“Unless the mass retains sufficient control over those entrusted with the powers of their government, these will be perverted to their own oppression, and to the perpetuation of wealth and power in the individuals and their families selected for the trust.” (Thomas Jefferson). The Founders did not trust elected representatives not to abuse their office to pursue their personal wealth and repeated reelection, but the People have so far ignored our Founders’ wisdom. This website describes in detail a practical solution based on a randomly selected U.S. Citizens’ Assembly that chooses a few ballot initiatives for a vote by the people at general elections. It is the only feasible Constitutional way the People can enforce their will to minimize corruption by big money etc.
Over at least the last 40 years, our Democratic Republic has increasingly become an Oligarchy ruled by vastly wealthy individuals (mostly male) and their huge corporations, aided by hordes of lobbyists, non-profit fronts, foreign and dark money, and Oligarchs’ media. They use their wealth and resources to select and buy candidates’ loyalty, fund their campaigns, keep them in office (far longer than the founders anticipated), dictate their votes; creating intolerable systemic corruption, spreading big lie propaganda, causing lock-step dysfunction, wasting the Nation’s physical and human resources, and ensuring that their sitting members of congress are almost always reelected.
Many, if not most, members of Congress now represent the Oligarchs, not the People. They have created their Oligarchs’ Gilded Age, exploiting the flaws in our Constitution that permit permanent Oligarchy. Our founders knew there were constitutional flaws and pitfalls; they warned us clearly that we would need to actively guard democracy.
The most recent threat was President Trump’s January 6, 2021 attack on Congress, which alarmingly has many similarities to Germany’s successful 1933 Reichstag fire, which was followed within weeks by Hitler’s 2nd and successful coup (his 1st ended in prison). That created a NAZI Party dictatorship with only 37.3% of the vote. 12 years later it ended following World War II and 80 million deaths. Dictators tend to have tremendous willpower, substantial talent, no conscience, and use the Big Lie repeatedly; but their initial efficiency and effectiveness are followed by destructive searches for ever greater personal glorification. Even after his suicide many Germans still loved Hitler — the “father” leader image persisted.
Trumpism’s first attempted coup very nearly worked – the rioters were only about one minute too late. If his attack on Congress had succeeded, Trump would almost certainly still be President today because there is no solution in our Constitution or laws for Congressional failure to approve the election vote count, and Trump has appointed a very supportive Supreme Court and has a 50/50 divided Senate. Trump may run for President again in 2024.
Over the last 40 years, the U.S has fallen from the world’s Democracy leader to 25th amongst nations and classified as a flawed democracy, and to 40th in life expectancy! Among many analyses, a 10-min. video and a Senator’s eBook “Captured” explain much of what has gone wrong. Neither the Peoples’ Congressional choice from mostly preselected and bought candidates, nor the choice of Party, nor the choice of President, can reverse Oligarchs’ relentless capture of Congress, and with the consent of the Senate, the Supreme Court. “[You have] A Republic … if you can keep it.” (Benjamin Franklin).
All three branches of our federal government have become permanent instruments of and for sale to political pressure, special interests, and cash. They are concurrently in more profound trouble and risk than they have ever been since the constitution was signed and they are unable to help each other out of the mess. The only effective remedy now is for the People to take some effective federal power unto themselves. This website describes how it can be done.
A possible approach is for the People to demand that Congress convene a United States Citizens Assembly to recreate trust in the political process by allowing citizens’ decision-making input on issues of great national importance. For example, Citizens’ Assemblies have been used in Canada and the Netherlands to recommend revision of the election systems, in Ireland to resolve issues of abortion (intractable to government) and population aging, in Belgium to permit a German-speaking section to have a voice, New Unity proposed in the U.S., etc. These are worthy efforts but need statistics companies to select Assembly members, are under Government’s control, and therefore attractive only as the first step towards an effective solution to Oligarchy.
A better approach is based on Switzerland, ancient Athens, and 24 U.S. States that faced similar problems. They grant the People’s the right to propose legislation by ballot Initiatives (a.k.a., proposition, ballot measure), comment in public and Internet, debate and winnow by an Initiatives Qualifying Assembly (in Switzerland, Ancient Greece, and Oregon State to a degree), and then to vote on them directly at Federal elections. Both Switzerland and Athens thrived; the Initiative States have done well too. None have ever revoked their ballot Initiative rights. The scope and size of U.S. Federal legislation require a professional government despite all its defects, but Swiss, Athenian, and State initiative experiences indicate that the accumulation of a few Initiatives a year can limit the worst defects, particularly corruption and Oligarchy. “[A legislature] … should be an exact portrait, in miniature, of the people at large, as it should feel, reason and act like them” (John Adams).
