Calling all patriots, anarchists, do-gooders and trouble makers alike, here's you chance!
Oh, Say, Can You, Please?
The World According to Me!
A new beginning?
In his book, The Liberty Amendments, best-selling conservative author and syndicated radio host, Mark Levin, was the first to revive a serious reconsideration of the Article Five provision contained in the U.S. Constitution. The new, additional amendments that Levin proposes, take aim at not only curtailing congressional and presidential violations of the constitution, but also the adoption of certain modifications, such as term limits, that would further patch unforeseen loopholes left open by the original framers.
In their wisdom, these honored founders of the constitution anticipated a time when the central government might deviate too far from the limitations placed upon it by the very document they had crafted. Based upon their earlier experiences with tyrannical kings and potentates -- the very reason for their having sought refuge among the New England colonies -- the "fathers" wanted to ensure that they hadn't escaped one form of despotism, only to have laid the groundwork for yet another.
If and when the problems regarding corruption, fraud, waste, and abuse should become so severe that congress had proven incapable of reforming itself, then an additional remedy via the amendment process could be -- and ought to be -- instituted. This bloodless redress is written into the U.S. Constitution and listed as Article Five. Although never used, past presidents such as Lincoln, Eisenhower, and as recently as Reagan, made reference to the Article which is designed to temporarily circumvent governmental passivity at the federal level.
Whether or not you believe that such dire conditions presently exist, the amendment process offers us a way to bypass the feds and insert revisions which could fix those things most in need of repair -- as determined by a three-fourths majority of the state legislatures. The idea is to swing the government back towards a more faithful adherence to the strict limitations placed upon it by the constitution. Article Five allows the citizens of the individual states -- via the appointment of special delegates -- to, in effect, force the federal government to both follow the constitution and conform to whatever new restrictions or allowances are sanctioned and ratified by a majority of the states.
The most widely familiar form of the amendment process is known as a constitutional convention -- a so-called "con-con". Instead of the United States Congress proposing its own, self-serving amendments, however, and then sending those out to the states for ratification, it is the states themselves who vote upon their own proposed amendments -- an alternate process referred to as a "convention of the states". Once approved by the necessary majority, the new rectifications become formal amendments to the constitution, the same as any other.
The adopted provisions are then imposed on both the congress and the presidency -- immediately. If you've been following along, it's really pretty cool. Those old, crotchety founders did their best to provide for every contingency. And until very recently, the constitution has, in general, served the nation well.
Important to note is the fact that it's not the constitution itself which, through some fault based on its age and antiquity, has somehow failed to keep up with the times. On the contrary, the failure of our elected officials to properly constrain themselves according to a constitution that is virtually unhampered by the passage of time, lies at the heart of the grim circumstances which, some are prepared to argue, currently threaten our very survival as a country.
Perhaps more importantly, the chief reason behind any and all proposed amendments, would be for the purpose of countering perverse levels of corruption and iniquity that the framers could have hardly imagined.
What about slavery? And the fact that some of these fathers were owners of slaves themselves. Such questions underscore the need for historical clarity. And the providing of answers for those unable to grasp the obvious notion otherwise, that the wheels of history and change grind slow but sure. Opponents of "orginalism" (and original intent) who consider the constitution as dated or obsolete, often use the slavery issue as the focal point of their criticisms.
Persons who know their American history will also know the reason why slavery was left unresolved with the completion and ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Despite the obvious contradiction between the Declaration of Independence which declared all men as being created equal, and a constitution which left the widespread practice of slavery firmly in place, the creation and solidarity of the union itself lay at stake. Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, and other framers understood that no agreement was possible, no constitution would ever be ratified, nor a united country ever formed, if the slave states were forced to abandon their heavily economic -- albeit equally immoral -- enterprise of buying, selling, and owning other human beings.
Not until many years later, at the end of a terrible and bloody civil war, would the issue of slavery be settled once and for all. And at great cost both in terms of human life and treasure. As of this writing, estimates of the actual death toll have recently been revised upwards to a not-so-grand total of over 750,000 men, women, and children. Add to this number the tremendous losses suffered from two world wars and numerous other conflicts, and one quickly realizes how liberty and freedom come at a great, immeasurable price indeed.
