The American people assert their Independence from Washington's political aristocracy
In 1776 our founding fathers met and pledged to each other and to us, their descendants, their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor. In the Declaration of Independence, they established that men have been endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that governments are established solely as a vehicle for securing those Rights, and that it is the right and indeed the duty of the people to replace any government or agents of government that abuse these Rights.
Their Declaration further stated that under certain circumstances, replacement of the government was both justified and necessary. Eleven years later, after eight years of war, they met in convention and established by written constitution the limits and structure of that new government and formed a Republic, The United States of America.
Since that time, we the People, the benefactors of that more perfect Union, fought a great Civil War, two World Wars, a fifty year Cold War, and numerous regional conflicts to preserve, protect, and defend that Constitution, that Nation, and the Rights they were mutually established to secure. During the two hundred and thirty-five year history of our nation, we have multiplied and flourished and developed a relative degree of economic, military, political, and social influence unrivaled in human history. All humanity has benefited from our achievements.
Moreover from our first social contract, the Mayflower Compact, through our Declaration of Independence and the drafting of our Constitution, we have envisioned ourselves a people apart. Not only a nation founded on unique principles, we are infused with a singular sense of moral purpose. We are not just a great people; we are a good people.
Now our nation is again at a crossroads. Our position of global preeminence, our capacity to create opportunity, and our individual rights, the most fundamental basis for our system of government, are under unprecedented assault. The threat comes not from some distant shore or from internal divisions. It comes, as it did at the inception of our nation, from a governing aristocracy that has set itself apart, exceeded its legitimate authority, and passed laws and regulations that take away our constitutional rights, limit opportunity, and undermine the birthright of future generations.
This political class has set us on an unsustainable course that if continued will bankrupt our country, destroy our way of life, and endanger the entire community of nations. Unless constrained, they will leave us with greater political, economic, and social division than at any time since the Civil War, and ultimately strip the world of the protection and inspiration of its one indispensable nation.
This we cannot and will not let stand.
We, the people, consistent with our nation's founding principles and in keeping with our sacred duties, in national association declare our independence from the politics of the two major political parties, the self-seeking political careerists that they have sponsored, and the narrow special interests they serve.
Causes for Action:
America and we Americans are not who we were fifty years ago. We face unprecedented challenges: We are a far less homogeneous people. Our social norms and social structures have changed, some radically. Technology has advanced rapidly providing vast new capabilities and presenting equally large new challenges. Our economy has undergone profound transformation: markets have globalized; competition is greater; work has become more specialized; and many workers have been permanently displaced. How we learn has changed. Even life expectancy has changed. In many respects the world has changed. It is smaller and larger. It is stronger and weaker. Our position within it has been altered.
In the face of these challenges, the effectiveness of our representative government has seriously eroded. Our government has abjectly failed to adapt to meet these critically changing circumstances. Our political leadership has abdicated its responsibilities to serve our collective interests and we suffer from a leadership crisis. Perhaps never in our history has the demand been greater for skilled, experienced, uncorrupted and un-corruptible leadership, or the shortage been greater.
Despite their pretensions, the two major political parties merely serve as conduits between a self-interested and self-perpetuating political aristocracy and their special interest sponsors, most prominently public employee unions and Wall Street financial institutions. It has become impossible for visionary leadership to survive the selection processes of these political parties. As currently constituted, the parties and their candidates have become caricatures of themselves leaving Americans without desirable leadership choices and practical solutions to their problems.
Each party bases its beliefs on a utopian vision that stands in contrast with the real world where public and private institutions are powerful and power corrupts. Individuals are neither perfect nor perfectible. Markets are not necessarily efficient. Cultural differences are profound (many unbridgeable). Resources are limited. Technological progress can be socially regressive. And there are people - many of them - who want to destroy us. Under these circumstances, ideological purity is the default position of the self-deluded and the demagogic. It is no basis for governing. Yet political power in America now seems to vacillate between two unworkable extremes.
