Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Restoring the Republic

US Rep. John Culberson (R., TX)
A couple of evenings ago I got to hear Rep. John Culberson (R., Texas) at King StreetPatriots. He was my representative until the recent redistricting lined us out. I appreciated that he was both conservative and responsive. Hearing him speak was enjoyable. He knows history and adds in little extra details here and there to illustrate points about today. He’s a great fan of Thomas Jefferson, and believes if we apply core Jeffersonian principles, we can get back to the Constitution. We can restore our republic.
Rep. Culberson used a visual illustration about rights. He poured a full cup of water into a glass he called individual rights—the rights God gave us, not rights granted by some governmental entity. From that cup he poured an ounce, not too much, into a cup he called states’ rights—the things he grant to the state and local governments to keep order in our lives. From that cup he poured just a trickle into a third cup labeled federal government. The only powers the federal government has are the few enumerated things—so we can protect our borders, avoid piracy on the high seas, not much else. Anything not poured into that cup (i.e., enumerated in the Constitution) is in the small amount in the states’ rights cup or, mostly, in the individual rights cup. (Every time he took a sip of water, he said, “I’m drinking that out of the federal government cup.”)
The purpose of the evening was to outline a specific plan for shutting down whole sections of the federal government. While I think he needed another hour to fully flesh out his idea, I think we got some of the basics. In essence, he is looking at federal legislation in conjunction with state legislation and litigation over individual rights.
If you are an individual who feels your rights have been abridged, he would like you to contact him to see if your case can serve to bring the issue in front of the courts. This was the main action item he asked of the audience. (Personally, I feel violated for having been forced through a TSA scan without probable cause. I don’t know if this is enough, but it is an example.)
An example of legislation includes changing federal grant money bills to make all grant programs disappear in two years, so that there is a need to look at the purpose again, and requiring states to opt in, rather than the typical status quo in which states must opt out of perpetual programs.
He also suggests following the method of codifying done in Texas: sunset and repeal of all federal law, and then recodify in plain English (can be understood by layman without law degree). He believes this can be done logically and systematically, because he saw the results in Texas. He wants to get rid of any federal programs that are redundant of state programs (education, welfare) so no money for such programs gets filtered through the federal government; he suggests any money a state has put into such programs be divided into two parts: one to pay down the national debt, and the rest to go to the state to handle those issues itself.
He said every federal law should identify the portion of the Constitution granting federal power to make such an action.
He would cause ever executive order to be defended as to legality and powers granted to the executive branch.
He said we should repeal five or ten laws for every one that gets passed.
There were a few quotable moments. When he was recalling the attempt to reform the prison system in Texas, he said, “It’s like fighting a fog bank.”
Talking about the refusal to allow prayers at funerals at Houston’s Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery, he told how the official who made that rule was fired. That happened because he is on the committee for veterans’ benefits, and threatened to allow funding if that person wasn’t removed. It took that much influence to make it happen. He said, “If you can’t fire somebody for interfering with a veteran to pray over a grave, you can’t fire anyone for anything.”
He talked about the imbalance of power that happened during the Civil War, but even speaking in the South, he was clear that Lincoln valued the Constitution and individual rights, and he personally believes that if Lincoln had lived, the balance would have quickly returned. I hope he writes a book on that someday.
Especially I hope he and others who believe in God-given rights are quickly successful in restoring our republic after there has been so much damage.

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