We have arrived at the latest Amendment to the Constitution. The irony of this is that Twenty-Seventh Amendment (originally the Second passed by Congress) was sent to the States for ratification at the same time as the First Amendment was sent. When you see what it is, you will understand why it took so long to pass. It is not an outgrowth of the times in which it was finally ratified, but it may well have been – at last – championed and ratified because of those times.
HISTORY, 1980 – 1992
The later 1960s and the 1970s had been a time of hedonism among America’s young: sex, drugs, and rock and roll, as the saying goes. Free love, Woodstock, magic mushrooms, psychedelia. All that started to shift, however, with the election of former Hollywood star turned politician Ronald Reagan as President in 1980. Reagan had been a lifelong Democrat and President of the Screen Actors’ Guild union. His governing philosophy had gotten increasingly conservative, ultimately expressed through the image of a three-legged stool: free enterprise, strong defense, and pro-family social policies.
When Ronald Johnson, editor of the Fallon (Nevada) Eagle newspaper at the time, interviewed Ronald Reagan in 1976 about his change in party and political philosophy, this was his takeaway:
He said that in the 1940’s and 1950’s he was fighting communists and fascists. The McCarthy commission was in his opinion a bunch of fascists going after a bunch of communists. Yes, he said, the SAG had been largely taken over by communists.
But he was a realist. There was absolutely no way to get elected governor of California as a Democrat in the 1960’s (just as there’s no way now to get elected governor of California as a Republican.) The move was purely political. His views and policies had not changed, according to him. He was all the while fighting to curb excess government, excess power, mob rule and elitism both. The GOP in California offered a platform much closer to what he wanted to accomplish.
That was the message he carried to the White House in 1980. A quasi-libertarian view of cutting back on government.
But who comprised the support base that brought Reagan to the Presidency? They were known as the New Right, a movement of American conservatives that had been identified as early as the 1960s, had gathered strength through the 1970s, and that rose up in opposition to Democrat policies on taxes, abortion, affirmative action, and what they saw as the left’s policies of appeasement toward the Soviet Union. This movement lent substantial support to the Republican Party in general, leading to Republicans winning control of the U.S. Senate in 1980 and the election of Ronald Reagan as 40th president of the United States the same year.
Two months after his January 1981 inauguration, Reagan was seriously injured (one of the bullets entered his chest, puncturing a lung and lodging one inch from his heart) in an assassination attempt, but he did recover and proceeded to serve two full terms. In August of that same year, unionized air traffic controllers went on strike across the country despite contractual obligations prohibiting such action. Reagan fired and replaced those who did not return within 48 hours. These events set the tone for his Presidency.
Following his philosophy of supply side economics, Reagan proposed massive tax cuts—30 percent reductions in both individual and corporate income taxes over a three-year period—which he believed would stimulate the economy and eventually increase revenues from taxes as income levels grew. At the same time, he proposed large increases in military expenditures ($1.5 trillion over a five-year period) and significant cuts in “discretionary” spending on social-welfare programs such as education, food stamps, low-income housing, school lunches for poor children, Medicaid (the major program of health insurance for the poor), and Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). In 1981 Congress passed most of the President’s budget proposals, though the tax cut was scaled back slightly, to 25 percent.
There were mixed results because Reagan didn’t change the central banking system or bring back stable money. There was a significant financial depression in 1982, so he pushed for increased taxes while continuing deregulation. This launched an extended peacetime expansion, but the massive military spending contributed to a tripling of the national debt by the end of Reagan’s second term because of the relentless central bank interest charges. The reduced regulations on savings and loan institutions led to loose lending practices and eventual failures. Was this foreseen? You decide.
All I can say is that – while the number of banks on the FDIC’s rolls declined from 14,392 to 7,511 between 1984 and 2004 – the proportion of the assets in the banking sector held by the 10 biggest banks increased sharply to almost 60%, by 2005. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, passed in 1999 (bipartisan support under President Clinton) removed the remaining legal barriers and allowed giants in commercial banking, investment banking, and insurance to combine operations under one corporate tent. Can you see the progression?