The consequences are not just an unresponsive political system and a lack of competent responsible leadership. They are measured in the deterioration in the life of every American, the reckless and unrestrained growth of government spending, the unsustainable accumulation of national debt, and the consequent dimming prospects for our children. They are etched in crumbling bridges and gridlocked highways. They are shuttered in prisons that further crime and drug addiction. They are reflected in the deepening difficulties experienced by those whose lives are most uncertain - the growing numbers of elderly, infirm, and poor. They are registered in the flight of investment dollars and well-paying jobs overseas and the resulting loss of middle class opportunity at home. Ultimately they are seen in the squandering of a legacy, the dissolution of community, and the forfeiture of a dream.
The U.S. government was established by constitution ratified in 1788. Like all governments, it is a monopoly that suffers from lack of competition. It has grown inefficient, profligate, and beholding to special interests. Worse, in recent years as politics in America has become a business, our politicians have become technicians, professional only at the task of getting themselves elected and reelected. They substitute repetition of the party line and political gamesmanship for sound reasoning and responsible leadership. The result is that too few people associated with government have the developed skills, experience, or motivation to set policy, lead and manage a complex organization, or serve the shared interests of our diverse citizenry.
Common Sense Public Policy:
Our challenge is to join together in common cause: to restore constitutional limits to government, restructure the institutions of government at all levels consistent with changed circumstances, and elevate leaders of proven skill and integrity to make public service again live up to its name - performing service for the public.
Government does too many things, many of them poorly, and often for the wrong reasons. We must rein in a federal government that has grown too large and unfocused. We need to restructure what our government does and how it does it:
Much of what our government currently does evolved in response to past circumstances or the undue influence of special interests. Once government adopts a function, institutes a program, or creates an agency, it takes on a life and following of its own irrespective of its continued usefulness or legitimacy. We need a thorough reexamination and evaluation of all the functions, programs and structures adopted over the years. We should eliminate or restructure those that no longer serve a useful purpose but rather divert resources from the general welfare and sap the vitality of our economic system.
Once we determine what government should properly do and how it should be structured, there is no reason not to apply the same standards of performance to it that we would expect from any other institution. At minimum, we should reform the civil service so that the federal government can be run like any other well run organization with employment and advancement based on merit.
Government should not give up any control over its operations or distort the procurement process for contracting of goods and services in favor of any interest group. Like any other contractor it should seek the lowest costs consistent with specified quality standards. For example, government employees may be entitled to seek or bargain for whatever compensation and work rules they wish, but union membership must be optional, dues collected privately, and arbitration non-compulsory. Uncompetitive practices and special interest induced distortions like paying the above market "prevailing wage" for government construction, the purchase of prescription drugs at above market prices for Medicare, and special minority contract set asides should be abolished.
Further, it is essential that we reestablish high fiduciary standards in the conduct of our public affairs. It is incomprehensible that we tolerate conflicts of interest among our public officials that would merit dismissal or criminal indictment in the private sector. Clearly we must be more rigorous in our selection of both elected and appointed people. But there are institutional changes that we can institute also.
To make the legislative process more honest, we should take the business of estimating program costs and projecting benefits out of the hands of self-interested politicians and instead establish a professional, non-partisan and independent agency to analyze the financial impact of legislation and regulations proposed by elected officials and government bureaucrats. We should institute a presidential line item veto to assure at least one individual's accountability for spending, minimize pork barrel politics, and assure that legislation is passed based on its merit. We should end all other special interest directed legislation like specific industry subsidies, arbitrary exemptions and bailouts, targeted tax breaks, and legislative earmarks. And the time has come to move beyond affirmative action and quotas and treat all Americans equally on their merits.
Since we must by necessity place great power in the hands of our elected and appointed officials, if we are to re-establish confidence in our leaders, then we must be able to verify that they merit their positions and our trust. We must have real transparency in all government activities except where national security may be compromised. This will better enable the national media to report the actions of all public officials and hold them to the highest ethical and professional standards regardless of their professed ideologies.
