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How to drain the DC swamp

Why do we send people to a distant Capitol, where they are surrounded by insiders, and expect things to change?

An overwhelming majority of Americans disapproves of the ruling class—Congress, lobbyists, and the inside-the-beltway insiders. The wealthiest parts of the country surround D.C., despite the fact there is no major industry there.

The commodity that D.C. produces is political influence, and it’s all centered in one place, with corporate lobbyists taking up residence on the infamous K Street. Studies have shown that politicians are primarily influenced by lobbyists and political favors, not constitutional principles or even their constituents. By all accounts, this is well-depicted by the show House of Cards wherein politicians and their staff profit, both politically and financially, via this system.

Many well-intentioned people have promised to clean up Washington D.C., but the problem has only worsened. They are almost always swallowed up by the Washington Machine and become a part of it. Because of this, the government continues to enact policies that centralize power, picking winners and losers, and ultimately making the rich richer and the poor poorer.

The status quo perpetuates itself.

In a 2012 interview, just four years after running on “Change You Can Believe In,” President Obama admitted that, “You can’t change Washington from the inside.” It was in that moment, I began to realize that the problem of D.C. corruption could not be solved by any one person, even if that person was the most powerful man in the free world. That’s how entrenched the system has become. In fact, the drafting of Obama’s signature legislation (Obamacare) involved an endless parade of corporate lobbyists, bureaucrats, and assorted insiders who all but took up residence in the Oval Office.

I used to think we just need to elect good people, but even the “good”ones end up being compromised by the cesspool that is Washington. It’s simply not working, which is why we need to break up the ruling class once and for all.

I believe that we can change things, and there is a growing movement afoot to do just that, via the Constitution’s best-kept secret–a safety valve of sorts. But before I get to that, let’s take a moment to transition from how things are to how things could be. Not hypothetically, not theoretically, but in reality.

Imagine a Congress that is made up of citizen legislators, not career politicians.

Imagine a system that the Founding Fathers called a “rotation of office,” wherein people are elected to serve for a short time.

What if this system removed the traditional perks of higher office, replacing self-serving rulers with servant leaders?

What if, instead of Congress colluding to stuff 3,000-page “omnibus” bills with hundreds of billions in special favors and waste, each bill only dealt with a specific subject?

What if Congressmen were required to read the bills, and the public was given time to learn about the legislation before the final vote?

What if we had a government that was truly forward-thinking and embraced 21st century innovation?

Imagine a Congress, where instead of sending people to a Capitol in a faraway land to be corrupted by corporate lobbyists and other assorted political insiders, we keep Congressmen and Senators in offices in their home states.

Imagine a Congress truly accountable to the people. What if we accomplished this using internet and video tele-presence technology?

What if the offices of Congress were inside their respective state legislatures, providing another shield against the remnants of cronyism?

What if we threw out the existing tax code and replaced it with a fixed rate with no loopholes, virtually eliminating the need for lobbyists altogether? Since Congress has shown itself incapable of avoiding a debt crisis, what if it took a majority of state legislatures to raise the debt ceiling?

Some may think this is the wild stuff of daydreams, but Article V of the Constitution provides a right that the American people ought to exercise–the right to restore our government to constitutional republicanism. At an Article V Convention of States, commissioners representing their states can propose these constitutional reforms. One million Americans have joined this growing movement, and it’s just starting to pick up steam.

I didn’t come up with the ideas above. Robert BerryMark Levin, and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, among others, have developed some very good proposals that should be drafted at the Convention of States. Several states are already on board, and 30 more will consider this idea in 2016.

If we’re serious about breaking up the ruling class and restoring liberty, let’s not tinker at the edges with half measures. The time has come to think bigger. Let’s rally behind true, lasting change.

Let’s turn over the table, return Congress to the people, and make K Street a distant memory.

The ruling class won’t know what hit them.

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