To some degree, our collective memories, even of those who live in other countries, seem to have forgotten the toll required in order for democracies to survive in a hostile world. Our sense of appreciation for those who sacrificed everything on our behalf -- on the world's behalf -- has seemed to lessen over the years. Not on the part of everyone, of course, but enough so as to become worrisome. It is the reason, perhaps, why so many countries falter today, now that great evils once more threaten the peaceful peoples of the earth. Why nations hesitate the same as when Nazi Germany made its first grabs for global conquest, and seem unable or unwilling to take decisive actions that might stem the new tides of war presently cresting almost every horizon.
To paraphrase the aforementioned author and commentator, Mark Levin, ". . . the stench of the 1930's again hangs in the air." For younger readers, this remark points to the militarism and imperial, nationalistic fervor of such countries as Italy, Japan, and Germany, that, like an uncontrollable disease, infected Europe during the 1930's.
Today, Thomas Paine would surely view these as the most perilous of times, the greatest danger of which is the seeming placidity in fighting terrorism. Many people still think in terms of uniforms, front lines, rear lines, drawn lines, and the honorable rules of warfare as delineated by the Geneva Convention. Terrorism is the new Nazism, Italian and Japanese fascism, and Soviet Bolshevism, all wrapped into one. And its banner this time around is radical, Muslim extremism.
Terrorism presents its own form of nuclear warfare, but one which is more accurately described as purely nuclear in nature, meaning "at the core" of where the most number of lives might be lost, the greatest degree of damage inflicted. It is critically important, therefore, that actual nuclear weapons be kept out of the hands of fanatics who would use such weapons not for the purpose of world conquest, but as a new and improved form of genocide -- a purification of the human race whereby the most intolerant of theocracies reigns supreme and unquestioned.
If you've tolerated the pain of reading everything thus far, then it's time you should know that all of this has been for the primary purpose of preparing you and others, who are willing, to push back in any way they see fit. I've even designed an interesting forum for finally setting aside my own views and encouraging others to have their say.
Constructed in the form of an old fashioned essay contest, the few rules and guidelines are delineated below. I and the other judges of this hypothetical competition could look forward to a spirited participation, although our general expectations would run fairly low. And for all the reasons explained in the foregoing lead-up material.
The contest itself might be located elsewhere on its own page and, for those interested, an appropriate link could be found here. Likewise the much abbreviated contest page would possess its own link back to this portfolio item, where both entrants and curiosity seekers can delve deeper into the rationale that forms the basis of the entire project.
Here, then, in a slightly longer, more unadulterated essay layout, is the actual competition in question. The contest as it might appear elsewhere, would be a more succinct and self-explanatory presentation about how to enter, what you can win -- and what you can't. This particular essay was always envisioned as a separate adjunct, a kind of supplement for those who wanted a more forensic analysis of the ideas and beliefs which underlay the concept as a whole. If you've read down this far, now you know all there is, and your further involvement is humbly requested. My anticipation for responses is set so low, however, that I would actually consider rewarding others for not replying.
In other words, respondents and contributors to this essay and its imaginary contest, wouldn't do so in order to win something -- much beyond recognition of their effort. So why not use the prize money (in the form of GPs) as a way of recognizing that most people wish to keep their political opinions to themselves. Fair enough.
By the way, the Article Five content described below is serious business. It actually exists and may one day come into play as a tool in which people have a more direct say in how their federal government operates. In most similar monologues penned by other writers, the author makes their case and says their piece with little or no hope of ever being heard -- or read. Thus it's often an understandable case of, why bother?
Article Five of the U.S. Constitution provides the one exception where an essayist can realistically envision the possibility, albeit remote, that a politician might read their words and perhaps -- just maybe -- act upon them.
Under almost all other circumstances and conditions, this kind of essay contest would represent nothing more than a few folks (if that many) rattling on about this and that, all while none of it would -- or could -- have any impact whatsoever on the real world. Thus I preferred not to imagine just another contest, whether fiction or nonfiction, that runs its course and is then forgotten the day after the winners are announced.
At the (somewhat undisclosed) core of such an essay contest is my desire to bring to the fore, an increased public awareness of the Article Five provisions established by the U.S. Constitution. In its own way, this is far more important than who the winners are and what their essays talk about. For this reason alone, the competition aspires to garner as much attention as possible.
In a very real sense, the contest I have in mind is, for me, an additional expression of my own wish to do something meaningful and patriotic. Raising the public consciousness about Article Five, and doing so without sounding like a left or right-wing extremist kook, struck me as an admirable goal. If I could successfully (and skillfully) walk the fine line between suggesting that the U.S. Constitution could be improved -- and that maybe it should be -- I figured we had the potential makings of a rousing debate ideally suited for an essay contest.
