CUSDI.org

Warning: “Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories.” (Thomas Jefferson)

“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)
Our Democratic Republic is now a ruling Oligarchy of huge corporations and vastly wealthy individuals, no longer by the People.

Clearly, the Founders did not trust elected representatives not to abuse their office to pursue their personal wealth and repeated reelection. But the People have ignored the Founders’ wisdom. Consequently, our Democratic Republic has now become a ruling Oligarchy of huge corporations and vastly wealthy individuals, aided by hordes of lobbyists and non-profit fronts. They use their money and influence to create intolerable systemic corruption, big lie propaganda, dysfunction, and waste. Congress now represents Oligarchs not the People.

The U.S., not long ago clearly the world leader, has fallen to 21st amongst nations, and is today classified as a flawed democracy. A 10-min. video and Senator’s eBook “Captured: The Corporate Infiltration of American Democracy” summarize the current situation.

The Founders included a Constitutional solution. “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 can and must demand that the States take this necessary action.

Switzerland, ancient Athens, and 24 U.S. States faced similar problems and came up an excellent solution that grants the People’s right to propose legislation by Initiative, debate it, and then to vote on it directly. The amount of Federal legislation requires a professional government, but it takes only a few Initiatives to control even the most damaging corruption. (Incidentally, both Switzerland and Athens became amongst the richest nations of their time, despite lacking many natural resources.)

To confront Oligarchy, the People through their States must add Initiatives to the U.S. constitution while retaining a republican form of government. This can and must be accomplished without involving Congress, which is disapproved by 80% of the People and too corrupt to be trusted with any part. The availability of direct initiatives and indirect initiatives, in 24 States out of the 38 States needed to ratify a U.S. Constitutional Amendment, provides crucial power to bypass Congress. It permits concentration of resources for 14 non-initiatives States. These issues and their practical implementation are the focus of this website.

“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 … whenever it may be necessary to enlarge, diminish, or new-model the powers of government.” (James Madison)

Quick Answers to Some Obvious Questions:

“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)
Our Democratic Republic is now a ruling Oligarchy of huge corporations and vastly wealthy individuals, no longer by the People.

Clearly, the Founders did not trust elected representatives not to abuse their office to pursue their personal wealth and repeated reelection. But the People have ignored the Founders’ wisdom. Consequently, our Democratic Republic has now become a ruling Oligarchy of huge corporations and vastly wealthy individuals, aided by hordes of lobbyists and non-profit fronts. They use their money and influence to create intolerable systemic corruption, big lie propaganda, dysfunction, and waste. Congress now represents Oligarchs not the People.

The U.S., not long ago clearly the world leader, has fallen to 21st amongst nations, and is today classified as a flawed democracy. A 10-min. video and Senator’s eBook “Captured: The Corporate Infiltration of American Democracy” summarize the current situation.

The Founders included a Constitutional solution. “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 can and must demand that the States take this necessary action.

Switzerland, ancient Athens, and 24 U.S. States faced similar problems and came up an excellent solution that grants the People’s right to propose legislation by Initiative, debate it, and then to vote on it directly. The amount of Federal legislation requires a professional government, but it takes only a few Initiatives to control even the most damaging corruption. (Incidentally, both Switzerland and Athens became amongst the richest nations of their time, despite lacking many natural resources.)

To confront Oligarchy, the People through their States must add Initiatives to the U.S. constitution while retaining a republican form of government. This can and must be accomplished without involving Congress, which is disapproved by 80% of the People and too corrupt to be trusted with any part. The availability of direct initiatives and indirect initiatives, in 24 States out of the 38 States needed to ratify a U.S. Constitutional Amendment, provides crucial power to bypass Congress. It permits concentration of resources for 14 non-initiatives States. These issues and their practical implementation are the focus of this website.

