Apr 23, 2014
Tea Party Tribune
Tea Party Tribune
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Why Mark Levin’s Liberty Amendments Will Not Save America

liberty amendments

Mark Levin certainly appears to have succeeded in laying the groundwork for having a discussion on how best to rollback the size and scope of government. It’s amazing how fast Americans are willing to stifle free speech when the words they hear challenge their worldview, or better put, how they want to view the world. I recently left a review on Amazon for his new book, in which he proposes the adoption of liberty amendments to the Constitution through Article V, or the state option. 

Unfortunately, he has a certain Obama-like “cult of personality” following, who didn’t take very kindly to my interpretation of Mark Levin’s prescription in The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American RepublicThat’s not to say that all of Levin’s fans are cult-like, but when you receive backlash that is not grounded in any relevant argument whatsoever, it becomes apparent that some clearly are.

So, to those who idolize people they don’t even know, and allow their unhealthy delusion to obfuscate reason and reality, I say tough. Alone, Mark Levin’s liberty amendments unfortunately will not work, because as much as some may not want to admit it, a “country tends to get the kind of government it deserves.” Until we deserve better, it will remain so.

If you are a rational Mark Levin fan, let me explain what I am talking about before getting yourself all puffed up.

His basic premise, which I do happen to agree with, is that the federal government is not a viable option to implement true liberty-protecting reforms, because it is occupied by the very people who have designed the despotic flaws we hope to reform. For example, and to better illustrate my criticism, we will examine the Seventeenth Amendment in this article and why I say Levin’s approach falls short.

The Seventeenth Amendment, which established the popular election of senators, is widely revered in progressive academia as a populous victory for the American people. Indeed, this is the historical interpretation that is taught to our children by the progressive education apparatus, everyday. However, in reality, popular senatorial elections have resulted in an increase in average Senate tenure and solidified political careerism in Washington. Below is a chart from Our Virtuous Republic, in which I make the very same case surrounding the Seventeenth Amendment (as well as many others Levin and I seem to agree on), but I put the blame where it rightfully belongs.

From

From “Our Virtuous Republic”: Average Senate tenure is time blocked to control for ideological swings in the electorate and isolate tenure patterns.

As you can see ( I know it’s small), after the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment political careerism in the Senate explodes, but the trend actually began with the Supreme Court decision in Munn v. Illinois, 94 U.S. 113 (1877), which granted Congress (and state legislatures) the power to regulate just about all economic commerce deemed “in the public interest.”

Suddenly, a politician became a valuable commodity to rent-seeking special interest groups, who could create an even greater economic divide between the ruling class and the citizenry. We can see the impact of Munn v. Illinois, 94 U.S. 113 (1877) even more clearly (again, I know it’s small), when we compare the average tenure in the Senate to the House the impact becomes more pronounced.

averagesenatetenure

From Congressional Research Service: Entire tenure history, which unlike “OVR” was not blocked. Tenure is blocked in “OVR” to control for ideological electoral swings.

The bottom line is that structural governmental reforms, which is what the liberty amendments Levin proposes are, are just an exercise in futility absent cultural and educational change meant to resurrect the original American national psychology. In fact, there is a very real danger that just such a conversation may overshadow the true problem.

Glenn Harlan Reynolds, who is a professor of law at the University of Tennessee and the author of The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itselfoffered the single most thoughtful illustration of the argument I am making. In USA Today, he praised Levin for his creativity, “but the underlying problem is tougher. One way or another, the country tends to get the kind of government it deserves.” He adds, “And that gets to what I think is the real problem lying behind all of this enthusiasm for constitutional change: a sense that there are two sets of rules, one for the ‘insiders’ in Washington and their (frequently subsidized, or bailed-out, or protected) corporate allies, and another for everyone else.”

I couldn’t agree with Reynolds more, but the “sense that there are two sets of rules” spawned not from Barack Obama, but the Gilded Age. The Progressive Era, as well as the progressive amendments in question, were calculated responses to an economic phenomena that bore envy and hatred, which led to a popularly supported policy correction that was far too extreme.

The Seventeenth Amendment did not address any of the grievances put forth by David Graham Philips in his now-famous “Treason of the Senate,” which appeared in Cosmopolitan Magazine in 1904. Phillips lambasted Senate Majority Leader Aldrich, claiming that the interests of a few special interest groups drove the national agenda, concluding the adoption of popular senatorial elections would end economic disparity and rampant special interest corruption within state legislatures.

