator to Washington for another term in office.


In reality, times have changed. If one didn’t take into consideration the increases in length of time in office over the centuries I would agree; however, an ever growing power of incumbency has led to an entrenched state of mind whereas every decision is made with re-election motivations in mind. The fact that Congress has stood by and let the Executive Branch legislate with the stroke of a pen shows that they are more worried about their political future than strictly adhering to the U.S. Constitution.


It is time to establish term limits for both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate and return the career politicians home. This can only be done with an amendment to the Constitution and only with the support of the next generation.


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