“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.” – Article I, Section 1, Constitution of the United States
Greetings my fellow Americans!
Something has been gnawing at me for a very long time as regards our modern-day methods of government in the United States. This, especially since I had first learned about separation of powers, checks and balances, and State sovereignty in high school. That dull nagging pain has steadily increased over the decades, as I’ve witnessed President after President (both Republican and Democrat) rely increasingly heavily on the Executive Order. They do this to make what are effectively legislative changes which impact virtually every citizen (and non-citizen) in every State (yes, I know even George Washington issued what are considered to be a few EOs—eight–in early America).
Similarly, we’ve had multiple Supreme Courts (most notably the Warren Burger-led iteration in 1973 with Roe v. Wade) render “opinions” which effectively have been given legislative import since their initial issuance. I’ll presume, without wading through tomes of legalese, that precedent for such actions by the non-legislative branches of our national government (at least as explicitly defined in our Constitution) has been duly considered and set, as these edicts are summarily adopted with virtually no resistance.
Being the back-to-basics guy that I tend to be, especially as regards the foundation of the freest, most prosperous, and least strife-riddled nation to have ever existed on our planet, I’ve reread our original Constitution, and find no words explicitly authorizing either the Executive or Judicial branches to unilaterally enact new legislation of any kind.
In fact, the very first sentence of the Constitution, after the Preamble, states that “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States,…” Call me crazy, but I’m thinking that, insofar as this is the opening line to the body of what is supposed to be the “supreme law of our land,” our Founders considered this stipulation to be of utmost importance. They thought so, not only for the rest of the document, but as a foundational element in the operations and maintenance of “a more perfect union” as prescribed in that supreme law.
In addition to being the sole legislators of national scope, those in Congress were also to represent the rest of us, both as residents of contiguous geographical areas known as Districts and States. The direct accountability of the national government to We the People and the States was stipulated to be with the Congress. (Even the President was not—and is still not—directly elected by popular vote.)
When I look at our current Congress, I can’t help but wonder which of their constitutional responsibilities they are actually still holding day-to-day:
- Most of them live in or near Washington, D.C. full-time; i.e., they have no direct or intimate interest in the day-to-day well-being people living in their districts and States
- Many of them have been in office for decades, and (especially in the House of Representatives) winning re-election with virtually no opposition
- Senators (thanks to the 17th Amendment) no longer represent State-level interests
- They haven’t passed a formal budget in years
- They authorize massive spending on foreign interests
- They hold hearings to investigate individuals and groups which express opposition to the political party in control at any given time
- They impeach Presidents of opposing political parties who interfere with party agendas, and don’t impeach ones who exhibit incompetence and/or foreign allegiance
- They don’t impeach judges who legislate from the bench
We the People are no longer represented in Washington, D.C., nor are our individual States.
So, what now? At the risk of further being labeled a naïve idealist, I’m going to claim that the solutions to our crisis of direct representation lie in returning to the basics of our Constitution. “We the People” were the ordainers and establishers of that Constitution, and unless and until it is officially no longer deemed “the supreme law of our land,” we have the duty, and responsibility, to regain the authority which was vested in us, and that we have largely abdicated, in determining the composition and authority of our governments.
Insofar as, per Article IV, Section 4, of our Constitution requires that each State operate a republican form of government in and of themselves, we need to start holding them more accountable as well, to ensure that we are injecting people into those levels who aren’t afraid to say “no” when those overstepping their constitutional authority say “jump,” and will probably eventually want to represent us at a national level, and that the integrity of our election processes ensure that the voice of The People is truly heard (this is a State responsibility).
The solution is US.
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