CHAPTER FIVE: ABORTION

 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” 

  Jeremiah 1:5

The controversy surrounding abortion law is as dividing as the rift between Civil War North and South regarding the issue of slavery in America.   It is a an extremely important subject, especially for the “Right Wing Christian Conservative Block”, as it is called.  And the legal nuances inherent in the matter often dominate the decision process in the appointment of Justices to our highest court. 

Before I delve into my position on the matter of abortion, though, I feel it is important to point out that the amount of influence the issue has on our decisions to back candidates is often counterproductive, and in my opinion, distracting.  Particularly, in the Republican Party, I have found that far too many members absolutely will not even consider voting for a candidate that shares 99% of their virtuous beliefs and political foresight if they are not 100% Pro-Life.  Quite literally, stating that you are Pro-Choice in the Republican Party is political suicide.

On the one hand, this steadfast adherence to an issue such as abortion is praiseworthy and I hope that the fight continues to further restrict abortions across our great nation.  On the other hand, as a result of this issue, the Republican Party has become entirely too one-issue oriented.  This is an impediment to the Republican Party’s ability to implement its proper platform on all other issues as we are losing the vote of the common person more concerned with the economy, education, and the environment.

Here is the perfect example:  I sat down to lunch with a client and friend of mine recently.  He is a 90 year old Republican who ran his own dental office for almost as many years and co-founded the McLean Bible Church in Vienna, Virginia.  Extremely devout, I often tease him that he should have been a preacher. 

We got to talking about politics and religion as we always do, and the issue of abortion came up.  His view on abortion is that it is always, unequivocally a sin to abort a child unless there is extreme danger to the mother.  Every single time the subject comes up, he falls back on the Bible passages of Jeremiah 1:5:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” 

His argument, ostensibly, is that a human being exists at the very point of conception, and therefore its abortion is tantamount to murder if there is not extreme justification.  

Playing devil’s advocate, I asked the following hypothetical:  If you were a Senator, would you vote for legislation that does allow abortions, but further restricts abortions by requiring all women over the age of 18 to prove risk to their health for their abortion to be legal?

He responded as anticipated – Absolutely not!  I countered, arguing that at least it would be a step in the right direction.  To that I was satisfied to gain his concurrence.  However, many in the Republican Party take the counterproductive stance that any abortion is wrong, and therefore would look past this proposed “step in the right direction.”  This type of stubborn mindset is is holding progress hostage – not just as it applies to abortion laws, but also to the remainder of the Republican Platform. 

So, what am I?  Am I Pro-Life or Pro-Choice?  Before I answer, let me note a very real problem in contemporary politics – too many conservatives won’t even listen to a candidate who says he is Pro-Life but believes abortions are proper under some circumstances.  Upon a further elucidation of the facts and moral considerations, however, I believe most  would actually agree that there is a proper, LEGAL, threshold. 

Therefore, I am bold to say, that I am absolutely Pro-Life, however, I do believe that abortions are sometimes an unfortunate necessity and our government does not and ought not have the authority to regulate it to the level of abolishing the practice altogether.  Allow me to explain: 

The paramount case concerning abortion law, unquestionably, is Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973).   The Supreme Court determined that a right to privacy afforded by the due process clause in the Fourteenth Amendment extends to a woman’s choice to have an abortion.  However, the court maintained that the mother’s right to privacy must be balanced against the state’s two legitimate interests for regulating abortions: protecting prenatal life and protecting the mother’s health.

Arguing that the state interests mature over the course of a pregnancy, the Court resolved this balancing test by tying state regulation of abortion to the mother’s trimester of pregnancy.  The Court later rejected Roe’s trimester framework, but continues to affirm its central holding that one has a right to abortion up until viability, which the court defined as being “potentially able to live outside the mother’s womb, albeit with artificial aid,” adding that viability “is usually placed at about seven months (28 weeks) but may occur earlier.”

Defenders of Roe argue that case precedent prior to the decision delineated a sphere of private interests and that at the core of that sphere is the right of the individual to make the fundamental decisions that shape family life: with whom to marry; whether and when to have children, etc.  However, I would argue regulation of abortion would not be virtually impossible without the most outrageous sort of government prying into the privacy of the home – which was the sole rationale in Roe’s antecedent case of Griswold v. Connecticut, 181 U.S. 479 (1965) where the Supreme Court invalidated only a certain portion of Connecticut law that proscribed the use, as opposed to the manufacture, sale or other distribution of contraceptives.

It is clear that the government would have to sneak into the privacy of the bedroom to determine whether or not contraceptives were being used and it is equally as clear that such privacies must not be invaded without extreme exception.  Abortion, on the other hand, is something that can and is “monitored” outside the bedroom and instead in the doctor’s office. Clearly, the level of privacy is much less intimate, though arguably, not necessarily less personal.

However, I believe the debate surrounding the right to privacy as it pertains to abortion law is actually misguided.  To begin, one might argue that the protection of a woman’s right to privately abort her child is synonymous to the protection of a woman’s right to murder her spouse in the privacy of her basement.  Clearly the government has the right, in fact the mandate to intervene in the latter.  What is the difference between the two?  It comes down to the true issue at the center of the abortion debate – at what point should the law consider abortion as tantamount to unjustifiable homicide?  In other words, when are you committing the murder of a living person?

I believe the decision in Roe was fundamentally flawed.  In reaching their decision, the Supreme Court skirted the issue of unjustifiable homicide, writing, “We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins.  When those trained in medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, in not in a position to speculate as to the answer.” 

The “difficult” question, though, is central to the state’s compelling interest of protecting prenatal life, and it is fundamental to the debate surrounding the issue of abortion altogether.  Therefore, the Supreme Court erred in ignoring the question.

By ignoring the issue of life and when a fetus becomes a person, the court was able to shift the debate toward a red herring – privacy.  They focused on the privacy of the pregnant woman and her right to chose whether or not to carry the child to term or terminate.  The harm that the State would impose upon the pregnant woman by denying the choice altogether, the court argued, is evident.  Maternity or additional offspring might force upon the woman a distressful life and future, mental and physical health might be taxed in childcare and there is also the problem of bringing an unwanted child into the world, among others. 

To be clear, I believe that these are compelling concerns.  In fact, I cannot even begin to put a value on saving a child from the horrors of growing up unwanted and unloved.  And it is unfortunate when a woman becomes pregnant, is abandoned by the father, and her life is ruined financially, socially and often times, spiritually.  Further, proponents of abortion will rely on the sudden decrease in crime as a result of abortions, pointing out that since less unwanted children were born, less crack dealers, murderers, etc., were roaming the streets twenty years after the decision in Roe.  A popular book, Freakonomics, has an entire chapter dedicated to that very phenomenon. 

What it boils down to, in my opinion, is this: Roe’s notion that the state’s interest in protecting prenatal life is trumped by a woman’s constitutional right to privacy in deciding whether or not to terminate a pregnancy, is not only erroneous, but it runs utterly afoul of basic morality and the most fundamental of constitutional guarantees – the right to life. 

Does the right to privacy exist?  Yes, and I believe, undeniably.  Also, I ardently believe that the state must not have the right to interfere in one’s privacy.  That is, unless the state has a compelling interest and the regulation is narrowly tailored to address that legitimate interest.  In regards to abortion, the state has a compelling interest, and that is the protection of life. Yet the states have been injudiciously deprived of their sovereign right to police that compelling interest as each state sees fit.    

Morality is the real issue.  Abortion may in fact be “good” for the economy insofar as unwanted children are not brought up in ghettos, crime is proximately curtailed, and the population is controlled, but to champion the right to abort a child in the name of these economic windfalls is disingenuous to who we must be as Americans.  Should we legalize crack cocaine and LSD because it would cost us less not to police it?  Clearly not, because of the harm these drugs are known to have on the user, but more importantly, the harm it causes the user to voluntarily or otherwise inflict on those around them.  Why then should we allow a woman to kill a human being purely for economic concern?  We should not. 

It is obvious that the state has a compelling interest in making it illegal for me to kill my next door neighbor for slandering me, despite the fact that his defamation of my character is causing me extreme mental anguish and possible economic hardship.  So why is it that the state cannot regulate the killing of a fetus?  Because it is not a person?! 

Despite first declining to resolve the question of when life begins in reaching its decision, the court in Roe spent considerable time persuading itself that a fetus is in fact not a person as defined in the Constitution and therefore is not protected as to its right to life.  In their analysis of all the contexts in the Constitution in which the word “person” was used, the court was correct in finding no indication that it had any possible pre-natal application.  They wrote, “all this, together with our observation that throughout the major portion of the 19th century prevailing legal abortion practices were far freer than they are today (in 1973) persuades us that the word “person”, as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn.”  

The court erred here as well.  To begin, while the word “person” is never defined to include the unborn within the four corners of the Constitution, the converse is equally as true – the Constitution does not expressly remove the unborn from the definition.  And as to abortion laws being “freer” at the time of ratification – are not the protections of personhood afforded African Americans despite the fact that slavery was rampant when the Constitution was drafted?  Could it be, that despite all their collective genius, the founding fathers simply did not think to define person? 

Next, the court turned to legal precedent, arguing that the law of torts and inheritance, for instance, has been reluctant to endorse any theory that life begins before live birth or to accord legal rights to the unborn except in narrowly defined situations and except when the rights are contingent upon live birth.  However, consider this: aside from natural miscarriage, wouldn’t the fetus live and be born but for the intervening abortion?   To terminate the pregnancy, you must kill the fetus.  Logically, does this not mean that there is life being terminated? 

