Voters’ Rights and Representatives Amendment
Citizens of the United States do not have a Constitutional right to vote. In addition, We the People, the 99%, are without real representation in Congress: Only money is represented in Congress. If we are to finally create any semblance of a true representative republic, we must take direct action now while our nation’s energized voices are focused on our need for changes in our system of government.
OccupyThisHope.org is dedicated to the proposal and dialog of a Constitutional amendment (see below) to secure our Constitutional right to vote, and to secure our Constitutional right of representation in Congress, a representation that is not determined by money, but instead is determined by the values of the People and the candidate’s potential to understand, communicate, and steadfastly represent their constituent members of the People, the 99%.
Our most pressing need for change is that our access to the voting booth is determined, not by our Constitution and our Federal authorities, but by more than 13,000 different local government bureaucracies with the power to impose a variety of voter qualifications.
We must see this obstacle for what it truly is: The main frontal assault on our People’s potential to participate in a representative republic. Millions of our fellow citizen voters are encountering massive efforts, backed by millions of dollars, to discourage and interfere with our inalienable and equal right to vote. Our Federal courts are becoming increasingly bogged down by these repressive anti-voter efforts. Yet, fortunately, at least some of our courts are responding to these injustices and declaring that many of the various million-dollar efforts to hinder and discourage people from voting are illegal. The historical reasons for why we lack a Constitutional right to vote are buried in the complexity of the creation of our Republic and in the debate in creating and ratifying of our Constitution, a document that was created fundamentally to secure union of the states, and in doing so, implicitly allowed the right to vote and the manner of the execution of the right to vote to be decided by each individual state. These issues will be explored in a following analysis.
Every year, it becomes more evident that the single issue which unites more U.S. citizens than any other issue is the ever increasing decline in our approval of the manner in which our Congress claims to represent us, with such attempts too often amounting to deception and sleight of hand. Regardless of our political preferences and beliefs, this single need for our People’s representation in Congress has more potential today than at any other time in our history. If, as individuals, we can accept our need for the innovative structure that this amendment offers, if we can reach out and discover others who also realize and accept this same common need, bringing together the most powerful united wave of energy for change in the United States since the first American Revolution, then we will have achieved what is necessary to then begin the process of formally submitting this proposal for the 28th Constitutional Amendment to the U.S. Congress.
Regardless of our political ideology, the vast majority of our People are clamoring for representation of their values in our Congress. Let us make the commitment now to ensure that our future will contain a real and permanent dialog of both our common and our conflicting ideas and values in the halls of our Congress, rather than continuing to allow lobbyists, corporations, and campaign contributions to determine the dialog, which is actually the deception of dialog, then We, the 99%, can decide the future direction of our United States.
There are numerous efforts gathering for a Constitutional amendment to repeal the onerous effects of the corporate, wealthy, and aristocratic domination of our Federal campaigns for elective offices that has been further advanced by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, among them, the MoveToAmend.org proposal. The honor and worship of corporate personhood, the honor and worship of what amounts to “one dollar equals one vote” is an obscenity. However, a direct challenge and remedy of that issue by Constitutional amendment will require a tremendous expenditure of energy and resources—as any Constitutional amendment will—and even if it succeeds, we will still be left without representation:
Even with Citizens United—corporate personhood—repealed by Constitutional amendment, the People, the 99%, will still have a Congress that is broken, We will still have a Congress which spends most of its time begging for money and available for sale, and We will still have a Congress ultimately controlled by the %1 and the major corporations. The Citizens United decision did not suddenly create our horrendous conditions: It only added another of the many layers of protection in support of corporate personhood and the 1%, against the needs and interests of the 99%. I ask you to consider the potential waste of energy against return of investment that an amendment to repeal Citizens United will ultimately amount to, and instead, consider the amendment proposed here. We must be clear in our thinking and vision of what it is that We as a People, truly need, and not be distracted at this most critical period in our world’s history by our many vital economic and political needs. We must maintain clarity and focus in the investment of our energies and resources because the great percentage of our needs will never truly be satisfied without our clear and simple right to vote and real representation committed to intelligent, informative dialog coupled with creative innovations within our Federal society. If we cannot come to see this reality with the clear acceptance it demands, then our other efforts may bring some small changes here and there, and some satisfaction of having accomplished something, but the foundation of our Federal political process will still be broken, our Republic will only continue to decline and fade further into illusion, and with it our potential for democracy, society, hope, and even our planet.
Please consider reading Why This Amendment: An Introduction, for further information about these issues.
1) The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged for any reason, except as defined in Amendment XXVI, requiring citizens to be eighteen years of age or older. While we have various Federal legislative acts providing various protections to our voting rights, these rights and limitations are still vulnerable to the vagaries of Congressional actions, court decisions, and state and local bureaucratic interference. All citizens of any nation, claiming to function as any form of republic or democracy, deserve and need an unqualified Constitutional right to vote.
2) All donations to individuals or organizations intended to support the Federal election of Representatives and Senators to the United States Congress are prohibited. Federal elections to Congress are to be financed only by a public government fund and distributed equally to each candidate, the amount of said funding to be based upon the number of citizens in the respective district or state which said candidate seeks to represent. This fund is to be established from taxes and other funds as determined by Congress. This will not eliminate the problem and legal right of organizations, protected by the Court, to indirectly fund efforts to direct the political discourse. However, I will address this issue in my more detailed analysis in support of this amendment on a following page, along with additional analysis of the challenges we face and why this particular type of amendment is our only real hope.
