During my 22 years in the military, one of the key lessons I learned is you don’t go home until the mission’s accomplished. You finish the task to the best of your ability and only when it meets the high standard that’s expected of every troop and leader. Our men and women in uniform know that standing guard on freedom’s rampart means long hours. It means being away from your loved ones. It means being willing to be totally devoted, to make the ultimate sacrifice for those who you may never meet.
It means understanding the true meaning of the word character — doing what’s right when no one is watching.
Sadly, these lessons are lost on those folks calling themselves our elected representatives in Washington, D.C. Ask any Soldier, Sailor, Airman, or Marine how much of their time off they sacrifice. Many of us, when it comes to retirement, have months of accrued leave that we can finally take as we end our careers in uniform. Why? Because the mission was more important, the call to service was more vital, than the personal reward of taking a vacation. And yes, it was hard to look into the eyes of our children to say goodbye as we headed to more training missions and deployments, or to tell them “we can’t take that vacation this summer.”
And so here we are in the month of August and our House of Representatives is off on “recess.” My question is, from what? They’ll say,”Our job’s done; we passed a healthcare bill.” But there’s no solution for the healthcare issue in America. We’re still awaiting a tax reform bill, and the House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Committee is responsible for this. As far as I know, nothing has even been passed out of committee by way of tax reform.
Yes, the Dow Jones industrial average and other economic indices are setting record highs, but investors are expecting tax reform and for that reform to be retroactive to January 2017. They’re talking about the tax reform package to be done by November … so again, why are they at home?
There’s a major disconnect between Washington, D.C. and the rest of the country. We’ve drifted into very dangerous waters where we’ve elected officials who deem themselves above the masses. They’ve indeed become a political elite.
It’s always interesting to go back and read the debates of our Founding Fathers when they established this Constitutional Republic. I’m drawn to comments made by George Mason during the ratifying convention for our Constitution in Virginia. His comments from 17 June, 1788 were, “To prevent the certain evils of attempting to elect a new president, it will be necessary to continue the old one. The only way to alter this would be to render him ineligible after a certain number of years, and then no foreign nation would interfere to keep in a man who was utterly ineligible. Nothing is so essential to the preservation of a republican government as a periodical rotation. Nothing so strongly impels a man to regard the interest of his constituents as the certainty of returning to the general mass of the people, from whence he was taken, where he must participate their burdens. It is a great defect in the Senate that they are not ineligible at the end of six years.”
The Founders were clear that they didn’t want career politicians to manage the nation’s affairs. Term limits and periodic rotation was deemed necessary to ensure the viability of our Republic.
So how have we gotten so far off track? Simple: We stopped studying our fundamental principles and our ignorance has been turned against us. Just imagine, how can it be that our elected representatives in Washington, D.C. have a different healthcare system than what they have legislated for American citizens? If Medicaid for all is so good, then let’s put every single member of the House and Senate, along with their staff, on Medicaid.
Some of you may have heard the talk about the Article V Convention of States that’s in our Constitution. The Founders knew there would come a time when the federal government would not act in the interests of the nation. That the interests of man, self and special, would supersede that which was necessary for the effective governance of our country. The time would come when the people and the states– you know, that whole thing in the 9th and 10th amendment about those powers not enumerated to the federal government being rendered to the states and the people — would have to stand up.
Article V of our Constitution lays out that a Convention of States, through state legislatures, can be called and where there are 34 state legislatures in agreement, you can offer an amendment to the Constitution. If you have 38 state legislatures in agreement, the states can amend the Constitution. There are several very important amendments that can be offered by the states, such as a balanced budget amendment for the federal government.
But a very important one is term limits for members of the U.S. House and Senate. I say it should be twelve years. That would provide six terms of two years in the House and two terms of six years in the Senate. And no, the clock does not reset just because you go from House to Senate — there should be a limit of twelve years of elected office at the federal government level.
When these men and women take off on vacation when they have not accomplished major tasks, that’s a sign of arrogance and entitlement. We the people are not serfs, and they are not lords. I would challenge you, our astute readers, to see for yourself how many “workdays” our federal elected officials have. I wish the American people could get two weeks just for a regular federal holiday … and trust me, I know what many of them do for a “constituent work week.”
Here’s what needs to happen: Three weeks of straight work, and one week in your district or state. And when I say a work week, that means Monday to Friday–not flying in late Monday and departing on Thursday.
It is unconscionable to me that we have elected officials taking an August recess. When I was a kid, you got recess or time to play if you earned it — otherwise you stayed in class and did your homework, or else you studied for a test. You want to know why we have irresponsibility in American society? It’s because we have it at the top.
For how many years did Republicans say they would have a solution to healthcare? Just give us the House, the Senate and the White House, they pleaded. And now what? Are we are supposed to believe this gang that seemingly cannot shoot straight, who could not deal with the twenty taxes of Obamacare, is supposed to reform our tax system by November?
Just ask yourself, how many “recess” weeks will there be between now and November? The debate speech of George Mason is as relevant as ever to our political system today. And yeah, perhaps an Article V convention could repeal the 17th Amendment …
[Learn more about Allen West’s vision for this nation in his book Guardian of the Republic: An American Ronin’s Journey to Faith, Family and Freedom]