So, an abortion, boiled down to its logical absurdum, is the intentional killing of a living organism that, without intervention, will become a human being.   Who, then, is the court to decide that a human being, which the state has a compelling interest in protecting, exists only upon viability?  Scientifically speaking, yes, the fetus cannot survive as a human outside the womb prior to viability, albeit with artificial assistance, but abortion terminates the further development of that fetus when it naturally could have reached viability.  

The question then, is not one of privacy, but rather one of a compelling interest in protecting life.  It is not the place of the Supreme Court to decide when the compelling interest of protecting life begins or ends.  Rather, this is a question that ought to be left to the individual states.  The protection of the life is properly a decision that must be made by each state’s moral majority through the branches of each state’s independent representative government.  Therefore, it is my opinion that the court’s decision in Roe exceeded the judiciary’s proper Constitutional reach and should be overturned.  

Each state ought to be left to decide for themselves whether or not their interest is strong enough to regulate abortions prior to viability.  Why?  Because the constituents of each state can decide for themselves as to when life begins and when life should or should not be protected as pitted against the concerns of the mother.  The moral majority, which I hope would adhere to the belief that life begins at conception, would determine the appropriate level of regulation propounded by their state legislatures.  This is the true spirit of our democracy. 

The court itself said that it cannot determine when life begins.  Therefore it must not be permitted to tell the states that their constituents’ belief that life begins at conception is erroneous and therefore not compelling.  

Pro-choice advocates argue that the right to privacy at issue is the woman’s interest in having control over her own body and bodily integrity and, therefore, this privacy is one that is of even greater importance than the right to be left alone in the home.  To an extent, I agree.  But they are missing the point entirely.  They are seeing only one side of the issue presented. 

The state absolutely should not have the power to require a woman to have a child.  However, the state does and ought to have the power to regulate against homicide.

There are situations, such as self defense, where homicide is justifiable at law.  For similar reasons, I do believe that abortion is sometimes, though narrowly, justifiable.  

First, and foremost, in the case of rape, I believe that the woman, having not made the conscious and voluntary decision to engage in intercourse, should not be required to carry a child to term.   To do so would perpetuate a second wrong on the pregnant victim by requiring her to endure the physical, mental and social consequences of a pregnancy not a corollary of her action. 

Let us then look at the issue of abortion through another lens:  Sentience.  Sentience is defined as the state of having the power of perception by the senses; consciousness.

When a woman makes the conscious decision to engage in intercourse, she voluntarily assumes the risk of pregnancy.  Having assumed that risk, and having become pregnant, her decision to abort the unwanted child is one to kill a life in being, albeit one arguably without sentience.   What we have, then, is a helpless life that has been brought into being without consent and killed by a sentient woman unable to own up to her mistake.  I believe it is absolutely fair for a state to determine that they have an interest in protecting the helpless life over the privacy concerns of the imprudent mother. 

In the case of rape, however, the mother has not been imprudent insofar as assuming the risk of pregnancy as a consequence of intercourse.  What we have, then, is a matured, sentient woman in whom the family and also the state have already invested, pitted against an insentient fetus.   It is proper for the court determine that the matured woman’s right to privacy outweighs the fetus’ right to life. 

This brings me to the very question I posed to my friend at lunch:  If you were a Senator, would you vote for legislation that does allow abortions, but further restricts abortions by requiring all women over the age of 18 to prove risk to their health for their abortion to be legal? 

In one form or another, all states have statutory rape laws on their books.  The theory behind statutory rape, with respect to a minor female, is that she is too young to give true, voluntary consent to intercourse because of her innocence and ignorance, among other factors, and therefore intercourse with her is without consent – statutorily defined as rape. 

I ask you this then:  what if a 16 year old girl engages in intercourse with her boyfriend and gets pregnant?  Logically, it follows that she did not give true, voluntary consent to the intercourse and that because of her naivety she did not truly assume the risk of pregnancy through her actions.  

In this case – that is the case of a minor, as defined by state statute, becoming pregnant – I posit that it would be constitutionally impermissible for the state to ban the abortion altogether.  Here, the innocence of the minor mitigates against her culpability, and her decision to have or not to have a child, her right to privacy, could be argued to outweigh the compelling state interest of preserving prenatal life, just as in the case of rape.  

Now, having said the above, it is important to note that there are instances when even minors are to be treated like an adult in the eyes of the law and the same should apply in the case of abortion.  By way of example, a 16 year old boy can be tried as an adult for murder.  What of the pregnant 16 year old: can she be treated as an adult and her abortion outlawed except to protect her health?  Quite possibly, yes, but it is the state legislatures, not the Supreme Court that should make that determination.

CHAPTER THREE: (part Three of Four)

CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM

As stated in the previous section of this chapter – I believe there are three distinct avenues through which the corrupting weight of corporate money on the federal legislative process can be pacified:

  1. Lobbying Reform;
  2. Campaign Finance Reform; and
  3. Term Limits

I will tackle each proposed course in order, analyzing the need for each, the debates surrounding them, and then make specific proposals respectively.  I continue today with:

Campaign Finance Reform:

“The polluting effect of money in election campaigns…[c]oncentrated wealth . . . threaten to distort political campaigns and referenda…[t]he voices of individual citizens are being drowned out [by the] unholy alliance of big spending, special interests, and election victory.”

 — Skelly Wright, “Money and the Pollution of Politics: Is the First Amendment an Obstacle to Political Equality?” Columbia Law Review 82 (1982): 614, 622.

The deluge of corporate and union money into federal, state and local campaigns is a very real impediment to the individual’s ability to voice his or her concerns within America’s existing political construct.  An ordinary individual – not rich beyond description or backed by corporate treasury, simply cannot voice their outlook on any given issue via the endorsement of an elected official when their meager contributions are stacked against the piles of capital contributed by corporations and unions.  Yet, while this inequity seems so clear prima facie, it actually proves nauseatingly difficult to regulate for the same reason it is difficult to curtail the influence of lobbies.

Let me first begin by discussing two of the oft proposed legislative reforms aimed at reforming campaign finance: (1) Political Action Committee (PAC) expenditure bans; and (2) Soft Money limits.

Unfortunately, these, and many other proposed reforms, tend to run afoul of the protections afforded individuals and corporations/unions (groups of individuals) by the First Amendment. 

A Political Action Committee (PAC) is an organization formed by business, labor, or other special-interest groups to raise money and make contributions to the campaigns of political candidates or parties whom they support.

The reforms pertaining to PAC expenditure bans typically center around banning all expenditures by and contributions to PACs for the specific purpose of influencing elections for federal office.

Remember that in Buckley, though, the Supreme Court held that the only legitimate and compelling government interest in restricting campaign contributions and expenditures sufficient to satisfy the test of strict scrutiny is the government’s concern in preventing corruption or the appearance of corruption.  The Court further defined corruption narrowly as entailing a financial quid pro quo (dollars for political favors).

Despite their laudable goals, advocates for PAC expenditure bans can really only offer vague justifications for the proposed reforms.   Understandably, they complain of an unresponsive government, a political process that has grown increasingly mean-spirited, and decry elected officials who listen more to lobbyists than to their own constituents. While this criticized “influence” is conspicuous, constitutionally speaking, it does not pass as a justification for the proposed reform in that it falls short of the Supreme Court’s test of strict scrutiny in that it fails to allege the existence or appearance of any specific corruption. 

Knowing deep down in the pit of my stomach the corrupting influence the infusion of money has on our body politic, I wish it were not the case that the list of grievances cited by the advocates of PAC expenditure bans simply do not amount to corruption as the Supreme Court has defined it.  Yet, we must always be deliberative in our process and step back in this instance to realize that we cannot advocate the infringement of one group’s right to speech by dint of a perceived or vague inequity any more than we would desire our own freedoms curtailed without concrete justification.  

What of reducing the PAC contribution limit to $1,000 as some advocate should the outright PAC ban be invalidated as above anticipated?  First off, I doubt that any politician would be corrupted by a single contribution of $5,000 (current maximum).  As such, the interest that the contribution reduction would serve is merely curtailing the perceived dominance and influence of PACs in the political process.  Once again, then, the First Amendment will not allow for such a restriction as it serves a government interest that has never been adjudicated as either legitimate or compelling.

Second, I would also add that a similar unintended consequence would arise if PAC contributions were limited just as did arise as a result of the Federal Election Campaign Act’s ceilings on individual contributions to specific candidates.  What interest would be served by rendering it that much more difficult than it presently is for candidates to raise money? In this age where candidates are forced to raise funds day in and day out, candidates would hardly be less distracted by fundraising if they had to raise money from an even greater array of people as a result of the smaller amounts that any one PAC may contribute.

What of soft money reform? 

Hard money is contributed directly to a candidate and is therefore regulated by law in both source and amount, and monitored by the Federal Election Commission.  Soft money, on the other hand, is contributed to the political party as a whole, supposedly for the purposes of party building and other grass roots activities not directly related to the election of specific candidates.  As soft money is not supposed to be used for specific candidate advocacy, it is not regulated by FECA.  However, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (also known as the McCain-Feingold Act) prohibited unregulated contributions to national party committees.

Advocates of campaign finance reform often assert that soft money is the most corrosive in American politics today and typically push for barring federal officeholders, candidates, and national political parties from accepting unregulated soft contributions.  They also advocate subjecting all election-year expenditures and disbursements by political parties, including state and local parties that could affect the outcome of a federal election and also including expenditures for voter registration, get-out-the-vote drives, and any communication that identifies a federal candidate, to the full range of federal regulations.

