Initiatives v Oligarchy

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

What Are Pros and Cons of State Legislator Support for Amendment?

Pros and Cons of State Legislature Support for AmendmentState Legislature support for Amendment is an obligation to protect its citizens’ rights.

State Legislature support for Amendment is an obligation to protect its citizens’ rights. The U.S. Congress denies these rights by promoting the welfare of wealthy special interest groups that fund expensive congressional re-election campaigns rather than promoting the general welfare of the People. Congress will not solve this problem; but it is within the States’ Legislatures power to do so by supporting the Initiatives Amendment. The Pros and Cons of this support are presented below.

The people’s faith in State leadership to protect their rights has been well earned. For example, women first gained their suffrage in the States, eventually compelling Congress to adopt universal suffrage resulting in the 19th Amendment. For another example, all State constitutions reserve to their people some degree of direct democracy within the State, whereas Congress steers clear of any direct democracy at a Federal level by which the people might preserve their rights. Moreover, state legislators are much more accessible and willing to listen to the People—they tend to live and work close to their constituents and there are about 15 times more state legislators per capita than congresspersons.

The States have introduced important reforms that protect citizens’ rights and improve government efficiency—for example, term limits and executive-branch line item veto. Both are commonplace now in the States but the federal government has resisted them. In all States, this continuous reelection of congresspersons locks out numerous excellent state legislators from becoming congressional candidates throughout their best years.

Reasons PRO State Legislators Support CON State Legislators Support
U.S. Constitution requires state legislatures and legislators to control congressional excesses that harm the People and to protect rights Control currently exerted by the federal power structure on the States may obstruct state action—but may backfire because federal control reinforces need for the Amendment
State Constitutions require legislatures and legislators to solve the problems and protect the people from federal violations of state rights
Potential to limit federally mandated programs and their hidden state taxes Opposition by many special interest groups that are threatened by a possible reduction of their influence
Potential to limit unreasonable strings attached to federal funds
Legislators notice a 3-to-1 voter support of nationwide initiatives Possible reactionary response by political party leadership and use of state influence to perpetuate the federal status quo—but may backfire due to lack of rank-and-file support
Potential for federal term limits to open-up congressional elections
Continuation of state leadership on constitutional issues
The States cannot solve the problems by a series of Amendments whereas this single comprehensive solution can solve them Some negative experiences with state signature-petition initiatives—but the IQA approach offsets this
State political and financial risks in supporting the plan are minimal

Congress introduces hidden taxes on the people by mandating unfunded State expenditure (about $30 billion per year) without an equivalent reduction in Federal taxes that would compensate the people for the necessary increases in State and local taxes. It also distorts the allocation of taxes and resources, thereby contributing to the decline of the American middle class—a long-term cause of political instability endangering this nation.

The States compete with each other on a long-term basis and thereby improve their efficiency and effectiveness to the benefit of the people; whereas the Federal government is a monopoly without U.S. competition and therefore inevitably less efficient on a long-term basis. Congress repeatedly makes preemptive nationwide changes at great expense without first verifying that they work, ignoring appeals from the States that diverse concepts should be tried at a State level.

Under the planned Amendment, State rights are protected by the requirement that any a nationwide Direct Initiative must be passed by the electorate in a majority of the States. The Amendment resolves finally that the States are not in contravention of the Guarantee Clause. The States will also have rights to propose expedited Initiatives to the IQA that can submit them for vote by the nationwide Electorate.

State legislation or occasional single-issue Amendments might solve some aspects of these problems, but each step is slow and exhausting, whereas Congress is swift to find and create loopholes and end-runs. Any meaningful solution must therefore be a long-term process that can correct future problems and loopholes as they arise. An effective way (probably the only way) to accomplish this is to invoke the only earthly powers higher than Congress—the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution—as described in the Initiatives Amendment.

The States have the power to create such a solution using the second method to adopt and later ratify this planned Amendment. A constructive first step could be for some individual States to support the planned Amendment in principle (e.g., perhaps without any actual commitment) as a starting point and focus for their deliberations. The States would thereby assume authority over the Amendment’s final content.