A Call for Constitutional Amendments

First and foremost, the United States Constitution, the greatest political accomplishment of the modern world, does not need to be replaced and is not outdated.  The previous link comes from a right of center institution; the left often draws the same conclusion: less freedom, less representation, more centralization and concentration of power in smaller hands.  We should feel lucky this document has lasted as long as it has and we should do as much as we can to preserve it. However, slight alterations at times that preserve freedom and limited government, rather than radical changes that diminish freedom and diminish legislative bodies, is what best reflects the outcome of the movements we have experienced over the last decade or so.  The founders gave us the amendment process to expand liberty and to protect the rights of the individual over the mob or the state, not do the opposite.

Over the past decade there have been a series of movements by the people of various ideological backgrounds and factions to take back government and return it to the people.  Notable movements such as the Tea Party Movement, the Contract for America (the outcome of the Republican take over of Congress in 1994), and Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again movement all aim to put government back in its rightful, subservient place. Despite these movements, and others, there never seems to be the sweeping reform America needs to truly reflect the change the people desire.  The only true way to secure the change the people currently demand is to etch in stone a series of amendments that secure the blessings of liberty and respect for the rule of law within the framework of limited government.  Therefore, this author argues that the following amendments should be proposed to our national constitution:

The Clarity Amendments and Liberty Amendments:

These will be a series of amendments that either through new language altogether or through slight modification of existing amendments will bring about more freedom (not less) for individuals and the family unit.  For example, some argue that the original meaning of the word “militia” in the second amendment does not mean the individual and only pertains to law enforcement or military members. Further, some would suggest there are weapons the public should not have altogether. To settle this, we should amend the second amendment to leave no doubt what we, citizens today, understand the militia to be, the individual; and arms shall be defined as any weapon available to the general public used for defensive purposes.

Beyond clarity, it is time to write new language into the constitution expanding our freedoms and right to defend ourselves. The people shall have the right to defend their property and livelihood against assailants aiming to threaten the peace and security of one’s domicile. Many states have passed what is known as Castle Doctrine.  Yet some protest this idea thinking it is a dangerous abdication of power from central authorities to individuals.  It is unacceptable to live in a world where people have to doubt whether or not they can defend themselves, their family or their property should violent criminals present themselves on one’s property.  A Castle Law amendment would go a long way in showing the world America is a place that defends life and respects the concept of private property.  Government has a responsibility to defend its citizens and that responsibility starts with unshackling the people to defend their homes and livelihood.

The government must reign in excessive taxation.  Americans are paying too high a tax rate, as are corporations.  The United States has the highest corporate tax rate when compared to OECD nations and our tax structure does not mesh well with global free trade policy.  A fair tax amendment that caps personal income taxes at 10%, caps capital gains taxes, only applicable to high net worth individuals, at 10%, eliminates corporate income taxes and the national gas tax altogether and only allows for consumption based taxation as follow on taxes (VAT, Sales Tax, Border Adjustment Taxation) would check the federal governments taxation powers and help make the United States a competitive free market system relative to the rest of the world.

Finally, there seems to be a growing movement rejecting the war on drugs and this has been building for some time for fiscal reasons or criminal justice reasons to name a few.  A prevailing view holds that Marijuana will do far less harm to society than legalized opioid use.  Beyond legislation at the federal and local level, a constitutional amendment legalizing Marijuana, for recreational and medicinal use, would send a message that we should rethink how we regulate prescription and homegrown drugs in the 21st Century.

The Responsibility Amendments:

A major point of contention with respect to government waste and growth is excess spending. The United States, for several years, has operated on continuing resolutions and we have not achieved a balanced budget since 2001.  Our public debt to GDP ratio is now some where around 100%, which is alarming even for Neo-Keynesian economic thinkers.  A balanced budget amendment would go a long way in getting the U.S. back to fiscal responsibility and would ensure our children will not be saddled with more debt than we already have to pay down or manage.  Of course a measure would caveat deficit spending in times of “crisis” but such a time would only be allowed if a super majority of both houses of Congress deem it so and there would be a sun set provision stipulated for any such period. Finally, a balanced budget amendment would also guarantee a budget would get passed each year and would eliminate the concept of relying on continuing resolutions that muddy waters for civil servants when planning their annual goals in the realm of public service.

Further, the U.S. is riddled with corruption in legislative assemblies across our land.  Career politicians are sent to Washington year in and year out often times accomplishing very little with no agenda at all.  Limits of 5 terms for members of the U.S. House of Representatives and two terms for members of the Senate will ensure that new members will be circulating in and out of Washington with new ideas.  This will mean those who have limited time in Congress will want to achieve specific policy objectives and will be less willing to take kickbacks or engage in pay for play schemes since they will not be counting on a 30 year government salary as a means for living.  It will mean we will get public servants rather than career politicians only interested in personal gain.

Many believe these measures will be impossible to pass since Congress would never impose limits and restrictions on their own branch of government.  Should this be the case, the people must rise up and invoke an Article V (Convention of States).  There is a movement on going as of this writing and several states have already taken action to reign in federal abuse.  Regardless of the method, these amendments, as well as others not mentioned, must be seriously considered if we wish to preserve this great Republic for future generations to come.  Our Republic is under attack from excess federal spending, executive over reach, and failure on the part of the legislature to reign in federal control.  It is time for the people to step in and take action to preserve individual freedom and a proper balance between the states and the federal government.

We must not forget our roots and the idea of our great Republic outlined in Jefferson’s first inaugural address in 1801.  In that address, President Jefferson talks about freedom, the individual, self-government, limited government, and the need for Federalist and Republican alike to come together.  His greatest words in that speech being: “Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.”

Well Mr. President, history has answered this question for us. Since we know what works we must commit ourselves to avoiding the decline other nations have experienced through over centralization and tyranny that does not respect the individual. Such has been the lesson seen in the annihilation and defeat of fascism in Europe and in Asia and such was the lesson of the dissolution of the Soviet System.  We continue to see this lesson unfold today in North Korea, Venezuela, and so many other places that give different names to forced centralization but all ending in the same outcome: a sad road to serfdom and slavery.  These lessons tell us that it is our duty to keep the Republic men like Jefferson gave us.  So let us pass these amendments and strengthen our resolve to keep a firm balance of power between the Federal Government, the States and the people.

Contact Devin Guilliams at djguilliams@gmail.com.

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