You know how you get a song stuck in your head and it drives you crazy? Well, lucky me, thanks to my daughter Izzy singing this morning while I was getting ready for work, I’ve had a song stuck in my head all day. She was happy about what she was wearing and excited about school. She’s only in third grade, but being two years older than her brother Owen, who’s “only” in first grade, gives her a big edge in independence, relatively speaking. That extra independence makes her very happy.
Independent voters, who elected Barack Obama, are not happy at all. They have not gotten what they expected, and now only two years later, their confidence in the federal government is way down. Douglas E. Schoen, a political strategist and the author, with Scott Rasmussen, of Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System, conducted a new comprehensive national survey on behalf of Independent Women’s Voice. His survey shows that independents are moving strongly in the direction of the Republican Party. But what’s more telling is that 81% of independents feel the federal government and political leaders in Washington are out of touch with Americans like themselves. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for Republicans. And 68% want a major third party in our country, while only 7% feel the federal government does what they would like it to do most of the time.
How did we get to a point where our federal government is so dysfunctional? For starters, “progressives” trampled all over the Constitution with amendments like the 16th, which allowed the federal government to tax us well beyond what any of the founders had in mind. Once the states accepted federal support, their fiscal sovereignty died. Then, with the 17th Amendment, state legislatures were stripped of the right to elect U.S. senators by moving to a popular vote by the people. Once senators got to Washington, they operated on a national level more to the benefit of special interest groups than that of the home state they left behind. Going back to the way it was provides checks and balances. And yes, I understand there is still plenty of room for corruption at the state level, but it’s a much smaller problem—and easier to fix—than corralling 100 U.S. senators running their own fiefdom.
The Constitution was created to protect you and me from the abuse of power by that fiefdom. That’s why it’s encouraging that states are waking up. In January, the legislature of Virginia will consider proposing a constitutional “Repeal Amendment.” Like me, Randy E. Barnett and William J. Howell, in their Wall Street Journal article “The Case for a ‘Repeal Amendment,’” blame the 16th and 17th amendments for federal government overreach, while adding two more reasons: politicians who make social promises they can’t keep, and activist judges who allow Congress to exceed its enumerated powers as spelled out in Article 1, Section 8, of the Constitution. Their solution is the “Repeal Amendment,” which would give two-thirds of the states the power to repeal any federal law or regulation. It purposefully streamlines the constitutional process, avoiding activist federal judges. It prevents having to create a separate constitutional amendment for every federal law that the states contest—for example, Obamacare and moves us closer to the founder’s intentions set forth in the 10th Amendment.
The “Repeal Amendment” would be one exacting blow that states could use to destroy Obamacare and other abuses of federal overreach. Independents clearly agree with Republicans that the federal government is out of control, but believe me, they’re not going to go along with John Boehner to defund it. That won’t work because much of Obamacare’s funding is set by mandatory spending requirements.
If the Republicans use the Boehner approach and hold back the discretionary spending through appropriations, they’ll basically shut down the government. There’s no way a majority of independents are going to get on board with that. What independents are clearly saying is that more power needs to be brought back to the states, and the Republicans need to recognize that a win in November is certainly not a “coast is clear” signal for more of their big federal government policies, regulations, and tactics. They need to listen to independents if they expect to win confidence and improve voter happiness in the United States.