Appendix Page 23
Exhibit A-2 to brief
Whoever said that making sausages and legislating were processes better left unwatched was wrong. Watching sausage being made is easy compared to observing the legislative nonprocess of the last few weeks.
Mr. Lincoln's hope of maintaining government of, by and for the people has been dashed. We now have government in spite of the people.
One party may hold a majority in Congress, but there is no longer a majority of principled men and women in that body. The person who said that Republicans want the same thing as Democrats, but at 80 percent of the cost, knew what he was talking about.
"GOP moderates cut a deal on crime Bill," ran a headline in the Washington Times. Thirty eight Republicans were willing to settle for a $3.3 billion cut in the Democrats' $33.2 billion crime bill which they had been denouncing only days ago as unmitigated pork.
The principled position Republicans had been taking on the bill evaporated as the House Democratic leadership pretended to wince by settling for reductions in spending the Democrats had only tackled on for show and never intended to spend: "These are not even real savings," said Wisconsin Republican Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner.
Neither will the crime bill "reduce crime." No other crime bill has and each one has included tougher sentencing, more capital punishment and new prison construction. This is a sop to voters. We're being duped.
And then there is health care, which the Democratic majority seems determined to push through in some form before the November congressional elections, though polls show as many as 65 percent of Americans want to take more time to get it right. Absolute power has corrupted absolutely.
Our system of government is broken and needs immediate fixing. Perhaps if the voters can stop looking to government long enough to look at what it has become, they will see that we're on the Titanic and supposed "reforms" and "change" have been nothing more than rearranging deck chairs.
If Republicans capture the House and Senate in November that might help, but only if they change, too. The GOP has helped bring about the current crisis by presiding over high taxes, bigger spending, more regulation and larger government, even while ostensibly attacking all of these.
Serious calls are now being heard not for reform but for revolution. The term-limits movement continues to gain strength, winning approval in most states where it appears on the ballot.
Efforts to regain power for "we the people" should not stop there. We should demand the return to a part-time federal legislature, requiring senators and representatives to spend no more than three months in Washington and then return home to real jobs where they would remain in touch with the people. Special sessions could be called if a national or international crisis should occur when congress was not in session.
If the people's business cannot be conducted properly and frugally in three months, maybe it's no longer the people's business, but the business of Congress. A part time Congress would reduce committees and subcommittees and their staffs, saving taxpayers money and slowing the legislative torrent.
The long ignored 10th Amendment ("The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people") should be reclaimed by the people.
Colorado, Hawaii and Missouri have passed resolutions ordering the federal government to stop passing on to them unfunded federal mandates. California and Illinois have introduced similar resolutions. New York is drafting one. Active 10th Amendment committees have been formed to consider the matter in Washington, Oregon, Navada, Montana and Alaska.
"We the people" is still the most powerful organizing principle any nation has ever had. Sadly, we have moved from "we the people" to "us the government," which thinks of itself as the source and dispenser of power.
It is appropriate to consider the beginning words of our two-century-old founding document, the Declaration of Independence, and ask whether modern times demand a similar response.
"When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with one another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."
Cal Thomas is a syndicated columnist. You can reach him by writing to the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053
Comment: To reach Exhibit B to the brief take the first link below