A few weeks ago, I wrote a post lamenting the need for a strong leader, a visionary, a man of conviction to help us break the chains of tyranny that are enslaving us, a rebel who will stand up to the establishment and restore the principles of freedom on which our nation was founded. I think we have found one such man in Mark Levin—though I’m sure we need many such men to push back the despotic tide that is threatening to drown us all.
Like the prophet Ezra turning his people back to the law of God after their exile in Babylon, Levin is calling Americans back to their law, to their founding principles—to the Constitution. He’s doing it through his book The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic.
My purpose in this post is not to debate the feasibility of state conventions in amending the Constitution -- Mainly because one would need to read Levin’s book to grasp how this can be done. If you would like to discuss the constitutional process itself, I point you to Ricochet member Ole Summer’s post on The Liberty Amendments.
After reading the book, I do think Levin’s plan is possible (of course it is—the Founders wouldn’t have included it in the Constitution if they thought it weren’t possible!), but, as he says, it won’t happen overnight. This is not a plan for those addicted to instant gratification or quick fixes. This is a battle that will take years, but it is a beginning. It is a vision.
What I would like to do through a series of posts is discuss each amendment Levin has proposed -- amendments designed to turn America back to the Constitution. This might seem strange—amending the Constitution to save it—but this is exactly the gift given to the American people by our founders when politicians have become too tyrannical to fix the government themselves.
The first amendment Levin has proposed is establishing term limits for members of Congress:
SECTION 1: No person may serve more than twelve years as a member of Congress, whether such service is exclusively in the House or the Senate or combined in both Houses.
SECTION 2: Upon ratification of this Article, any incumbent member of Congress whose term exceeds the twelve-year limit shall complete the current term, but thereafter shall be ineligible for further service as a member of Congress.
According to Levin, “There is nothing wrong with keeping a good public servant in office for as long as the official and we, the voters, want him there. New does not necessarily mean better, and often it can mean worse.” The problem is that in reality too often unexpected consequences prevail.
America has never been a pure democracy and majoritarianism has always been as much feared as monarchism. Moreover, our supposedly broad parameters of “choice” at the ballot box have actually caused a dramatic narrowing of electoral options for voters. Putting aside the media histrionics over “divided” government and the “dysfunctional” relationships between the two houses of Congress, these institutions are populated by a class of elected officials who jealously covet the power of public office.
In 2010, 85 percent of incumbents from both parties were reelected—397 members of the House ran for reelection and 339 won. The Senate’s reelection rate was 84 percent.
Ronald Rotunda, Chapman University law professor and constitutional expert, made the point a few years ago that “turnover in the House of Lords has been greater than the turnover in the House of Representatives. There was even more turnover in the membership of the Soviet Politburo.”
As Levin says, “It is apparent that in Washington and most political capitals TIME in office = POWER.”
An important antidote is congressional term limits, which slowly displaces a self-perpetuating ruling class populated by professional politicians—which is increasingly authoritarian in its approach to governance—with a legislative body whose members are, in fact, more representative of the people, for they are rotated in and out of Congress over a generally shorter and defined period of time.
What do you think of this particular amendment in helping to reduce the power of the federal government and putting it back in the hands of the people?
Levin’s 11 Proposed Liberty Amendments:
- Establish Congressional Term Limits
- Repeal the 17th Amendment and Restore the Senate
- Establish Term Limits for Supreme Court Justices
- Limit Federal Spending
- Limit Federal Taxing
- Limit the Federal Bureaucracy
- Promote Free Enterprise
- Protect Private Property
- Grant States Authority to Directly Amend the Constitution
- Grant States Authority to Check Congress
- Protect the Vote
(While these are Levin’s suggestions, he has stated that others could certainly be proposed.)