However, the opposite occurred, and now the special interest groups have simply centralized and concentrated political power in and around Washington, D.C., whereas prior to the Seventeenth Amendment wealth was far more diverse across the country. In other words, envy and hate won over reason, because it was fueled by disparity and hardship that had existed prior to the Progressive Era.

Of course, the adoption of these so-called solutions were not supported by men with pure intentions, as the Seventeenth Amendment was passed as part of a logrolling deal involving the Sixteenth Amendment, in which the federal government now would have the power to compel those rich people to pay their “fair share.” Also, now politicians could get around that pesky Constitution, which the Supreme Court had ruled prevented the government from directly taxing individuals in Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan & Trust Company, 157 U.S. 429 (1895).

For those who are founding fathers fans, I will put it yet another way: There is “no virtue among us,” and we are in that “wretched situation” that James Madison warned us about. Our Founding Father’s would never have fallen for the crisis and Leviathan as we repeatedly do, because “necessary and proper” meant something completely different to them. They didn’t look to government in crisis as many of us clearly do. As Franklin correctly stated, “only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”

Virtue, unfortunately, was degrading during the Gilded Age, which led to the Progressive Era. Unions didn’t manifest out of the clear blue sky, they were a reaction to horrific work conditions for both adult men and women, and even children; the Seventeenth Amendment wasn’t conceived out of thin air, it was sold by despots who took advantage of public envy that arose from already-present economic disparity. As Harlan attempted to phrase it:

You can address this problem with constitutional amendments, and I think that many are worth considering: The structural shifts in our government have indeed empowered insiders and at the expense of the citizenry. But underlying these shifts is a deeper problem of values, one that I doubt can be fixed by passing a few amendments.

In fact, from my research I know that they cannot, even if we were to entertain for a moment that such a movement was successful at the state level. The larger problem is one of values and education, which the progressive despots have worked to destroy over the better part of more than a century through secularization and other crafty attacks on the American national identity. How and why do people expect a few amendments will undo a hundred years of progressive assault? It won’t, and we must put in hard time and real effort to unravel their work.

The opposite of big government is not small government, or even limited government as Levin suggests. The opposite of big government is civil society; a virtuous civil society in which government is rendered unnecessary and improper. Education must be addressed first, which can then remind Americans of a once-superior national psychology that was antithetical to progressivism. Otherwise, as they have already proven capable of doing, despots in big business and government will exploit our failures of virtue, and we will be right back where we started.

As I concluded in Our Virtuous Republic, which one Levin fan claimed I was “despicable for plugging” (so much for a discussion of ideas), addressing the economic disparity and “rational ignorance” among the American people must come first, then the reforms can and will naturally follow. I favor term limits or the outright repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment. I also favor a flat-tax to combat the cronyism possible by the adoption of the Sixteenth Amendment, or its outright appeal. But we are getting way ahead of ourselves, because we must first change ourselves in conjunction with structural changes or before we can even make meaningful change to government.

Putting the cart before the horse, or in this case the structural reforms before the cultural, is nothing more than merely applying a band-aid on a sunken chest wound. The utterly blind willingness to accept only structural solutions is the out-and-out manifestation of Americans’ inability to confront their true shortcomings, a sad denial that serious introspection is needed because we refuse to take “the road less traveled,” as M. Scott Peck ingeniously explained our human tendency to take the easier path.

Therefore, while Levin has succeeded in laying the groundwork for having a discussion, it is hardly clear who else may be willing to participate in a discussion about liberty amendments, other than die-hard conservatives and civil libertarians. Others, including some conservatives, will not be satisfied with constant blaming of the progressive boogeyman for our troubles. A society virtuous enough to ensure that America has an economy that works for everyone will, in the end, render government unnecessary through a strong civil society that looks after those who are especially susceptible to the false promises of politicians.

Time would have been better spent helping us wrestle away the government monopoly on education from dangerous despots who teach ignorance to our children. That’s how we restore our once-virtuous republic, where all were indeed created and treated equal. Until we do, Harlan is right, America “gets the kind of government it deserves.”

UPDATE: Rich responded to his critics of this article, including Mark Levin, which you can read here!

Richard D. Baris

Richard D. Baris is the creator and editor of People's Pundit Daily, aka PeoplesPunditDaily.com. He is also the author of "Our Virtuous Republic: The Forgotten Clause in the American Social Contract." He has also been a political academic, speaker, journalist and financial advisor. Rich served in the United States Army after being recruited under the 18X-Ray Special Forces program. He is married to one beautiful wife and they have two beautiful children, blessed with both a boy and a girl. Former bad guy-turned-good only by the grace of the Almighty Creator.

