The Liberty Amendments – Virginia’s First!!

Mark Levin’s historic book – The Liberty Amendments (LA) – calls for a convention, under Article V, to consider proposing amendments for ratification by the states (My Take).   This profoundly important path forward, which all of U.S. inherited from our Founders, will impact our country and her politics in several ways.  The most obvious is how Levin’s amendments will constrain the federal government to bring it in line with the principles of self-government, inherent in the natural rights all human beings are entitled to, and will redistribute power from political elites to We The People.  For example, the Term Limits Amendment will help replace career politicians with patriots and constitutionalists.

However, there’s another layer – another profound impact of the process of advancing the Liberty Amendments – and that’s the impact on elections.  I’m a former project manager; I like to walk through new ideas step by step:

  1. To start, use social media and our networks to make LA a priority – already happening.
  2. Engage with willing state legislators, explain the idea and get them up to speed – the right ones will get excited, the wrong ones will be confused, indignant or agitated – focus on the right ones.
  3. Supportive state legislators will feature LA in their campaigns – setting themselves apart from their loser opponents that will struggle to make the case against self-government.
  4. Making LA part of campaigns effectively puts Freedom & Self-Government on the ballot; patriots will be drawn to the polls and elect like-minded individuals – black, white, man, woman, Republican, Libertarian or Democrat. Many of US don’t show up because we’ve lost any hope that our vote matters – why put our faith in yet another politician?  But voting for a Liberty Amendments supporter is different – it’s a vote for real change, real limits on federal power that will make a huge difference – arguably more than any other single act as a US citizen.
  5. However, the effect will not be limited to state races – how politicians running for Congress react to the Liberty Amendments will tell us a lot about who to trust and who to vote out.  As Levin warns, there will be a visceral reaction to these amendments from the statists.
  6. Bottom-line – this puts the national narrative back in the arena of ideas where we dominate – balanced budgets, fiscal discipline, taking power back from the ruling class.  Opponents will be forced to defend voter fraud, career politicians, record deficits and monstrous zero-accountability 1000 page bills.

Exciting, huh?  Can’t wait to get started?  Well, if you’re lucky enough to live in Virginia or New Jersey, with off-year state elections, we can put the Liberty Amendments on the ballot this year!! 

The Liberty Amendments – Voter Campaign Finance

Back on July 10th, Mark Levin announced his new book Liberty Amendments, released August 13th, discusses a way forward for the millions of U.S. that are fed up with the President and leaders of both parties. Back on July 20th I described why these Amendments are needed, and the method for bringing them to life, in my blog post called, The Liberty Amendments – My Take. I encourage everyone to come up with their own but mine are listed in the post, The Liberty Amendments – My First Five.

Some of the five amendments, posted July 20th, are commonly discussed, some are my tweaks of popular amendments and some are straight up originals – like the Voter Campaign Finance (VCF) amendment, which I described this way:

Limit campaign contributions to those who are registered voters that can vote for the candidate. For example, I live in VA 5th Congressional District – Robert Hurt’s my congressman. If he ran for House, under this Amendment, he could only receive campaign contributions from registered 5th district voters (easily checked against existing voter rolls) – no unions, corporations, out-of-district fat cats, PACs, etc. If you don’t have a legal right to vote in 5th district, you can’t influence the 5th District election.

I came up with this idea about 18 months ago when I began to see more and more evidence how representatives pay more attention to donors than voters and considered alternatives?  Whenever limits on campaign finance are mentioned – the popular reaction is “that would never pass constitutional muster”. As such, I decided I’d keep the idea to myself and use it for a senior thesis or in graduate school – I’m a college student. However, when I heard Mark Levin bring up the Liberty Amendments idea & remind us the “answers are in the Constitution itself”, I knew exactly what he meant – Article V (imagine vocalizing the words “light bulb” in your best Gru voice from Despicable Me). If the problem with VCF is the constitutional issue, then passing a constitutional amendment, instead of an Act, effectively makes the VCF constitutional.

What are the impacts of the VCF Amendment? Well, I’m not an attorney or a political pro, so I’ll stick to the common sense impacts. First of all, our entire political system is based upon the integrity of votes – that each vote should be counted equally and fairly. I simply extend that logic to a meta-view of the influence on legislation. It makes no sense to make sure that each of our votes are counted equally, at the ballot box, only to allow them to be diluted when lawmakers pass laws to please donors over voters. For example, if my 5th District Representative is carefully weighing the wishes of his donors vs. his voters – the votes of the voters have already been diluted. A representative should only be concerned with what their voters want and not anyone or anything else.