Reagan’s determination to oppose and even eradicate Communism worldwide was relentless. He was particularly interested in seeing the success of Contra rebels’ struggle to overthrow Nicaragua’s Cuban-backed Sandinista government, but Congress prohibited funding support in 1982 and 1984. The CIA continued secret operations in Nicaragua to accomplish the overthrow, however. In 1985, a plan was hatched to have Israel sell U.S. arms to Iran to avoid the U.S. arms embargo while obtaining the release of American hostages held by Hezbollah in Lebanon. (Whew!) A portion of the sales proceeds would be secretly diverted to fund the Contras. The plan was uncovered when one of the planes carrying the arms to the Contras was shot down over Nicaragua. The Iran-Contra affair was a blot on the CIA’s reputation and evidence of the ever-expanding power of the military-industrial complex. Reagan’s Vice President was the former head of the CIA, Texas oilman George H. W. Bush, and the scandal hurt his image much more than it did the President’s.
After the Democrats won back control of the U.S. Senate in the 1986 congressional elections following an economic downturn, the party’s leaders felt optimistic about having a closer race with the GOP in 1988, although probabilities of winning the presidency were still marginal given the climate of prosperity. One goal of the Democrats was to find a new, fresh candidate who could move beyond the traditional New Deal-Great Society ideas of the past and offer a new image of the Democrats to the public. Many of their more seasoned and better known candidates were not interested or – for example, current Democrat Presidential candidate, Joe Biden , and Rev. Jesse Jackson – did not make it through the primary process. The party instead selected Harvard-educated lawyer and Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, who was just completing his first term in that office.
Though not as complete of a landslide as Reagan’s 1984 victory over Walter Mondale, the election of 1988 was very lopsided and an anomalous 3rd consecutive win for the same party: Bush received 426 electoral votes, and Dukakis received 111 votes. The political winds appeared to change, however, and “H.W.” served only one term despite his history in Congress, as the senior U.S. representative to China, and other positions already mentioned. Under his Presidency, multinational forces drove Iraqi forces out of Kuwait during the Persian Gulf War. An important and interesting thing to know about H.W.’s pedigree is that he had attended Yale and, while a senior there, was inducted into the secret Skull and Bones Society founded in 1832 – an elite inner circle of American men. If you are not familiar with this society, I encourage you to look it up. His father and his son, President George W. Bush, were also inducted into Skull and Bones.
Interestingly, Michael Dukakis did not disappear from the political scene but, rather, went on to serve two more terms as Governor of Massachusetts (1983-1991).
In the area of culture, the 1980s brought an explosion of electronic devices for work, communication, and entertainment; a recognition of the need to combat the ravages of widespread crack cocaine use; and the AIDS epidemic. All of these trends (dependence on electronics, street drug use, and epidemics with vaccines that never really stop them) continue to our present day.
For an interesting and eclectic overview of the 1980s in America and elsewhere, click here.
Presidents since George H. W. Bush have been: William J. Clinton, George W. Bush (son of H.W.), Barack H. Obama, and Donald J. Trump.
TEXT AND COMMENTARY
The Twenty-seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits any law that increases or changes the salary of members of Congress from taking effect until the start of the next set of terms of office for representatives.
This Amendment was submitted by the 1st Congress to the States for ratification on September 25, 1789, along with eleven other proposed amendments. While ten of these twelve proposals were ratified in 1791 to become the Bill of Rights, the proposed House of Representatives Re-Apportionment Amendment and what would become this Twenty-Seventh Amendment were not ratified by enough states for them to be included in the Bill of Rights. The Constitution does not require that ratification be accomplished within a certain time, however, so both potential Amendments continued to be available for State consideration.
The proposed Congressional pay amendment was largely forgotten until 1982, when Gregory Watson, a 20-year-old sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin, wrote a paper for a government course in which he claimed that the Amendment could still be ratified. He was particularly motivated by a recent tax break – a “backdoor raise” – that members of Congress had just given to themselves in December, 1981. The teaching assistant was not convinced and graded the paper poorly, motivating Watson to launch a nationwide campaign to complete its ratification. During the 1980s, members of Congress continued to give themselves automatic pay raises, much to the chagrin of the public. Watson was working without the Internet and without personal transportation – all by letters – but he continued to approach members in State legislatures until he found those willing to sponsor and push passage of the Amendment. The Amendment eventually became part of the United States Constitution effective May 5, 1992, completing a record-setting ratification period of 202 years, 7 months, and 10 days! As you can see from the image above, some very important original States never have ratified the Amendment.
