Appendix A1 – Explanations and Reasons for the Proposed 28th Amendment – A Congress of the People

Please see the draft of the proposed Congressional Amendment for precise details of what the amendment requires following these reasons and explanations, which are a simpler overview.

 

Did you ever hear said anything like, “Why do those Washington crooks ignore the needs of people? Instead, they focus on big money’s interest?” Those in Congress may wish to help people, but they are human beings, doing what the current system requires. The Constitution established this system over two hundred years ago. The method may have been adequate centuries ago; today’s mass media costs produce a congress whose primary objective is to benefit individuals or groups providing campaign money, which incumbents need. They keep their jobs through an expensive reelection process. As a result, we have a dollarocracy—not a democracy.

 

The vast majority in Congress, the 435 House of Representative members, will lose their jobs and incomes a mere two years from entering office without reelection. The 100 Senators face unemployment in six years unless re-elected. Most human beings will do what is necessary to support themselves and their families. Otherwise, someone else will take their place and do what the system requires.

 

Capitalism helped make this country great. Likewise, copious amounts of concentrated wealth can create prosperity for everyone’s betterment. However, special-interest-controlled voter choices and legislation favoring special interests cost everyone else. Greedy people with special-interest money inordinately influence who our legislators are and what they enact into law, making people bear the cost for what the special interests want.

 

Additionally, the present system produces extremist politics. Long before voting, people following politics are mostly more extreme, right or left. A candidate needing early momentum must charm one of the two radical extremes, which are paying attention early on. When election day arrives, moderate thinking Americans have a choice between two extremes. They like neither. They must choose who they judge is least undesirable. The country often chooses and puts out the side in power at an election because they dislike what they’re doing—unless the propaganda thrown at them by some special-interest money group captures their vote.

 

Most Americans are reasonable, open-minded people somewhere in a middle area. Most people pay little attention or follow a campaign early in an election cycle. They’re busy living, working, coming home, rearing children, relaxing with a bit of entertainment, getting in bed, getting up, and doing it again the next day. They’re enjoying life, which everyone should be able to do! People need a representative system of government that they can trust to benefit our country, which is them. People deserve this. The current system design provides them representatives who must cater to their extreme supporters plus cater to the monied special interest support that got them elected. They hope their supporters’ money will get them re-elected.

 

An additional severe problem with the current election system is it produces a highly polarized and contentious Congress. Excepting actual physical violence—yet—our national legislature’s political parties are operating increasingly like street and prison gangs. Gang leaders demand strict obedience. Gangs punish members’ disobedience, causing a member losing committee appointments and sometimes their seats. Gangs’ severe polarization has put us in permanent congressional gridlock or a complete government shutdown, unable to pass a budget. Remember, in 2013, Congress could agree on nothing? A government shut down last-ed several weeks. We risked a serious default on debt payments. This shut down slowed the economy; hurt earnings. Two million people were unemployed: a terrible disgrace. At times executive orders are the only legislation we have; the President’s one person; this is a despicable democracy!

 

Amending the Constitution is the way we can change this system!

 

Selection and Election Process: Democratically randomly selecting qualified citizens who volunteer alone would create a Congress that would help people more than our current election system does, which well-funded special interest individuals or groups manipulate. Our current system produces a Congress which must do the bidding of monied special interest individuals or groups, making us a dollarocracy, not a democracy. Funding from monied special interest groups or individuals is necessary for election and reelection. A random selection of eight candidates who faced an election without anybody’s money spent on advertising or doing anything else influencing its outcome produces an even better Congress, a Voted in After Random Selection or VARS (Voted in After Random Selection) Congress. Voters’ choice from a field of eight randomly selected qualified volunteers will improve the cross-section of qualified American volunteers com-posing Congress and would result in much greater democracy.

 

Prohibiting campaign spending alone would result in an unworkable number of candidates. No funding needed to become a candidate could result in hundreds, thousands, or more candidates. Random selection will give us a reasonably sized field of eight candidates.

 

This amendment prohibits any person, group, or entity from advertising or doing anything else that may influence voters. Congress must determine effective penalties for all violations.

 

No one, including candidates, could, without committing a punishable crime, tell voters the political affiliations, name, sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or race of a VARS candidate till an election is over. Thus, as much as possible, Voters would be unaware of the identities of VARS candidates except by a number indicating an order of their random selection.

 

Congress would invite constituent voters to submit a single simple question for candidates from which Congress would randomly select eight. Voters would vote based on short (A maximum of 512 words.) written campaign statements and candidates’ short (A maximum of 64 words.) answers to the randomly chosen questions.

