Regular readers of this weekly epistle know that I try to steer it away from all thing political, preferring instead to ramble on about topics as varied and mundane as the bi-weekly 25-cent crew-cuts I grew up with as a kid, to “Fashion Trends of the Aging and Overweight”… and lots of other topics in between. (After all, there seems to be enough politics floating out there without me weighing in.)
Readers also know that one of my long-time friends and allies is our Lt. Governor, Andre Bauer, for whom I have labored in each of his campaigns over the last sixteen years, and am supporting in his current race for Governor -- albeit in an unofficial, advisory-only role -- facts which I publicly disclaim on those occasions that I happen to venture over into the political realm. This is one of those occasions.
Andre has always been bold with his ideas. The very first bill he proposed – the day after first being elected in November, 1996 – was the law which now allows all senior citizens and working people to vote early by absentee ballot.
Eight years ago, he proposed the common-sense ideas -- such as Saturday hours and less frequent renewals -- which ultimately led to shorter lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles. (Incidentally, it really worked. I went to the DMV two weeks ago to get a replacement license, and was amazed at the quick, efficient service. I was in and out in less than five minutes!)
And he regularly comes up with out-of-the-box, but commonsense, ideas to save tax dollars. Why not build ONE rest area in the middle of interstate highways, instead of two… one on either side of the road? Why not build all elementary schools from a single set of plans? Why not, instead of naming interchanges after politicians, let corporate sponsors purchase naming-rights, with the money going to help reduce taxes?
Ten years ago, when he proposed the idea of letting corporate sponsors kick in funds for various sponsorships, the news media scoffed. Last month, one of the state’s largest newspapers advocated that exact thing -- paid sponsorship ads on school buses -- as a way of plugging the holes in the state’s budget.
Andre Bauer is not afraid to offer bold, new solutions to problems facing our state.
Last week, however, he proposed the boldest solution of his life… a proposal that has already gained national attention, and could affect the future of every American.
Like many, many citizens across the land, Bauer was frustrated by the action of Congress last week in forcing government-run health care on the public, when, clearly, the vast majority of Americans opposed it. In researching the issue, he was advised that efforts to block the new law would not likely succeed. Lawsuits were likely to fail. Efforts to repeal the law would be vetoed by the President.
But Bauer, who is responsible for a provision asking that all high school students spend a brief period studying the U.S. Constitution each Veterans Day, was aware of an Article in the Constitution allowing the people to reign in Congress if it ever got out of control.
The framers of the constitution, in their wisdom, did not bestow ultimate authority in the Congress or the President. They bestowed ultimate authority in the PEOPLE. They foresaw that someday Congress could perhaps get out of control, as it now has, so they gave the people the right -- through their state legislatures -- to reign in Congress and undo whatever damage they’ve done.
Article Five of the Constitution gives the PEOPLE the right -- through the state legislatures-- to call for a Constitutional Convention of the people to propose an amendment to the Constitution, which then must be ratified by 38 states.
Last week, Bauer became the first official in America to call publicly for such a convention, for the limited purpose of prohibiting government-run health care and socialized medicine. He arranged to have a resolution calling for convention introduced into the SC House and Senate, and then contacted other state legislatures to begin the process of having the required 2/3 of the states do the same.
Writing to members of state legislatures across the land, Bauer said, “I believe this action, left unchallenged, is the beginning of the end of the America we know and love. The freedoms we have enjoyed in our lifetimes are being steadily eroded, and future generations will suffer the consequences. The time has come for bold action.”
A few detractors immediately criticized Bauer, worrying that a Constitutional Convention could “open the floodgates” to unwanted changes in our federal government. Bauer responded that those floodgates had already been opened by Congress, which is steadily eroding the basic freedoms that Americans have long enjoyed, and shows no signs of stopping.
“We need a Constitutional Convention to CLOSE the floodgates, and keep Congress from taking away every shred of freedom we enjoy” Bauer said. “Congress is out of control. The government is broken. The question is, who do we trust to fix it: the congress or the people? I trust the people!”
Legislators in other states have now joined Bauer’s call for a Constitutional Convention. To happen, two-thirds of the states (34) would have to officially call for it. Congress would then set the time and place. The people of the individual states would choose their own delegates. After an Amendment prohibiting mandatory socialized health care was passed by the convention, it would only take effect if it were ratified by ¾ of the states (38).
A Constitutional Convention is a bold solution. We’ve only had one before. At that one, which was in 1787, the participants were Ben Franklin, James Madison, George Washington, George Mason, Alexander Hamilton and a lot of other names you would recognize.
They were very smart men, and in the Fifth Article of the Constitution they crafted, they saw fit to include this provision giving the people the right to over-rule an out-of-control Congress should it ever become necessary.
I think that time has come.