Political Views: "Limited government is not a means to liberty, it is an end. That is to say, there are always going to be a group of citizens who cannot meet their basic needs, and there most assuredly will always be politicians willing to promise that they will meet them. The difference between liberty and tyranny by popular support, or correctly termed "democratic despotism, " is little more than the vehicle a free society chooses to use in order to meet those needs."

Favorite Quotations: "Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters." - Benjamin Franklin
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45 Comments

  1. Bill

    August 16, 2013 at 5:28 am

    Right on

  2. mikefromglenridgenj

    August 16, 2013 at 6:46 am

    I am a big Levin fan. He is one of the few high profile media conservatives who got it right in the last election cycle. Instead of going completely "rah-rah" for Romney like Rush, Hannity and so many who should have known better, Mark saw Romney was a flawed candidate and a RINO chosen and pushed on us by the GOP establishment, and that Romney was merely the lesser of 2 evils. Mark has been willing to call out the GOP, when so many (like Rush and Hannity) are reticent to go against their life long buddies. What Mark is talking about here is restoring the balance of powers that the states have been steadily losing. I fully support this. Individual states have the power to educate the nation and other states through example. This an important piece of the puzzle for restoring the constitution. Ideas have power. The Tea Party is a movement based on an idea. Talk radio is an important part of spreading the Tea Party idea.

    You should call mark up on his show. He is always willing to debate honest arguments.

    • timb

      August 21, 2013 at 7:51 pm

      no, he's not. He's the most dishonest broker working in talk radio at the moment, who, as David Frum will remind you, is less than solicitous with guests he does not agree with.

    • richardbaris

      September 3, 2013 at 8:59 am

      Thank you so much for your comments and suggestion, I have tried to call in, but probably not as much as it takes to get on. So, I will make another effort, because I think it would be very productive. Thanks again, Rich.

  3. Michael R Sly

    August 16, 2013 at 7:52 am

    Huh………..although I am not as intellectually nor scholarly endowed……I DO believe that Mr. Levin states similar critique of his own works. He clearly states, (or maybe not so clearly to some), that his book is not the end-all, be-all of things. But every journey must have a beginning; lest we reserve ourselves to sitting with our thumbs up our bungholes while complaining endlessly.

    Compliment to you for not jumping on this from a swooning cultist. People on my side of belief are always open minded to contrary views and stimulating input. I am saving your article for further due diligence.

  4. James W.

    August 16, 2013 at 11:09 am

    It's unfortunate that you choose to criticize Mark, rather than make more of a positive affirmation to this Conservative movement. I see you as nothing more than a self-serving individual who's ego and own interests get in the way of bringing forth unity. Mark was right when he said that he would be attacked for this book and even from so-called Conservatives. SMH

    • Richard D. Baris

      August 16, 2013 at 2:57 pm

      What is really unfortunate, is that some “so-called conservatives” think that government problems can be solved by government-centered solutions. That’s called progressivism. The Constitution – in the original form – gave no authority or legitimacy to any of the laws that the liberty amendments hope to reverse. It is only because Americans did not stay true to themselves in the first place, that the policies of progressivism even received popular support. Keep listening to Mark Levin, who is wildly successful but advocates little about donating time, money, or energy to charitable institutions to speak of – as this self-serving person actually does – and watch your stubbornness get out-voted election after election. Either you didn’t finish the article, or you clearly didn’t read what underlying flaw in his approach. The Declaration of Independence says, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Nowhere did I read “life, liberty, and the pursuit of selfishness.” Not only did I make a “positive affirmation” to the conservative movement,” but I made the morally right affirmation. It’s a shame it is too hard of a path for you to see or take.

      • Tom Johnson

        August 17, 2013 at 10:52 am

        Richard, you shouldn't be so defensive. It diminishes your credibility and your position. You are right, in that the real problem is with education system, and the false identity that Americans now claim. I saw no idea in your article on how to fix this, other than hard work and time. Great, but we don't have time. Government dependency is at critical mass, and your ideas require a free society, which in this country is waning. I think that a structural change in government as proposed by Levin, would lead to the organic change that you seek. Get on board, this is our only hope to get this done peacefully.

      • James W.

