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August 18, 2010
This election season, let's get candidates to promise what they won't do
The mid-term elections coming in November are crucial to the future and survival of the United States as a limited constitutional republic. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could choose between candidates who were able to speak knowledgeably about their Constitutional role in the House or the Senate, the role they see the government playing within the limits that were established by the ratification of the Constitution.
It would also be nice if we could all hit the lottery, eliminate tooth decay, and develop a way to use sea water instead of gasoline.
The reality we face is that in the silly season preceding the elections, we are going to be inundated by promise after promise to "fix" problems that we weren't even aware that we had! These promises will echo the tone if not the words of: "a car in every garage and two chickens in every pot". Regardless of what they are promising, if you vote for Candidate "X", he or she will claim to have what every politician dreams of - a mandate. Bill Clinton claimed that he had a "mandate" - twice. Of course in both his terms he was sort of loose in applying the term. According to the American Heritage Dictionary of Cultural Literacy the term is defined as:
Since there appears to be a genetic flaw in the DNA of those seeking political power which uncontrollably impels them to make promises to us in their search for a mandate, it would appear to be in our own best interests to shape those promises in ways that suit the moment we face in our history.
The U.S. Constitution is largely phrased in negative terms. It defines what the Federal government can not and must not do. The Constitution defines, rather narrowly, what the government is empowered to actually do. The 9th and 10th Amendments clearly indicate that anything not specifically described in the Constitution as a responsibility of the Federal government is the responsibility of the several states and/or the individual citizen.
With that in mind, this election season let's hear what the various candidates promise NOT to do. Perhaps we should list those things we, the voters, want them NOT to do, so they have a clear, unambiguous idea of what the we consider to be their mandate.
These are a few examples of what we should expect in terms of candidate promises:
Promise NOT to delegate lawmaking, via regulation, to any Executive Branch bureaucrats or czars. Recognize that the Constitution instructs Congress to legislate, and the Executive branch is to administer those laws.
Promise NOT to hire any more non-military employees for the Federal government. Freeze government employment levels until attrition reduces headcount by at least a third.
Promise NOT to increase salaries for non-military Federal employees until such time as non-government wages increase to a level that offers parity with government employment.
Promise NOT to allow the FCC to regulate the internet. Clarify that the internet is not part of their legislatively defined responsibility, and any interference will be tantamount to violation of the First Amendment.
Promise NOT to allow the FTC to "reform" and subsidize the main stream media, either print or broadcast, in any way. The government may not censor the media, and it should likewise not subsidize it.
Promise NOT to vote for any legislation that is more than 100 pages long.
Promise NOT to allow Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to continue as uncontrolled entities, but protected from idiotic policies by taxpayer dollars.
Each of us has to decide what we don't want the government to do, and then make the same demand of each candidate that they DO NOT do it!
Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller, Vietnam veteran and libertarian (small "l"). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org