Reformers want to ban soft money because it undeniably invites the wholesale evasion of the contribution limits now in place by allowing corporations that would not otherwise be permitted to contribute to candidates’ campaigns to make large soft-money donations to political parties.  Yet, given that soft money cannot be used to advocate the election or removal of any particular candidate from office, it is again difficult to establish a link between soft-money contributions and the appearance or reality of quid pro quo candidate corruption that alone provides a constitutional predicate for regulation.

 Again, this issue comes back to Buckely.  Regulating speech other than express advocacy of the election of particular candidates, the Supreme Court said, “would create intractable vagueness problems and cause unacceptable chilling of protected, issue-oriented political speech.”  In other words, such an overreaching ban on soft money contributions would stifle speech regarding controversial political issues and the qualities of government policies, resulting in an abridging of the exact type of speech the First Amendment is meant to protect.

Enter the Supreme Court’s 1996 decision in Colorado Republican Federal Campaign Committee v. FEC, which held limits on independent expenditures by political parties (expenditures not coordinated with any candidate) to be unconstitutional.  Well, if individuals are not capped in their expenditures, it follows logically that the Court will eventually determinate that party spending on political activity cannot be limited, whether or not coordinated with any particular candidate, and also that contributions to the party by PACs or otherwise, will also be immune from regulation.

And then came the starkest example of the Supreme Court’s determination to defend the principles of the First Amendment as it pertains to campaign finance reform.  In its January, 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court struck down sections of the McCain-Feingold Act and overturned a 20-year-old ruling that had previously prohibited corporations and unions from using money from their general treasuries to produce and run their own campaign ads.

The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, (BCRA/McCain-Feingold Act), amended FECA to ban national political party committees from accepting or spending soft money contributions. While the legislation was challenged in McConnell v. Federal Election Commission (2003), and again in Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc. (2007), most of the act remained unscathed with only parts being effectively, though not formally, invalidated.  The particular provision at issue in Citizens United, however, was Section 203 of the BCRA, which prohibited corporations and unions from using their general treasury funds to make independent expenditures for speech that is an “electioneering communication” or for speech that expressly advocates the election or defeat of a candidate.  

By the terms of the Act, an electioneering communication was defined as “any broadcast, cable, or satellite communication” that “refers to a clearly identified candidate for Federal office” and is made within 30 days of a primary election, and that is “publicly distributed,” which in “the case of a candidate for nomination for President . . . means” that the communication “[c]an be received by 50,000 or more persons in a State where a primary election . . . is being held within 30 days.”

The facts in Citizens United were as follows:  Citizens United, a nonprofit corporation, released a documentary critical of then-Senator Hillary Clinton, as she sought Presidential nomination as candidate for the Democratic National Party. Anticipating that it would make the documentary available on cable television through video-on-demand within 30 days of primary elections, Citizens United produced television ads but was concerned about possible civil and criminal penalties for violating the BCRA should they air them.  As such, Citizens United sought declaratory and injunctive relief, which they appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, arguing that that the BCRA was unconstitutional as applied to the documentary. 

In its decision the Court pointed out that it had previously recognized that the First Amendment applies to corporations, (First Nat. Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, 435 U.S. 765), and extended the protection to the context of political speech, (NAACP v. Button, 371 U.S. 415).  The Court remembered that it had invalidated FECA’s expenditure ban, which applied to individuals, corporations, and unions, because it failed to serve any substantial governmental interest in stemming the reality or appearance of corruption in the electoral process.  However, the Court also had to contend with its 1990 decision in Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, 494 U.S. 652, where it upheld a corporate independent expenditure restriction, bypassing Buckley by recognizing a new government interest in preventing “the corrosive and distorting effects of immense aggregations of [corporate] wealth . . . that have little or no correlation to the public’s support for the corporation’s political ideas.”

The court overruled its previous decision in Austin, stating as follows: “The First Amendment prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for engaging in political speech, but Austin’s antidistortion rationale would permit the Government to ban political speech because the speaker is an association with a corporate form…Political speech is indispensable to decision-making in a democracy, and this is no less true because the speech comes from a corporation…This protection is inconsistent with Austin’s rationale…First Amendment protections do not depend on the speaker’s financial ability to engage in public discussion…Distinguishing wealthy individuals from corporations based on the latter’s special advantages of, e.g., limited liability, does not suffice to allow laws prohibiting speech…Under the antidistortion rationale, Congress could also ban political speech of media corporations.”

As result of this constitutional rubric, it is quite clear that any restriction aimed at limiting  access to politicians, such as by way of enacting ceilings on the amount of money the national parties, PACs or even corporations can spend on a campaign add, for instance, would likely be considered by the court as a direct and substantial restriction on the ability of candidates and citizens (or a group of citizens represented by that PAC or corporation) to engage in protected political expression.  As such, no law abridging such rights will likely stand. 

With this matrix in mind, some have proffered the following as a means to accomplish campaign finance reform at the federal level without running afoul of the First Amendment:

 All elections at the federal level shall be publicly funded by taxpayer’s dollars.  Each candidate will be entitled to a pre-determined level of capital with which to run their campaign.  Each candidate shall be required to, among other things, obtain a target number of signatures to qualify for the funds.

Admittedly, this general construct is intriguing.  Unfortunately, it won’t work.  To start, it is worth pointing out that any such system of campaign finance would have to be crafted with extreme care to guard against unintended consequences.  For instance, we could easily create a slippery slope in the process of determining who is and is not eligible for the public funds.   By making it too hard to qualify for the funds, we likely would disenfranchise some and by making it too easy to qualify for the funds, we could bankrupt the system.

 Such a publicly funded system would arguably address the directly corrosive effect lobbying and campaign fundraising is allowed to have on the political process. 

Nevertheless, I posit that such a system is constitutionally obtrusive and would, in reality, do little to remedy the iniquity.

While public funding of campaigns would not place any restriction on individual and corporate expenditures in violation of constitutional precedent, it would place that very same restriction on the candidate.  This already runs afoul of case law.

More importantly, establishing public funding of campaigns in an effort to skirt the rigors of strict scrutiny would do absolutely nothing to stop individuals, corporations, PACs, etc., from spending as they desire, in any amount, advocating issues and party platforms.  The result would be one where a candidate is allotted a pittance via public funding of his or her campaign and then would be at the mercy of their party to back them.  Why?  Because if the party did not back them, they’d back another candidate and flood the airwaves with millions of dollars worth of “propaganda” carefully designed to walk that fuzzy line between issue and candidate advocacy.  The natural result: every candidate will pine for the backing of their political party, Democrat or Republican alike. 

All such a system will do is make the national parties that much more powerful by making them the bankrollers of campaigns and putting candidates squarely in their pockets.  Whatever deals the party has made with the lobbies, corporations or PACs would have to be abided by the candidate if he or she were to have any hope of obtaining the candidacy, much less win re-election.   

So, where do we go from here? 

It is important to note that in the wake of the Buckley decision, where campaign contributions have ceilings, candidates can no longer raise money in the traditional, relatively efficient way of attracting large donations from a small number of donors.  As an unforeseen consequence, candidates are now forced to campaign day in and day out, year after year, in order to amass disorienting numbers of small contributions.  It’s no wonder nothing gets done in government!

Campaign spending must then be regulated with the aim of reducing candidate fundraising chores in lieu of the goal of restricting political expression.  Regulation with fundraising control as a rationale for spending limits is constitutionally defendable because the harm remedied by curtailment is not the speech itself, but the effect the necessitated campaigning has on the candidate and the candidate’s ability to perform his or her elected duties.

With this reasoning in mind, and remaining fully aware of the corrupting influence money is having on our body politic, I proffer the following as a means to accomplish campaign finance reform at the federal level without running afoul of the First Amendment:

By doing two things: 1) placing a relatively high cap, but a cap nonetheless, on the amount candidates can raise and spend per election; and 2) requiring full disclosure of the source of those funds, we can force candidates to choose wisely amongst their donors and the “strings” attached to those dollars. 

Admittedly, this restriction on the amount of money a candidate can spend on a political communication during a campaign would reduce the quantity of any particular candidate’s expression.  However, such a spending cap would entail only a marginal restriction upon the candidate’s ability to engage in free communication for it would permit them to raise and spend a relatively large amount and would not regulate the content of the candidate’s speech. 

This form of regulation, then, would be content-neutral and, as such, only intermediate scrutiny would be necessary in the review of its constitutionality.  Applying the O’Brien test: the law would serve the substantial government interest of preserving the integrity of the democratic process.  Though intermediate scrutiny does not require the law to be the least restrictive means of curtailing the content-neutral speech, this law would be narrowly tailored to govern the actions of a finite group – candidates. 

Candidates, I would argue, are vying for the opportunity to serve the republic, and as incumbent or hopeful public officials, such a spending cap restriction is no less reasonable than the fiduciary duties imposed on professionals in the prosecution of their vocation.  Lastly, the law would leave open alternative means of communication in that the candidates would in no way be forbidden to attend any further galas or fundraisers where they may be given an opportunity to speak to the public at large once their “cap” is met, so long as it is not for the narrow purpose of raising money for their campaign.  The law also would not curtail the public’s (individuals, corporations, PACs) ability to expend moneys and invite the candidate as, perhaps, an honorary keynote speaker.

Because campaign finance reform and lobbying reform, as above described, are so fundamentally complex and constitutionally problematic, I believe only small and incremental reforms are possible with respect to either one – that is, barring an amendment to the Constitution.  Given the dire need for reform, I wish this were not the case, but even facing the corrosive effects money is having on our body politic, I can see no legitimate government interest sufficient enough to amend the First Amendment.  Therefore, each reform must be carefully drafted to anticipate strict scrutiny under the law with case precedent always in mind.