        August 18, 2013 at 12:05 pm

        Just listen to yourself! …your self-righteous behavior does NOTHING to advance this movement in a positive and unifying way. All you're doing is throwing cold water on others who share the same views as you. Instead of using your seemingly vast knowledge and understanding of our Conservative values to put forth a positive message, you choose to pound your chest in an effort to sell your own book. You sir, are part of the problem. It's not about measuring each other's intellect. Nobody gives a rat's you know what how smart you think you are and how big your ego is (we have enough of that crap going on in Washington as it is), what we need to hear from you is…are you with us? You should be praising Mark's ideas not undermining them while dissecting and criticizing his approach. Stroking that massive ego of yours does nothing to promote Conservatism. We get what we deserve? What are you….a closet Liberal? ;)

    • timb

      August 21, 2013 at 8:06 pm

      mark will be attacked because his position is silly. Reading it and noting the veto power it gives to "red" states to all national legislation, the only thing I could not determine was whether Mark is neo-Confederate or if he just wants the Articles of Confederation back.

      Listen closely, right wingers, States did NOT create the Constitution. The Constitution derives its power from the people, whose ratifying elections enacted it. Quit trying to let Mississippi and Wyoming run California and New York

  5. Herb Lamb

    August 16, 2013 at 11:45 am

    Very interesting article. I am a huge fan of Levin and I think that he would agree with what you are saying here. I think that both arguments are applicable and it is a bit of a chicken and egg situation. In order to do what you propose, we would have to regain control of the education system. I think that you can look at some of the amendments that he proposed as the mechanism for doing exactly that.

    As indicated in some of the other comments, Mr. Levin has always said that the point of this is to spark discussion to find an appropriate resolution and that he does not expect his "structural" solution to happen immediately or easily, if at all. In fact, it is the exact opposite. He has said several times on his program during the lead up to the release of the book that he is not sure if any of this will ever happen for the very reason that you stated – it will require a significant cultural change. I wouldn't presume to speak for Mr. Levin, but I imagine that his assumption is that the cultural change you speak of would be a necessary component of establishing any of these proposals.

    Thank you for the article. It was a very thoughtful and thought provoking critique.

    • Richard D. Baris

      August 16, 2013 at 3:03 pm

      Now you my friend – and fellow-conservative American – are an intellectual person I can have a discussion with. I think you make a good point, but I see this thing rolling along; and in it’s dust, is the real underlying problem of values. People tend to try and look for the easy way out. I don’t want anyone to misunderstand, because I would support most of Levin’s amendments, but I know that they are meaningless if we do not change who we are as a people.

      • mikefromglenridge

        August 17, 2013 at 2:40 am

        The values dear to conservatism still reside with the American people, they only need (at the political level) real, conservative leadership in a political party (what Reagan did with the GOP in the 1980s) and they will respond with their votes and support. We as conservatives are not powerless. We are partyless.

    • Richard D. Baris

      August 16, 2013 at 3:03 pm

      And thank you very much for the discussion.

  6. Mark

    August 16, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    A statist like Mark Levin calling for Liberty? Nonsense. The man who best represents Liberty and Freedom in the US is Ron Paul and his son Rand: whom Levin hates. The man is a hypocrite.

    • Jeff

      August 16, 2013 at 10:21 pm

      Oh, you mean the same Rand Paul who endorses establishment jellyfish republican Mitch McConnell for re-election? Now I love Rand, and really love his dad, but as Mr. Ba ris correctly points out, America rejected Ron because America gets the leader it deserves. Although, when you add Diebold electronic voting machines to the mix, that may not be wholly true anymore. Now had these taking heads like Limbaugh and Hannity stood up for Ron instead of bashing him, and came to his aid for the outright fraud perpetrated in the primaries and caucuses, we may have had ourconservative candidate, rather than a repeat of democrat lite McSwine.

    • mikefromglenridge

      August 17, 2013 at 2:45 am

      Ron Paul would leave Israel hanging out to dry. He and to some extent his son are dangerous or at best weak on foreign policy.

    • ell

      September 9, 2013 at 3:16 pm

      He doesn't hate them. You should listen to him before you make such an absurd comment. He always says good things about Rand Paul, and disagrees with Ron Paul about his foreign policy stance. Mark is the opposite of a statist. you should look up definitions of words before you use them.

  7. Mark Sussman

    August 17, 2013 at 8:18 am

    Mr. Baris, I think you and Mr. Levin both have important ideas. But I don’t believe they are in conflict. Rather, as a retired Project Manager, I see your and Mr. Levin’s 2 thoughts as part of a 3-pronged plan that must be used to obtain the objectives that Conservatives want; namely to: rein in an ever-growing central government whose arrogance is growing daily; to restore the States and Citizens to a rightful role, with power, as provided in our Constitution.