“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 … whenever it may be necessary to enlarge, diminish, or new-model the powers of government.” (James Madison)

Quick Answers to Some Obvious Questions:

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Problem has Deteriorated Past Government’s Ability to Remedy

The Founders expected frequent problems requiring amendments, in their lifetime producing the first 12 amendments in 16 years, a rate of one every 16 months. Since then, Congress has produced only 15 amendments (some trivial, one reversed) in 194 years, a rate of one every 13 years. U.S. abolition of slavery took a civil war to ratify; women’s vote took 72 years to ratify.Contrary to the Founders’ intentions, Congress clearly finds responsibility for Constitutional Amendments to be a most inconvenient and undesirable burden. Consequently, in many cases, Congress has laxly deferred to the Supreme Court to produce legal decisions that are equivalent to Constitutional Amendments, e.g., Citizens United v. FECRoe v. Wade, Miranda v. ArizonaMcCutcheon v. FEC, etc. Reversal of such decisions generally requires a Constitutional Amendment because it is nearly impossible for the Supreme Court to legally justify reversals.

A sample of 19 unaddressed, harmful, and unrepaired issues is shown in the sample list of Benefits that need to be resolved (the reader will probably know of others). It includes issues such as: drug prices, corporate personhood, climate change, gerrymandering, national debt, electoral college, automation impact, congressional oversight, term limits, retirement issues, voting improvements, etc. There will be inevitable disagreements and reconciliations; nevertheless, issues such as these must be confronted and resolved to the satisfaction of the People if the U.S is to flourish again as a Democratic Republic.

The many issues confronting the nation face a single core Problem: The Oligarchy damages our Constitution and our Democracy far faster than the People, acting through Congress, can make repairs. How can the People compel the Congress to repair and serve the People’s interests in a timely and effective manner or find a better approach?

Any effective solution must be commensurate in speed to Oligarchy’s actions. Speed is a critical factor in repeatedly constraining Oligarchy and in defining the solution’s form–Congress would take about 100 years if they were willing to try. Otherwise, Oligarchy’s speed, agility, and perseverance overcome the Peoples’ existing impractical and ponderous options.

The Problem today is 6 giant companies control 90 percent of media.
6 Giants: 90% of Media

The Press is helpful, but has itself been corrupted. In 1983, 50 companies controlled 90 percent of US media. Today, 6 giant companies control 90 percent of media. They work steadily to make the People fearful and compliant; important news is mostly a byproduct. This is key for Oligarchic control and a prerequisite for Authoritarianism.

A solution cannot come from the President or the Supreme Court because the do not have the Constitutional power to solve the Problem; our checks and balances were not designed to address it. The Supreme Court even made the Problem worse by two decisions (Citizens United and McCutcheon), which authorize unlimited and untraceable funds to support the Oligarchy’s candidates. Politics cannot solve this type of Problem because Congress is so obligated to the Oligarchy, and it hardly matters which party is in power. The States have the power to solve some problems by repeated Article V Amendments as envisaged by the Founders (Fed. 43Fed. 85). But in 240 years, the States have not once enforced Article V. Nevertheless, this is the only effective method the People have to limit Oligarchy.

The Oligarchy is strengthening and extending its power in Congress, State Legislatures, Presidential Cabinet, and the Supreme Court. It rewards its friends from its vast supply of funds and It punishes defectors. For example, if an elected official does not obey the Oligarchy, at the next election the Oligarchy will select and finance another, and ensure loss by the first. This threat alone often ensures compliance. It explains things like lockstep voting by officials who have accepted campaign finance, taken gifts, been promised future rewards, or ignored threats, and it explains some votes that to ordinary People may appear as leading to an irrational and unconscionable American nightmare.

Note that wealth and capitalism per se are not mentioned because they are not an essential part of the Problem and are vital to the People’s economic success.

The central problem is therefore how can the People gain sufficient control that they can make government more responsive in a timely manner to their key wishes instead of the Oligarchy’s wishes?

Solution was Anticipated by, and Desirable to the Founders, but Infeasible at that Time

“[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, 1776)
 “The People were, in fact, the fountain of all power, and by resorting to them, all difficulties were got over. They could alter constitutions as they pleased.” (James Madison, 1787)
 “The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government.”  (George Washington, 1796)

It all depends on who you trust for critical decisions by your Government:

  1. Congress alone, often following Oligarchs’ orders, OR
  2. Congress supplemented by the People making a few crucial decisions independent of Oligarchs influence.

