Only those happily trampling on the last vestiges of freedom will deny that our federal government as a constitutional republic has ceased to function. The president can no longer control (nor does this one want to control) the enormous and ever-expanding bureaucracy functioning as a government by fiat. The legislative branch, so corrupted, so drunk by the allure of power, so disdainful of its constituents, is unable to stop its bankrupting ways. The judiciary is perhaps the worst. The Supreme Court is openly rejecting the authority of the Constitution itself.
If the federal government refuses to adhere to the enumerated powers of the Constitution, what can the citizenry do about it? The events of the past five years (more, actually) prove this. It has become virtually impossible to stop the agenda of a radical Chief Executive who brazenly uses the federal government as his personal political machine. It is almost impossible to defeat an incumbent member of Congress with all the advantages it has awarded itself. For all intents it is impossible to replace a member of the Supreme Court.
The left is content with this terrible turn of events. By “transformation” they meant the transfer of power to the state. Conservatives are loath to declare American exceptionalism dead, yet are powerless to stop the statist steamroller. With every cycle the situation worsens. At some point the unthinkable -- tyranny -- is upon us. We are running out of time. Only radical surgery will save the patient now.
Enter Mark Levin, M.D., with his new book, "The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic." Levin is a Constitutional scholar -- and he shines. He argues passionately that the federal government can be brought under control only if new limitations are thrust upon it by its citizenry. He proposes a Constitutional convention, not one called by Congress but one impaneled by two-thirds of state legislatures, and which would require a three-fourths margin to pass any new amendments. It is the lesser known of the two options provided by Article V of the Constitution.
What should a Constitutional convention tackle? Levin offers eleven amendments for consideration, with appropriate subdivisions, each carefully researched and each designed to reduce the power of the state.
Term limits for Congress is the first liberty amendment Levin offers. It is my view also the most important. Only when there are limits (12 years of service) will Congress be populated by men and women driven only by the call to service, not the siren song of power. The millions delivered by special interests for the re-election of incumbents who, in turn, reward said interests with billions in grants, contracts, tax shelters and the like -- will cease.
Levin calls for other limitations on Congress. He proposes an amendment to limit federal spending and another to limit taxation, the combination which will restore fiscal sanity while devolving power from the state. He offers an amendment to repeal the Seventeenth Amendment, returning to the Article 1 mandate that Senators be chosen by their state legislators.
What about the Supreme Court? “[S]hould five individuals be making political and public policy decisions and imposing them on every corner of the nation...as they pursue even newer and more novel paths around the Constitution in exercising judicial review?” Levin points to the obvious: Sometimes mistakes are made (Roberts, anyone?) and America shouldn’t be punished for the rest of that jurist’s life. He proposes 12-year term limits for them as well.
What can be done to control, even reduce the size and scope of the bureaucracy? All federal departments and agencies must be re-authorized by Congress every three years or be terminated -- that’s what.
There’s a liberty amendment to protect and promote free enterprise, now under vicious assault. One to protect private property given the ability of the federal government suddenly to steal it. Amendments to increase the power of the States, and finally, an amendment to protect the voting process.
Who would have thought any such amendments would ever be needed? And that’s the point. Such is the nature of the crisis.
Levin quotes Tocqueville reflecting on the Constitutional Convention of 1776: “[I]t is new in history of society to see a great people turn a calm and scrutinizing eye upon itself when apprised by the legislature that the wheels of its government are stopped...”
It is time for our legislatures once more to issue the clarion call.
Levin hopes “The Liberty Amendments” will launch a national discussion, and it will. Levin is a consequential man, and this is a consequential book. Some critics will dismiss the concept out of hand. It is they who should be dismissed -- unless they have bold new alternatives to propose. Nothing else is working, and nothing else will do. We have reached the tipping point.