Column: How to stop the congressional insanity
Dear Readers Expecting Excellent Content: I gave birth to my second son at home on Jan. 12. We are happy/healthy/exhausted. I have been desperately trying to organize my thoughts enough to write a new column after two weeks of no sleep and constant tightrope walking between screaming infant and hyperactive toddler.
So bear with me this month while I dredge up some older content. What follows is an exact transcript of a version of a column I wrote three years ago after our government shut down for 15 days in October 2013 when Congress could not resolve budgetary issues. I was a little exasperated then, and am now after we have found our way back to this exact place several times in the few years since I wrote this. Any edits made this time around are included in brackets — but there is minimal editing because we are still facing exactly the same problems. Thank you for your patience, and I will be back in March with more sincerity and sarcasm:
We all know that the [overused] definition of insanity is doing exactly the same thing again and again but expecting a different result each time. If this is actually true, America, we are certifiable.
Let’s think about this. Both sides of the political aisle complain about Washington and a tantrum-throwing Congress. Republicans, Democrats, et. al. shake their heads at the fact that the financial world has been brought to the edge of a devastating meltdown several times within the last year, and now again, this week!  And again next week, and next month, and next year …
And then, after all the blogging and eye rolling, we elect the same officials. Insanely, we send them to same place, where they follow the same rules and receive the same perks no matter what they do. This year, 90 percent of the incumbents running for office in Congress were re-elected. And even though the color coding of our nation has shifted toward the red end of the spectrum, the population of law makers has not changed significantly.
Yet for some reason, we expect something different to happen.
But luckily, there is a way out of this spiral.
Are you ready? Because this is on you, no matter what your “affiliation” is. We all have to do one, simple, thing.
We propose Amendment 28, which limits the number of terms a congressman or woman can serve, removing it as a career and returning it to a public service.
Stop there. How, you ask, could we ever get the members of Congress to agree to tank their own careers and forfeit their pensions?
Well, luckily, there’s this beautiful part of our current Constitution that lets us bypass Congress when proposing an amendment. It’s called a constitutional convention, or an amendments convention, and it allows state governments to propose an amendment if two-thirds of the states support it (in this case, apparently, two-thirds of 50 is 34…). Then it must be ratified by 38 states.
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 has never been accomplished before. Not one amendment to the Constitution has been added using this method.
But today is different.
Thanks to the Internet, 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 congressmen and women without even leaving the comfort of our break room (where most of us are reading this little rant on a phone).
[In fact, today, the term “grassroots movement” carries with it enough weight to cause traditional power structures to shift uncomfortably in their patent leather armchairs.
Of course there are counterarguments to this proposition. It is not without flaws. But doing nothing, or worse, assuming that one face, name, or party is capable of finding a solution is to accept this situation as the status-quo.
As a quick side note, many of you may have recently heard Marco Rubio discussing this same tactic. He wishes, however, to include a balanced budget amendment as well which, quite honestly, will never happen. Keep it simple to make a change. Support a single issue convention.]
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:
First, visit http://www.termlimitsforuscongress.com/index.html to find out more and sign the petition.
Next, call or email your congressman or woman [Scott Tipton in our case] with the following request:
“I would like to see a 28th Amendment to the Constitution be proposed by the states, using [a single issue] amendments convention, which will limit the number of terms a federal congressman or woman can serve. Two terms for the Senate, three terms for the House of Representatives. I do not want any more ‘career’ politicians in Washington.
“I believe that the position should be citizen-serving, not self-serving.”
Do it now and stop the insanity.
Lindsay DeFrates lives and teaches in Carbondale. She writes and rafts, grades and goes down slides, sometimes not in that order. Her column appears on the first Tuesday of the month.
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