For Example,see Benefits for 20 important issues that Congress can not consider, but the People can address.

Starting in 1898 in South Dakota, about half the States have already chosen to trust the People over the politicians; none have changed their mind!  Including City and County Initiatives, about 70% of the People already vote on ballot initiatives at Federal Elections.

This very successful Solution was discovered early in history and applied nationwide as follows:

The Citizens themselves could propose solutions to difficult problems. A very large grand jury decided if any of the proposed solutions were worthy of consideration by all Citizens. When one was found, the jury presented it to a meeting of all Citizens, who considered it and finally voted on it. This process is fast enough to clear the backlog of problems and keep up with the speed of Oligarchs’ mischief. It is a Solution enabling multiple problems that are beyond Congressional capability to be solved concurrently.

The ancient Athenian city-state invented this system. They called it democracy. It proved so successful that in 186 years Athenian culture became the foundation of all Western Civilizations. New England town halls adapted it, but no one believed that all the people could communicate easily in a large country.

Today’s instant Internet communications, social media, and air travel are the communication gamechangers! For the first time in history, the people in a large nation can benefit from this improvement to democracy.

Solution is to use direct democracy for the people to vote on direct initiatives selected by a large grand jury – this is a gamechanger.
IQA Uses Theater, Circular, or Hall for 500 Members

The Athenian Solution is feasible today. If the ancient Athenian citizens could do it 2,500 years ago, we can surely do it today!

“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 1804)

Our Democratic Republic is essential for governance of the United States. But we have the wisdom and knowledge of all our Citizens, including all in government, to make a few profoundly difficult Democratic decisions that are beyond the capability of our Democratic Republic Government. The People have the right and duty to alter our Constitution to take advantage of the Solution; we should and can adapt the Athenian model to manage these profound decisions.

Athenian citizens called a proposed solution “probouleumata”; we call it a Direct Initiative. Athenian voters called their grand jury the “Council of 500”; we call it the “Initiatives Qualifying Assembly” or IQA. Public debate we call free speech and freedom of the press. Voting by all the people we call Federal Elections. The People voting on Direct Initiatives is Direct Democracy; it emulates congress voting the People’s instructions.

Can We Use our State Initiatives Systems for the U.S.?

Yes, but only with great difficulty and limitations. States Initiatives require from 2 to 15 percent of the voters to sign their approval to qualify the initiative onto the ballot. In 2016, the State average cost per qualifying signature was $5.63, yielding a total of $78.12 million. (In 2016, the people voted on 157 initiatives and propositions in 34 states.) The magnitude of these costs would provide Oligarchs with an irresistible opportunity to control a National Initiative process. Oligarchs would have no difficulty corrupting a National System that is built on the State Initiatives system.

A national initiatives system based on our State Initiatives System or the Swiss National Initiatives System (used successfully for 125 years, taking a poor landlocked nation to one where personal income now exceeds the U.S.) could be used as a stepping stone to the Athenian approach.

Since the “Athenian” approach is a far better and safely incorruptible system than the State Initiatives or Swiss approach, it is the focus of this website.

Using this Solution in our Democratic Republic

The Solution ensures that no Government entity is operationally involved or can interfere. The system is incorruptible (domestically and internationally), with many inherent safeguards including a repeal safeguard. The IQA is well designed and large enough to manage itself and make wise decisions. Operations are one week each month; costs are modest. Funding is an entitlement of the People. The IQA is an exact portrait (a mirror) of the People, assuring relevant initiatives and saving voters’ time. The Oligarchs cannot bribe it because a 500 Member Grand Jury is far too large a risk exposure, strongly protected from tampering; penalties penetrate corporate shields and include mandatory jail. Because no one is running for re-election, Initiatives can address long-term issues.

Our republican form of government will continue unabated without interference, except that the People will have the on-going Initiative power by direct democracy to correct it when Government becomes excessively misrepresentative, ineffective, or corrupt. It continues our United States’ great experiment in government, perhaps even reestablishing our world leadership that Oligarchy has destroyed.

