Shipwreck at sea

An Invitation to Our Friends on the Left

A continuing series of discussions of Mark Levin’s new book,
The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic

(Discussion #3 – The benefits accrue to all)

Today we’ll focus on the first two chapters of The Liberty Amendments.

Before we get into them, however, let us first issue an invitation to our friends on the left to join us in this great effort. As we have detailed in this discussion, the present danger we face in this nation affects us all. Union members are not happy with the job situation. Teachers are frequent victims of violence in our schools, and are blamed for the poor outcomes in them. Poverty is expanding. Race and class divisions have become more distinct and polarizing. America is massively in debt, and weak on the International stage. We showed you the data last week. No matter which side you’re on, you know it’s bad.

Congressional Approval is at 16%
Unsurprisingly, about the same percent approve as the percent of working age people employed by the federal government (<—go see the data)
But here’s the place where we can all come together: based on the near-universal contempt in which we hold our political leaders in Washington, we all know that looking to Washington to fix these problems is not working.

We agree! The good news is that we can all work together, men and women of good will on the Left and the Right, to Restore the proper functioning of government, and require our elected officials to listen to the people once again.

Here’s what Restoration (via the Article Five process) means for our friends on the left:

  • You get control over your schools again
  • Your taxes will be spent closer to home
  • Your local representative will be better able to respond to your demands
  • Unelected bureaucrats in DC will not determine how your communities will live
  • You won’t have to be a millionaire to see the representative that matters (because the ones in Washington will not matter as much)
  • Federal representatives will no longer become permanently entrenched, and accumulating power that should be in the hands of the people

It means the same things for all of us! And there are many more ways that Restoration will make it easier for you to have more say in your government. We hope you will join us in this effort, and we encourage you to join in this discussion.

On to the book:

Chapter one of The Liberty Amendments contains Mark Levin’s expressed rationale behind his proposal to achieve Restoration. As many of you know, Levin is a scholar of the writings of the Founders. This also includes many political philosophers and writers of the period who either influenced the Founders or documented the importance of the work done by the Founders. Chapter one is a testament to the fact that these men clearly anticipated the situation we face today.

Referencing first a man born shortly after the Founding—De Tocqueville—a political philosopher who coined the term “soft tyranny,” Levin sets the stage for his description of the trouble we now face. We have covered much of that already in these discussions. But most importantly for we who study these words, Levin’s quotes show that the men alive in the Eighteenth Century had lived under oppression, and knew exactly how government worked to hamper the progress of mankind. What you and I should bring to this reading is the knowledge that the period of the Founders was the Age of Enlightenment; the age of Isaac Newton, Voltaire, Locke, Spinoza, and Montesquieu. By the 1770’s books were available to men of modest means, and most of the Founders were students of Cicero, Tacitus, and Cato, were familiar with the writings of John Locke, and many were learned in several languages. Because of the printing press, ocean-crossing sailing ships, and the existence of the great learning centers in England and the Colonial Colleges, the Founders had over a thousand years of history of governments from whose historians they could draw knowledge.

In other words, they were not stumbling blindly when they drew up the Declaration of Independence. They were not just amazingly lucky to have crafted the Constitution. They knew what they were doing. They knew how a nation founded on individual liberty and self reliance could grow to be a soft tyranny where, as Levin states:

Today Congress operates not as the Framers intended, but in the shadows, where it dreams up its most notorious and oppressive laws, coming into the light only to trumpet the genius and earnestness of its goings-on and to enable members to cast their votes. The people are left lamebrained and dumbfounded about their “representatives” supposed good deeds, which usually take the form of omnibus bills numbering in hundreds if not thousands of pages, and utterly clueless about the effects these laws have on their lives. Of course, that is the point. The public is not to be informed but indoctrinated, manipulated, and misled.

Levin lays out the case—with quotes from Madison, Hamilton and others who were present during the Convention held at Independence Hall in Philadelphia in 1787—for following the process where a convention of the states, “for proposing amendments,” may be held, and why it has become necessary. This is the second pathway to amendment that was insisted upon by James Madison and George Mason, among others. Though all those present knew a soft tyranny could obtain from the framework they had created, many felt the Congressional path would suffice. Had the states not ceded sovereignty to the federal government by ratifying the Seventeenth Amendment, they might have been correct. Levin points out exactly why they were wrong, and why Mason, especially—the man who made our Bill of Rights a reality—was right. And in that one particular, we were indeed perhaps lucky.