CHAPTER THREE (Part Two of Four)

As stated in the previous section of this chapter – I believe there are three distinct avenues through which the corrupting weight of corporate money on the federal legislative process can be pacified:

  1. Lobbying Reform;
  2. Campaign Finance Reform; and
  3. Term Limits

I will tackle each proposed course in order, analyzing the need for each, the debates surrounding them, and then make specific proposals respectively.  I begin today with:

 Lobbying Reform

While I have heretofore been critical of the effect lobbying has had on the decisions made by our elected officials, let me be clear in stating that I believe lobbying, per se, is not the underlying problem in Washington.  Rather, the EFFECT lobbying is allowed to have on our elected officials as a result of our political system is to blame.

To clarify, the root of the problem is not born of the fact that any particular lobby has the ability over their competitor to shovel millions of dollars into the pockets of our politicians, for this is a natural and positive byproduct of capitalism and true to democratic ideals, rather the problem is that our politicians need that money to survive.  Our elected official’s need for money to survive in the political forum renders them voiceless without the say of their “financiers,” resulting in the average constituent, you and I, being disenfranchised.

I believe that lobbying is essential to our republic as the informed discussion of public issues and debate are integral to the operation of our democracy.  Lobbyists are often experts in a given subject capable of examining various economic, commercial and other functional interests and often advise congress on how to formulate legislation.  To that end, lobbying in America serves a very useful purpose.  However, when lobbying, as it has become in not all but many respects, turns merely into above-board bribery, it undermines the legislative process and is ultimately destructive of our democracy.

Lobbying, which by definition is the act of soliciting or trying to influence the votes of members of a legislative body, is a powerful form of speech and petition, and therefore the act, in and of itself, is protected by the First Amendment. 

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

                                         –First Amendment to U.S. Constitution 

Because the discussion of public issues and debate are so integral to the operation of the system of government established by our Constitution, any prohibition of speech, including the petition of government itself (aka lobbying), must serve a legitimate, narowly tailored purpose.   Though I would have it no other way, this serves as a very large hurdle for lobbying reform to overcome. 

In order to analyze the impediment to lobbying reform presented by the First Amendment, we must start with case law.  An expanding line of Supreme Court cases has ruled the following as it pertains to the curtailing of speech: 

To begin, there is the doctrine of no prior restraint.  Essentially, government cannot punish someone before they have spoken or try to prevent them from speaking as to do so would constitute censorship and would result in society always being deaf to a particular message.   However, the government can, in varying degrees, promulgate laws regulating the content of speech and content-neutral speech.  

Content-based regulation centers around the limitation or punishment of speech because of the content of the message or the stance of the speaker.  In order for any such curtailment to be constitutional, the regulation must pass the test of strict scrutiny.  Strictly speaking, the law must serve a compelling government interest and must be narrowly tailored as the least restrictive means of curtailing the specific speech.  Per the Overbreadth Doctrine- if the law punishes protected speech, it is void, and if it the law is too vague it shall also be invalidated because people of common intelligence would be unsure what speech is actually prohibited, theoretically resulting in all speech being chilled.

Content-neutral laws, on the other hand, are unrelated to the content of the speech and do not favor one viewpoint over another.  This type of regulation is notably subject to the O’Brien test from Chief Justice Warren’s opinion in United States v. O’Brien (391 U.S. 367 (1968).  Under the O’Brien test, content-neutral laws are subject to intermediate scrutiny rather than strict scrutiny.  The law must serve a substantial government interest, the law must be unrelated to the content of the speech, and the law must be narrowly tailored but not necessarily as the least restrictive means of curtailing the speech.  Lastly, the law must leave alternative channels for communication.

In which category would you place lobbying?  The question, of course, is a red herring of sorts because it is important to note that the level of scrutiny required in judicial review of lobbying depends not on the act of lobbying itself, but rather upon the language of the law and how that statute aims to restrain lobbying. 

In Buckley v. Valeo (424 U.S. 1 (1976)) the Supreme Court laid down precedent that continues to resonate in the halls of justice and the chambers of Congress today.  “Some forms of communication made possible by the giving and spending of money involve speech alone, some involve conduct primarily, and some involve a combination of the two,” the court wrote, “Yet this Court has never suggested that the dependence of a communication on the expenditure of money operates itself to introduce a non-speech element or to reduce the exacting scrutiny required of the First Amendment.”

The court in Buckley went on to distinguish O’Brien from the case before it as it considered the appeal to key provisions of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECA).  Where O’Brien dealt with clearly content-neutral regulation (administrative interest in the preservation of draft cards) the court argued that it was “beyond dispute that the interest in regulating the alleged “conduct” of giving or spending money arises in some measure because the communication allegedly integral to the conduct itself is thought to be harmful.”

The court distinguished limitations on expenditures from limitations on the amount any one person or group may contribute to a candidate or political committee, upholding the latter and invalidating the former.  

The argument was this:  “A restriction on the amount of money a person or group can spend on a political communication during a campaign necessarily reduces the quantity of expression by restricting the number of issues discussed, the depth of their exploration, and the size of the audience reached.”  Whereas, a limitation on political contributions, “entails only a marginal restriction upon the contributor’s ability to engage in free communication, for it permits the symbolic expression of support evidenced by a contribution but does not in any way infringe the contributor’s freedom to discuss candidates and issues.” 

The court found that FECA’s limitations on contributions were constitutionally valid because they served a legitimate administrative interest in preserving the integrity of the democratic process without directly infringing upon the candidate’s or individual’s rights to engage in political discussion.  In contrast, the court invalidated the Act’s expenditure ceilings because they felt that the provisions placed direct restrictions on the ability of candidates, citizens and associations to engage in political expression, altogether in violation of the First Amendment.  

Pop Quiz:

Which do you believe is the proper role of government in relation to the First Amendment?

        1.  The government should remain neutral as people in the private sector compete in the political marketplace.  If some people have more money than others, and if their greater resources permit greater access to the public officials, the result is not something the government should or can remedy consistent with the First Amendment.

        2.  A system of free expression is one in which there is fair deliberation on what the public good requires, and inequality of resources can seriously distort that deliberation by heightening the level of one voice and diminishing another.  The government should enact legislation to promote a more equal and fair public debate.

Answer:  Both!  Allow me to explain.

Consider James Skelly Wright’s argument in his 1976 Yale Law Journal Article, Politics and the Constitution:  Is Money Speech.  In it, the Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia started with the “pluralist” belief that the First Amendment’s highest function is to let group pressure run its course unimpeded, for to interfere would skew the process that determines the public interest.  I happen to agree with this philosophy, however, I also agree with Judge Wright’s assertion that the pluralist model, “gives undeserved weight to highly organized and wealthy groups and drains politics of its moral and intellectual content.”  He went on further to argue, “what the pluralist rhetoric obscures is that ideas, and not intensities, form the heart of the expression which the First Amendment is designed to protect.”  

The simple fact remains that lobbying in the United States has spiraled out of control.  John Smith who owns a small business on Main Street simply cannot compete with the money Wall Street firms or energy conglomerates can throw at lobbyists to wine and dine our elected officials.  The result is not, as many politicians and even our Supreme Court Justices have oft argued, “theoretical,” and it certainly is more than an unsubstantiated undue influence to the detriment of the common constituent.  The result is the sub-prime lending scandal, forty years of inaction as it relates to our energy independence, immigration, education reform, and the list of inaction/biased exploits goes on and on.  The impact is real, it is significant, and it is destroying our republic! 

But, given the constitutional constraints of the First Amendment protection of free speech and petition, how do we reform lobbying in America without trampling on the rights of the lobbies in favor of the common man? 

I would argue that any restriction aimed at limiting a lobby’s access to politicians, such as by way of enacting ceilings on the amount of money the lobby can spend on a dinner party for a congressmen, would be a direct and substantial restriction on the ability of candidates and citizens (or a group of citizens represented by that lobby) to engage in protected political expression.  As such, no law abridging such rights should stand.  

Therefore, the only way to properly regulate lobbying, as I see it, without running afoul of the First Amendment, is to require more transparency than is currently mandated in the system.  Each dollar spent by a lobbyist to reach the ear of a congressman or candidate, to include dinners, fundraisers, galas, gifts, trips and excursions – the entire gamut of lobbying tactics commonly employed, from $1 and above, absolutely must be accounted for and reported by the lobbyist and his firm to a Commissioner of Accounts in the JUDICIAL BRANCH.   When a lobbyist advises congressmen or their staffers on proposed legislation, their hourly rate must be accounted for, the bill they were advising on and any specific language proffered must be catalogued, and the judiciary shall have jurisdiction of review and penalization for abuses and undue influence.  

It seems clear to me that the judicial branch should have the authority to oversee the proprieties of lobbying and congressional action as such an oversight power would constitute a check and balance in conformity with constitutional spirit. 

This burden of full disclosure and transparency must be placed on the lobbying firm and it must also be placed on the individual congressmen to report exactly what fundraisers, galas, etc., they attend and who hosted/financed the event. 

Because no speech or petition is restricted (albeit hopefully discouraged) by such regulation, the judicial mandate of strict scrutiny need not apply in review of its legality.  That having been said, such regulation, clearly, would serve the legitimate government purpose of avoiding corruption or the appearance of corruption by affording everyone clear, digestible access to information linking the efforts of lobbies to the actions of Congress.  This would be accomplished by placing a relatively minute, ministerial task on Congress and lobbies – hardly too burdensome considering the magnitude of the corruption it stands to bring to light.  Finally, the task to the judiciary would be similar to that of a Commissioner of Accounts’ responsibility to audit accounts for decedent’s estates – a function they already perform.