 

Candidates must swear or make a legal affirmation that their responses are correct. Any prosecutor having authority must file charges of lying under oath for any false statements in either a Campaign Statement or written answers of the winner within 120 days of the election. Ultimate conviction of these charges will result in a court’s-imposed penalty plus removal from office. In addition, anyone so convicted must return any payment received.

 

VARS Congress members would be nonvoting Members in Training (MTs) for two years pre-ceding their twelve-year voting term. They would attend formal courses, do assignments, and shadow their future predecessor who would mentor them. Providing this training of members, many of whom would be inexperienced in government and lawmaking, will enable a much stronger Congress. We need a sufficiently long voting term to get an adequate return for efforts spent in training. Also, more years will make members more experienced and effective, but they may become complacent or stale if the term is too long. Twelve-year terms are suitably short enough and will urge Congress members to hurry to achieve needed changes.

 

Having a single term is an absolute must to focus members of Congress on what is best for people—not what is best for their reelection. One longer term and banning earning income other than their congressional salaries and retirements would further ensure a better Congress.

 

The amendment replaces one-sixth of the current Not by Random Selection (NRS) Congress members every two years for a smooth transition. Thus, NRS members of Congress might have their terms extended but never shortened by this amendment.

 

 

Seats Vacated Early: Procedures provide quick refills of positions vacated early. Anyone Voted in After Random Selection refilling a vacated seat would be a voting member for fifteen years maximum and seven years minimum. The time remaining in a vacated term determines the exact number of years.

 

 

Qualifications: A qualified volunteer must be a citizen, thirty years old, have a bachelor’s degree or eight years of management or policy-making experience, and not be a convicted criminal. It is reasonable for those who are to make laws to have kept them to qualify. These qualifications promote more capable and qualified individuals composing Congress.

 

They must also agree to forego any payment other than congressional and retirement compensation (with limited exceptions) for life. This agreement removes any legal way their votes could enrich them.

 

This amendment provides forgivable, governmental, educational loans for the education requirement.

 

 

Congressional Office Hours (COHs) and Congressional Town Meetings (CTMs): Congress serves the people’s wants and needs. This amendment specifies the times and places for Congress members to meet with and hearing people’s wants and needs (unless they are disruptive, rude, insulting, or threatening). VARS members of Congress must be available for these meetings a minimum of 400 hours each year (or about 20% of regular working hours).

 

 

Payment: This amendment requires all active and retired VARS members of Congress payment to be at the last elected Not by Random Selection, NRS, US Senator salary level adjusted each year for living costs. They must be relieved of concern about their own or their family’s material well-being and prevented from legally receiving any other financial benefits, enabling all decisions to be solely for what they believe would benefit the people.

 

If a current or former VARS member of Congress is found guilty of committing a felony offense while holding their office, they no longer remain in office. Their payment will be 25% of what retirement pay would have been.

 

In retirement, they may do any work if they choose; Vars Congress members must pay the US Government any payment they receive other than their congressional payment. This require-ment plus any volunteer work they perform will defray or more than cover the cost of the retirement system. There is an opt-in provision for this same payment for NRS Congress members. Those that opt-in also must forgo for life any income other than congressional payment.

 

We can afford it. It would be minuscule considering what we would save by a group of honest Americans making decisions in people’s best interest and ignoring the specific desires of special-interest individuals or groups. Congress members’ jobs currently are dependent on campaign money special-interest individuals or groups supply.

 

 

Survivor Benefits: This amendment specifies survivor benefits. These are 85% of the Current Congressional Amount of Pay (CCAP ) for Entitled Spouses. Before they marry or before their spouse takes office, they can agree that they will pay the US Government any other payment and become an Entitled Spouse. In addition, survivor benefit-sharing may accommodate any divorce settlements for ex-Entitled Spouses.

 

 

Taxes on Income: Lawmakers, if possible, should experience all laws’ benefits and burdens, including tax laws. They must pay all required taxes. The US Government will pay all lawful income taxes on remittances specified by this amendment (including state and local taxes).

 

 

Recall Process: Members of Congress should lose their office if what they do causes enough outrage. If a significant portion (65% of constituents, 75% of state legislative bodies, or 75% of their house of Congress.) of voters, state lawmakers, or Congress members feel thus provoked, they can recall a Congress member.

 

Recalled members, their Entitled Spouses, and any Ex-Entitled Spouse will lose 25% of their retirement income. This reduction is to encourage VARS members of Congress to avoid inciting their recall. They still must forego any other income, eliminating any legal, financial benefit from any vote or anything that they did.

 

 

Random Selection Procedures: Congress will determine these.