Simple, if you don’t have a legal right to vote in 5th district, you shouldn’t be able to influence the 5th District election

Now consider, for a moment, the practical impacts of an amendment like the VCF. For example, if my Representative, Robert Hurt, is thinking about supporting the Senate Gang of 8 Amnesty legislation, why should he care about the opinion of Sheldon Adelson, a Las Vegas billionaire who supports Senate Amnesty? If Hurt gives Adelson’s donations any weight at all, my vote as his constituent has been effectively diluted. Post-VCF, Hurt would only consider the wishes of his voters, not Adelson – that’s how it should be. That’s just one example. VCF also ends the influence of unions and other out of state influence. In Hurt’s recent election, unions ran ads against him yet there’s no significant union presence in our district – the unions don’t care about that – they just want to change who’s in DC for federal legislation that affects them.

One of the great injustices of the last hundred years of the progressive cancer, has been the steady erosion of the states and the expansion of federal power. A big reason that has occurred is the influence of special interest groups – that are either concentrated in Washington DC or have significant representation there on “K” street. Imagine if all those lobbyists lose their financial influence? The result is a transfer of power from the moneyed interests of “K” Street and Wall Street all the way back to Main Street. In fact, not even Main Street, per se, because even local businesses will not be able to contribute to politicians – they can’t vote. Neither can universities or PACs or NOW or the Sierra Club or anyone else that is not registered to vote in my district.

Here in Virginia, we vote for our Governor in off-election years, so this fall we will choose who will lead this great Commonwealth – at least for four years. It’s an epic, ugly battle between Ken Cuccinelli, a Republican and the current & outstanding Virginia A.G., and Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat and the consummate DC insider who once left his baby-birthing wife to attend a campaign fundraiser. The August 8th headline of the Richmond Times Dispatch, says it all:

Out-of-state funds pouring into Virginia race for governor

Why? Why should people from outside the Commonwealth affect who our governor is? What do those donors expect in return? What if it’s different than what Virginians want – who wins? The Virginia Public Access Project tells us the gory details here, including the fact that McAuliffe raised $1.7 million just in the month of June, much of it from unions and the “DGA” of Democratic Governors Association – but who contributes to that group and if Mr. McAuliffe gets $2 million from the DGA – will he put their interest ahead of Virginia voters? Whatever doubts you might have about donor motivations, the people writing those big checks are very clear – Terry McAuliffe is expected to come through for them after the election.

As I’ve said, under VCF, those kinds of contributions and its effect on our policies would end. McAuliffe could attend the births of his children and politicians would be accountable to voters again – as it should be. Let me restate the simple logic of the VCF:

If you don’t have a legal right to vote in Virginia, you shouldn’t be able to influence the Virginia elections.

The Liberty Amendments – My First Five

We’ve been begging our leaders for specifics on what to do to make a difference. Glenn Beck’s events (Restoring Honor, Courage & Love) represent a huge step towards getting our heads & hearts straight about the morality of our cause.  Others have also made contributions, but Levin’s proposal, The Liberty Amendments, deserves specific recognition – it is the first path to restore our founding ideals, based on the Constitution itself, that we can all contribute to, that has a realistic chance– if we pledge “our lives, our Fortunes, & our sacred Honor” to the success of the Liberty Amendments.

Our kids and our country deserve no less.

It will be a difficult climb but I believe the country is ready for a tangible solution to the threats our country faces. Make no mistake; we’re in a race against time and a ruthless progressive cancer. With a $17 trillion national debt, and $60 trillion more in unfunded liabilities, cities like Detroit going bankrupt and states like California threatening, we must right the American ship as soon as possible. Once a financial crisis occurs, it may be impossible to counter calls for a more powerful central government – especially if people go hungry or start blaming the usual suspects (capitalism, tea partiers, etc.)

One last comment before I summarize my ideas for the first five amendments. I believe it’s important for the leaders of our movement – we all have a different list, but mine would include, in addition to Levin, among others, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Yaron Brook, Sen. Rand Paul (and his father Ron), Sen. Ted Cruz (& his father Rafael), Sen. Mike Lee, Mia Love , Rev C. L. Bryant, Walt Williams and 2008 GOP VP nominee Gov. Sarah Palin.

Everybody has different ways of contributing to the cause of freedom. I hope that all of them discuss Levin’s book, advance the idea and help pass the Liberty Amendments. Sometimes silos are created where no one wants to promote what their “competition” is doing – that must not happen.  I would encourage all of them to be generous with their comments and their air & face time.  However, so far, I haven’t heard one word of the idea, or Levin’s upcoming book, from these folks – perhaps they’re waiting for the book?