    The 3 prongs include, in my view: (1) Fixing the many broken processes that permeate the Federal Government (2) Educating the Citizenry to our Heritage and to the relationship between limited government, profit motive, environment for enterprise, ethics and morality, on the one hand – - and their resultant benefits to individual opportunity and prosperity that these offer (3) Providing mechanisms for the Citizen’s influence to be fully heard by those in office and to be felt directly when an adequate number of Citizens determine to take a stand. So I applaud Mr. Levin’s Liberty Amendments as the appropriate tool to fix the processes of governance. I applaud your point that education of the electorate must also have a pivotal role to create knowledgeable acceptance of an improved system. I also urge all Citizens to seriously consider the interesting and powerful idea of a Citizen’s Lobby, housed in 50 symbolic structures , each a replica of Jefferson’s Monticello home, located prominently in each of our State Capitols. The buildings would offer education, legal assistance and tangible presence of the Citizen’s role in Government. The latter idea I credit to Mr. Bob Schulz of the We The People Constitutional Lobby (give me liberty.org). I hope you and your readers will consider these thoughts and unify toward the America we all seek to preserve.

  8. Jeffery Sikes

    August 17, 2013 at 10:42 am

    Mark himself indicated that these amendments were not in effect "the plan" for taking back America, they simply set the stage for America to step back from the abyss of Marxism/Leninism, which the current administration is implementing. Americans have to make a stand somewhere and these amendments are the start to making that stand. I would not suggest attempting all of them at one time, I would however establish term limits which would end career politicians and rescind the 17th amendment, both of which could be swiftly approved by by 2/3s of the states. These two initial amendments would send a shock through the system ad get the attention on a national level of the Federal Government of the United States.

    Further these two amendments would end historical control of Washington DC by politicians seeking careers for their public service, locking for decades the opportunity for the people to choose the best representation available to them. Immediately Washington DC would understand that they are not holding the power and control of the United States.

  9. Steve

    August 17, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    Interesting exchanges.

    Your perspective of educating the politically unwashed and uncleansed is admirable. However, is there any reason why a collaborative approach of education and a political agenda cannot coexist. I fear that by the time we get everyone to reach a virtuous nirvana our country will no longer exist. Can we teach as we go with Mark's ideas as a beginning template for change. If not, how would you promote the repatriation of the populace and what would be your time frame and benchmarks?

    Also, was interested in your comment on Mark's creative thoughts void of organizational legitimacy, money and advocacy. I started my business with an idea first and hired good people along the way. A creative approach most always is unwieldly and if legitimate will attract the resources needed as it gains momentum. Look forward to your perspective.

  10. Guest

    August 17, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    "A house divided cannot stand". I am having trouble with why someone would want to bring division within the Tea Party & Conservative Movement with a 'clever' article dissing someone who is offering their best and thoughtful attempt at finding a solution. MORE THAN EVER we need to unite in saving our country. I angry. Shame on you.

  11. Mike Andrews

    August 17, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    Mr Baris you sound like an Obama planted hack. You appear not to realize that there is a process being proposed by Me Levin. I suggest you be one of the (estimated) 300,000 "Paul Reveres" needed to jump start the process, support it to assure its success. Once successful the country will be led by people it deserves…you may be one of them. When that time comes your ego will be more than fertilized.

    • James W.

      August 18, 2013 at 1:17 pm

      It "appears" Mr. Baris is not interested in bringing forth unity. This divisive nature and "get what we deserve" rhetoric sounds eerily familiar. Maybe I am wrong describing this as ego-driven…maybe it's just his style. Regardless, I believe he will never achieve or even come close to the success that Mark Levin has. When you read his response to my very first comment, he seems to have an underlying, seething contempt and outright condescending tone towards anyone who gives him any kind of pushback. I wouldn't go as far to call him a hack though, he does seem intelligent. Insecure? Maybe. Desperate to sell a book? I can definitely see that. And if that's the case, using these type tactics in order to do so is truly pathetic.

  12. j.q. public

    August 18, 2013 at 8:00 am

    Please help to cause the change you say you and he say is needed. Don't waste too much time on the errors spend time on making us aware of change that can / will happen if you help make us aware of what we do not have the time (or sometimes the ability) to find for ourselves. We can see it is broken but need assistance to FIX it
    Please help with plausible ideas, assist with more insight and kindness, our "leaders" are selfserving.

