HERNDON, Va., Jan. 14 (UPI) -- After the American Revolutionary War, the new country's leaders labored to create a government structure optimizing citizens' self-governance.
Numerous constitutional drafts were written to reach an all-encompassing document guaranteeing the rights of the people. It was to be their will that was to rule, with the officials they elected implementing the law of the land accordingly.
That constitution has served the United States well ever since -- at least until recently.
While never intended, U.S. citizens have gradually relinquished control of the U.S. Constitution to federal government operators who abuse it. It has become a mechanism by which they empower themselves contrary to the will of the people they should be serving. No wonder the popularity both of Congress and the president are at all-time lows.
Today, the U.S. government is a runaway train -- bloated, polarized, usurping the power of the people, overspending (a current $17 trillion national debt will have doubled during this administration's term), etc.
Such wasteful spending by government would never be tolerated in private industry where those responsible are held accountable.
Interestingly, filings for 2012 revealed most members of Congress, for the first time, were millionaires. If the bills they passed -- many of which they fail to read -- directly drained their own financial assets, such wasteful spending would cease overnight.
U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., responsible for the 2010 legislation requiring annual reporting by the Government Accountability Office on overlapping, fragmented and duplicative government programs, says three such subsequent reports have failed to get Congress to consolidate spending. Consolidation creates political fallout as congressional committee chairmen are reluctant to surrender control of programs under their jurisdictions.
Thus, Coburn rightly observes, "The problem is us."
The runaway U.S. train is on an ill-fated journey, heading for financial disaster from which the country's children and grandchildren will never recover. They will one day curse the current selfishness in ignoring that disaster, choosing instead to gorge at the country's money trough.
In a true testimonial to the founding fathers' vision, they saw it all coming.
The founders were uniquely qualified men, bonded together by pursuit of a common good for all Americans. Then only a country of 3 million, America generated leaders like George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Ben Franklin, etc.
Yet in the 21st century, boasting more than 100 times that population, we find no such leaders.
One of the founders, George Mason, urged a constitutional safety net be provided under Article V to protect the governed from their own complacency. It effectively gave them a "second chance" to act. Having fallen asleep at the wheel as their elected federal representatives actively abused their will and the intent of the U.S. Constitution, they still can regain control.
The Citizens for Self-Governance is educating Americans on the Article V -- Convention of States -- option and how it can brake the runaway train. It seeks to arm Americans not with guns, but re-arm them with the legal authority originally given them by the founders.
The founders well understood power can corrupt those exercising it, especially a federal government left to ravage individual state's citizen rights, allegedly in the name of the country's common good.
In search of a more "perfect union," the founders implemented various constitutional checks and balances to counter this. Sadly, today most Americans fail to understand their rights have suffered abridgement at our government's hands.
The founders worked together for the common good -- their lives hanging in the balance for doing so. But for them, failure was no option.
Today, the "god" our leaders worship isn't the common good but the political party, within a political arena where egos rise to the fore. Congressional gridlock results while politicians repeatedly thrust open the national treasury for any entitlement whim.
George Mason understood tyranny required two mutually exclusive human weaknesses -- excessive power in the hands of the few coupled with acceptance by the many. Left unchecked, Mason argued, empowered a corrupt national government to transition into "a corrupt, tyrannical aristocracy."
Mason's Article V addition empowers state legislators to bypass federal legislators to call for a Constitutional Convention to amend the document for the people's common good.
When power-hungry politicians value re-elections more than defending individual freedoms, it is time for Americans to reclaim their right of self-governance. They cannot remain complacent, naively accepting U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's assurances no U.S. citizen lives in fear their constitutional rights are being infringed in any way -- when it is happening!
CSG seeks to restore constitutional checks and balances into our government via its Four Pillars of Self-Governance -- shared values, incumbent accountability, dispersed power and educating citizens -- philosophy.
As he exited the 1787 Constitutional Convention on its last day, Benjamin Franklin was queried as to what kind of government Americans were getting. He responded, "A republic, if you can keep it."
The founders gave Americans a gift. Today, U.S. citizens are proving unworthy of it. They still can preserve it, but need to act now. They need to call for a COS mandate to regain what has been taken, demanding elected representatives respect the laws of the land memorialized by the founding founders.
Last year, discussing gun laws, Biden declared, "a moral price (is) to be paid for inaction." The founders would agree with this -- the American people no longer can rely on inaction.
But the founders would approve of another message being sent -- this one to politicians.
Early 19th-century English philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge noted, "The only choice which Providence has graciously left to a vicious government is either to fall by the people if they become enlightened, or with them, if ... kept ... ignorant" -- i.e., the irresponsible politician's doom is inevitable.
Hopefully, both messages are received.
(A retired U.S. Marine, Lt. Col. James Zumwalt served in the Vietnam War, the U.S. invasion of Panama and the first Gulf War. He has written "Bare Feet, Iron Will -- Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam's Battlefields," "Living the Juche Lie: North Korea's Kim Dynasty" and "Doomsday: Iran -- The Clock is Ticking.")
(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)