Virginia Pilot Opinion

Limit money in politics through a constitutional amendment
By Luke Lorenz Guest Columnist

“Friday is Veterans Day, a national recognition of the extraordinary men and women who kept the watch so that we may live in safety. We thank them for defending our homeland, guarding our shores, and protecting our homes and families. All of this they do, but at the core of their mission is defense of something far more fundamental and profound than physical territory. They swear to defend the U.S. Constitution, which enshrines the highest aspirations of humankind.

As a veteran who served in the U.S. Army, this mission remains close to my heart, as it does for many of my fellow servicemembers. We served, fought, bled and some died in defense of our American democratic traditions that embrace political equality and the right of “one person, one vote.” Yet we see these traditions being increasingly eroded by wealthy donors and deep-pocketed special interest groups that pay for unchecked and unjust political influence.
Each election cycle sets new records for the amount of money influencing our elections, with less and less of that money coming from average citizens. This has profound implications for local, state and national governance. Without equitable influence over our elections and elected officials, the needs of average Americans are drowned out by the demands of wealthy donors. We feel this incongruity in the form of energy monopolies, excessive medical and prescription drug prices, growing income inequality between the wealthy and the middle class, and diminished access to good schools and higher education.
The excessive influence of wealthy individual donors, corporations and single-issue groups contributes to our polarization and political dysfunction. These extreme voices do not represent the views of the vast majority of the American people. However, because we have only two major parties to choose from, we are dragged along as these unrestrained big-money donors pull the parties toward their extreme views and radical policy positions.

This veteran feels that it is time to chart a bold new course for American democracy in the 21st century, and most Americans seem to agree. That new course is set forth in a proposed constitutional amendment, the “For Our Freedom Amendment.” This legislation, supported by American Promise, a non-partisan good governance group, would allow Congress and the states to regain their right to regulate campaign financing and independent expenditures. It protects free speech while also ensuring that states, such as Virginia, have the sovereignty to decide how much special influence they will allow from big money donors.

Does a constitutional amendment sound too ambitious? Better tell that to the suffragettes who faced the same obstacle in securing voting rights for women. Or the Civil Rights advocates who enacted the 15th Amendment. Or the concerned citizens who changed the Constitution to allow individuals to elect their own senators rather than have them chosen by state legislatures (17th Amendment).

We have rectified all manner of injustice through numerous constitutional amendments over the generations. The only question is whether or not our current elected representatives will rise to the challenge. As a veteran who was willing to place his life on the line for our remarkable system of self-governance and individual liberty, I ask our federal legislators to enact the For Our Freedom Amendment and make it the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

` Luke Lorenz of Herndon is the director of legislative affairs for a military-focused nonprofit organization and a volunteer for Money Out Virginia. He served as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army with missions in EUCOM and CENTCOM. He is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management.

This article appeared on 11-10-22 in the Virginia Pilot Opinion section.

Such wisdom . . .

This is a time to come to terms with the behaviors and decisions of this generation. Listen to David Orr public lecture about the rights of prosperity in a time of ecological disorder. He not only understands design that rights inefficient and harmful systems to systems that are based on ecological systems. He champions our universities as laboratories of design that upend the current society’s destructive systems.

He says, “The ecological challenge is a crisis of mind.”

Children File Suit in Court for a Safe Environment

From article on Bill Moyers & Company:
From article on Bill Moyers & Company:

Bill Moyer’s & Company featured this article. Children and youths ages 8-19 filed a complaint in Eugene, Oregon’s U.S. District Court that their rights to a safe environment have been violated.

The nonprofit, Our Children’s Trust, filed on behalf of the children. The Justice Department filed a motion to dismiss the case; a federal court judge is considering the request.

By favoring the current generations over their generation, and not acting to reduce the impacts of climate change, the children contend the U.S. government – the President and the federal, state, and local agencies charged to protect the environment – has denied their generation the rights that emanate from a safe environment.

This is a violation of the public trust.

On the NOAA Vital Signs of the Planet website today, the current concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is 402.26 parts per million (ppt). 350 ppt or lower is considered a safe concentration for earth’s ecosystems and life within the biosphere. Concomitant rise in temperature from rising CO2 atmospheric concentration (a greenhouse gas) is unevenly applied on Earth. However, to date the average rise in temperature is  1 degree Centigrade or 3.4 degrees Fahrenheit across the whole planet. Small changes in average temperatures on Earth are associated with massive changes in climate such as the beginning or end of an ice age.

Question for Readers:

Are the children within in their rights to sue our generation, our government, for violating their rights?

Please comment to spark a discussion. See 2 video interviews on the link above.

Nature’s Trust

Capitol Polemic

Staircase Detail Up to DomeHistory and JusticeFreedomCapitol Bldg RotundaHouse Chambers Hall to House of RepsCapital Bldg Daytime19th Century Handpainted Ceiling_House at CapitalDuring a trip to Washington D.C. Congressman John Mica offered to take our group on a special evening tour of the Capitol Building. He is a real history buff and with 21 years serving in the House of Representatives he has a few good stories…

These photos taken with my smartphone speak for themselves. The quality of workmanship and art in the architecture, paintings and sculpture makes my proud of my government. Washington D. C. has long been my personal inspiration.

The workshop I attended was a special session of Florida State Public Universities. We met with representatives from Department of Defense and major uniform services, and then with staffers from Democratic and Republican representatives with the Florida delegation.

Given the acrimony and loss of the traditions of discussion and respect for disparate viewpoints, many Junior Conservative representatives have never experienced what staffers described as the Regular Order of legislation. They all expressed dismay with ongoing sequestration, little hope of a bipartisan spending bill, and the general loss of appreciation for the 200-year-old process of compromise to pass bills that work for the America Public.

Capitol Nightime