One last example might prove helpful for those who would seek to touch upon things such as the Second Amendment, which is that whole "right-to-bear-arms" dispute. If one so chose, for instance, one could certainly contend that the amendment protects an individual right, and not solely a collective one.
Suppose, just for the sake of argument, the wording stated, "A well-fed militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right to keep and eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches shall not be infringed." Would anyone believe that we have only a collective right to eat such sandwiches? The answer for most people is obvious. But
since the verbiage is an old construction -- and guns are scary -- the amendment could use some definitive clarification.
Such an elucidation is not likely forthcoming anytime soon from the federal government. Or if so, it will probably reflect a political bias or agenda that may or may not be to your liking. Therefore it becomes apparent that only via an Article Five convention of the states themselves, might a slightly revised version of the Second Amendment be adopted. And one that no longer leaves any doubt as to its absolute meaning, or a concretely accepted interpretation.
That said, here for your bemusement, chuckles, or consternation is a possible new slant on a traditional essay competition:
Oh, Say, Can You, Please?
The World According to You!
A Contest of Wills & Bills
Calling all patriots, anarchists, nihilists, wannabe do-gooders, and other trouble makers, lend us your thoughts!
This is your chance to spout off about some of the things you love about America, or some of the stuff you don't. And if the U.S. isn't where you call home, then we want to know your impressions of America -- the good, the bad, and the ugly.
An old fashioned essay contest
About the state of the United States.
And of the World.
According to how you see them.
Theme: Philosophy, Politics, Opinion, Social Commentary.
When: Before it's too late.
1st Place, 2nd Place, and 3rd Place all win the same award:
Your essay professionally edited and printed, suitable for framing.
And entry fee, as yet to be determined, would be charged to all entrants.
First, second, and third-place finalists are afforded the option, should they so wish, to have their essay mailed to the state legislatures of all states currently supporting an Article Five convention of the states. In the case of where actual delegates have already been chosen, every effort will be made to send copies of the winning essays to these delegates.
Important: Free GPs just for stopping by.
Everyone who visits the contest page and simply replies, letting us know they were there, will automatically receive a gift of free GPs (the exact number to be determined). No questions asked, no strings, no gimmicks, no bull. Yes, you read this right. Simply drop by, as a lookie-loo, then reply with where to send the GPs (to someone else if you wish) and we'll do the rest. It's that easy.
We know you hate political debates, so essentially we pay you (or the person of your choice) not to enter our contest. Since you've got far better things to do than enter an essay contest, we'll reward you for keeping your opinions to yourself. With our compliments.
By comparison, anyone who enters the fray, so to speak, will be asked to pay a small entry fee. What could more appropriate in today's world? Say nothing, and you win freebies. Do something, and you're charged for it. This is the perfect arrangement for any contest to do with politics.
For those poor, masochistic few who are seduced into having their say, their reward is in being read, listened to, and possibly recognized for their effort. For folks who have something on their mind, to get off their chest, plus a desire to share it with others, a good reader (and listener) is usually reward enough. And in this particular instance, no other options beyond those mentioned, would be offered.
Regardless of your political persuasion, whether liberal, conservative, moderate, or none of the above; no matter your religious faith -- or lack of same -- all viewpoints are welcome, and none will necessarily influence or determine the final outcome of the judges' decisions.
Minimum age to enter: 13+
No poetry -- essays and monologues only.
Maximum length: 1000 words.
Entries can be fiction or nonfiction, but should be based on real people and places, plus a rudimentary understanding of American government. Anything to do with present-day issues, both domestically and globally, is acceptable. No special knowledge or academic training is required, nor will the same necessarily increase an entrant's chance of placing among the top winners.
All submissions would be judged on the following criteria:
Say something we haven't already heard a hundred times over. Be creative, innovative.
Don't hold back. Detailed analyses of one or more problems, with or without offering
solutions, will increase your chance of winning. But this isn't just about what's
wrong with anybody or anything. There's a lot of good news around, and an essay that
tells us what's right with the world, stands an equal chance of success.
This is not a contest that looks favorably on science fiction, fantasy, or fiction
generally. Humor, however, always has a place. There's enough events, both good and
bad, in America and globally, where no one needs to resort to whimsy or purely imaginary
scenarios which are irrelevant in today's world.
