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Me,

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What actions can we take to return power and attention to our congress?

We live in a unitary state. An article published by NPR on three realistic alternatives to a single president fully illustrates that. I am extensively irritated that congress wasn't the natural response to the growing problem that the American people look to the president to affect change. As I recall, early congressmen decided to name the head of state "president" as the position was intended to merely preside over the going-ons of our nation's politics. Somehow (possibly inevitably) the president has become a modern-day king, responsible for almost everything our congress once was. So, my question now is: how do we return our attention to congress? How do we re-invest power in the legislative branch of the government?

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    Feb 19 2013: The legislative branch doesn't want the power that is constitutionally designated to them. That's why they continually cede more and more power to the other two branches.

    Unless and until the American people decide to educate THEMSELVES about the REAL American history and the meaning and INTENT of the Constitution, it will continue until the whole thing collapses (which is not so far away).

    I was stunned to tears when I began educating myself. It was an unintentional investigation. I was at the library and I walked past a series of huge volumes called "The Encyclopedia of the American Constitution". As I am not a Christian, and my religion does not enjoy government legitimacy or the right to practice its sacraments, I wondered if it would tell me where my religious freedom went. That's when I took a volume to the table and began reading, with tears streaming. And THAT's when I started searching for original documents that would show me what happened and how this country went so far astray from its core founding principles. Only then could I begin to see how we can fix all that is broken - if only Americans knew what their government is supposed to look like AND WHY.

    Americans have been LIED TO about their own history. So now we have 2 parties who appear - on the surface - to b enemies, but in truth, they are great allies. They are each committed to denying the legitimacy of the Constitution, only supporting those parts that they favor, while favoring destroying the parts that they don't like. This keeps Americans outraged, which increases voter turnout, and increases the problem.

    When you hear legislators talk about "The constitution", they are not talking about the WRITTEN "Constitution of the United States of America". They are talking about the unwritten constitution that replaced it during a coup d'etat by the Federalists and SOTUS in 1819. (Mc Culloch v. Maryland).

    The solution lies is us, even though we didn't institute the problem.
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      Feb 19 2013: I am glad we are on the same page. I would add that parties are a natural formation that occurs in a plethora of governmenting bodies. I always like to default to what Washington urged in his farewell address.

      So what I am looking for are real steps we can take to strengthen congress' power. I am not sure I agree with your assertion that it actively rejects that power. The people that make up our state and national congress are just as varying in their desires and intentions as their abounding constituents. But, that aside, it is undeniable that congress doesn't have that power, for whatever the reason.
  • Mar 4 2013: Never vote for anyone who makes more money than you do and never vote for anyone who has won two or more elections.
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      Mar 4 2013: That is as true today as it was when I first heard it during the Truman/Dewey Campaign.
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    Feb 20 2013: More to the point. What actions can we take to return power to the people who are supposedly represented by the congress.
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      Feb 26 2013: Although this is a matter of semantics, I agree with you. Now, what are those actions?
  • Feb 19 2013: People like visible figures. They like to blame people, or worship people. A president is a figurehead/scapegoat, and not too much more than that, really. However, your average citizen doesn't really realize this, it seems like. Education, personal responsibility, and civic duty are the keys here. Basically, your problem is in the people's hearts. You can't change someone's mind, only they can change their minds. Grassroots campaign, anyone?
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    Feb 19 2013: To see if we are all on the same page here, is this an accurate description of U.S. Federal power distribution:
    The CONGRESS: Make, or repeal, national/federal laws in accordance with the expressed wishes of The People.
    The SCOTUS: Confirm, as necessary, a law is, or is not, in accordance with the COTUS.
    The POTUS: Implement and enforce all standing national/federal law?
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      Feb 20 2013: Generally, yes.
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        Feb 20 2013: All rightey then. Your post asks what can be done to return POWER to Congress.
        The implication is that power has been lost by Congress. I am ready to refute that, but I don't want to waste my keystrokes or your time (I am retired) if that is not your meaning.
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          Feb 26 2013: I believe it has. The executive branch has taken on the responsibility of making laws. I'm sorry if the specific wording of my question betrays myself. I can be quite poor at wording my questions.