  13. Janet

    August 18, 2013 at 11:26 am

    I think you might have made a mistake with the title of your article. Maybe better would have been Mark Levin Brings Dialog to the Table because within the context of your article you actually appear to agree with quite a bit of what he is proposing, but believe discussion is necessary. I think he'd agree. Years ago I had a Senior Chief tell me basically not to bother bringing a problem to him without a solution in tow. It did not guarantee my solution would be utilized it did however show that I had thought it through, brought a starting point for ideas, and was not just a ‘sea lawyer.’ I believe you also made a mistake with comments about ‘rabid fans’. Typical of Political Correctness is the assumption that just because someone agrees on one point or is truly looking for a solution or possibly willing to step out of their comfort zone that they necessarily become a ‘rabid fan’. I can agree with parts of what Mr. Levin is proposing without elevating to Sainthood or throwing out everything because I disagree with some same as you. We agree that the Federal Government is out of control. Bring the ‘solutions’ to the table have a discussion and maybe, just maybe we can get a consensus to make positive changes without stabbing someone who in essence agrees with you.

    • Richard D. Baris

      August 21, 2013 at 8:00 am

      Janet,
      Thank you for the response, and I will be writing a response to some of the criticism soon, because I think you are on to something. Maybe I didn’t make clear that I was against these amendments. What I am against, is those who are taking everything in the book as gospel and the entire solution to our problem. If some conservatives think that they can reverse the growth of the federal government with a few amendments, then they are kidding themselves. But then again, it is a bit typical. Americans have been sitting on the sidelines for more than a century allowing statists to grab more and more power, and they were able because of self-absorption in the citizenry. If we do not have a conservation about how we let government become so necessary, then no amount of amendments in a convention will stop it from happening again. I repeatedly applaud Levin for his effort and leadership, but not those who see these amendments as a silver bullet, which even Levin says it is not.

  14. ginjit.dw

    August 20, 2013 at 4:08 am

    There is no one take on what is conservative or not. Disagreeing with Levin is not treasonous, it's called discussion. Through discussion ideas are flushed out and others take their place. This is what is supposed to occur.

    • Richard D. Baris

      August 21, 2013 at 7:52 am

      Thank God! Finally, a voice of reason. I will write a larger response in a few days, but the simple point I am trying to make is that the Constitution in its original form established a federal government with powers that were few and defined: so how did we get where we are today, and why should we expect future amendments (alone) to restrict tyranny if it is already proven that they can be breached? Thank you for the response.

  15. NoThatSimple

    August 20, 2013 at 6:51 am

    I think all this talk is, while wordy and full of big ideas, kind of cute in its naïveté. Who here has the Monopoly on reality? Because many of you write like you do. History can be viewed through a multitude of lenses, whether economic, political, sociological, psychological, anthropological, and so on. But the discussion here is limited to a very narrow perspective, and seems to be guided by a White male elitist view, that is focused inwardly, particularly upon its own navel.
    The system of higher education in this country has undergone many changes, the most notably and profound of which is aimed at forcing a conservative view of reality, of the human experience, on young minds. Liberal education is meant to broaden one's mind and to liberate the student from preconceived notions and pre-packaged versions of reality and of how society should be. What is education if not, at a minimum, progressive? All I am hearing from contributors to this blog is self-centered ethnocentric garbage that feeds on hatred and fear of what you don't understand. If anything, you are regressive, unable to see beyond your own noses.
    Has our federal gov't turned into a mixture of incompetent, selfish, two-faced people who only perpetuate further a wasteful, unproductive behaviors of those we would only expect from uneducated adolescents? Without a doubt! But if you think it will be changed for the better with rehashed ideas that never acknowledge the strong possibility that those in power outside of D.C. will insure they keep their gold, no matter the cost of human life, you miss the entire point. I may be completely wrong, and I will never say that my belief is the truth, but there is considerable evidence that any progress made over the last half century for women, minorities, disabled, the elderly, Veterans, and many other groups previously severely marginalized, is being undone by people who hold the same ideas expressed by many of you writing on this blog.
    The American Dream is a joke. It was never a possibility for many many Americans, past and present. Once the middle class showed signs of becoming educated, enlightened, and unshackled from their previous notions of justice, funding and support for their continued upward mobility, most notably through higher education, began to somehow dry up.
    The rich decide your fate and mine. Blame gov't for all our problems. But they are just part of the elite, entitled, self-important group that makes up Wall Street, bankers, and their ilk.