Please see my next post: Chapter Three (part three of four) in reference to Campaign Finance Reform.

CHAPTER ONE:

LEADING BY EXAMPLE

It is impossible to read the history of the petty republics of Greece and Italy without feeling sensations of horror and disgust at the distractions with which they were continually agitated, and at the rapid succession of revolutions by which they were kept in a state of perpetual vibration between the extremes of tyranny and anarchy.

If now and then intervals of felicity open to view, we behold them with a mixture of regret, arising from the reflection that the pleasing scenes before us are soon to be overwhelmed by the tempestuous waves of sedition and party rage.

– Alexander Hamilton, in “Federalist Paper 9”, 1786.

Throughout the whole of human history man has been confronted with myriad obstructions to the realization of true and complete liberty.  From tyranny on one end to anarchy on the other, a spectrum of societal constraints have to date impeded our advance to the full realization of a free and ordered society for all.

Today is no different.  But, as the fruits of the American Dream we now enjoy are built upon the shoulders of our learned predecessors, we are also privy to the lessons of history’s past.  And it is through an understanding of our history that we can forge a more perfect union for our future. 

The collective conscience of our founding fathers, memorialized in our Declaration of Independence, espoused in the Federalist Papers, and ratified in the Constitution, was not simply conjured in a vacuum and birthed in a single, brilliant and random epiphany.  Rather, these learned men were inspired by scholarly predecessors such as Montesquieu, John Locke, and the Barons who penned the Magna Carta. Our founding fathers gleaned from the anthology of erudite minds that began paving the intellectual road to liberty long before the Philadelphia Convention in 1787.

Alexander Hamilton wrote to his fellow New Yorkers in the 9th Federalist Paper that, “the science of politics, however, like most other sciences, has received great improvement. The efficacy of various principles is now well understood, which were either not known at all, or imperfectly known to the ancients.”

It was the wisdom of earlier prophetic political minds that informed our founding fathers to the necessity of distributing power into distinct departments; the implementation of legislative checks and balances and the representation of the people in the legislature by congressmen of their own appointment.

In their collective genius, our founding fathers engineered a Constitution meticulously calculated to act as a guided means through which the benefits of republican government could be retained and its imperfections lessened in adherence to a blueprint for a free society.

Ironically, the most ardent impediment to the continued evolution of liberty in theUnited Statesis our government, and the obstruction arises out of the very danger warned of in federalist papers nine and ten as necessitating the need for our federal form of government in the first place.  This enemy to liberty is factionalism; and it is wreaking a cancerous havoc on our federal government!

Before I delve deeper into this issue, it is necessary to define what a faction is.  James Madison defined factions in Federalist Paper 10 as, “a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interest of the community.”

To me, though this definition is accurate, it does not elucidate the whole truth.  To understand factions one must first appreciate their qualities.  Since factions are a collection of individuals forged in common goal regardless of the common good, it follows that the pedigree of all factions stems from the very nature of man.  Factions, comprised of individuals, are governed by the same animalistic instincts driving their apparatus – survival of the fittest, plunder if necessary!  

I do not impetuously make this indictment for again, it is the chronicles of history that bear witness to the roots of this universal truth.  The incessant wars and genocides that rage even today, the duplicity in commerce that created the need and want for slavery, and the sweat shop “workers” of modern society, are all testaments to this unfortunate attribute of man.   A fatal tendency is born into our very DNA it seems, a primeval instinct that impels us to satisfy our desires and prosper at the expense of others if necessary.

“Now since man is naturally inclined to avoid pain – and since labor is pain in itself – it follows that men will resort to plunder whenever plunder is easier than work,” wrote the French economist Frederic Bastait in his masterpiece titled, The Law: A Classic Blueprint for a Free Society.  He went on to further state that, “the proper purpose of law is to use the power of its collective force to stop this fatal tendency to plunder instead of to work.  All the measures of the law should protect property and punish plunder.”

Our founding fathers were innately aware of the dangers of factions, arguing for a strong central government capable of thwarting this stalwart antagonist to the sovereignty of liberty.  But what happens when the federal government implemented as a means to prevent faction becomes rotten and unproductive because of the influence of factions?  Make no mistake – this is exactly what has happened!

The reason why Americans are currently so disgusted with their government is because of the very instability, injustice and utter confusion that factions have introduced into today’s public arena.  There are a multitude of factions influencing the three branches of the federal government, all taking different form and some more polished than others after two plus centuries of politics.  There are the religious camps, the gun and tobacco lobbies, to name a few, but there are two factions that have cloaked the American Dream in shadow more than any other. 

These two factions are the accumulation of nearly every camp desirous of influencing policy inAmerica.  They are the accretion of the lobbies, deriving their power from nearly every American who exercises their right to vote.   Nothing gets done without their say – Nothing!  Because without them, the lobby would simultaneously have no sounding board and no gavel.  These dueling factions of which I speak are none other than the Republican and Democratic National Parties.   

Currently, as I write this thesis, we, the American people find ourselves more alienated from the federal government than perhaps at any point in American history.  And, unfortunately, the distrust is only deepening.  Why, then, is the electorate so disgusted with the government?  Because the Democrats and Republicans, while both have gained, lost, and regained control of government, respectively have done too little to address the critical issues facing our nation.  And what they have managed to do, they have done inefficiently and without proper moral compass. 

Just as our colonial predecessors found themselves governed by the tyrannical hand of a distant monarchy, we too are increasingly presided over by the growing reach of a federal government which for a majority of the electorate is geographically and ideologically detached.  And while the federal government increasingly infringes upon our personal liberties and impedes our ability to prosper on our own hard work in the name of great social equalization, it simultaneously is ignoring public unrest and has for far too long refused to addresses mounting tribulations facing the constituency as a whole. 

We are witness to sky rocketing debt and deficits on the federal and state levels with nothing done to address the crisis except for the establishment of an investigative commission (which costs more money), and which has no legal authority to stop the bleeding.  Financial reform, even though it is undeniably necessary and critical to the continued prosperity of our capitalist economy, was filibustered by congressmen betrothed to and indebted to financial institutions with interests contrary to the common good.  Now those same congressmen vow to dismantle the regulations.  The invasion of illegal aliens continues with nothing done, forcing states likeArizonato take matters into its own hands.  Finally, after months and months of partisan bickering and unfounded fear mongering over phantom death panels, healthcare reform was passed, but with no public option and with only the support of one third of the electorate.  Nothing has been done to address climate change, campaign finance reform, free trade reform to bring jobs back toAmerica, and the list goes on and on.  Overseas, nothing done about Iran’s nuclear program, nothing done to effectively deal with North Korea; nothing done to further peace in the middle east; nothing done to address the genocides sweeping Africa, and again, the list goes on and on.

The question that presents itself, then –  is why is nothing being done?  The answer lies in the entrenched interests of party line – the endless campaign for votes in the next election. The very reason why factions have been able to get such a strong hold on our government.

Here is a current example.  The president, as Executive in Chief, has the Constitutional authority to police America’s borders to protect the interests of the American people.  Notwithstanding this power, George W. Bush, a Republican, did nothing to effectively control the mass invasion of illegal immigrants swarming across the border.  Now, Barack Obama, a Democrat, is also doing nothing.  Nothing is being done by both parties for the same exact reason: the fastest growing demographic in America is the Hispanic vote, and if either party cracks down on illegal immigration, it risks losing that vote for generations – or is it because some companies profit from the cheap labor and are wealthy enough to influence legislation?  Both? Unacceptable! 

It is entirely unacceptable when government, an institution designed and tasked to serve the people, acts contrary to the public’s interests for the sole purpose of maintaining its own existence. 

You see, it has all come down to political posturing.  As a Senator, if I block a bill proposed by the other party from passing, I get to boast about that to my constituents, maybe even run a campaign ad regarding how ineffective the candidate for the other party is.  If I don’t vote for the bill and it passes but turns out to be a failure, again, I win.  It’s almost like a sick, twisted prisoner’s dilemma American politics finds itself in. And while the Democrats worry about the prospects of the Democrats retaining or losing control of Congress and the Republicans worry about the same, who worries about the well-being of the American citizens?   

In addressing the dangers of factions, James Madison wrote in Federalist Paper 10,The instability, injustice, and confusion introduced into the public councils (by factions), have, in truth, been the mortal diseases under which popular governments have everywhere perished; as they continue to be the favorite and fruitful topics from which the adversaries to liberty derive their most specious declamations.”  This same danger wields a sharpened sword atLiberty’s neck today.  We must therefore act expeditiously to control the effects of these factions, or face the disintegration of theUnited States just as history witnessed the fall of theRoman Empire.

The political posturing of both parties stands in the way ofAmerica’s continued progression, stifling the very innovation that laid the foundations of our now distressed American Dream.  The holding of the party line for the vote in the next primary, not to mention the next general election, over the good of the constituency as a whole has endured for far too long as a systemic cancer in our democracy and is the seed from which outsized distrust in our government has grown.

To solve this growing problem, or lessen its effects, many would argue the answer lies in the insertion of a third, fourth or a seemingly endless parade of political parties into the foray of American politics.  The swift rise of the popular Tea Party is a testament to this line of thinking.  Yet, while at first blush enticing, this would not solve the problem, but would in fact exacerbate it. 

