Total Pageviews

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Restoring Balance And Harmony (Part Five)

(Editor’s note:  Should a lawmaker be permitted the right to serve indefinitely, for unlimited term or duration, in many instances for life?  The final segment --- Part Five --- in this multi-part series on Restoring Balance And Harmony addresses the back end of the legislator’s term of service. 


The solution for reversing the greatest concentration of wealth disparity in American History is no simple task, targeting reform of the legislative branch at three critical junctures: first, before the legislator is elected; second, while the legislator is serving; and third, on the back end of the legislator’s term of service.

The solution’s first component calls for the abolition of gerrymandered districts, the second for an end to the filibuster custom.  This final segment brings us to the third and final component.

Third, on the back end of legislative service, George Washington’s precedent of executive term limit must be extended on a constitutional basis to the legislative branch.

If lawmakers are made to understand that they are out of office after a time certain --- returned to private life with strict, transparent limitations on future economic dealings at government expense --- they will possess little incentive but to act conscientiously in the affairs of the people.  Their perpetual concern about re-election as a distracting self-interest proposition and corruptive force will have been effectively removed.

In both the House of Representatives and the Senate, a limitation of twelve (12) years in elected office is suggested as a flexible starting point for discussion.  Those who come to view their place in the federal government as a hereditary or privileged entitlement will be removed by the regular operation of law, so that fresh, new, ordinary blood can renew the people’s fight.

Theodore Roosevelt did not believe

that any man should ever attempt to make politics his whole career.  It is a dreadful misfortune for a man to grow to feel that his whole livelihood and whole happiness depend upon his staying in office.  Such a feeling prevents him from being of real service to the people while in office, and always puts him under the heaviest strain of pressure to barter his convictions for the sake of holding office.  A man should have some other occupation … to which he can resort if at any time he is thrown out of office, or if at any time he finds it necessary to choose a course which will probably result in his being thrown out, unless he is willing to stay in at cost to his conscience.


Steering this proposal into law will serve to render a legislative seat more responsive to the will and strengthened vote of the ordinary citizen and not to concentrated economic power.  Consequently, lawmakers will regain their rightful place as the impartial umpire in the affairs of the people’s business set on a level playing field.

This proposal does, however, contain one catch.  And it is a major catch.  Unfortunately, lawmakers cannot reasonably be expected to legislate away in regular session privileges they have devised, perfected and come to expect and enjoy for themselves by tradition over the course of more than two centuries.  This is to be anticipated in the context of human nature’s important lesson --- that reasonable people will act reasonably in their own best interest.

To implement change for the greater good, we must provide favorable conditions without the constraints of today’s competing, partisan ideologies.  It is apparent that these reforms simply cannot be accomplished, therefore, absent a national constitutional convention called specifically for this purpose.  Delegates to the convention must be pledged solely to the great unfinished business of the nation, not to partisan, special or self-interest.

Therein lies the problem.  Does the ordinary citizen possess the courage to meet this challenge?


-Michael D’Angelo

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Restoring Balance And Harmony (Part Four)

(Editor's note:  Our multi-part series on Restoring Balance And Harmony traces in part how we have arrived at the greatest concentration of wealth disparity in American History --- and constructs a practical solution.  The previous segment discusses the solution's first component. Part Four presented here highlights the solution's second component.)


As we have seen, the founding fathers entrust the legislative branch of government as umpire with the important if not unenviable task of steering the nation’s ship by making laws to promote the general welfare of its people as a whole.  Not surprisingly then, the solution for ameliorating the greatest concentration of wealth disparity in American History targets reform at the level of the legislative branch.

Specific reform addresses the legislative process at three critical junctures: first, before the legislator is elected; second, while the legislator is serving; and third, on the back end of the legislator’s term of service.

The first critical stress point --- prior to the legislator’s election --- is the subject of the solution’s first component.  Specifically, the elimination of gerrymandered legislative districts is discussed in the previous segment.

The second critical stress point concerns proceedings while the legislator is in office.  Consequently, the solution’s second component addresses the lawmaker’s seat, once serving.  That seat must be restored to a position of public trust from the anomaly of a fully evolved individual prize.  A place of profit must be restored to a post of honour --- meaning a post of service --- as originally designed.

How can this best be accomplished?  We can start by denying the lawmaker any privilege which is not the right of every citizen --- in a broad range of issues from working conditions to compensation to health care to retirement.  A lawmaker must be barred from voting on any proposed legislation which may affect his or her family members personally.  Special interest perks must be eliminated by use of a bright line.

This component will provide more than enough incentive, urgency and assurance that any disparity which needs fixing will be fixed.  The US Congress must no longer be maintained, nor should any legislative body, as an exclusive, closed door establishment paradise for its members.

Additionally, how can we best accomplish the goal of redirecting lawmakers to conduct the people’s business, instead of just stalling?  This great question requires an analysis of the function of the two branches in the legislative scheme.

On the one hand, the House of Representatives by its populist design stokes the passions of the masses.  It is the place where the great issues are designed to be bantered about openly.  On the other hand, the Senate is designed by use of calm deliberation to cool the passions of the House of Representatives, as by analogy boiling hot tea is cooled by transfer from teapot to cup and saucer. [i]

The Senate is not designed to be a wall.  But enacted since the time of the founding fathers, the filibuster has added an “unconstitutional dimension” to the legislative process.  Through the filibuster, a senator can talk indefinitely relative to a proposed measure to keep it from ever coming to a vote, thereby hijacking the very heart of the legislative process. 

The filibuster has been described as a peculiar institution responsible in large part for Congress’ failures, “purely and simply an undemocratic technique to permit rule by a minority.”  It has delayed --- for decades in certain instances --- passage of social legislation by the House and desired by a majority of Americans. [ii]

The technique serves to transform the Senate from a moderating force into an impregnable barrier, blocking the rising demand for social justice. [iii]  The result effectively transforms a designed cooling period into a protracted ice age.  This is not how the founding fathers have intended the Senate to function.  Consequently, its unrestricted use must be abolished.

(Editor’s note:  The fifth and final segment in this multi-part series on Restoring Balance And Harmony addresses the solution’s third component --- on the back end of the legislator’s term of service.  Should a lawmaker be permitted the right to serve indefinitely, for unlimited term or duration, in many instances for life?)


-Michael D’Angelo





[i]  Caro, Master of the Senate, supra, at p. 9.

[ii]  Id., at p. 385, 446.

The quote is attributed to the liberal US Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey, Jr., D-MN, upon his election to the Senate in 1948.  Humphrey would later serve as Vice President during Lyndon Johnson’s administration.

[iii]  Id., at p. 83, 92, 105.