A fun fact is that Watson’s course grade was retroactively changed from a C to an A in 2017, the year that the Amendment was celebrating 25 years since its ratification. One person can certainly make a big difference.
No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of representatives shall have intervened.
Here we are at the last of the Amendments to the Constitution for the United States as of this writing: 27 Amendments in 200 years, with more than a third of them ratified at the beginning on the same date. With so few formal changes to the “Law of the Land”, some may wonder how and why daily governance has changed so dramatically. It is important to remember that in 1871 the Constitution was modified when the United States was defined as a corporation; and that there have been almost countless pieces of legislation and executive orders that have changed – in some cases fundamentally – the government model envisioned by the framers of the original document.
The process required to change the Constitution by formal Amendment is by design detailed and potentially lengthy. It is meant to put the brakes on any hasty changes that might not have been completely thought through by the members assembled in Congress. It is also meant to give great deference to the wishes of the States as a union of sovereign Republics pledged to pursue common goals.
Besides the Congress-generated Amendment process, Article V of the Constitution also provides for the calling of a Constitutional Convention directly by two-thirds of the States. This has never happened. There certainly have been and are groups calling for such an action, but the potential of overturning our entire system wittingly or unwittingly is not something that two-thirds of the States have yet been willing to do.
In addition, there is precedent for repealing an Amendment once it has been passed and put into action. This was the case with the Eighteenth Amendment (Prohibition), repealed by the Twenty-First Amendment 14 years after it was ratified. Are there Amendments that you believe should be repealed? I certainly have a few on my personal list. There more I study the original Constitution, the more I see its integrity and wisdom, especially when the Bill of Rights is included.
When you have completed reading this series, I would invite you to think about a few trends that have greatly influenced history and our Constitutional Republic in the past 30 years. The current and potential outcomes of these trends should cause us to question how we can safeguard our life, liberty, privacy, and property rights and our freedom to pursue our own happiness and “success”.
(1) The growth of the central banks in controlling our economies and, therefore, our quality of life. In the weeks since this blog series started, mainstream news headlines and social media posts have alerted even those who were previously unaware that the globalists want to go to a completely digital currency. This would make everything we do traceable and would enable global currencies to be completely “soft”.
(2) The growth of the Federal bureaucracy, especially those agencies with access to our communications and personal data. We continue to read about the use in America and on Americans of programs that were developed to affect foreign countries: surveillance, election meddling, psychological operations through mass media, and more.
(3) The effect that changing the United States from a country of free sovereign humans operating under common law (the law of the land) to a corporation comprised of “persons” (legal entities/corporations) under civil/maritime law has had on our individual rights and ability to gain justice.
(4) The effects of diminishing the rights given by We the People to individual States vis-a-vis the rights given to the Federal government, and of diminishing the power and knowledge of We the People regarding the fact the WE control the government and not the other way around.
(5) The effect of filling our government – and especially our Federal government – with lawyers, most of whom were trained only in civil/maritime law rather than in common law, and of not funding common law courts or educating Americans on their rights to bring matters to them.
I want to give special thanks to all who have been with me through this series since the beginning of September. Please share the link to this blog and tell others about this series. To all who have joined the discussion and will join in the future, I hope that you feel better prepared to think about the Constitutional issues that have been raised during the 2020 election cycle as well as others that will undoubtedly come up in the days ahead. Remember that your State also has a Constitution and that its provisions must be considered when deciding how you stand on various matters. We will continue as the land of law and order only for as long as Americans are well informed about the law and can agree upon what “order” should look like.
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https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/New_Right_(United_States) (definite bias, but includes good data)
https://www.c-span.org/video/?447078-1/qa-gregory-watson (a must-watch!)
https://awarriorcalls.com (individual sovereignty and land vs. maritime law)