 

 

Enforcement: Congress will enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

 

 

Passage Time Limit: More recent US Constitution amendments have a seven-year passage time limit clause. This amendment keeps that exact clause. Many opposing this amendment will try invalidating this amendment for any reason. The amendment includes a similar pas-sage of time precedent, avoiding this as a flimsy invalidation excuse.

 

 

No person is to blame for the dysfunctionality of Congress. It’s a system weakness—Or it’s everyone’s fault for neglecting to modernize and fix the system. It’s like attempting occupation of a beautiful, large, well over a 200-year-old home that still lacks any modernization, neither central heating, air conditioning, electricity, plumbing, nor communications. Modernize it, and with its original construction’s quality and beauty, it’ll be a wonderful home. Fail to update it, and in today’s world, it’s unlivable.

 

A system that has an inadequate design, even given the best of components, will fail. Our government system fails quite a lot; we can amend its design. Its elements, politicians holding office, are human beings. Humans are imperfect. No group of human beings could do much better in our current system. Improving system design would diminish these problems, however. Improving its design will allow components in government to be statespeople and free them from being special-interest politicians and gang members.

 

We need a legislature filled with people having an opportunity to be statespeople making decisions in people’s best interest. Now getting and remaining in the congressional legislature requires legislators doing the biddings of moneyed special-interest groups.

 

Amending the Constitution is the way we can change this system!

 

Character, spirit, and drive are necessary to bring about this change. It is every reader and every person who talked with another person who read the book or heard about it. That is if they conclude: “That makes sense; that could work, or this would be better than the mess we have.” Each helps produce an improved government. They, through influence on legislators and legislators themselves, are who will bring about this needed amendment.

 

Everything else is tiny compared to people’s collective will, which will make this happen. Thanks, Reader, for being or becoming Convinced and Committed, CaC. With you firmly convinced that this is better and committed to helping at least two and, ideally, ten or more, become likewise Convinced and Committed, this will spread to hundreds of millions insisting that their legislators pass this amendment. “…—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.” From Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

 

Please see the following draft of the proposed Congressional Amendment for precise details of what the amendment requires. The above reasons and explanations are a simpler overview.

Appendix A2 – 28th Amendment – A Congress of the People – Ratified 10/1/2069

 

Amendment XXVIII: This United States of America Constitution Amendment is for transitioning to a new system of determining congressional members. The new system will provide for a democratic random selection of congressional candidates from qualified volunteers. Constituents will elect from these selected candidates congressional members for a single twelve-year voting term usually preceded by two developmental years as a nonvoting Member in Training, MT.

1. Selection and Election Process: After one year following this Amendment’s passage, on the Tuesday following the initial Monday in November in each even-numbered year, there will be a final election. It will determine who will fill congressional seats expiring two years following the upcoming January 3rd unless previously decided. They will be VARS, Voted in After Random Selection, Congress members. Congress members elected preceding this Amendment’s passage are NRS, Not by Random Selection, Congress members.

Preceding this initial Tuesday following the initial Monday in November, each even-numbered year, their electorate will vote in a preliminary election on eight candidates determined by democratic random selection for undetermined vacancies. No one, including candidates, will reveal a political affiliation, name, sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or race of a VARS candidate till an election is over and a winner is declared. As much as possible, VARS candidates will be unknown except by a number indicating an order of their random selection as a candidate for an office.

The eight candidates may provide information about themselves using a maximum of 512 words in a campaign statement they believe would interest their electorate.

Congress must invite each constituent registered voter to submit one single, uncompounded, or straightforward question for candidates. If voters offer more than eight, random selection will pick eight questions. Submissions that are not single, uncompounded, concise, coherent questions or are almost the same as another question will have an additional question selected at random replace it if there are submissions available.

Candidates may provide a written response in sixty-four words or less for each question. Congress must ensure each candidate’s first sixty-four words of each answer and  512 words of candidates’ campaign statements are accessible by their voting constituents at least a week before an election.

Candidates must swear or affirm that their responses and Campaign Statement are accurate. A prosecutor having authority must file a perjury charge for materially false statements in either their written Campaign Statement or answers within 120 days of a candidate having won an election. Ultimate conviction of this charge will result in a penalty imposed by the court having jurisdiction and removal from the won congressional office. Anyone so convicted will receive no payment for the office won and must return any they already received. The seat vacated will be filled in a manner described in section 2.

Other than as specified in this section, no person, group, or entity may advertise or do anything else that may influence voters. Congress must determine effective penalties for all violations.

The democratic, random selection of candidates will be from volunteers who have qualified.  Candidates must be a resident of the area they would represent if elected.