Of course, our people of faith know that luck was merely a small part of it.

I’ll let you discuss Chapter one further, but I suggest you read it aloud to your family after dinner. Use the Internet to pause and explore the men to whom Levin refers. Discuss the meaning of the quotes Levin has chosen. Let yourself become familiar with Article Five’s second process. (To which I also urge you to read the articles by Rob Natelson I referenced last week, as well as others he has written.) At that point will you be ready for discussing the proposed Liberty Amendments themselves.

* * *

Chapter two of The Liberty Amendments is titled: An Amendment to Establish Term Limits for Members of Congress. As all of the following chapters do, this chapter is entirely devoted to the proposed amendment. If you take a bit of time to read the Bill of Rights, you’ll see the simple formula necessary to amend the Constitution. Levin follows suit, keeping the language clear and concise.

Obviously, the idea here is to limit the amount of time anyone can serve in Congress. Levin proposes to so limit any elected Congress member (and here it’s important to remember that the term “Congress” means both the House and Senate) to twelve years.

This is why simple language is critical. The proposed amendment has two sections. Section 1 states:

No person may serve more than twelve years as a member of Congress, whether such service is exclusively in the House or the Senate or combined in both Houses.

This formulation means you get twelve years, period. No matter how you choose to enumerate them, if they add up to twelve, that’s the limit. The second section is simply bookkeeping, to make sure sitting members get to complete their term, even if it means they end up with more than twelve years. So after the following Congressional elections, Section 2 becomes superfluous, and the only thing that matters is the single sentence that is Section 1.

Levin goes on to make his case for this proposed amendment. And as you would expect, he brings many interesting statistics and quotes to bear on the subject. The most glaring of which is the one from Ronald Rotunda pointing out that “There was…more turnover in the Soviet Politburo,” than we have among members of Congress today.

Levin points out the inexorable equation that (TIME in office) = POWER, and reminds us that the Founders were keenly aware of this. The Articles of Confederation included limits on time in office, Jefferson related that “where annual election ends, tyranny begins,” and Levin includes a lengthy quote from Franklin that underscores the fears the Founders had of men who use posts of honor as positions of profit.

The Constitution placed many natural limits on people’s ability to become entrenched in the seats they hold. However, over the two centuries since the Constitution was ratified, Congress has managed to slowly dismantle the things which worked against such entrenchment. Levin describes the dismantling with many stark facts, but you’ll get the idea by reviewing the concept of gerrymandering.

Levin does not neglect human nature. He draws from the Founders’ own words regarding the notions of rotation in service, the arguments against paying members of Congress, and the frank difficulties of life, which was shorter for nearly everyone then. The Founders warned us against letting men become corrupted by time in service.

The arguments are compelling. The problems with these limits are where they run into the will of the people. What do we do if, despite such an amendment, the people in a congressional district manage to write in a candidate they love, and he or she wins, even though ineligible under the proposed rule? Who would have standing to refuse them their seat? Also, Levin makes it clear his proposals are not perfect, and are there to get the process started. He has given us a much needed boost to our work here, but I hope we can all refine his ideas where they may be improved.

Personally, I’d like to let the people decide who shall represent them. I can only come up with one other alternative to limits on time served at a post, and that is a change to the rules of elections, where incumbents must win by greater margins over time. (So, for example, a two-term House Member might need 52% of the vote in order to defeat his opponent in a re-election bid.) I can think of others that are even more clunky to administer than that one. Unlike my alternative, simple term limits represent a final argument that cannot be abrogated.

As we’ve seen, Congress exists to keep itself in power, so abrogation is the natural tendency.

Let us fight it together, and make this Convention of the States happen!

News: Please add your news item on the Article Five Process in the comments. I’ll link to them next week. Do some searching on this. You’ll find an amazing variety of items, including some rather unhinged folks claiming the Convention for Proposing Amendments will be a total runaway (Run Away!).

Discussion #2: Run Away!
Discussion #1: Zombie Doctrine, Tactics, and the Liberty Amendments

by K-Bob

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22 thoughts on “An Invitation to Our Friends on the Left

  1. Being from the South, I know about conservatives who used to vote Democrat because their father had. As they were considering switching, they would have been incensed at having been referred to as “on the left.”

