By: Gary J Verdes
I keep hearing how our government has now lost any shred of credibility it had left, or our Government has no credibility. The thing I don’t understand about the people saying our Government has no credibility, is who do they think the Government is?
Framers of the U.S. Constitution intended to create a Republican Government. (That form of government in which the administration of affairs is open to all the citizens. A political unit or “state,” independent of its form of government). Article IV, Section 4, states “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government….” Though the language was vague, the authors of the Constitution clearly intended to prevent the rise to power of either a monarchy or a hereditary aristocracy. Article I, Section 9, states, “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States,” and most state constitutions have similar provisions. By a republic, James Madison meant a system in which representatives are chosen by the citizens to exercise the powers of government. All you need to do is read the preamble of the Constitution of the United States:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
So there we are; the Government of the United States of America is “We the People”.
It’s not the Government; we are a Republic form of Government. We the People are the one’s responsible for the Government we have, and the leader we elect to run that Government. If We The People allow our leaders to commit crimes, pass bad laws, lie, and we just sit back and keep re-electing the same Representatives and Senators who continue to fail We the People then we are just as GUILTY as they are for the credibility or non-credibility of our Government.
Only We the People can change the way our Government works, we need term limits and need to put an end to lifelong politicians.
When the Founding Fathers deliberated over the blueprints for this great nation, they made no secret of the fact that, overwhelmingly, they believed anyone given power in government would eventually be corrupted by it.
“Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct.” – Thomas Jefferson
“The truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted.” – James Madison
“There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with the power to endanger the public liberty.” – John Adams
“The people must remain ever vigilant against tyrants masquerading as public servants.” – George Washington
Our Founding Father never conceived that being a Representatives or Senators would be a lifelong career, and did not think it would ever be that way.
In October 1781, the First Continental Congress appointed a committee of thirteen delegates to examine ancient models of government for the impending union of the states, so the best ideas from the past could be incorporated into the new nation’s constitutional framework.
Along with the concept of instituting a democracy came a another proposal from Thomas Jefferson of Virginia urging a limitation of congressional tenure, “to prevent every danger which might arise to American freedom by continuing too long in office the members of the Continental Congress…”.
The committee’s actual recommendations regarding term limits, were incorporated unchanged into the Articles of Confederation (1781-1789). Article V of that document stated, “no person shall be capable of being a delegate (to the continental congress) for more than three years in any term of six years.”
In contrast to the Articles of Confederation, the federal Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia omitted mandatory term limits from the second national framework of our government, the Constitution of the United States. Nonetheless, due largely to historical grass roots support for the principle of rotation, rapid turnover in office prevailed by extra-constitutional means (in other words, incumbents voluntary limited their own terms in office).
Many of the leading statesmen of the day regarded the lack of mandatory limits to political tenure as a very dangerous defect in our Constitution; especially as pertaining to the Presidency and the Senate.
Richard Henry Lee viewed the absence of legal limits to tenure from the Constitution, as “most highly and dangerously oligarchic.”
Thomas Jefferson and George Mason advised limits on the number of terms anyone can be elected to Congress, because noted Mason, “nothing can be so essential to the preservation of a Republican government as a periodic rotation (of its members).”
Connecticut’s Roger Sherman wrote, “Representatives ought to return home and mix with the people. By remaining at the seat of government, they would acquire the habits of the place, which might differ from those of their constituents.”
Historian Mercy Otis Warren warned, “There is no provision for a rotation, or anything else to prevent the perpetuity of office in the same hands for life; which, by a little well timed bribery, will probably be done….”
If the Founding Father made one major mistake in drafting the Constitution, it was thinking incumbents would be capable of; voluntary limiting their own terms in office, but our Founding Father knew that they were capable of making mistakes and gave We the People a way to amend the Constitution; The Constitution provides Article V that an amendment may be proposed either by the Congress with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate or by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the State legislatures.
Since the chances of getting a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate is not going to happen since those now in the two houses of Congress aren’t capable of voluntary limiting their own terms in office, it’s up to We the People to put the pressure on our State legislatures to call for a constitutional convention to impose term limits on the House of Representatives and the Senate.
George Mason may have said it best, “Nothing so strongly impels a man to regard the interest of his constituents, as the certainty of returning to the general mass of the people, from whence he was taken, where he must participate in their burdens.”