3) A potential candidate who obtains valid signatures of 5% of the citizens of the Congressional district as a candidate for the House of Representatives, or 5% of the citizens of the state as a candidate for the U.S. Senate, in which the potential candidate legally resides, will establish the necessary requirement of official recognition to seek such applicable office, and will receive public campaign funding from the fund established by Congress upon said candidate’s application to seek such office. In addition, each officially accepted candidate will have her or his current employment made available to them to return to, either after the campaign if they lose the election, or after their term of office. This requirement will be limited to those businesses and further conditions as determined by Congress. The point here is that this form of economic support for candidates to the House and Senate will allow for and encourage a greater diversity of middle and working class candidates from all walks of life to participate in our government as our representatives, especially those men and women who have a financial responsibility to support children and are, therefore, those most vulnerable to realizing a family’s needs. This form of support for diverse candidates will broaden our discourse and improve our sense and experience of a healthy society. This form of support would be similar to the protection provided for those who serve in our uniformed services. Since the current Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) limits reemployment guarantees to five years, we might consider limiting this reemployment guarantee to six years.
4) All candidates for Congressional office are limited to two consecutive terms, regardless of the particular office held. Qualified candidates are legally eligible to serve in any Congressional office, but only for two consecutive terms at a time, regardless of the specific office elected to. Thus, each person having served two consecutive terms is prohibited from elected Congressional office for a minimum of two years.
This is similar to the 22nd Amendment which limits presidents to two terms. With a limit only on consecutive terms, people will still be eligible for re-election after sitting out one term.
This form of term limits will address two extremely important issues:
a) It will encourage more people to participate in elections for Congress and serving as members of the House or Senate, developing experience and knowledge which will contribute to the building of a social resource and an enhanced foundation of potential informed discourse in our society;
b) Term limits of this type will help to lessen the perpetuation of an embedded dominant class, the political aristocracy that we have now, which has too much control over our government, our society, our planet, and our future. Even with this form of term limits, Senators may still retain office for twelve consecutive years, more years than even a President is legally entitled to. We might consider limiting Senators to a single term of six years. However, the main issue behind this clause is that with all campaigns funded by a public government fund, office holders and candidates will be more free to speak to our true needs and issues: They won’t have to be occupied, and obligated, with raising money.
It is imperative that we eliminate the necessity for our elected representatives and senators to spend the majority of their time raising funds for their next campaign, while being implicitly obligated and speaking only to the values which will deliver those campaign funds. This is a form of social insanity that needs to be cured permanently, beginning now.
For more information about term limits, please visit our page on Term Limits.
I suggest that for simplicity’s sake, the acronym VRRA might be used to efficiently refer to this proposal: the Voters’ Rights and Representatives Amendment.
I also suggest that it is necessary to propose this Constitutional amendment to every sitting Representative, Senator and candidate for all future elections, at both the Federal and the state levels, because in the end, it is only the state legislatures that can ratify a Constitutional amendment. Also, it is only the state legislatures that can call for a Constitutional Convention in the absence of action by Congress. The position of all Federal and state candidates and office holders on this amendment needs to be made clear. If they are not in support of this Constitutional amendment and the critical necessities it addresses, then it should be made clear that we the People, the 99%, will make every effort to defeat their re-election or their candidacy.
And, again, please consider reading Why This Amendment: An Introduction, for further information of these issues, including some analysis of the implications of MoveToAmend.org‘s Constitutional amendment proposal.
This is a draft for people’s consideration. I do not expect that I have succeeded in clearly devising the best solution. However, I do believe that the essence of what we truly need is outlined above. I suggest that regardless of our political persuasion, the members of the 99% can become united at least around these common fundamental needs.
Please send suggestions for improving this proposal, criticisms, and messages of support, as well as links to other specifically related sites. Please consider linking to this site, and consider discussing this proposal with your friends, family, and associates. In order to keep this site clearly focused on its goal, suggestions, criticisms, and messages of support may be edited before I post them. However, please do not hesitate to offer constructive critiques of this proposal. I want to encourage dialog, focused on this concept of the 28th Constitutional Amendment.
Also, please explicitly define if your comments should be identified, whether with a common username of yours, your actual first name and last initial, or your actual full name, or anonymously. Comments received without a name or abbreviation as signature or without explicit authorization to use your name or initials will remain anonymous. I do reserve the right, however, to use any material received as a comment or suggestion unattributed. Your privacy, however you require, will be honored. Your email address will never be given to any other person or organization, regardless of how you are or are not identified as associated with any comment or suggestion.
Voters’ Rights and Representatives Amendment by Barry McKenna is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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revised September 26, 2012, 7:09 PM, EDT
revised September 25, 2012, 10:20 PM, EDT
revised September 23, 2012, 2:29 PM, EDT
revised September 8, 2012, 12:59 AM, EDT
revised May 1, 2012, 8:37 PM, EDT
revised April 30, 2012, 1:33 PM, EDT
released April 28, 2012, 3:30 PM, EDT