If a candidate receives 50% or more of votes in a preliminary or a runoff election, they will be a VARS Congress member two years from the upcoming January 3rd. If no one candidate receives 50% of the votes in the preliminary election, there will be a runoff election between top candidates, who received at least 50% of votes in total. If no one candidate receives 50% of votes in the runoff election, There be a final election. The top two candidates will be in a final election on Tuesday following the initial Monday in November in that even-numbered year. Any vacated seats, as described below in 2, will be exceptions to these procedures. In any tie, Congress will determine a winner by a random method.

Those elected will serve as Members In Training or MTs during the two years between election and term’s start. During this intervening period, MTs will be given formal governmental education through classes, assigned study, and assigned experiences. In addition, MTs will shadow the congressional member whose seat they will be filling. An MT’s predecessor will mentor the MT as best as possible. Congress will determine procedures for this training and shadowing.

Every two years following the seating of the last NRS Congress members, the following numbers of NRS seats’ terms will expire:

a) For the 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th, and 10th years an amount will be one-sixth, rounded for a whole number, of all House and Senate seats.

 

b) In the 12th year following the last election of NRS Congress members, all remaining NRS Congress members will vacate their seats.

 

After that, seats will become vacant because of expirations of VARS Congress members’ terms. The length of terms will be twelve years except when filling an early vacated seat as specified below.

Seats will be vacated in the ten years following the last election of NRS Congress members by the most senior NRS members. If there are excessive, equal most senior NRS members, a random procedure will determine which seats to vacate.

Note: This Amendment may extend NRS Congress members’ terms. In no case will this Amendment shorten an elected or appointed term of any NRS Congress member.

2. Seats Vacated Early: If a member vacates their congressional seat early and there are three years or less remaining in the term, the newest retired VARS member from that seat, having the physical and mental capacity, will serve the term’s remainder. If there is none, the MT for that seat will fill it, plus serving their upcoming twelve-year term for that same seat. They will also participate in the training and shadowing opportunities afforded MTs, if possible, for the remainder of their two MT years.

If there is no retired VARS member from that seat nor MT selected for the vacated seat, or if more than three years is remaining in the term, Congress will fill it as similar as possible as in the above selection and election process as soon as practical.

If one so elected will serve at least eight years of an unexpired term, they will serve just that unexpired term. If they will serve less than three years of an unexpired term, they also will fill an entire twelve years of the upcoming term for that seat. If they will serve at least three years of an unexpired term and less than eight years, they will serve four years of the upcoming full term for that seat. A special selection and election will fill the remaining eight years of that term similar to that specified in the above Selection and Election Process section. The election’s schedule should enable the one elected to be an MT for the two years preceding their voting partial term’s eight years.

The Congress member elected for the unexpired partial term will participate, if possible, in training and shadowing opportunities afforded MTs for two years in addition to serving as a voting Congress member. In addition, the House of Representatives or Senate, as appropriate, will assign one of its more senior members as a mentor for the incoming Congress member.

If a tie occurs in any election described herein, Congress will resolve the draw by a random process.

 

3. Qualifications:  A VARS Congress member volunteer must:

a)  Be a United States citizen and reside in their constituents’ territory, their constituents’ House district for the House of Representatives, and their constituents’ state for the Senate,

 

b) Be at least thirty years old,

 

c) Have received a four-year bachelor’s degree from a college or university accredited by the United States Department of Education. An alternative qualification is a high school diploma, which may be a GED, combined with eight years of documented management or policy-making experience, with the required documentation set by Congress.

 

d) Be without a conviction for a felony crime nor sentenced, unless revoked or overturned, to jail or prison for a misdemeanor

 

e) Have signed a binding agreement that if elected and seated as a VARS Congress member, for the rest of their life, the value of any payment or income received, they will remit to United States Government as soon as practicable. However, certain exceptions and congressional payments specified below can be kept and not remitted.

The US Government will pay any lawful taxes, including state and local taxes, that would have been due by who remitted that amount had they kept it.

Exceptions VARS and Opted in NRS Congress members could keep are:

  1. Retirement benefits acquired before becoming a VARS or Opted in NRS Congress member,

  2. Inheritance,

  3. Earnings from their assets kept in blind trusts.

 

Anyone meeting qualifications in a, d, and e above may receive Federal Government student loans to fulfill c. The Federal Government will forgive these loans and all accrued interest if the borrower:

 

qualifies and volunteers as a VARS Congress member and remains a volunteer for a minimum of fourteen years or,

is selected and elected and completes the required term as an MT and their term as a VARS Congress member, a federal judge or magistrate or,

 

fails the preceding conditions due to their death, recall, physical incapacitation, or mental incapacitation.