More parties would mean only more factions, in varying degrees of strength, yes, but added internal strife nonetheless.  Eventually, these now numerous factions, for the sake of maintaining or gaining control of Congress, would forge ungodly alliances at the expense or, in the very least, without proper regard for the needs of the people.  These alliances would be less capable of tackling critical issues as they’d be even further removed from the reality of the issues facing their constituents.  Instead of focusing on environmental legislation, they’d be focused on maintaining the alliance, forced into backroom deals and compromises of every kind before they even got around to how they would campaign on a single platform to win the next election. 

History, again, has taught us this lesson, for we need look no further than the aligning of the Nazi and Conservative Nationalist parties inGermanywhich paved the way to the passage of the Enabling Act of 1933, empowering Hitler to his dictatorship.

In building upon the sage advice of James Madison, “the inference to which we are brought is, that the CAUSES of faction cannot be removed, and that relief is only to be sought in the means of controlling its EFFECTS.”  Adding more parties would be like adding fuel to the fire because it would do nothing to regulate against the effects of faction.  

Over two centuries after the ratification of our Constitution, and with only twenty-seven amendments, it is understandable that certain effects of faction were not anticipated within its framework.

We have to remember that in 1787 the population of theUnited Stateswas less than four million.  Now, with more than double that living inNew York Cityalone, there are companies that employ more workers than lived in some of the states at the time of the ratification of the Constitution. The complexities of an international commerce and communication system that is evolving in stride with the explosion of technology, combined with the stress of four hundred million residing within our boarders could hardly have been contemplated by the founding fathers anymore than the Athenians could have predicted the cause of the first World War. 

The complexities of today highlight the sections of the Constitution that were vague and requires of us critical thought as to the areas not mentioned within its four corners. But, let me be clear, these societal intricacies in no way require us to abandon the sagacious construct therein formulated.

Among the purposes of the government, as organized under the Constitution, is the charge to protect against the dangers of faction.  Therefore, learning from history, and building upon the scholarly shoulders of our founding fathers, we must thicken government’s shield to guard against the effects of faction.  And, in order to do so, we must amend our system of government.

I speak of a revolution.  Not a revolution borne of sword or gun, but one of intellect and renewed dedication to the soul of our ordered liberty.  Just like the decaying inner cities of our nation require a face lift, a second look, so too does our government if we are to continue to form a more perfect union.

To be clear – I do not advocate revolution by way of dismantling the Constitution.  To do so would be contrary to every morsel of my being and to everything I know in my heart to be good and just about the government of theseUnited States.

Instead, I propose a dramatic revolution within the political party that I believe has traditionally adhered more closely to the principals propounded in the Constitution itself, but today is unfortunately contributing to the ailments that plague our society.  And, learning again from history, ironically I propose, among other things, that the Republican Party return to its conservative roots in order to fundamentally revise American politics and change the direction our nation is headed.  I believe that the Republican Party’s failure to do so will mean more than the simple devolution of the party into irrelevance, but will spell the far more horrifying consequence of America’s systemic demise.

In this thesis my goal is to lay out a new platform for the Republican Party.  A platform that is truer to Republican values than what is being practiced today, but also one that draws lines in the sand where needed and erases the negative mindset that purveys American politics on both sides of the isle.  Starting at the grass roots level, the platform must be used by the Republican Party to revitalize the electorate while tackling the mounting critical issues facing us as a nation.  This platform will usher in a new era of liberty and prosperity for Americans and do so by more closely adhering to the legislative intent behind the Constitution, as well as buttress core principles, such as checks and balances, that constitute the backbone of our system of governance. 

The Republican Party has lost its way, and failure to react accordingly will only result in the continued degradation of the American Dream.  As Republicans, it is no longer sufficient to say no to everything the Democrats proffer, or to demonize them because they did it to us when we were in office.  Americans deserve so much more and better than what we’ve been providing as their entrusted leaders.  They know it, and we know it!

Very clearly, if we are to tackle the issues facing our nation, Republicans and Democrats alike, our government, our institutions, all of us must transcend the infighting that has kept our great nation from progressing as it should.  We must pull ourselves from the mud and work toward perfecting our union, rather than sitting idle and resting on our laurels.  We have a choice, here and now.  Do we continue to wallow in our mediocrity and allow our once great nation to disintegrate as mightyRomedid centuries before, or do we reaffirm our ideals and fight harder than we have ever fought to restore the American Dream in all its wonder for ourselves and for future generations?

Part of me would like to quote a founding father here, but if another shoe fits, wear it.  As Spiderman’s uncle once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.”  Nothing could be more true.  TheUnited States of America, as the strongest and most affluent nation on this planet, has a unique responsibility as a beacon of hope for all mankind.  But we as a nation cannot be the light shining on the hill for all other nations to bear witness if individually, as Americans, we are lost in the dark, and worse yet, our government is leading us into a deepening abyss.  And so, it is up to us, Republican, Democrat, Independent – all Americans to pick upLiberty’s torch and forge a path out of the shadows. We must become the path once more. 

We must LEAD BY EXAMPLE!

LEADING BY EXAMPLE: RETURNING OUR REPUBLIC TO ITS REVOLUTIONARY ROOTS

 

INTRODUCTION:

THE AMERICAN DREAM

“The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement…it is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”

– James Truslow Adams in “American Dream”, 1931.

            The American Dream is more than a patriotic, national ethos.  At its roots, the American Dream is a core belief in the unique opportunity being a citizen of the United States affords each American; that our unyielding democratic ideals are a promise of prosperity for our people. 

            The notion of the American Dream itself is derived from the circumstances giving rise to the very birth or our great nation, in the way our American colonies declared themselves dissolved of the political shackles which had long bound them to the tyrannical hand of Britain.  This unprecedented leap of faith was the first step toward the realization of a free, yet governed people, and it made the American Dream possible.

          The second sentence of the Declaration of Independence so boldly and brilliantly states that,  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

            This core belief in the unalienable rights of the individual, that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the people, is not only one of the guiding principles so brilliantly propounded by the founding fathers into the framework of America’s ordered liberty, it is the pillar upon which this great nation has built the most influential, powerful, free and wealthy society this planet has ever hosted.

            It is the idea that if one works hard enough, if he or she is willing to roll up their sleeves, society should leave the individual free to reach his or her full potential.  This philosophy, this potent and powerful mind-set, undeniably, is the backbone of America’s success, for it is the blood, sweat and tears of the individual that has engineered our nation’s prosperity. 

           The American tradition of protecting and promoting this just and capitalistic mindset, coalesced with ordered liberty, has proven to be our recipe for success.  It’s changed our infrastructure, innovated how we cultivate resources, heat our homes, and power our businesses – and it has spread throughout the globe.  Freedom in innovation has given birth to a seemingly endless potential for individual wealth, and as a designed consequence, our nation has reaped a collective reward. 

            The power of the individual being set free to put his mind to something and be unhampered in the pursuit of that goal, gave us the light bulb, the telephone, the automobile, the air plane and the internet.  It’s the collective mind frame that if we want to, we can put a man on the moon.  Our potential, from the individual, systemically to the apex of government, is limitless.

            The concept of the American Dream, though, has fundamentally evolved over our history.  Contemporarily, the American Dream is widely considered to merely be the ability to bring prosperity to oneself by dint of living within our boarders.  In common parlance, in fact, the American Dream is widely used as a description of personal achievement so as to convey the pride of home ownership; our society’s ostensible symbol of individual success.

            I myself live in this “American Dream”.  Nestled in a quiet cul-de-sac in a middle-class, suburban neighborhood just off of Route 66, Northern Virginia’s major artery leading into the heart of the Nation’s Capital, sits my single family, center-hall Colonial with a two car garage and yes, a white picket fence.  Parked in the garage are a Ford Escape Hybrid and a Ford Fusion Hybrid.  And when I sit on my backyard patio, enjoying my personal oasis, proud that all of this is paid for by my salary as an attorney at law, I’m grateful for my little piece of heaven, my tangible piece of the American Dream.

            But there’s so much more to my American Dream – and everyone else’s for that matter.   The majesty of the American Dream transcends the basic achievement of material plenty.  The simple fact that I am lucky enough to have a respected job, beautiful home and comfortable cars tells nothing of my core beliefs, my upbringing, and my complete respect and appreciation for all that I am so privileged to have. 

          For me, it is my parent’s story that resonates as symbolic of the very underpinnings of the American Dream.  You see, personally, and I believe it to be the case for so many Americans, family is where the American Dream is born and from where it emanates.  Because, if I had to boil a definition of the American Dream down to a single word, that word would be hope.  A hope to be free of the shackles of tyranny or religious persecution; hope for a better life for oneself and most of all, hope for a better life for our children.  This hope, this American Dream, drove our ancestors to brave the icy clutches of the Atlantic in pursuit of a New World, and the vision lives on today as more people continue to immigrate to our shores in pursuit of a better and more free life than to any other nation on the planet.

            In the 1960s, my mother, Gerd Dahling Kidwell, boarded a ship from Norway, not much unlike the seafaring explorer Leaf Ericson had centuries before.  Leaving behind her home country, she came to America as an opare for a wealthy British family. 

        One particularly hot summer evening, my mother went out with a group of her Norweigan girlfriends to have a drink at the Bavarian Inn in Washington D.C.  It was there that she caught the eye of a tall, handsome, United States Army Specialist: my father, H. Kent Kidwell.  Stationed in Fort Mede, and off for the evening, he and his army friends were also out looking for a good time.

            I’ll never forget the story, and of course the story is different depending upon whether my mother or father tells it.  But, as I chose to remember it – my father, confident as he is, strutted over to my mother and offered to buy her a drink.  Already Americanized, and thusly opportunistic, my mother accepted the young gentleman’s offer.  It wasn’t long after her drink had arrived that my father asked her out.  She pretended like she couldn’t understand him at first, now that she had her drink of course, politely thanked him for the cocktail, and ignored him.