          I would like congress to regain that responsibility in the voters' eyes. I believe the majority of voters look to the executive branch - including (or especially) the president - to perform the functions of congress, making congress redundant.
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        Feb 26 2013: Please do not interpret my remarks as being critical of your composition. I want to be sure I don't comment based on misunderstanding the question. We agree on everything but the words "power" and "responsibility". Those belong to Congress and always have. Without a Constitutional amendment that cannot change. What has evolved is the wrongful application of constitutional powers. Congress has all the power it needs to do its rightful job. They are simply not using it ethically and responsibly. Article 1, Section 8, Clauses 1 through 18 give our elected Representatives and Senators their vested powers, both specific and elastic, and their precise job description. What we need is not more power for Congress, but proper exercise of the power they already have. As with every national problem we have in the USA, the root cause is apathy and ignorance on the part of the People. Thanks for your awareness-raising post. Restoring proper operation of our government is certainly an idea worth sharing.
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    Feb 19 2013: True, there are plenty of executive orders, and it smacks of monarchy, but the money is still appropriated in congress. I happen to think it's an intentional device designed purposely to keep us from watching the goings on where the real power is, and it isn't really even congress. The power lies in the big money donors. If we're watching the president, and fighting among ourselves over ambiguous information (spin) we're not watching them. This is all part of a smoke and mirrors vaudeville act that allows our employees to work mostly in secret. Secrecy is not the cause of corruption, but is it's primary instrument. Ultimately the solution resides in the citizenry. We have to remove the secrecy. Regardless of party we have to tell candidates, including the president, that their employment will only be considered if you agree to the following conditions:

    You are not an employee of the party. You will work under the guidelines of a job description written by the electorate.

    Laws are written for the benefit society, and must be understood by that society. Legislation you write and introduce will be written in plain language and easily understood by the average of the population.

    Legislation will be introduced in the form of one bill, one issue, with no riders. If an issue can't stand on it's own merit it will not be hidden in or attached to another bill.

    You will be subject to the laws you vote to enact. You will not introduce or vote in the affirmative for legislation that excludes any elected employee from its influence.

    You will maintain a website that chronicles your activity. Each bill will be posted along with how you voted, and an opinion piece explaining why you voted as you did, as well as acknowledgment that you read and understood the bill. This will offer context and verifiable reference during your tenure and for each election cycle. After a reasonable viewing period this will be archived for easy viewing indefinitely.

    Secrecy's the problem
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      Feb 19 2013: I am immediately unnerved by your resolute assumption that the government is one coherent body. The government is less "cogs within cogs" as it is a weathered, old table, re-varnished multiple times, adapted to fold like a modern card table, with two of its wobbly legs propped up on a book and a few deck of cards. Sure, there are people in politics who want to make big money. But there are far more people who are in politics because it is a day-in-day-out job that gives good benefits and retirement. Then there are the people who get into politics because they offer something constructive. In the end, I think we are all far more impressed by the mystery surrounding such big money, the shadow of it being far more intimidating than the actual thing.

      I also think your fast and hard rules sound great, but are completely unrealistic. So many things bank upon the margins of another issue. Don't get me wrong: I'd love it if bills could be limited by word or page count. As for the scrutiny, I'm right along with you there. However, our "cockroach model" media already watches and pressures politics in a way citizens don't naturally have the time for.

      That said, I definitely agree with the idea that the presidency should be hired rather than elected.

      In the end, I'm looking for something we can start doing tomorrow. The less we have to institute or change, the better. I'd like to work with that metaphorical table without adding yet another thing to it.
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        Feb 20 2013: Let's work backwards through your comments. You'd like not to have to do add or anything. Me too, but if we do nothing, nothing changes, except the slow almost undetectable evolution that is taking place now. I happen not to prefer what I see happening, and so suggest a change. The change I'm suggesting requires that our employees do something, ie be accountable in a more transparent way.

        We all know that hard and fast rules will not always apply, they never do. What they do do is provide a common and understandable starting point. The requirement to write an explanation offers both the employee and us to understand why things are the way they are. I certainly did not suggest bills be written by word or page count, rather by issue count.

        The media. The media as you say has a cockroach mentality and is in fact all over our politicians. That fact by itself says absolutely nothing about what they're reporting. I contend that most of the media are editorializing, and not simply reporting. If that's true, what we are getting is their spin of politicians spin, or nearly worthless information.

        As for my my resolute assumption that the government is one coherent body, I would suggest that I've said exactly the opposite. We, the citizens are the single largest part of the body politic. We are out of sync with each other and with our employees who are out of sync with each other. If we were one coherent body there would be no need whatever for any of the things I've suggested.

        Our employees operate in secret a great deal of the time, and I think we should do what we can to mitigate that. I'd be all in for doing nothing if there were any demonstrable evidence that it might work.
  • Feb 19 2013: Why? The big problem is Citizens United and the big donors. How can one not respect the founding fathers?
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      Feb 19 2013: The "founding fathers" are not one group. They are two groups: The Federalists and the Anti-Federalists. I have no respect for the Federalists, and every respect for the Anti-Federalists. I can hold this position because I have investigated American history using original documents. I KNOW that Americans have been lied to in their formal educations.
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        Feb 19 2013: Well.. not quite. There were many parties. But, this aside, I am noticing you are just as pretentious - entering the conversation under a specific pretense - as the people you condemned in your original comment. I was under the impression you supported bipartisan politics. I'm also nervous about your sensationalism concerning being lied to. I commend you for having dug deeper. Others haven't.