 

Otherwise, borrowers must repay their student loans with interest accrued at the Federal funds rate.

 

4. Congressional Office Hours, COHs, and Congressional Townhall Meetings, CTMs:  As statespeople, Congress members should better the lives of all people and represent specific needs of their served area. Congress members will meet with people to learn their wants and needs. As a minimum, Congress must establish and may approve necessary exceptions for the following:

 

a) Two four-hour periods during at least 35 weeks in each calendar year, all Congress members will have congressional office hours at their government-supplied offices near where Congress holds sessions, or at a locale within their constituent territories,

 

b) Plus, one week during every even-numbered month, Congress will recess to be in their represented area. During each of those weeks, Congress members will have COH’s in their represented area offices for twelve hours and have four two-hour CTMs at four various, if practicable,  locations within their represented area.

 

Congress members will accommodate people wanting a meeting with them with appointments during COHs and attendance at CTMs on a first-come, first-serve basis. At COH, people or groups of people will meet for a minimum of fifteen minutes and, if accommodation of others waiting requires, for a maximum of fifteen minutes.

Congress members may restrict people they determine are disruptive, rude, insulting, or threatening from their future COHs or CTMs for a set or an indefinite period. They shall document this restriction and its reason in writing. Members making such a restriction will give this documentation to those restricted and make it available for all who request it. Congress will establish a consistent process for documenting this and ensure it is in MT training.

5. Congressional Payment: A prior agreement may require a Congress member to remit to the United States Government compensation which they receive for an office they are taking. Upon passage of this Amendment, all VARS Congress members' and MTs' payments will be the same as the highest salary for an NRS member of Congress. This Current Congressional Amount of Pay, CCAP, will change each year by the Consumer Price Index on January 3rd. A year in advance, Congress can choose to use some other more appropriate and accurate measure of change in the cost of living in the United States. All active and retired VARS Congress members will receive the CCAP for the rest of their lives. NRS Congress members may opt into this same active and retirement payment as for VARS members of Congress. To do so preceding the initial VARS Congress members' final election, they must sign an agreement binding them the same as Vars Congress members described in Section 3 e) above. They will be referred to as Opted in NRS Congress members.

If a current or former VARS Congress member or an Opted in NRS Congress member is found guilty of committing a felony offense while holding their office, they will no longer remain in their office. Their payment will be 25% of what their retirement pay would have been. In all these cases, the former officeholder must still remit to the United States Government any other income they receive with those exceptions provided in the United States Constitution.

 

6. Survivor Benefits: Before a VARS Congress member begins a term in office or marries, and for Opted in NRS Congress members preceding marrying or preceding the initial VARS Congress members final election, their spouse or intended spouse may choose to become an Entitled Spouse. Their spouse or intended spouse can sign an agreement, in essence, the same as in Section 3 e) above. If they do so, they would be an Entitled Spouse.

Upon the death of an active or retired VARS Congress member or an Opted in NRS Congress member, their sole surviving Entitled Spouse would receive, for life, 85% of the CCAP. However, a resultant decrease would be 100% of any divorce settlement amounts paid to any ex-Entitled Spouses. Settlement payments from the deceased Congress member’s payment would continue till any ex-Entitled Spouse dies. The total of these continued payments for a surviving Entitled Spouse and any ex-Entitled Spouses will remain at or less than 85% of the CCAP. 

 

7. Taxes on Income: All payments received by VARS Congress members active or retired and their Entitled Spouse or any ex-Entitled Spouse would be taxable. If any of these payments are required and remitted to the United States Government, the United States Government must pay any lawful taxes. These include state and local taxes that would have been due on remitted income had it been kept.

 

8. Recall Process: Voters can initiate a recall process for a member of Congress by 15% of the registered voters in a Congress member’s represented area signing a petition for such within two years. At the subsequent election, voters will consider the question of recalling that Congress member. If at least 65% of those voting vote to recall that Congress member, they will no longer be a Congress member.

If at least 75% of all serving members of each of all bodies responsible for making state or territory law vote to recall a Congress member from their state or territory, they will no longer be a Congress member.

If 75% of those voting in the US Congress house in which a Congress member serves vote for recalling that Congress member, they will no longer be a Congress member.

The procedures described above for filling vacant seats will fill a seat vacated by a recall.

Recalled members and their Entitled Spouse and any ex-Entitled Spouse will receive only 75% of the payments described above. The agreements described above they have signed will remain binding.

9. Random Selection Procedures: Congress will determine the procedures for making all random selections mentioned in this Amendment.

10. Enforcement: By appropriate legislation, Congress must enforce the provisions of this article. 

11. Passage Time Limit: This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as a Constitution Amendment by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission.