Enough about the other guys – here’s what WE are up to…
In 2012, on Constitution Day (September 15th), an important document was signed symbolically for the first time. This action was taken in front of Independence Hall, with hundreds of onlookers present, including a detachment of the Sons of the American Revolution, in FULL regalia. The Main-Stream media chose to utterly ignore it. Why?
The proposal of the “Change the Rules” pledge was our way of using the Constitution to defend against undue influence in Politics - SPECIFICALLY as a means of thwarting the wildly unpopular “Citizens United v Federal Election Commission” decision by the Supreme Court.
The Court rendered their decision on the basis that political speech was protected by the [First Amendment], <I’ll explain the square brackets in another post> , and, further, that political DONATIONS were to be treated as an expression of speech.
What remains to be done about this that doesn’t dilute the [First Amendment]? In other words, barring a re-write, how do we take the money out of politics, where wealthy lobbyists can dilute the power of YOUR vote, in an Orwellian “some are more equal than others” manner?
A simple and elegant solution was proposed by the “Democratic-Republican” Organization of New Jersey…and forwarded privately to ALL 435 voting Members of the House of Representatives and all 100 Members of the Senate.
Each of the two Legislative bodies sets its own rules of conduct at the beginning of each Legislative Session. These “Rules of the House” and “Rules of the Senate” may be modified during the Congress, but such “modifications” are rare, indeed. Most recently was House Resolution # 368 of the 2013 Congress. The ramifications of that are explained well here - http://www.ibtimes.com/government-shutdown-2013-hr-368-little-rule-change-house-republicans-guaranteed-federal-shutdown
I sincerely hope we didn’t give them a reminder of that powerful tool when proposing the “Change the Rules” pledge, but, sadly, it may have been a factor – using good to do evil.
When elected to Congress, you are guaranteed only three things. You are guaranteed to be seated…to be able to introduce legislation, and to vote in the “Committee of the Whole”. That’s it.
Trouble is, all the dirty dealing – insertion of inapplicable codicils of an unrelated nature to the original bill, and “pork” - happens in the “legislative committees” – long before they come before the “Committee of the Whole”.
The legislative committees of the HOUSE, for example, are shown here – (links)
- Armed Services
- Education and the Workforce
- Energy and Commerce
- Financial Services
- Foreign Affairs
- Homeland Security
- House Administration
- Natural Resources
- Oversight and Government Reform
- Science, Space, and Technology
- Small Business
- Transportation and Infrastructure
- Veterans’ Affairs
- Ways and Means
- Joint Economic Committee
- Joint Committee on the Library
- Joint Committee on Printing
- Joint Committee on Taxation
The House committees consider bills and issues and oversee agencies, programs, and activities within their jurisdictions.
What if there were a “rule”, whereby a Congressman could not sit in a voting capacity on a Legislative Committee where he or she could directly benefit an individual or corporate donor?
In other words, if he or she took money from a “K-Street” lobbying group for “Big Oil”, he or she could not then serve on the Natural Resources committee in a voting capacity.
Think about that, for a moment. Why would a corporation give big dollars to a Congressional campaign if they got NO “bang” for their buck?
Short answer? They wouldn’t. Now, maybe if they just thought their former pawn were a great guy….nope. Not going to happen.
We already have the ELEC system in place, which documents where the money received in a campaign comes from. We’ve seen, here in New Jersey, a specific company take extraordinary steps to conceal the influence purchased – that company was Birdsall Engineering. The Scarlet Letter “B” now taints many holding office to this day – but the media, bought and paid for by the party bosses, no longer discusses it, and the investigation has all but disappeared from public view – if, indeed, it is continuing at all. Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans can afford it, because, for them, “here, there be dragons”.
The beauty of this proposal lies in the “separation of powers”. Within the HOUSE and SENATE chambers, the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction – only the HOUSE RULES and SENATE RULES apply.
The “Change the Rules” pledge, if adopted, would be “non-justiciable”. Forgive my disrespect, but the “nine black dresses” hold no sway in those chambers.
I am shocked, at times, when I realize how many people are unaware that such a rule does not already exist.
It can. I wouldn’t vote for any legislator who wouldn’t sign the “Change the Rules” pledge – and neither should you.
Here it is, in black and white –
I, <candidate’s name>, PLEDGE TO INTRODUCE and see through to adoption a change in the RULES of the House of Congress in which I am sworn to serve, such that NO CONGRESSMAN or SENATOR in that body may sit in Legislative Committee in a voting capacity where that position might offer an opportunity for undue influence by a campaign donor.
Remember, both offices are guaranteed the right to “introduce” legislation, so committee assignments could still be held by those who accepted their 30 pieces of silver…but they would not have any decision-making capacity.
It won’t block ALL the dirty deals – but it sure throws a wrench in the works for the lobbyists, doesn’t it? If severe enough penalties are attached, it would work brilliantly – AND the Supreme Court could do nothing about it – beyond guaranteeing it’s enforcement.
“Separation of Powers” is a tool in the tool box – and I am one who tends to use every tool, and every rule.
A current version of the “Change the Rules” Pledge will be made available for each sitting legislator and each candidate to download, print, sign, and post to their web-page.
If they won’t do it – don’t vote for them*.
“Stand for what’s right, or settle for what’s left” – Frederick John LaVergne, “Democratic-Republican” for Congress, New Jersey Congressional District Three, 2014
* Every single incumbent Congressperson and Senator received the “Change the Rules” Pledge at their Washington Office in 2012. I know. I personally made that happen. There was utterly no response. They will be given the opportunity again this Fall, before the election. We will post on our web-site who responds…if anyone, indeed, does.