On Our Nation’s Birthday

independence-day-parade.jpgThis holiday is one of my favorites, with many fond childhood memories. A time to spend with family and friends, as summer is now in full swing. But before the parties, the backyard barbecues and the fireworks, I have a question. When is the last time you read the Declaration of Independence? It won’t take long. It’s only 1428 words. But maybe it is time to reconnect with just how profound a document it really is. Maybe you should start your backyard celebration this year with your children reading it aloud.

In a recent poll, 49% of Americans thought that our Founders would see us today as a failure. If you really understand what’s in our founding documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, then maybe it is not too difficult to understand the sentiment.

Our Founders were intelligent. They were well read and experienced with the affects of tyranny. It is the reason why our Constitution has stood the test of time. Above all, they understood human nature and created a robust system of checks and balances. They also feared the dangers of a strong central government and how one day it could become tyrannical. They put safeguards in the Constitution such that we who “consent” to be governed are able to rein in an out-of-control federal government.

I would make the case that since the FDR administration, this country has been on a steady course away from the philosophies of Locke and others that drove our Founder’s thought processes. They were more closely aligned to today’s Libertarians rather than either the Republicans or Democrats. The federal government’s role in our lives has grown dramatically ever since, with more decisions becoming centralized and the states essentially vassals of the federal bureaucracy. Willing to do anything for their piece of the federal treasury largess.

debt2Consider for a moment the federal debt, now around $20 TRILLION. In the 3-1/2 minutes it will take you to read this article, our national debt would have grown by about $1,500,000. That is about $617,000,000 a day. And all of that is based on shady accounting practices that masks the real debt. It is unsustainable. The economy is not growing fast enough, nor will “taxing the rich” even at 100% fix the problem.

The federal debt is a silently ticking time bomb. It is hardly ever mentioned anymore, as Republicans and Democrats constantly raise the debt limit. The Republicans continue to be scared of their shadow, not wanting to be blamed for a government shutdown. The Democrats only want to “pay our past obligations”. Both are wrong. “We the people” are also complicit. Let the good times roll.

By any measure, our federal government is broken. Both Republicans and Democrats can agree on that. Congress’ job approval cannot go much lower. The endless political scandals, real or imagined, out-of-control debt, the revolving door between government and Wall Street, the influence of global corporations, the list goes on. We may have reached a tipping point. Those dependent in any way on a large federal government may be in the majority. Career politicians know that to stay in power, they have to feed the beast. It’s a self-reinforcing positive feedback loop that must be broken.

So where does that leave “We the people”? You have one of two choices. First, you can sit back, and wait for the coming demise of this great nation. Make no mistake, that day is coming and no one wins. Especially our children and grandchildren. We cannot rely on the federal government or Congress to fix themselves. They cannot and will not. They are flawed humans just like the rest of us, and are now clearly corrupted by power and money. On both sides of the political aisle.

Or, you can do something. Fortunately, the Founders gave us a solution. It is an Article V convention of the states.

Article V provides two ways to amend the Constitution: either Congress can propose amendments, or the states can call a convention of the states provided 2/3 of the states can agree on the same purpose for the convention. In that second case, Congress has no control over the process. The states control who goes to the convention and the process. Any amendments that are proposed must be ratified by 3/4 of the states to become valid.

COSThere is a grassroots effort now underway to do just that. The Convention of the States Project has proposed a resolution that twelve states have already approved. It is being debated in nearly all of the rest of the states. It proposes the convention focus on three main areas: imposing fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government and limit the terms of office for its officials and members of Congress.

Visit the website, sign the petition, and learn why this is the only way to stop the destruction of the country we all love. I have come to believe over the last several years that the growing federal government threatens us all. This is not a partisan issue. For conservatives, the growing debt speaks to their belief in personal responsibility as a moral issue. For liberals and progressives, the influence of money in our political process resonates with their sense of fairness.

The primary argument against this process, is a “runaway convention”. For instance, completely re-writing the Constitution. Based on the process, there is no way that can happen. Others will argue that it should only be used as a last resort. I would contend that time is now. I suspect that some in the state legislatures who are vehemently opposed have aspirations at the federal level so federal term limits is not something they would like to see happen, though use other arguments to hide the real reason for their opposition. For anyone who opposes the effort, you must look beneath their arguments to the core intuition that motivates them. Are they being truthful about their reasons for opposing the effort? What exactly are they afraid of?

I have never been involved in any grassroots political activity. Until now. I recently have signed-on to be a District Captain in North Carolina District 113 for the Convention of States Project. While I have always tried to be politically educated, I have decided the time has come to become politically active.

“We the people” are the only way this problem will be solved and our country saved. Join me.

Jeff Groh is a fiscal conservative and a social moderate. He believes more often than not, both sides of the political spectrum actually agree on the ends, but it is the means that fuel disagreements, with the far right and left resorting to name-calling rather than a pursuing a rational debate on the issues, trade-offs and unintended consequences. He is also District Captain in NC 113 for the Convention of States Project. His consulting company, New Product Visions, helps companies improve their innovation management practices, and he is passionate about the creation of economic value and prosperity by restoring our country’s manufacturing base. Want to email me? jgroh@newproductvisions.com

On Our Nation’s Birthday

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