  2. K-Bob Seeker of the Truth  
    I’ve been a liberal fan of The Right Scoop for a couple of years.
    This is my daily routine: right after I read the stories at Huffpo, the second place I go to is The Right Scoop.
    Why? Because I want to see what the other side is thinking. And you’re the best site to get a quick pulse on the conservative mindset. On some issues, one has to read both sides to really understand the truth.

    I enjoy your posts and the comments.

    … and I’ll try not to be a troll.

  3. K-Bob  I used to work with a Democrat like that.  He complained about the illegals and a lot of other things Democrats supposedly support.  Yet he didn’t attach the problems to Democrats.  He attached them to Republicans, just like the Democrats still blame Bush for everything going wrong.  As long as I didn’t mention which party did what, he would agree with everything I said, but as soon as I mentioned that it was a Democrat that did such and such we would have an argument.
    That may be the biggest hurdle.  Getting them to see that it’s liberalism, not conservatism, that’s causing this mess is not going to be easy.

  4. kong1967  
    Not all of them. Most of the ones who want that are people who don’t work for a living, and the super rich.
    Democrats can be funny.  Unlike people on the right who get accused of racism for mentioning they want “the black kind of electrical tape, and not the red stuff,” Democrats feel comfortable complaining about “all of the Mexicans taking our jobs.”  So I know a few Obama voters who have guns, drive pickups, and b*tch about “Mexicans” and of course Jews to anyone who’ll listen to them.
    Now rather than point out theri hypocrisy and racism in this great effort, I’d rather help them to see how their complaints stand a much better chance of being heard if the power moves to the states, where oftentimes, anyone can get an appointment to see their representative. You don’t have to be a wealthy donor, you just have to live in their district.
    In a lot of states, you might end up meeting the guy at his house, or a local bar.  Chances are his kids go to school with yours. That’s why this message is powerful.

  5. Conservative_Utopia crakpot  
    That’s the thing.  I know several lifelong-union Democrats who keep voting for barack and whoever, and then keep wondering “how the Republicans still seem to be making everything so bad.”  Then when you talk to them, you find they agree with almost everything Conservatives agree on.  They want lower taxes, they hate having to buy “green” appliances, they want the schools to be like they used to be, they hate seeing jihad supporters in the White House, and they don’t want some no-job, drug-using, a-hole dating their daughters.
    The problem is, the political equation in the US has moved in our lifetime from something more like team sports (where you voted the way your Dad did, but no big deal), to zero-sum, all-out political war to take all the power.  Most regular Democrats, especially ones who actually work for a living, want it to go back to the way it was.
    This is their one chance to have that.  Because the only other pathway is all out physical, bloody war to prevent turning into the USSR on steroids.

  6. KzPage I guess anything that you think is relevant. I’ll collect them and put them in a resources thingy somewhere.
    I fixed the link in your comment.  Looks like a good article.
    LiveFyre’s link box is a bit confusing.  What you do is highlight some words you just typed, then pop up the link box, and paste the url of the link (where you want the click to take people). When you hit OK, the words you had highlighted become the link.
    If you knew all that, just bear in mind that if you make one tiny mistake, LiveFyre decides to turn your link into a link to this comment section of the current post.  Drives me nuts.

  7. Mr. K-Bob
    Since you are officially inviting “our friends of the left,” does that mean you won’t censor and delete their their comments?

  8. “If any town refuses to accept you or refuses to listen to you, then leave that town. Shake their dust off your feet.”

  9. Here’s a “bumper sticker” message we could/should be leaving everywhere:
    DO something about the waste and fraud in Washington, D.C.
    (Then ask for a meeting and deliver a copy of Mark Levin’s book)

  10. crakpot “do not waste your breath on liberals or the 60% of the population who don’t vote and don’t care”
    We conservatives had better stop blasting fellow Americans with the word “liberal” like it were a fire extinguisher.   We are carrying a different message now than “vote GOP.”  What if your state reps are dems?  
    We’ve got to sell the concept of taking power at the state level, something our current state reps can identify with.  And we’ve got to sell our neighbors on it too.  Let’s not blast them out of consideration without finding some common causes.

  11. k-bob do you want us to post links of only news stories or advocacy groups etc? 
    here’s something from Natelson on runaway convention that I think is worth the read. I know is long but full of great info from a man who is the nations foremost expert on the subject.