            But if my father is one thing, he’s persistent.  He asked her again.  She said no.  He went away and then came back later in the evening to ask her out again.  Same answer.  And so this playful back and forth went on for the entire evening until finally she said yes.  The rest of the story, as they say, is history.

            My father’s stubborn persistence, I believe, comes as a direct result of his childhood.  The reason why I believe I live the American Dream is because my father personifies the core principles of American Dream. 

 My father grew up in many households, but he first lived with his mother in the tiny, Appalachian mountain town of Great Cacapon, West Virginia.  Great Cacapon is an unincorporated town nestled in the blue ridge valley on the shores of the Cacapon River, a stone’s throw north of where the river meanders into the mighty Potomac.  The town straddles a quiet, two-lane road, Route 9, and if you blink, you’ll miss it.

             As an adult, my father built a small log cabin about ten miles north of Great Cacapon.  In fact, I wrote the first words of this thesis sitting on the cabin’s screened porch, overlooking a five acre field, a now vacant cow pasture, valleyed in the shadow of a tree-hugged mountain towering over the Cacapon River.

              My father purchased the land upon which the cabin is now built in 1987, and since then our family and friends have made the two hour drive from Northern Virginia to visit as often as possible.  Anybody and everybody who has ever been to this remote sanctuary will attest that as soon as you turn off route 9 onto the gravel road,  roll the car windows down to hear the crackle of the rocks under the tires and that first breath of fresh mountain air blows in your face, you are immediately at peace.  In that very moment, the hustle and bustle mindset of any beltway-insider will melt away.

            From there you travel about a mile and a half down a meandering, dirt and gravel trail, greeted by herds of deer sometimes exceeding forty-strong, until you come to the Kidwell property. 

            Before the cabin was built, we’d pitch tents in the field just off the river’s embankment.  I’ll always remember the first night we pitched tents on the property.  We stopped at a butcher’s shop on the way up to get the obligatory steaks which we grilled on a miniscule portable Weber.  It was just the four of us, my mom, dad, sister and I, and least I forget, the family dog, Barrister.  

            My mother boiled water which she’d scooped straight from the river.  “This water is so pure kids,” my father was sure to boast, “that the number one source of pollution is cow manure.”  To this day, I’m not sure how that was supposed to make us feel like the water was clean, but I digress. That night we all woke up in about two inches of water that’d leaked into our poorly erected tents from a torrential downpour.  The perfect family memory.  I was seven.

            Being that the cabin is only ten miles from Great Cacapon, we’d often drive into town.  “The first house on the left, the yellow one”, my father would tell us, our great grandfather built with his bare hands.  He used to ring the town’s church bell and apparently moonlighted as a boxer at fights staged on the very property where our cabin is now built. 

            We always stopped in at Magio’s, a small, general store, even if we didn’t really need anything.  At the clerk’s counter, the store owner, Mrs. Magio, set a jar filled with water and a shot-glass at rest on its bottom.  If you could drop a quarter in the water and make it into the shot-glass, you’d get a free piece of candy.  I always loved playing because, even if I lost, my mother would let me pick out a Superman comic book. 

            Magio’s has been closed for some time now.  Like many of the buildings in the small town of Great Cacapon, the window’s are boarded up and the edifice is falling into a state of disrepair.  The town’s rate of decline seems to have accelerated in recent years.

            My father did not grow up wealthy in the 1940s version of this little town in West Virginia.  It was just him, his younger brother, Tom, and his mother — his parents had divorced.  He doesn’t talk about it much, but my father opines that he never really knew his father, barely remembers him. 

            When he was sixteen years old, his mother burned their house down when falling asleep with a lit cigarette in hand.  Soon thereafter she passed on, and with his father dead of cancer, he was, for all-intensive purposes, orphaned with a younger brother to look after.

            My father bounced around from house to house, living with this aunt and that, until he was taken in by his mother’s second husband, John Manuel, after-whom I’m named. 

            John Manuel was a business man.  In fact, one of my father’s first jobs was as a trash collector at the “Big M”, a drive-in movie theatre owned and operated  by my grandfather  in Churchville, Maryland.  He taught my father respect, the value of hard work, discipline, and above all, to always look up the definition of a word he didn’t know – a habit my father has passed on to me.

            My father’s checkered childhood left him with a chip on his shoulder.  I imagine it would any young man.  He was smart and determined, and he had something to prove.  It’s as a result of my grandfather’s role as a surrogate father figure – the fact that he taught my father the importance of dignity and discipline, that my father’s determination was channeled positively.

            In 1962, after his second year of undergraduate study at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, my father joined the United States Army in its fight against the Viet-Cong in Vietnam.  He served three years as an Army Specialist, during which time he studied Russian at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, prior to being stationed in Turkey with the task of intercepting messages from the Soviet Union which was supplying the National Liberation Front in their guerilla war against American troops.

            It was while on military leave that my father met my mother at the Bavarian Inn in Washington, D.C.  She worked as a dental assistant while my father continued to serve.  And when he returned, he married her in front of a General District Court Judge in Arlington, Virginia, no witnesses, no friends, just he and his bride.

            The Department of Veterans Affairs paid for my father to finish out his undergraduate studies at George Washington University, and in 1968 he graduated with a degree in Political Science. 

            At first he was going to get a Masters in Political Science and become a professor – he’d even been accepted into the program.  But at the last minute he decided, on second thought, he’d rather become a lawyer. 

            While my father attended the George Washington University School of Law he and my mother built a life out of nothing.  Collectively, they literally had nothing, not even a sofa to sit on.  But she worked and he studied, and they built a life.

            In 1971 my father joined Harrell and Muchler, a small general-practice law firm located in Bailey’s Cross-Roads, Virginia.  In 1977 he became partner and in 1985 he bought the firm and has been its leader ever since.

            My father and mother, an orphan from West-Virginia and a first-generation, Norwegian immigrant, started with nothing, and in this land of opportunity, through perseverance and devotion, they built a family.

            I grew up in what would likely be considered Middle-Class America.  By no means ever rich, some years more frugal than others, but we were never poor.  We were always comfortable, living in a larger than average house, in a quiet, safe, suburban neighborhood.  The first thing my father taught me, aside from basketball, of course, was the importance of family.

            My family is very traditional, the kind that, unfortunately, is waning in modern America.  We sat down at seven o’clock every night to have a family dinner.  My mother would set a candle lit table and cook a four course meal.  We gathered, said grace then ate.  Then it would begin…

            My father would commence by asking questions.  The first to twenty would win – what, I still don’t know.  Respect, I guess.  My sister and I would lean forward in eager anticipation and he’d ask away. He’d quiz us on the Bill of Rights and spout off the preamble to the Constitution.  Sometimes there’d be no questions, instead he’d pontificate on the concept of state rights versus federal powers, Lockean philosophy, and the notion of ordered liberty, or regale us with a story gleaned from one of his court cases.  

            Over the years we kept the same basic tradition.  Dinner every night, with some meals in front of the TV for sure, some missed here and there because, well, that’s just life, but for the most part, at the kitchen table with a candle lit.  Family Time! 

            My friends loved to come over, not just for my mom’s delicious cooking, but also for the twenty questions and story times, even if it meant no hats at the dinner table and always being required ask to be excused from the table.  Even now, it’s the same.

            It’s at that table that I learned the importance of family; the significance of respect, rules and hard work.  My parents instilled in me the considerate ways of life that, today, are regrettably ignored by so many of us.  In that warm, loving environment, I not only learned, but lived the American Dream. 

           As a young adult, I had the occasion to travel to various destinations in the third world.   What struck me as truly inspirational was that no matter how destitute and seemingly hopeless an existence some of these people appeared to live, they were always smiling and somehow, despite it all, genuinely happy.  That tells me something about the human spirit.  

          Still, witnessing with my own eyes, the extreme poverty some of these people were enduring was profoundly saddening.    They had so little – no electricity, no running water, and little food.  There was insufficient shelter and the shelter that existed would have twenty years ago been condemned uninhabitable in even our worst ghettos.   An inexplicable guilt grew deep into the pit of my stomach.  Why me?  Why do I deserve any better? 

 As a political science major in my undergraduate studies at the University of Mary Washington I studied the acute poverty of the less fortunate, but it was truly witnessing the outwardly blighted existence of so many across this world that widened my eyes to fully appreciate and actually understand the true majesty of the American Dream.  Talking to the forgotten souls of Mirmansk, Russia and eating with the Andean mountain guides of Peru, listening to how they revere America and what we as a nation stand for, has helped me to realize the influence our dream of liberty has as it reaches across our borders and spreads hope.   

           I’ve learned that the American Dream is also the unique ability of each generation to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to carry forward that noble idea, that precious, God-given truth that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their dreams by dint of being a citizen of this great nation.  I am a product of this liberty — all members of my generation and the generations before me residing in these United States and protected as to our unalienable rights are a creation of this truth.

           Collectively, each individual American is the American Dream, having been raised up on the shoulders of the generation preceding them.  As it endures today, the American Dream, simply put, is the culmination of generations before who benefited from the luxuries afforded in freedom and who carried forward liberty’s torch.  Why me?  Why do I deserve better?  To the latter – I don’t!  To the former – because I am fortunate enough to be an American!

            The hard work my parents put into building a life from nothing, raising my sister and me in a compassionate, ordered household, gave me the chance to go to school in one of the top ranked public school systems in the nation; it afforded me the opportunity to attend college and it instilled in me the drive to practice law.  It fostered in me the ability and the determination to build a better life for myself, my family, and – what I truly believe to be an essential element of the American Dream, the philanthropic aspiration to build a better life for everyone around me.

