Changes to Constitution better for America

Phil Schurrer and Phil Schurrer

The political gridlock in Washington is legendary.

The amount of money needed to run for virtually any political office has become almost obscene.

And nearly every representative finds the need to begin running for re-election as soon as his or her term begins.

So, here’s a set of suggestions for four Constitutional amendments; help reform our broken government.

First, change the term of U.S. Representatives from two to four years.

By doing this, freshman representatives would have more time available to learn how to govern before running for re-election.

These four-year terms should not end in the same year as the presidential term.

More attention could then be focus on the track record of those running for re-election.

Second, regardless of ability or political skills, no one should remain in elected office too long.

A lifetime limit, perhaps 12 years, should be placed on the total amount of time one can serve as a senator or representative.

This way, new people and new ideas would be circulating in Congress.

Elected political office should not be a lifetime career.

Third, all too often, legislation reaches the president’s desk with a certain amount of non-relevant material attached to it.

The solution is simple and is already used by some states: a line-item veto.

This would permit the president to approve parts of a bill while rejecting other more objectionable parts.

The presidential veto of these rejected items could be overridden in the same manner as is in place today.

Fourth, meaningful campaign financing reform has run aground on the rocks of the First Amendment.

A recent Supreme Court decision has virtually guaranteed a flood of money from nearly every source, due to a strained interpretation of freedom of speech.

A constitutional amendment would overturn the Supreme Court decision, yet retain nearly all the freedom of speech provisions.

Congress and the state legislatures would have the power to regulate the direct or indirect financing of any political campaign for any elective office within their purview.

Most important, any law passed pursuant to this amendment would not violate the First Amendment.

In this way, Congress could exempt the financing of political campaigns from First Amendment scrutiny.

All other rulings and case laws dealing with the First Amendment would remain intact.

It’s not likely that Congress would be motivated to pass these reforms. The Founders anticipated this and made provisions in Article Five for amending the Constitution without Congress.

Two-thirds of the states could vote to call a Constitutional Convention.

This nearly happened a century ago.

In 1912, pressure was building for the direct election of Senators, as opposed to the original practice of having them chosen by each state’s legislature.

Congress was slow to respond and 27 states had called for a Constitutional Convention to deal with the subject.

Only 31 were needed to reach the two-thirds threshold. Under this pressure, Congress then passed the Seventeenth Amendment.

There are risks with a Constitutional Convention. Yet, we must learn to trust each other as the Founders did.

The very risk of a Constitutional Convention might prompt Congress to begin the reform process.

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