Mt. Vernon Register-News

February 21, 2014

Ballot box our only recourse

The Register-News

---- — Editor:

America is, in my eyes, a unique experiment in human history. It is undeniably true that the settlement of what eventually became the United States of America is a messy, violent, exciting and (unfinished) process. The original inhabitants, American Indians, were overwhelmed — Manifest Destiny. Human beings were enslaved for economic gain and later freed by Emancipation. A foreign government was expelled through Revolution. It took Civil War to cement a fractured nation. Westward expansion required sacrifice, determination and unbelievable faith to accomplish. This experiment is far from complete.

Why is the ‘ballot box’ important? In answering this, it is necessary to consider what the Founding Fathers put forth: The Constitution. This document (please read it for yourself) is very clear. It provides a structure (policy) that our federal government is supposed to follow in conducting the People’s business. It provides checks and balances among three branches of federal government. America is really a Democratic Republic. The first three articles of the Constitution enumerate the responsibilities of each separate, but equal, branch of federal government. Article I provides that Congress enact laws, authorize spending and provide funds for running the government. Article II gives to the Executive branch power to carry out enacted laws and to spend money, as authorized by Congress, to fund the purposes of those laws. The president “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Article III establishes federal courts with power to interpret laws and assure that they adhere to principles and safeguards as laid out in the Constitution.

Does the ‘ballot box’ question take on real meaning in light of these Articles? Politics is best served by compromise. Both, sides or all sides, if more than two, get something from the deal should be the norm. In my opinion, Washington’s public servants have earned a grade of F on compromise, getting anything done and concern for those they have sworn to serve. If it quacks like a duck, swims like a duck, has feathers like a duck and its feet are webbed, it is most likely a duck. There is nothing wrong with the American Democratic Republic form of government. There is something terribly wrong with the representatives we, the voting public, have sent to Washington to SERVE us. Since term limits would require a vote by the very people to be limited, to limit themselves, isn’t about to happen, (how about that for a convoluted phrase?), it would appear the BALLOT BOX is our only recourse. Maybe you are satisfied that everything is just fine the way it is. If so, vote to retain or do nothing. Everything will be wonderful! But, if you are fed up, downright worried or maybe just a bit upset, educate yourself and find a candidate whose integrity, principles and intestinal fortitude give some hope that the Constitution does not become a footnote in history. Sound impossible?

This quote from Prof. Jonathan Turley of Georgetown University Law School, was given before the House Judiciary Committee, last December: “The problem with what the president is doing is that he’s not simply posing a danger to the constitutional system; he is becoming the very danger the Constitution was designed to avoid; that is, the concentration of power in any single branch.” The subject of the hearing was: “The President’s Constitutional Duty to Faithfully Execute the Laws.” Remember the shouts “Go ahead and do it!” during the State of the Union Address, when the comment was made that action would be taken without Congress, if they didn’t do what he, the President, wanted! I don’t know about you, but this concerns me a great deal.

Jerry R. Clemens

Mt. Vernon