The big issue is how can we Campaign and implement the Solution? This is the next section.

How Do the People Propose Initiatives and Approve Them?
Who Controls the IQA?

Campaign for Amendment Proposed by Congress or by Limited Convention

“…the persons delegated to the administration of the national government will always be disinclined to yield up any portion of the authority of which they were once possessed.” (Alexander Hamilton, 1788)
“The words of this article [V] are peremptory. The Congress “shall call a convention.” Nothing in this particular is left to the discretion of that body. And of consequence, all the declamation about the disinclination to a change vanishes in air.…” (Alexander Hamilton, 1788)

It is recognized that the Initiatives Amendment presented on this website is an early draft that requires substantial expert review and revision before the campaign to submit it to the States, and then limited to a few pioneering States so State feedback can be incorporated. It is possible that other organizations will assist or form a coalition to include CUSDI Inc. since the magnitude of the task is far beyond the capabilities of an ordinary nonprofit corporation.

Two Article V Options

In all previous State Applications to Congress for an Article V Amendment, whenever the number of State applications has approached or reached two thirds, Congress has itself deemed it necessary, created a Proposed Amendment (i.e., using the first option), and proposed it to the States for ratification. This has ensured that the wording is acceptable to Congress and preempts any need that Congress shall call a Constitutional Convention of the States (limited or not).

First Method Option

In the case of this Initiatives Amendment, it is unlikely that Congress will follow its historic process due to the Amendment’s ability to create limits on Congressional perquisites, constrain Oligarchy, etc. Thus, we must be prepared to use either Article V method, with the second as the more certain to avoid downfall in Congress. We therefore focus on the second method because it offers more certainty and can easily default to the first method if Members of Congress recognizes the extent of its own failure to resist Oligarchy and act honorably to Propose the Initiatives Amendment to the States for ratification.

Second Method Option

The Campaign objectives are for 34+ States to call a Limited Article V Convention to propose the Initiatives Amendment followed by 38+ States to ratify the Initiatives Amendment.

This Campaign assumes total opposition from Oligarchy and Congress. The Constitution requires only one essential action by Congress:  Article V states “The Congress…on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments…”.  The words of this article are peremptory. The Congress shall call a convention.” Federalist 85.

This Campaign Uses the Limited Second Method

There is a big difference between a Limited Article V Convention (i.e., limited to a specific Amendment) and a General Convention (i.e., at which any amendments may be introduced, and its consequences are more unforeseeable). The remote possibility of a so-called “runaway convention” outcome is completely nullified, because under all circumstances ¾ (38) of the States must approve the Convention’s outcome. Congress’s 2014 Congressional Research Service and many other authorities explain and confirm the Limited Article V Convention issue in detail.

As a first campaign step, the People should oblige State Legislators, Congresspersons (for insurance), and all Candidates to sign the U.S. Initiatives Amendment Pledge or forgo their vote, and make all voters aware of the Candidate’s stance. As necessary, filtering of Candidates at successive elections will eventually prevail for both Amendment Application and Ratification; time and right are on the People’s side.

Campaign Part 1: Use State Legislator Pledge of Support Throughout

The use of pledges by elected political representatives can be extremely effective as shown by the Norquist Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Using a similar approach for State Legislators whereby many of the People only vote for legislators who have signed this Initiatives Amendment Pledge draft will be an extremely effective and nationally used tool.

Campaign Part 2: Use State Direct Constitutional Initiatives in 16+ States

The People value initiatives, They are used in 24 States, many cities, and counties. Direct Constitutional Initiatives (see draft) are available in 16 States, potentially enabling the Solution to be added to some State Constitutions, giving it durable permanence and authority.

Campaign for States to call a Limited Article V Convention to Propose the Initiatives AmendmentCampaign Part 3: Use State Legislative Initiatives in 8+ States

In another 8 States legislative Initiatives are powerful, and in at least one State may apply directly to Congress, they can usually be revised by the State Legislature. Combined, Initiative States represent 63 percent of the States needed to ratify a U.S. Initiatives Amendment.

