Monday, October 22, 2012

The Noble Experiment

Raton Facade


Last Friday a friend and I headed east to Raton, New Mexico to cast our ballots in the 2012 United States Presidential election. The two hour drive across the plains gives you a lot of time to think and talk. We did not have to think about our vote because our minds were firmly made up. But we talked about how deeply divided our country has become. This great experiment of ours is not working. Something has to change.

I am reminded of Abraham Lincoln's Springfield, Illinois speech of June 18, 1858 in which he addressed the issue of slave vs. free: "A house divided divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free." It took the bloodiest war in the history of the world to resolve that issue. And the years I lived in the south made me doubt that the wounds of that war were ever going to heal.

Now we are divided Red and Blue, Republican and Democrat, Christian and freedom to believe as you will. Politicians have played on the differences and erected fences against either side talking to each other. Such must have been the tension along the Mason Dixon line in the days before war broke out with brother fighting against brother. To avoid another civil war I think we need to call a Constitutional Convention as provided for in Article V of the Constitution. Our system is broken and it needs fixed.

 "Even though the Article V convention process has never been used to amend the Constitution, the number of states applying for a convention has nearly reached the required threshold several times. Congress has proposed amendments to the Constitution on several occasions, at least in part, because of the threat of an Article V Convention. Rather than risk such a convention taking control of the amendment process away from it, Congress acted pre-emptively to propose the amendments instead. At least four amendments (the Seventeenth, Twenty-First, Twenty-Second and Twenty-Fifth) have been identified as being proposed by congress at least partly in response to the threat of an Article V convention."

What is clearly broken is the election process, including but not limited to the Electoral College. At the time our constitution was written maybe we needed two years to campaign for office. Not so today in this age of rapid communication. And maybe we needed the safeguard of the Electoral College procedure to prevent a do over of the election should a candidate die between election and swearing into office. But not so today. Nor should candidates be allowed to buy an office. Or buy the voting machines that will tally his votes for that office.

We need to put a sense of power back into the hands of the people and that means taking that power from the millionaires and billionaires and mega corporations and lobby groups. "Government of the people, by the people and for the people . . ." Enough already! This election has shown just how bad it can get. And there is a real danger of a popular vote for one candidate and election of the other by unfairly distributed Electoral College numbers.

At the county court house in Raton a 91 year old couple, the Romeros of Raton, were voting early. And a young woman came in with her daughter to vote. The court house staff gave the little girl a sample ballot and pencil to fill out. I hope when she is old enough to vote voting will still mean something. And that it will continue to mean something until she is 91 or older. But if that is going to be true we have to do something decisive and we have to do it soon.

After you cast your vote connect up with others in your state to begin the process of calling for an Article V convention. Save our noble experiment.

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