I understand the desire to buy in to what the Tea Party is selling. These people are angry about the condition of the nation and they have every right to be. But, in our frustration with government, Americans are quick to listen to anyone who promises to improve our condition.
Ironically, the Election of 2008 saw Democrats clamoring for change and they hailed Barack Obama as the answer to the economic recession. After eight years of Republican leadership, the public was ready to follow Obama. People wrongly presumed President Obama would wave the magic wand and all problems would disappear overnight.
Fast forward to present day and the roles have been reversed. The economy has shown signs of improvement but not enough. Conservatives are ready for change of their own. And in classical political fashion -- the rhetoric is already flowing freely.
Governor Rick Perry (of Texas) is the latest to indulge in such wild promises, which don't offer any real solutions to our problems, but satiate the masses.
Panis et circus.
Perry has suggested a radical number of augmentations to the United States Constitution, which sound nice to the public, but have little feasibility and hardly any rationale.
The governor suggested removing the lifetime tenure of federal judges, claiming they lack accountability to the people. However, the low level of accountability is exactly the point. The Founding Fathers created a judiciary that could interpret the law free from outside influence of the people or other branches of government. These federal judges are highly scrutinized by the Senate before being approved and can also be impeached for improper conduct. The judiciary should always have the lifetime tenure that insulates them from public opinion, so they make decisions that are correct, and not popular.
The governor would also like to see the Constitution changed so that Congress would have the ability to override The Supreme Court by a two-thirds majority. One of the key features of the Court is its ability to make decisions based on the law and the Constitution, not popular opinion. Allowing Congress to override the Court would also provide the legislative branch far more power than they should have.
Additionally, a means for overriding the Supreme Court already exists. It's called a constitutional amendment. If something is in the Constitution, the Court can make no ruling about it.
One of the favorite ideas of Perry and other firebrands is the abolishment of the 16th Amendment, which permits the federal government to tax income. This sounds like a great idea, but considering our current budget crisis and military involvement across the world, eliminating our largest source of federal revenue is ridiculous. What would a suitable alternative be? A national sales tax sounds like a good idea, but that provides more of an incentive not to buy.
Other amendment proposals by Perry include ending abortion, defining marriage as between a man and woman and requiring a balanced budget for the federal government. I don't deny that these ideas are appealing, however any such amendments won't happen regardless of who wins in 2012.
The Constitution has only been amended 27 times and 10 of those came almost immediately. The difficulty in changing our most important document is a testament to the fact that amending it wasn't to be taken lightly.
So thank you, Governor Perry. You probably won votes with these ideas by appealing to the masses. It's a shame you aren't presenting solutions that have substance or feasibility.