  16. Ralph Perez

    August 20, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    Your arguments are very well thought out and make perfect sense. Virtue is obviously the prism by which you view every problem. Defining how we progressed to this point, over such a long period of time, then suggesting, no stating as fact, that only way to correct our problems is through a long progression, only in reverse, is completely wrong and misguided. What you have failed to consider in your thesis is that our country is not simply bankrupt of virtue, it is completely and utterly financially bankrupt as well. While we were going through this long Progressive journey our country was stacking up debt and financial liabilities the likes of which have never been seen in the history of the world. 17 trillion dollars in public debt is merely a fraction of what some estimates show to be 100s of Trillions in unfunded liabilities. These obligations can never be met. In fact, the United States is currently monetizing its ongoing debt obligations because it cannot afford to borrow at rates commensurate to the risk. We are in the final stages of a complete financial collapse of the system and it cannot be avoided. Whether that happens is one year or five years, the point is there is no time left for your suggested progression. What the Liberty Amendments process does, if nothing else, is to give real hope and positive reinforcement for those of us who believe in this country and believe in our constitution. It provides an opportunity to take affirmative action, to spark debate about our founding principles. To educate those you so rightfully point out are lacking in true virtue and knowledge. The Tea Party is about American Patriots. Patriots who are desperate in their desires to be proactive. Patriots who are rightfully impatient, who believe the time is now to take this country back. With all due respect, you sir have done them a disservice with this article. As I read it, I could not escape a creeping sense of despair. A feeling that all is lost, why even try? Now I believe you to be honest man and a true patriot, but your actions here are not helping the cause of liberty, the Tea Party or the Patriots. Allow me to take issue with another one of your premises; This notion that people get the government they deserve. Again, a defeatist statement and attitude. The idea that somehow the quality of a peoples government is tied to the virtue of its people is blatantly and undeniably false and has never been the case. I would submit to you that for the most part people have been good throughout history, but “government” has been quite the opposite throughout history. Government throughout history has been in varying degrees tyrannical. The entire purpose of the constitution, the uniqueness of our constitution, is that it places limits on the powers of government in an effort to stave off what is the natural order of man. To be ruled by tyrants. If our founding patriots would have taken your advice, we may still be living under a king. No, sir! We do not get the government we deserve, we get the government we are willing to fight for. So, I would respectfully ask you to reconsider your ill advise notions and join the fight. There will come a time, very soon, when the focus of all Americans will be directed like a laser on how to rebuild this country. You can bet your top dollar the elites, the globalists, the socialists and all enemies of individual rights, liberties and freedom will offer up their solution. Which will not include the U.S. constitution. We on the other hand must be prepared to defend the constitution, to acknowledge its structural flaws, like the 17th amendment, and to provide the solutions needed to restore it. Whether they be all of these, some of these or some others, the Liberty Amendments are the best place to begin that process.

    • James W.

      August 21, 2013 at 8:59 am

      Ralph, you absolutely NAILED it my friend. What you said here brings all of us Conservatives to our feet with a loud and thunderous standing ovation. Thank you for your wisdom. That was a thoughtful and experienced response. You are a TRUE Patriot! My hats off to you.

  17. Edwin Vieira

    August 31, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    All of this discussion about the possible structural flaws in the Constitution and supposedly useful changes that could come from some amendment or set of amendments misses the point: Amending the Constitution will amount only to political wheel-spinning as long as the people refuse to use even its present provisions for their protection and to their advantage. Spend five minutes in actually reading the Constitution, and discover what it (not Mark Levin or some other "conservative" guru) declares to be "necessary to a free State". Then ask yourself whether the institutions so identified exist in any State in this country. Then ask yourself why that is so. Then ask yourself what the necessary consequences of that absence must be. Then ask yourself whether correcting that situation–without any constitutional amendment being necessary–would not go a long, long way in the direction of solving this country's problems. If you cannot figure all of this out on your own, then you are probably not qualified to live in the free society the Constitution contemplates.

  18. Chris

    September 1, 2013 at 10:12 am

    Regarding the 17th Amendment; an academic distinction without a difference.

    And good luck wrestling anything away from the "despots" while operating under the currently undermined Constitution.

    This is the problem with academics. A new idea is nothing more than an intellectual exorcize and a threat to one's own intellect because he didn't think of it first.

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  20. richardbaris

    September 8, 2013 at 6:42 am

    I am not sure I understand your comment correctly, but for the record, I did think of it first. And it was published about 6 month before Levin.

    If we don't wrestle academia away from the "despots" while attempting structural reforms, then it's all over.

  21. carlos

    September 13, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    Mr. Baris,

    I whole-heartedly agree that the fundamental problem we are facing is that the virtue and principles of the people must be improved, and that Constitutional Amendments won't fundamentally change that. Your points are excellent in this regard.

    *However*.

