16 March 2010

We the people of the United States, in order to form 
a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic 
tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the 
general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to 
ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this 
Constitution for the United States of America.

   - Preamble, United States Constitution

I received yet another circulating email this week that asks me to consider its message and send it along to 20 additional recipients. I get chain emails regularly, and my normal response to them is to trash them. I don't do bulk forwarding of jokes, virus alerts, political commentary, or PDF files full of soothing music and beautiful pictures. I figure people have better things to do with their lives than spend them on the typical trivia and minutiae contained in such missives. What somebody else thinks is hysterically funny often strikes me as having its roots in meanness, prejudice, and narrow-mindedness. I'm willing to bet that things I think are funny also strike others as wrong-headed, too, so I just don't do it.

However, that said, this last email was worth considering. The sender wanted my support for a proposed 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution: "Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States." That single sentence is very appealing to me, as is the idea of enacting such an amendment, since I have at present a deep-rooted, dark suspicion that many of the people currently sitting in the seats of power in this country are there because they hope to derive personal gains and satisfy personal goals, rather than acting as representatives acting on behalf of their neighbors and communities and in the interest of the country's well-being.

Even so, I decided to ditch the email, rather than pass it along. Instead, I wrote a reply to the sender, stating my decision and how I reached it.
What I disagree with is a call to action based on something that doesn't exist, or isn't so. I am completely in favor of amending the Constitution if necessary, so that the people who create and enact our laws are also subject to them. Sending an email to everyone that says, "What happened to the 28th Amendment?" only increases the signal-to-noise ratio, and doesn't serve any purpose other than to stir an already boiling cauldron. 

I have already signed several petitions to deal with the issue of Congressional "special handling" and perquisites, but I haven't seen anything come of any of them. The ONLY way this is ever going to be resolved is when and if the American public wises up and decides that every elected official serves ONE TIME, and that at the end of the term, they're out. NO EXCEPTIONS. You have four years to make things better from the day you take office, the clock ticks from Day One, and on the final day, you're history. And if you do a bad job, I won't be voting any more people from your party in to carry on your "tradition." 

We have allowed our Congressional halls to reek of entitlement for too long, and we have created a class of people who seek mostly to enrich themselves and their friends at the taxpayers' expense. There shouldn't BE a "pension plan" for elective office holders--let them put money into a savings account, IRA, or CD, just like the rest of us slobs do--and there certainly shouldn't be a "health plan" just for them. The first step in creating a rational governance is to put people into it who understand that not only is the job a "community service" one (albeit on a larger scale), but it's only half a step above volunteerism, rather than a free ticket to plunder the Treasury and become part of the new noble class.

I'm not asking anyone to forward anything. I'm asking only that people understand they must decide for themselves if what they want from a government is what they're getting, and if it's not, to take direct, unambiguous personal action to change it. Each of us has a voice, and most of us have a vote.

Use them for the greater good.

Excuse me. I need to stop now, and write to the people who are sitting in the seats where my neighbors and I put them.


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