I would say that politicians are the primary problem we have today, particularly those at the national level. Those we have elected to represent us in Congress and the White House who use their position of power to use our taxes to fund programs that grease their re-elections and line their own pockets so that they leave office much wealthier than when they entered. Politicians that have been raiding the Social Security/Medicare surplus since the Johnson administration to fund a myriad of programs completely unrelated to Social Security pensions or Medicare (too numerous to list here) which can more accurately be called welfare. Politicians from both parties that have consistently resisted any efforts by the administration in power to reform Social Security and Medicare for the past 40-plus years — even though administrations from both parties have proposed essentially the same reforms.
The only way any of us will ever be able to make any changes to the system we have now is to make our elected representatives more responsive to the constituents in their districts by cutting the outside purse strings with real campaign finance reform. Here is a proposed Campaign Finance Constitutional Amendment (because the courts will not let it stand as a law) that would return control to the constituents living in any given district:
First: Only a natural born citizen living in the district of a candidate may contribute to that candidate’s campaign — that means no unions, corporations, PACs, 527s, social organizations, or any person living outside the district can contribute anything. Therefore, only the citizens of Colorado could contribute to a senatorial race, only those of us living in the 59th state legislative district could contribute to candidates for that position. No one is denied the right to “speak” with their money since all of these organizations are made up of people who live in districts and can contribute in those districts. It is interesting that farm organizations in South Dakota and other states like our U.S. Representative so much that they give him money, but we elect him to represent us, not them.
Second: Only the candidate may run campaign ads, paid for with the campaign contributions collected from the people living in the district in question.
Third: Candidates must maintain a verifiable (valid name, address, etc.) list of all contributors, available online in “near real time.” Any non-verifiable contribution must be turned over to the U.S. Treasury. All non-verifiable contributions are illegal contributions.
Fourth: A candidate who accepts an illegal contribution shall be barred from holding public office at any level forever. This is what is known as a “Zero Tolerance” provision, one strike — you’re out.
Campaign finance reform like this would put some of the control back into the hands of the electorate in each district and would make Congress and the president a little more accountable. It might even be a little easier to vote out incumbents who don’t listen. But, maybe we are better off with the dysfunctional system that has difficulty getting anything passed. I agree with a quote sometimes attributed to Mark Twain: “No man’s life, liberty, or property is safe while the Legislature is in session.”
Two-hundred-thirty-four years ago, 56 brave men signed their names to a document that set the course of our nation. It changed the history of the world. Our Declaration of Independence was a bold statement of revolutionary principles. It laid down a creed of freedom and a quality that has lifted the lives of hundreds of millions here in America and around the world. Yet, without the courage of the soldiers of our Continental Army, the words of the Declaration would have been forgotten by history, dismissed as the radical musings of a failed revolution.
We celebrate Independence Day each year because that ragtag group of citizen soldiers challenged the world’s most powerful military, secured our liberty and planted a standard of freedom to which the entire world has aspired.
Since that first Fourth of July, some 44 million Americans have defended our freedom in times of war. These brave men and women crossed oceans and continents to defeat murderous ideologies and to secure the peace for generations that followed. We live in liberty because of the courage they displayed — from Bunker Hill to Baghdad, from Concord to Kandahar — on this Independence Day we honor their achievements and we should all thank them for their service in freedom’s cause. All of ‘em would sooner die on their feet than live on their knees.
At this hour our men and women in uniform are carrying on this great legacy, facing danger in distant lands and carrying out their missions with all the skill and honor we expect of them. In a time when the terrorists have attacked our homeland and hope to strike again, Americans can take great comfort in knowing that these patriots are on duty and standing watch for our freedom.
So on this Fourth of July, it would be appropriate for all Americans to take a moment and consider what you might do to support the men and women who wear our nation’s uniform; perhaps a donation to the USO on their behalf, because every one of us owes our freedom to these courageous Americans. Two-hundred and thirty-four years after America declared her Independence; the Spirit of ’76 lives on in the courage that these warriors show each day.
On the 50th anniversary of America’s independence, Thomas Jefferson passed away. But before leaving this world, he explained that the principles of the Declaration of Independence were universal. In one of the final letters of his life, he wrote, “May it be to the world, what I believe it will be — to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all — the Signal of arousing men to burst the chains, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government.”
The Fourth of July is a day for celebration and a day of gratitude. Across America, our citizens are going to come together for parades and pyrotechnic displays, and readings from our Declaration of Independence. It’s a grand celebration. It’s a great day to be an American, and may that glorious and memorable day be celebrated through America by the sons of freedom, from age to age till time shall be no more.
Happy Fourth Pagosa!