Geography, current events, history, real people and real places. Dates and times. Some or
all of these may or may not be important in your essay. If they are, make sure you get
them right. Fact checking, thanks to Google and the rest, is all too easy nowadays.
4) Punctuation and Spelling.
No contest would be worth its own relevancy without a demand for good grammar and
spelling. No one is looking for perfection, however, and common typo's happen to the
best of us. Even the judges. And while a few won't automatically disqualify your
entry, more than a few, meaning three or more, will probably put the judges in a bad mood.
It's also understood that regarding those for whom English is not their first
language, this last criteria may seem unfair. Accordingly, since fairness plays a big role
in this contest, no one's submission will be immediately discarded based solely on bad
grammar or spelling. The essay of any finalist for whom English is not their primary
language, will be judged mainly on content, and only secondarily on grammar and spelling.
This contest is partially a game of pretend. The pretend part has to do with the idea that you have been granted the ear, so to speak, of both the American people and the world as a whole. It's as if you are a featured speaker on a nationalized television broadcast, and given the opportunity to put forth your personal ideas of how you would change things or improve them, and otherwise make America and the world a better place for all citizens and all peoples. Winning submissions will, however, maintain their principal focus on the United States.
As stated, all winners will have the opportunity to have their essays edited for grammar and mailed to specially selected delegates who, at this very moment, gather throughout the country and prepare for deliberations that could alter the course of American history.
But who are these delegates? And why would they be interested in reading anything written about how to improve the country? Or the world. The answer lies within the context of a basic procedure referred to as a convention of the states, and written into the U.S. Constitution as one of the two means by which it could be amended. This process is designed to serve as the basis upon which all essays are written.
The contest is further grounded on the premise that a critical disconnect now exists between the citizenry of the United States and the elected officials who represent them in both houses of congress. Moreover, that this condition has led to a loss of certain freedoms and liberties that can only be regained via the amendment process.
Such amendments are implemented for the purpose of rectifying injustices and other wrongdoings which have resulted in an inability of the federal government to correct its cumulative deficiencies. Amendments do not necessarily ameliorate preexisting problems, however, and may also be for the purpose of adding new improvements which enhance a government's ability to rule fairly and competently.
Labeled as Article Five of the constitution, the brief text of which is displayed below, the section allows for a convention of the states whereby special state delegates are chosen to put forth carefully considered amendments which, if and when approved by the required number of votes, become lawful additions to the constitution.
Many people confuse Article Five with the more well known concept of a constitutional convention. A so-called "con-con" wherein the Congress itself chooses which amendments it will send to the states for ratification. Others reject Article Five outright, and worry needlessly that such a convention of the states represents a potential free-for-all, in which anarchists and zealots could forever alter the constitution to suit their own diabolical designs. Still others argue that in the absence of any convention whatsoever, an out-of-control congress already operates outside the limits set by the constitution, and continues to create laws that are themselves unconstitutional.
Your job, as they used to say on the old Mission Impossible TV show, should you choose to accept it, is to decide what changes, if any, are needed to resolve the problems facing us as a nation. And as a world community. Then to propose your ideas as realistic amendments that, once adopted, could make things better for everyone. Or for the greatest number of beneficiaries.
Some extra, helpful hints to keep in mind:
America's founding fathers foresaw a time when the central government might deviate too far from the limitations placed upon it by the U.S. Constitution. If and when the problems regarding corruption, fraud, waste, and abuse should become so severe that congress had proven incapable of reforming itself, then an additional remedy via the amendment process could be implemented. Intended as a last resort that might avoid the bloodshed of revolt or revolution, this redress is written into the constitution and listed as Article Five.
Whether or not you believe that such dire conditions presently exist, the amendment process can still offer us a way to circumvent the government and employ consensually agreed-upon fixes. The idea is to bring the government back in line with the strict limitations placed upon it by the constitution. Article Five allows the citizens of the individual states to legally -- and peacefully -- force the government to comply with whatever new restrictions or allowances are sanctioned by a majority of the states.
Here, then, is Article Five of the U.S. Constitution, exactly as written:
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress . . . .
The text continues for a couple more lines, but for all intents and purposes, this is the complete version of Article Five.
By the way, you may or may not have noticed that the trite and obnoxious term, political correctness, is completely missing from my entire essay. This is no mere oversight, I assure you.
Good luck to everyone who feels up for the challenge and would consider entering such a contest.
Not the End?