    Why the false dichotomy? You acknowledge that at least some of the proposed amendments would be a good thing, yet you state that pursuing them is putting the cart before the horse.

    Instead of fighting each other over the order in which to make changes while the statists look on and laugh, let's work towards a more virtuous society *at the same time* that we work to institute Amendments that would improve our liberties.

    Let's loudly push for repairing the cracks in the dam of the Constitutional language via Amendments *at the same time* that we loudly labor for a virtuous society that does not deluge us all with a flood of appeals for governmental power against that dam.

    This is not an either-or choice. We need both. Let's work towards both. Pooh-poohing part of the solution because it is less than the entire solution embrittles our cause.

    To switch analogies, there is much work to be done to in this war, so let's not assail the efforts of those battling on the Eastern Front simply because they are not helping to repair of the bombed and burning infrastructure.

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  23. Robin R

    September 15, 2013 at 9:08 am

    Two days ago Tom Marr filled in for Mark Levin on his radio show. His guest explained that one of Mark's Constitutional Amendments would be to repeal the 17th amendment which permitted the citizenry to vote directly for US Senators.

    I think this suggestion is a bad idea and I don't care about the rationale. It shouldn't matter that the 17th Amendment resulted from Progressive thinking. That's similar to Democrats reasoning it was okay to remove 716 billion from Medicare because it was done by Democrats and not Republicans.

    If Congress is not responsive to their Constituents, every state should have term limits.

    Would you be enthusiastic about giving up voting rights if the suggestion was made by Barack Obama? Think about it.

    This only goes to show that Conservatives can be just as mistaken in their thinking as liberals.

    Amending the Constitution is a very serious matter. It should never be changed because you think an amendment originated on the wrong side of the aisle. I can't image the citizenry agreeing to give up voting rights.

    Proposals from the Tea Party should be something that most reasonable citizens would agree to. Otherwise, you will not succeed.

  24. David

    October 7, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    Your basic premise, "we get the govt we deserve", and that it is the underlying culture that needs fixing is naive in that you miss the fact that the federal govt has a profound impact on our culture and morality of our citizenry. Example, fed govt influence on public education! Taking God out of schools by Supreme Court! We can all think of many more examples. It's like you've decided the egg came b4 the chicken and are closed minded towards a more comprehensive view of fixing our country's problems. Btw, why do you go out of your way to insult Levin fans? I'm one, and I can't see where any of your insults hit the mark. As an army vet you surely understand the importance of being united in our efforts.

  25. Atlas Chats

    October 18, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    Thanks for comments Richard. I was looking for a book to read and was considering this one. You make some great points, particularly regarding we as citizens get EXACTLY what we deserve in our government. Character of our country is its destiny, and right now the destiny looks pretty bleak. Our problems go back to the old quote, " "A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury." My hope is we can break this cycle, but I am skeptical…

    • Dave

      November 20, 2013 at 9:24 pm

      We're a constitutional republic! Founders cautioned against pure democracy. Book is about "restoring constitutional republic", come on man, be optimistic, fight!

  26. Brian Fendley

    December 27, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    Mr. Baris; so let me get this straight, your advocating we do nothing because we deserve what we get from politicians? How do you advocate we change the culture to get these angels to govern over us? We need to start the effort with the legal and non violent framework that was bestowed to the American citizens. If it does not work the first time we simply do not quit. We re-educate citizens and do it again and again and again until it becomes reality. Hell it may take my years. It took 100 years of communist/progressive ideals to become reality in this country. I prefer we reverse that time in rapid order for the sake of my children and future generations of my family. A convention of the States is the most effective tool at our disposal. If you do not want to take part sit your butt down and get out of our way. Were not going to listen or wait for you to come around.

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  28. Tom Streets

    January 3, 2014 at 10:50 am

    The solution is a "recipe" of cooperation.
    Yes, we need to straighten out our education system.
    Yes, we need to eliminate some harmful amendments.
    Yes, we need to gear back the EPA.
    Yes, we need to implement The Fair Tax and abolish the IRS.
    Yes, we need to resolve Health Care issues with minimal government involvement.
    Yes, we need the "lifers" out of DC.

    Some parts of this "solution mix" will be immediate, some will take longer, maybe even generations.

    But NOW is the time to initiate ALL of these solutions so the healing can begin as quickly as possible.

    Look at it this way, it CAN'T be any more disruptive than the last six years!

    A couple of sites I recommend;
    http://www.senateconservatives.com
    http://www.fairtax.org

    GET INVOLVED AND DO SOMETHING!

    "The fate of this great nation is in YOUR hands!"

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