            Yet, the American Dream, however defined, is in numerous ways under siege.  Our nation is facing crisis in every direction; from the war on terror and economic depression, to climate change and educational, institutional and infrastructural decay. 

            In many ways the shining light on the hill is flickering in the dark, teetering on the brink of a blackening abyss borne of domestic decay and international pressures.  To many, and certainly for me, it’s become palpable.  Something is wrong – worse than normal. 

           The sun that once graced the amber waves of grain is graying behind a looming storm of mounting predicament.  There is a measurable sapping of confidence across our land, both in the confidence that our future will be bright and in the confidence our people have in our government as a just institution.  Sleepless nights are replete with the nagging nightmare that America’s decline is inevitable, that the next generation must lower its sights, expect to die younger and endure into a diseased planet.  In the wake of the sub-prime lending scandal, homes have been lost, jobs evaporated, businesses shuttered and families turned upside-down in economic depression.

            The reports of massacres the likes of Virginia Tech, Fort Hood and the Tragedy in Tuscon seem to be increasing in regularity and the media continuously bombards us with reports of global warming and looming economic catastrophe.  We find ourselves in the midst of two wars that have collectively endured longer than our nation’s involvement in the Revolutionary, Civil, and both World Wars combined, and with the crisis in Libya added to the shoulders of our over-stretched military.  Globally, we are witness to famine, water shortage, genocides and the spread of tyranny and extremism – none of which seem to have been curtailed by the efforts of those fighting the good fight.

            It’s nearly become overwhelming, and when the citizens of this nation turn to their political leaders, too often, they find them deaf to their cries or so deeply entrenched in party line, demonizing the other side and virtually factionalizing our nation, rather than uniting it to the common goal of tackling these critical issues.

           But, America is too important, and we as a people are too resilient to simply fade into the dark.  What we as a nation stand for: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and as the shining light of the last best hope for the remainder of humanity, must be preserved. 

         Our system is of government is flawed, but more perfect than any other on this globe.  Therefore it is up to this generation to again pick up liberty’s torch and collectively face the enemies of freedom that lurk in the dark. Let us give the greatest generation a run for its money, for the current status quo, a norm of division, hatred and faction, must be shunned so that we may continue the pursuit of a brighter future for us all.  We must climb back atop that hill and shine the light, embracing our flaws, facing the escalating issues and daunting tasks before us as one nation, under God, with the common goal of tackling them for a more perfect union for our people and for all peoples across this world. 

         For it is also a constituent of the American Dream that all who have the privilege of freedom also have the honor and duty to fight for it.  Join me!

                         

STAY TUNED FOR CHAPTER ONE: LEADING BY EXAMPLE

WHAT I SEE IN AMERICA’S DESPAIR: HOPE!

Across this great land, the faces of the once proud and mighty seem to be weighed down in mounting anxiety.   Our confidence is shot as everything seems to have gone wrong and the outlook appears only a downward spiral.

Unemployment is still over 9% nationwide with 8%+ unemployment expected through 2014.  Commodity inflation is squeezing our pockets as well, with over 1 in 10 Americans on food stamps and 1 in 4 children across the states finds themselves without ample food on a daily basis. In the wake of our nation’s credit downgrade, the stock markets are crashing with fears of a double dip recession, while we the people stop and ask, when did the recession ever end? 

Time Magazine termed the decade from 2000 – 2010 as the “Decade from Hell”, but in 2011, it only seems to be getting worse.  Mother Nature, it seems, is equally disgruntled.  This year alone we have witnessed record breaking blizzards across the east, massive flooding across the Mississippi watershed, record Tornadoes that have taken unimaginable life and caused catastrophic damage, wide-spread drought the likes of which have never been seen, and a heat wave that literally set thousands of record highs across the nation while parts of Texas experienced 57 consecutive days of 100 degrees or higher temperatures.  And least we forget the Tsunami that wiped entire cities from Japan’s coast and plunged them into a nuclear crisis on par with Chernobyl. 

Our nation is facing crisis in every direction; from the war on terror and economic depression, to climate change and educational, institutional and infrastructural decay.  In many ways the shining light on the hill is flickering in the dark, teetering on the brink of a blackening abyss borne of domestic decay and international pressures.  To many, and certainly for me, it’s become palpable.  Something is wrong – worse than normal. 

The sun that once graced the amber waves of grain is graying behind a looming storm of mounting predicament.  There is a measurable sapping of confidence across our land, both in the confidence that our future will be bright and in the confidence our people have in our government as a just institution.  Sleepless nights are replete with the nagging nightmare that America’s decline is inevitable, that the next generation must lower its sights, expect to die younger and endure into a diseased planet.  In the wake of the sub-prime lending scandal, homes have been lost, jobs evaporated, businesses shuttered and families turned upside-down in economic depression.

The reports of massacres the likes of Virginia Tech, Fort Hood and the Tragedy in Tuscon seem to be increasing in regularity and the media continuously bombards us with reports of global warming and looming economic catastrophe.  We find ourselves in the midst of two wars that have collectively endured longer than our nation’s involvement in the Revolutionary, Civil, and both World Wars combined, and with the crisis in Libya added to the shoulders of our over-stretched military.  Globally, we are witness to famine, water shortage, genocides and the spread of tyranny and extremism – none of which seem to have been curtailed by the efforts of those fighting the good fight.

It’s nearly become overwhelming, but in America’s despair, what do I see?  Hope.  I don’t see the inevitable decline into a lesser existence.  I see the strength and wisdom of a society freer than all on this planet – free in a republic to make the changes necessary to tackle the critical issues facing us.  I see hope!

Yet, while there is hope, there must also be action.  And, therein lies our problem.  When the citizens of this nation turn to their political leaders, too often, they find them deaf to their cries or so deeply entrenched in party line, demonizing the other side and virtually factionalizing our nation, rather than uniting it to the common goal of tackling these critical issues.

But, America is too important, and we as a people are too resilient to simply fade into the dark.  What we as a nation stand for: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and as the shining light of the last best hope for the remainder of humanity, must be preserved. 

Our system of government is flawed, but more perfect than any other on this globe.  Therefore it is up to this generation to again pick up liberty’s torch and collectively face the enemies of freedom that lurk in the dark. Let us give the greatest generation a run for its money, for the current status quo, a norm of division, hatred and faction, must be shunned so that we may continue the pursuit of a brighter future for us all.  We must climb back atop that hill and shine the light, embracing our flaws, facing the escalating issues and daunting tasks before us as one nation, under God, with the common goal of tackling them for a more perfect union for our people and for all peoples across this world. 

For it is also a constituent of the American Dream that all who have the privilege of freedom also have the honor and duty to fight for it.

This is precisely why I have written my book – LEADING BY EXAMPLE: RETURNING OUR REPUBLIC TO ITS REVOLUTIONARY ROOTS.  In it, I address the myriad critical issues facing our nation.  More importantly, I have painstakingly researched each subject in order to do much more than most political treatises seem to do these days: I not only diagnose the problem, but take it a step further and propose solutions. 

Therefore, as a gift to my fellow patriots, I am releasing my book for free.  My goal here is not to make millions (though that would be nice), rather, my goal is to help educate and galvanize my fellow Americans to action. 

I will be releasing each chapter, dependent upon size, as three or more blogs, throughout the next several weeks.  My hope is that my readers will spread the word, pass my message along, and spark a lively conversation/debate as to these critical issues and, more importantly, how to resolve them.  I want for people to propose solutions and how they think we should address the issues.  What I don’t want is for people to sit back and simply gripe about the issues facing us, and how the Republicans and Democrats are failing to address them, pointing fingers – Capital Hill does enough of that for us (unfortunately).  Let’s put our heads together America, and dig out of his hole…NOW!

Recognizing, as we do, the importance of dealing with education, illegal immigration, the environment, etc., we can no longer allow our representatives to promise reform and fail to deliver.  We must revolutionize with lightning speed, the likes of which we have not seen since we completely re-tooled industrialized America in a matter of months to churn out the bullets, planes and ships necessary to win World War II. 

With equal, perhaps greater resolve, we must retool and revitalize our industrial complex to modernize and erect a new, efficient energy grid.  Talking about the potential of solar energy, wind power, and how we theoretically can rid ourselves of dependence on foreign fuel will no longer cut it. 

Talk is cheap.  We must take immediate action to revamp public education in order to properly prepare our children for the rigors of a global marketplace.   We must finally take steps to remove corruption in our government and demand fidelity in our representatives, rather than perpetuate it through our continued indifference to incumbent fraudulence.

But, to do so, we must all come together, united to the singular goal of prevailing as a cohesive, patriotic force.  Together, we can accomplish anything, but in a House divided, we will all fail.  We must collectively cast aside our egocentric factions as the critical issues into which I’ve delved are faced by all Americans, regardless of race, creed or party. 

Guided by our shared American ideals, we must shun our growing predisposition to demonize one another; individually and systemically to the summit of Capital Hill.  We must stand up, all of us, and demand that our elected officials reach across party isles, not for bi-partisan reform, but for American reform!   

Returning to our revolutionary roots, relearning and reaffirming our core principals as a nation – this is how we will win the war on terror, revitalize our economy, and advance a more perfect union for ourselves and our progeny.  In this dark hour, it is our privilege as a free people and our absolute duty to lead our families, our neighbors, and the remainder of the world, by shining example.

IT IS TIME FOR SOMEBODY TO STAND UP!  WELL, I AM STANDING RESOLUTE.  JOIN ME!!