BUT THE BEST APPROACH relies on our Founders’ wise anticipation of today’s problem via their inclusion of a Constitutional Amendment solution using the Second Method that Congress cannot stop. “We may safely rely on the disposition of the State legislatures to erect barriers against the encroachments of the national authority.” (Alexander Hamilton). The People have the power and the constitutional obligation to compel each State to take the necessary action, and in 16 States the People can do it by State Initiatives without the consent of any elected state or federal representatives! Most State capitals are within easy driving distance of their voters, so large pressure demonstrations, voting campaigns, etc. are far easier to implement than in Washington D.C. “Of the people, by the people, for the people” are not just pretty words, they are very real duties of every American citizen to defend their freedom, most critically against Oligarchic Government.
This best solution can constrain Oligarchy now and for the future. The People through their States must permit U.S. Initiatives on Federal election ballots under the U.S. Constitution while retaining a republican form of Government. The solution can be implemented constitutionally without support or approval from Congress, and the People today are up to the task.
34 States pass and then 38 States ratify the Initiatives Amendment by the 2nd Method.
It authorizes groups of 25 or more U.S. Citizens to propose candidate Direct Initiatives.
A large Grand Jury selects just the very best initiatives so as not to overload the voters.
These Initiatives go on the next Federal Election ballot for a vote of, by, and for the People.
“The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government.” (George Washington, 1796). “All power is originally in the People and should be exercised by them in person, if that could be done with convenience, or even with little difficulty.” (James Wilson).
Moreover, the availability of ballot initiatives in 24 States out of the 34 States needed to apply, and 38 States needed to ratify, a U.S. Constitutional Amendment, provides crucial power to bypass Congress. It permits the concentration of the People’s resources to focus on convincing and/or forcing at least 14 of the 28 non-initiative States to submit their amendment applications. After the Amendment is ratified by a Limited Convention of the States (i.e. the Second Method of Amendment) followed by a one-year implementation period, the People will have the direct power to limit Oligarchy and federal disfunction.
Practical details to achieve this are presented on this website. Central to its incorruptibility is a large Grand Jury assembly meeting one week each month by remote Internet, or in person as they collectively choose, with 12-month staggered membership, fairly paid to oversee the Initiatives system. It deliberates, seeks information and advice, reaches consensus, and decides which few (e.g., well under 10) of the People’s Proposed Initiatives qualify to go on the Federal Election Ballot. A randomly selected U.S. Assembly is surprisingly well qualified for the job. It also has the ability to improve itself via Initiatives approved by the People to ensure that it can incorporate improvements that time will make apparent.
Today, Oligarchs damage our Democracy far faster than the People can repair it. For example, Oligarchs and friends implemented Citizens United in 2010; but many years later, even the most aggressive responses from the People are still in the early stages. Peoples’ advocacy organizations such as Fix Democracy First – WAmend, Move to Amend, Wolf-PAC, et al, try to solve each problem with a separate Constitutional Amendment with repeated huge efforts and rare success. By comparison, once implemented, the single United States Initiatives Amendment enables concurrent consideration and prompt remedy, with advice but without consent of Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court, for many important and urgent issues within a few years after they arise, greatly reducing effort, cost, time, and dissension.
Our Founders in their wisdom gave us this path to a Constitutional solution. But to date, we as a nation have not shown the courage and patriotism to follow our Founders’ wisdom and the leadership of our 24 initiative States. “As the people are the only legitimate fountain of power, and it is from them that the constitutional charter, under which the several branches of government hold their power, is derived, it seems strictly consonant to the republican theory to recur to the same original authority [the People]… whenever it may be necessary to enlarge, diminish, or new-model the powers of government.” (James Madison).
Without U.S. Initiative power, the People procrastinate and gamble that the Oligarchs and Congress will benignly reform themselves; but history shows that this is a futile hope – entrenched international Oligarchy and dictatorships are likely and often harmful. For example, cigarette Oligarchs’ cancer deaths, drug Oligarchs’ opioid deaths, and oil, gas, and coal Oligarchs’ irreversible global warming that affects the health and very existence of much of the world’s population. Government responses have been totally inadequate.
By trying the Initiatives solution for a few years, with the built-in ability of the People to adjust, improve, or abort the solution, at a total cost less than building one big warship, the U.S. could regain its democratic republic and world leadership in democracy. By ignoring it, the People will have only themselves to blame as they and their children lose their rights, freedoms, and security. There are thousands of U.S. non-profit organizations seeking to resolve a wide range of valid political and national problems with little hope of success; if enough were to adopt Citizens Initiatives in a unified front they would all vastly increase their chances of individual and collective success.
Greek democracy was founded by aristocrats (Solon and Cleisthenes) not the People. Similarly, 2,500 years later, accelerating the repair of our U.S. experiment in democracy today is comfortably within the power of financially comfortable loyal Americans.
Quick Answers to Some Obvious Questions:
- How Will the People Propose, Select, and Approve Initiatives?
- How Does the Amendment Become Part of the Constitution?
- What Is the First Draft Wording of the Initiatives Amendment?
- How Will States Demand the Initiatives Amendment?
- How Will the Initiatives Amendment System be Physically Implemented?
- What Type of Issues Might Initiatives be Able to Solve that Congress Cannot?