I first posted this (on another blog) back on July 20th – so, I thought it’s a mistake to wait. In fact, Levin’s idea motivated me to start blogging again for the first time in years. Now that his book is on sale – #1 Amazon bestseller, you can compare my ideas to his, but I hope and pray we will all be encouraged to come up with their own ideas – can there be too much engagement in the cause of freedom? Of course, Levin’s specific amendments will be very important, but just his idea has lit the torch – by urging us to look within the Constitution itself for how to repair our Constitutional Republic.

Everyone has ideas – my first five are listed below and I’ll follow-up with more details on each one – but the main thing is to jump in and start, time’s not on our side.

The Liberty Amendments – My First Five

1. Voter Campaign Finance (VCF)

  • Limit campaign contributions to those who are registered voters that can vote for the candidate. For example, I live in VA 5th Congressional District – Robert Hurt’s my congressman. If he ran for House, under this Amendment, he could only receive campaign contributions from registered 5th district voters (easily checked against existing voter rolls) – no unions, corporations, out-of-district fat cats, PACs, etc. If you don’t have a legal right to vote in 5th district, you can’t influence the 5th District election.

2. Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA)

  • Cut Cap & Balance (HR 2560) was a great idea that died in the corrupt halls of Harry Reid’s U.S Senate – but just barely (51Ds-46Rs) – a real life example of the wisdom of Levin’s idea – Congress will not reform itself, we must go around Congress. My twist on Cut Cap & Balance is this: Limit federal revenues to 18% GDP, spending to 17% GDP limit and the remaining 1% for debt relief and, after that, an “Emergency Fund”.
  • In case of war, Congress can authorize spending to exceed 18% only if two-thirds of Congress approves. The 1% of GDP (of the 18% collected for revenues) would go to pay down the national debt (about $16 Billion/yr at current GDP) and, once debt free (woohoo!!), use the 1% for an Emergency Fund – to pay for declared wars and disasters but only if two-thirds approve “withdrawals” – restoring Congress’ power to limit wars with their Constitutional funding power.

3. Term Limits

  • This has been around for a while but my version would limit service in Congress to just 12 years total. This could be three House terms (3×2=6) followed by a Senate term (1×6) or two Senate terms (2×6=12) or other combinations. The main idea is to not allow folks to make a career out of DC politics while allowing them enough time to be effective.

4. Law Limits

  • Obamacare was over 2700 pages long. The recent immigration bill was 1200 pages. Neither of these very devastating bills, that affect all of U.S., has been read by their supporters or detractors – that’s not a democracy, that’s a marketing campaign. Just vote on one or two issues at a time. I don’t know a specific # – others can work that out – but perhaps < 10 pages.

5. Pardon Accountability

  • Require Presidents to prioritize pardons (100 or less) and announce their last pardons at least 90 days before general election. Although an outgoing POTUS can’t be held accountable, voters can hold parties accountable. I predict the outrages from Obama’s pardons – both the # and who – will force this Amendment to top of list.

The Liberty Amendments – My Take

On July 10th, in the first hour of his radio show, Mark Levin (Constitutional Lawyer, A Tea Party Leader) announced the name of his new book, to be released August 13, is “The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic”. I’m taking a class on the U.S. Constitution, so I knew instantly that he was referring to Article V:

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…

In America, we have what political scientists call a “democracy deficit” – this occurs when a governing body claims their legitimacy is derived from the consent of those they govern, yet the governed have lost the ability to hold their government accountable. This term usually refers to, in political science literature, the illegitimacy of the European Union because it claims broad sweeping powers –the Euro / monetary policy, for example – yet the average European is effectively disconnected from EU policymakers. THAT is exactly what the progressives have done to America. Some examples:

  • Obamacare passed despite the fact a) no one read it & b) 59% of public opposed it & just 39% approved it. (so why did it pass?)
  • Although a new GOP governor was elected in Virginia in 2009, by huge margins, both of our U.S. Senators (Democrats) maintained their support for Obamacare.
  • Over 84% want English to be America’s official language –no vote in Congress.
  • In 2010, because of the tea party surge, the GOP gained 63 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, recapturing the majority, the largest seat change since 1948, largest for any midterm since 1938 and yet not one member of tea party caucus was elected to Speaker or given any leadership positions.
  • In addition, those historic 2010 victories gave the House a mandate to repeal Obamacare and cut spending – yet under Speaker Boehner, members were pressured to approve Continuing Resolutions (CRs) that dumped trillions more debt on our kids & continued funding for Obamacare, Obama’s vacations, DHS purchase of 1.6 Billion rounds of Ammo and many other bad programs Why?