Campaign Part 4: Use State Referenda and Legislation in Remaining States

State Referenda and Legislation must be enacted by State Legislators. The Pledge will be a substantial influence. Use of the public demonstrations, lobbying, donations, and the normal election process will be crucial to finally get to the three-quarters of the States needed for ratification. However, ratification is the last step and so have the greatest time for the People to express their views and exert their will.

Campaign Funding

With substantial financial support to fund State Initiatives and press the Pledge, success can come in a few years. But it can take a great many years if it is a grassroots effort. The scope of the funding effort will be huge; to think otherwise is naive. A few philanthropists could make a huge difference. It is way beyond the financial capability of this website organization. However, there are hundreds, maybe many thousands, of nonprofit organizations that individually try forlornly to make a change, focusing on one or other of the wide range of issues. Passage of the Initiatives Amendment will provide them with an effective, realistic, and less expensive mechanism for them to pursue their objective.

Despite the vast uncertainties at the start of the campaign, the guesstimate is that the initiatives amendment campaign will cost about $1 billion ($3/Citizen) and take 10 years. After ratification, operating the Initiatives program will cost under $1 billion per year. By comparison, the annual cost of operating Congress is over $4 billion per year, the cost of the 2016 federal elections was $6.5 billion for the presidential and congressional elections combined, and the Federal Budget for 2016 was almost $4,000 billion.

Initial Action

The initial step must be to assemble by internet and conference a team of experts to review and revise the Initiatives Amendment and its two attachments. This should be followed by selection of a smaller member of the 16 States that have Direct Constitutional Initiatives, in which the Amendment will be put on the State ballot for the next election. Concurrently, State Legislators in the selected States should be lobbied to sign the Initiatives Amendment Pledge.  The feedback from these efforts will identify revisions, validate the concepts, and set the approach for other States.

If you believe this Solution is worth examining, start an email cascade circulation of this website address (cusdi.org) with a suggestion to continue the cascade. Similarly, use your social media to pass on the message. An organization will be needed in each State to interface with their State Legislatures.

People fear the unknown; nothing new is absolutely assured of success. And certainly, the Initiatives Amendment is a major step in the Great American Experiment in Democracy. The Initiatives Amendment therefore includes a clause whereby it is automatically and gracefully repealed after 10 and 20 years unless the People reaffirm their desire to keep it.

How is an Amendment Approved from Start to Ratification?
How Can States Avoid Article V 2nd Method Pitfalls?

Benefits from Initiatives Amendment Solution

This Statue announcing the benefits of Liberty is one of the most recognizable icons of the United States and was often one of the first glimpses of the United States for millions of immigrants after ocean voyages from Europe.
Advancing the Benefits of Liberty (Wikipedia © Gary Dee CC BY-SA 4.0)

The Benefits are that this single Initiatives Amendment authorizes Direct U.S. Initiatives by the People that can provide legislative and constitutional Solutions to numerous Problems that Congress cannot solve. 

About 20 examples of benefits for major issues that Initiatives may solve, and which Congress cannot or will not solve, are shown below. Under today’s Constitution it would take over 200 years to deal with these issues; after the amendment, it will take only a few years to start serious debate and potential resolution of many these and other major issues:

This single Initiatives Amendment Solution provides an effective, relatively quick, and comparatively inexpensive method for resolving numerous problems and it is the only way to permanently restrain Oligarchy or worse.

For many advocates of solutions to many dozens of problems, their chances of achieving their government reform goals were virtually zero no matter how fierce their advocacy. With the Initiatives Solution, they have the benefits of an effective way to publish their case for consideration by the IQA, which after very careful consideration may find that it ranks among the very best and most worthy, and advance their Initiative for vote by all the People at Federal Elections.
For example:

Direct Initiatives can pass Congressional Legislative solutions.

Direct Initiatives can also apply for a Constitutional Amendment, and a second Direct Initiative can ratify the Amendment.

Indirect Initiatives can go directly to Congress if Congressional support is likely, saving the People time and effort; if Congress does not concur, it can be elevated to a Direct Initiative.

Advisory Initiatives can lead to Solutions that cannot be found any other way for complex problems where the People must compromise.