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Changing life as we know it

To the Editor: 

In recent years and even recent decades, we have been watching events and trends that seem to be changing life in the United States as we have known it.

The longer we have been around, the greater the change, of course, and the rate of change always increases. One of the most important changes I see is the reduced power to decide how we live our own lives, and the increased influence of the federal government.

What we see now is far removed from the role of the federal government seen by the Founding Fathers and the Constitution. It’s axiomatic that the more removed from its citizens the government is, the less it understands its citizens and the less influence those citizens have on their representatives.

In addition, we now have a large portion of the federal government [various agencies] that is unelected and controlled in many ways by the executive branch.

We should all ask ourselves if our U.S. senators and representatives are very responsive to our wishes. If we follow closely their actions – and it’s past time we all do this – we usually can see that most really think they know so much more about what should be done in our country that our opinions aren’t necessary. They represent, although I’m sure they would argue this, various interest groups, with their greatest goal of being re-elected; and the incumbent advantage is extremely difficult to overcome.

A little-known portion of the U.S. Constitution is Article 5, which gives states the power to amend the Constitution without approval of Congress. In short, it defines a Convention of States (COS) to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution. It is not a Constitutional Convention, which is very different.

The COS is a framework for states, through state law, to designate representatives to a COS to propose an amendment or amendments to the U.S Constitution. Any amendment agreed to by the COS [each state has one vote, and a two-thirds majority is required for agreement] is then voted on by the state legislatures for adoption. Three-fourths of the state legislatures must approve the amendment for it to become law.

Neither the governor, Congress nor the president has any role.  The two-thirds and three-fourths approvals are high hurdles, but amendments to the Constitution should be difficult to pass. It does, however, give some power back to the states, closer to the citizens.

I am fortunate in that my new state senator and representative are very responsive, and have supported the COS proposal that began in the Missouri legislature last year. For lack of time, that proposal did not get to a final vote, but will have a head start this year as the sessions start very soon.

I encourage everyone to visit the website for COS (www.conventionofstates.com) to learn more and if you can support this, then to contact your state senator and representative to learn of his or her position on the COS and urge them to become involved in the process.

There is a great deal of good information on the COS site, and opportunities for us to get involved in reclaiming our government.

Robert J. Mareing

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