Creating an Environment for Economic Growth and Opportunity
We should recognize that it is not the function of government to create jobs. It borders on ridiculous to hear public officials discuss how they can and will create employment. Governments can only help provide an environment favorable for the private sector to produce economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and ultimately job creation. There are several things that we should do to improve our prospects for economic growth:
Evaluating and Designing Domestic Programs
We must establish the sustainable dimensions and terms of a new comprehensive American social safety net. We Americans have a history of taking care of our own, but our efforts have become unfocused and unresponsive to changed demographics and circumstances. Also, there is too little emphasis on helping people reach their potential to become self-sufficient contributors to society.
The motivational force of our society has long been the hunger of the individual for personal liberty and the efforts of those in the middle and lower end of the economic spectrum to create a better life for themselves and their families. Since our inception, we have been a beacon of freedom and pathway to opportunity for untold millions who have left home and country to lay the foundations and build out the City on a Hill first envisioned by our forefathers. As such we are a nation of, by, and for immigrants. The process of absorbing the world's huddled masses has not always been pretty or easy for us or them, but it is a singular source of our continuing strength and exceptionalism.
It is imperative, therefore, that we address the legal status of the undocumented residents among us. It is true that these people "broke the law" and are not entitled to stay indefinitely or participate in the benefits of citizenship, but many have become an integral part of our economic and social fabric. We should recognize, if only as a practical matter, that we cannot expel them all indiscriminately. Neither as a matter of national safety, security, and civility can we continue to have millions of people roaming around our country in some legal no man's land. We should begin the process of addressing this situation by granting all undocumented residents one final opportunity to comply with federal law. As a first step, we could establish a new "provisional resident" immigration status and require all undocumented residents to register within one year. Any undocumented person found in the United States after that period would be subject to deportation without appeal. The initial terms of this provisional residency would be purposefully undefined. There would be no guarantees. They would provide no specific grace period for continued residency and establish no "path to citizenship". They would merely confer "current" legal status to the recipient. Over the long term, through future acts, the United States Congress would determine the rights, obligations, conditions, and term for continued residency as well as the ultimate disposition of these provisional residents.
Providing National Defense
The defense budget is too large. We need a total reappraisal of our defense strategy and annual expenditures that are currently multiples of the budgets of any of our potential military rivals. In national defense, we must determine the optimal potential projection of our military power internationally consistent with the concerns of providing security at home, meeting our non-defense needs and maintaining our economic security. We are a beacon of freedom and self-determination, not crusading imperialists that seek to impose our beliefs or ideals on others. The better we promote and honor our ideals and the greater our economic and social results at home, the more readily our example will appeal to others abroad.
Refocusing Foreign Policy
Make a national commitment and create a coalition of nations to contain extremist Political Islam similar to the commitment made to contain communism during the cold war. Expansionist, militant, totalitarian Islam is no less a threat to world peace and security than expansionist, militant, totalitarian communism during the period following World War II. We did not choose to make an enemy of these people, but clearly they are dedicated to our destruction and that of Western Civilization. We are fools not to recognize this, respond, and form coalitions to contain this deadly threat.
We recognize that there exist widely divergent and legitimate differences among individual Americans with respect to many social issues. We accept in good faith the differences among us in these personal matters.
Only nonpartisan common sense policies based on equality under the law and involving shared investment can elicit that level of public support required to institute sustainable positive change.
America cannot be governed by extremes nor be reformed by bi-partisan division of the spoils. Only leadership independent of the special interests and ideological extremists that control our two major political parties can fashion the policies and programs necessary to restructure and redirect our government and conform it to the imperatives of a changed world.
And only an actively engaged, informed, vigilant, and independent citizenry can provide that animating force necessary to assure that government of, by, and for the people continues and flourishes and our great and good country fulfills its manifest promise.