So, clearly, the American people feel untethered from their elected representatives…and the feeling is mutual!! The President, Congress, leaders of both parties are ignoring the wishes of the people except, strangely, the Supreme Court seems sensitive to “changes in public opinion” – but their supposed to make decisions on the facts, the law and THE CONSTITUTION!!! So, the voice of the people matters only when they happen to line up with the political elites, which means they don’t really matter at all.

The problem that has perplexed the Tea Party, and others who wish to restore sanity to our political process, is how to “Clean out the barn!”, as Ross Perot said, when reforms of Congress must be approved by the same Congress that needs reform. Asking Congress to reform itself is like asking criminals to turn themselves in. There’s a reason that seven of wealthiest 10 counties in America are within commuting distance of Washington, DC. Millions make a very good living off this corrupt system and they’re not going to let anyone derail the gravy train anytime soon.

So, what to do? Many of U.S. ask our intellectual leaders and, after “call your congressman” lost all its credibility, even our leaders were stumped. We tried to “vote the bums out” in 2010 – no luck. Even worse, in a blatant act of real voter suppression, we now discovered the IRS was being used to punish tea party groups, in the run-up to the 2012 election. We also discovered the NSA is being used to gather information about US including cell phone records, emails, Facebook postings, etc.

When confronted with the ugly truth of spying on all US Citizens – talk about your general warrants – Congress circled the wagons and claimed, simultaneously, that nothing new had been revealed by Edward Snowden, and Snowden had put the country in grave danger – how can both be true? Nevertheless, because all that FSA Court & NSA activity is being done in private, President and Congress asked that we trust them. Well, we don’t – as Obama himself admitted June 7th, when asked about the revelations:

That’s not to suggest that, you know, you just say, trust me, we’re doing the right thing, we know who the bad guys are… that’s not how it works because we’ve got congressional oversight and judicial oversight. And if people can’t trust not only the executive branch but also don’t trust Congress and don’t trust federal judges to make sure that we’re abiding by the Constitution, due process and rule of law, then we’re going to have some problems here.

Yes, Mr. President, indeed, we have “some problems here”. The distrust of government – at all levels, in both parties – is a serious problem. Which brings us to the beautiful simplicity of Mark Levin’s idea for the Liberty Amendments: using the 2nd part of Article V, we can exclude the folks we don’t trust anymore, the President and Congress, from the solution. Look again at Article V – there are two ways to submit amendments to states for ratification: 1) approval of two-thirds of Congress (not likely) or 2) approval from two-thirds of state legislatures. So far, all post-Bill of Rights Amendments used Option #1. Mark Levin, rightly, says it’s time to use Option #2. In fact, it’s the only option that can be used for meaningful reforms.

The good news is that, as a result of the tea party work in the 2010 elections, the GOP gained over 680 state legislature seats and now have unified control — meaning both chambers — of 26 state legislatures. Two-thirds of 50 states means we need about 34 total state legislatures to “call a Convention for proposing Amendments” – let’s call it the “Proposal Convention” –others will come up with other names, but I don’t want to call it a “Constitutional Convention” – Levin has made the point, rightly, that unlike the original Constitutional Convention, the Proposal Convention will not place amendments in the Constitution, but will propose amendments for the states to consider for ratification. Only if three-fourths of the states approve each proposed amendment, separately, would that particular amendment be added to the Constitution. In his book, the Liberty Amendments, Levin says he will cover the history of the amendment process as well as the constitutional arguments related to the amendments that Levin will propose. I can’t wait – not only is Levin brilliant, but on this subject in particular, it seems he was born to do this – argue reforms to restore liberty for U.S.

Indeed, Levin, a constitutional lawyer, has indicated he has already drafted the legal language for each of his proposed amendments. Before any amendments can be considered, the Proposal Convention itself must be called from 34 state legislatures. Fortunately, the large population states that are desperate to keep feeding at the federal trough – California, Illinois, New York, Michigan, etc., can’t stop this process. As long as 34 states approve, the Proposal Convention goes forward. I predict that, once the ideas catch fire, momentum should get us to the magic number 38 for ratification.

Of course, Levin’s book will cover all this with much greater detail, citations and research than I’m capable of. In particular, I’m curious to find out, in Levin’s book, which ideas he argues would make good amendments, and what our founders, like George Mason, had to say about this process. I am very excited to dive into the new book and see which areas I can help advance. I’ve already ordered a signed “deluxe” copy for myself and a copy for my kids in anticipation of Levin’s just announced book-signing tour to promote the book and the cause of freedom over tyranny. I plan to attend the book-signing August 24th at Tyson’s Corner, VA. Maybe I’ll see you there?

For details of what I’d like to see considered at the Proposal Convention, click:

The Liberty Amendments – My First Five