  12. K-Bob Bill in Tennessee  Well of course I’ll try, but Wet Blanketry is one of my character defects, I’m working on it.  Most of the lefties I know are coworkers in academe, fairly set in their ways and True Believers of the Flower Power  1960s variety. There’s nothing quite so ineducable as a liberal with tenure, but I’ll give it the old “college try”.  
    If, as I hope, this Convention of States issue becomes a real and potent movement, my position will be quite clear from the outset.  It will be interesting to see how the left reacts…with quiet eye-rolling acquiescence or with torches and pitchforks (along with demands for more Federal spending to indoctrinate more college kids AND a new “awareness” ribbon if they can find a color that’s not been used yet).  I sort of hope they choose the torches and  pitchforks route, it will make them easier to spot.
    But I digress….another character defect.  I will be glad to discuss the reasoning behind a Convention of States with anyone who will listen, but if the past is any indication, I expect the “discussion” with progs will devolve into emotional outbursts, name calling, and a contest as to who can shout the loudest.  We’ll see.

  13. Chapter 1:  Levin’s amendments deal solely with the Federal government.   I guess the idea is that the states won’t pass them if they limit their own power.   However, the original states insisted on the Bill of Rights, clearly half of which are protections for the accused, which do limit State powers.   The problem now is that they’ve criminalized everything and just renamed it “regulation” to avoid those protections.   This is predominately at the state level – the Feds are just getting into the act.   It may be easy to forget when you live in Texas or other conservative states, but blue states like California are more oppressive than even the Feds, their counties worse than the state, their cities worse than the counties.   It’s a political expulsion, really.   That’s why California, the home of Reagan, gets more liberal every year.   The idea that local is always better is as wishful thinking as Muslims wanting democracy.   During the Revolution, it was said “why should I consent to trade 1 tyrant 3000 miles away for 3000 tyrants not but a mile away?”   They found the third solution – freedom from both.   So I say do not waste your breath on liberals or the 60% of the population who don’t vote and don’t care, reach out to conservatives stuck in liberal and swing states.   Write the amendments to bring the protections of the Bill of Rights to bear against the police power of regulation at all levels of government.   Conservative states will vote for it, if only to cut liberal states down to Constitutional size.

    Chapter 2:   It’s good to limit them to 12 years, but hardly enough to deter them from taking powers without consent of the governed (the Constitution).  Just as we are punished when we violate their law, they should be punished when they violate our law, which is supposed to be supreme.   Deterrence.

  14. Bill in Tennessee  
    Be thou not a wet blanket!  (That’s usually my job)
    We have to help our friends and neighbors to see the sense of this. 
    The good news is that it’s very much a local fight.  If you can get a few friends to see the benefits of moving power to the states, then you’ve made serious inroads.

  15. I predict LOTS of resistance from the left.  After all, the Federal government has been very good to prog causes, not to mention that its current form is itself a creation of leftist-progressive ideology.  I would think that any call to dis-empower the Fed would be seen as an outright threat to their way of life and raison d’etre.  Of course, good luck with this, but while we see the wisdom and necessity of a Convention of States, I predict that leftists will stay away in droves….maybe even become a vocal backlash impediment. In my humble opinion.

  16. Oooooh you brat…an announcement of an announcement!  Can’t wait to hear what the new website thingie is  🙂

  17. Apologies for getting this in late.  I had to learn how to make a graph “permanent” over at the St. Louis Fed, website, just so you could see my point about how convenient it is that the percentage of folks claiming Congress is doing a good job is roughly the same as the percentage of folks (among working age americans) who work for the federal government.  Can’t bite the hand that butters the side you know it’s on, or something.
    Personally, I think no one with sense could claim Congress (which as we all can see is a stand-in for “all of federal government”)  is doing a good job.

    Also, I planned on announcing a new website, but it ain’t ready yet, so I’ll hold off till next week.
    And then I had to fiddle a bit with WordPress to get the graph to display correctly.  Weak excuses, I know, but there you are.

  18. Hi K-Bob….could you put links to the previous discussion posts in each of the new discussions?  It would be helpful to me and also helpful to the people I have encouraged to get the book and read the discussions here…maybe Discussion #2, Discussion #1 etc at the end of each new post?

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