With a Pen and a Phone: Harry and Nancy

Harry stepped out from the bakery at the end of his street and started home. At the same time, Nancy came out of the beauty parlor next door and after greeting each other, they walked quietly in the evening dusk, a light snow falling.

Harry looked at the sign above the beauty shop and then at Nancy. “You’ve just got’n the works, didn’t ya? And you got it all covered up in that top coat and rain hat? How can we see your beauty and the results of your hard earned dollars?”

Blushing and shooing her palm at him, she said, “Oh, shush. I have to protect it. I have a date tonight. I’m cooking dinner for someone special.”

“Someone special? What are you cooking?”

“Never mind. None of your business. Did you see the news today?”

“News? Is that all you think about? Politics? What about this boy friend? Do you think about him too?”

“Never mind, Harry. Did you hear the President say he has a pen and phone and if Congress doesn’t agree with him, he’ll write his own law? How about that? Pretty ballsy wouldn’t you say?”

“Listen to the way you’re talking. If your boyfriend heard you talk like that, he’d dump ya.”

“Don’t be silly, he loves me. Now what do you think? He’s finally taking control of the government. Right?”

Solemnly, he looked at her, “Yes, and it’s not a good thing.”

“Oh Harry. You’re such a party pooper. Of course it’s a good thing. The Congress won’t work with the President, and this is his only option. They won’t pass his legislation, so what choice does he have?”

“All the previous Presidents had difficulty with Congress, but all found a way to work with them through negotiation.”

“Yes, but if they won’t negotiate with him, then what’s he to do?”

“But he’s not negotiating. For instance, the House proposed a law that would get him off the hook for the Obamacare mandate delay he had ordered. They gave him legal and political coverage, but he refused it.”

“Harry, I’m sure he had a good reason.”

“You really don’t get it, do you? Poor girl. Listen, Nancy. Did you ever take a civics class when you were in school?”

“Civics?”

“Oh, never mind. Listen, according to the Constitution…you’ve heard of the Constitution, right?”

She smirked and nodded at him.

“That document is the basis for all the laws in this country. And that’s where the authority for the three branches of government, the Judicial, Congress, and the Executive or President, comes from. Now, the only one allowed to authorize spending money is the House of Representatives. The only place where laws can come from is Congress. The judicial’s job is to interpret the Constitution and see if Congresses laws agree. The Presidents job is to enforce the laws of Congress. That’s it! How simple could it be? But Obama, as have other presidents, believes he can govern by writing his own laws through executive order. And that, strictly speaking, is unconstitutional.”

Nancy turned to him. “If that’s true, why hasn’t Congress tried to stop him, or any of the others?”

“Actually they have attempted but, weakly. A growing power and money consortium has corrupted the political culture in DC, changing what the Founders had established. And both parties, lobbies, and the bureaucracy are at fault. There is a culture of power and money in DC that runs our lives. Over the last one hundred years, Congress has allowed a larger bureaucracy governed by money and power to corrupt the culture that permeates our government.

“Yeah, but what about the Courts?”

“That culture has the support of our Supreme Court. Over the years, it has taken on a broad, activist’s interpretation of the laws and how they apply to the Constitution.”

Nancy turned to him, “Well, maybe the Constitution needs updating. You know, it’s an old document. If the government is not working right, maybe we should revamp the rules.”

They stepped into their building’s lobby and Harry took a seat in front of the radiant heater. Nancy shook the snow off her hat and coat and sat next to him.

“Nancy, if by government working you mean that it gives money or authority to certain people by taking money and authority away from other people, then you’re right, it’s not working as it was intended. And yes, it needs its rules updated in order to put a stop to the corruption.”

“So, according to your earlier statement, it can’t be the President who updates the Constitution. Who then, if not Congress?”

Harry held his hands out to the heat. “Article V allows Congress to amend the Constitution. It requires 2/3 of both houses of Congress to propose an amendment and then that has to be approved or ratified by ¾ of the states. And that’s happened seventeen times over the last 225 years covering all twenty-seven of its amendments.”

“Why hasn’t Congress done it again?”

“Well, they have to power to. But, do you think they would reform themselves? Offer to give up the money and power that controls so much? No, I don’t think so. But there’s a little known alternate path the Framers provided for us.”

“What’s that?”

He smiled. “I’m glad you asked. It requires that 2/3 of the states legislatures sign an application asking Congress to call for a convention. Then the states can gather and amend the Constitution.”

“Why would amending it change anything there now?”

“Good point. Think about. If we, through our state legislatures, asked for term limits on Congress or even the Supreme Court, we’d see a bunch of new faces a lot more often. And then they’d be gone. Not enough time to develop a career at our expense.”

“Wouldn’t that disrupt the way government gets things done today?”

“Yes, it would!” Harry’s excited voice rose. “And with an amendment to control spending and taxing, we’d have a balanced budget.”

“What about the Presidents spending?”

“An amendment to control presidential decrees or the so called executive orders. So many good things could come from a Convention of States, Nancy.”

“Well, if you say so, but I’m not so sure. Right now, I have to go up and start dinner. We’ll talk again. See ya, Harry.”

“Yeah. Think about it and we’ll talk about it some more. Good luck with your dinner tonight.”

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