Spirit - American Revolution

Spirit - American Revolution

This was the question posed to me at my own blog by Monica from Oh Fer Cryin’ Out Loud. She had stated that at one time she had a teacher who told her that as a country, we had the option at any time to change our government any time we wanted.

Well, I would say that her teacher oversimplified the process.  The short answer is – yes, we can change our government.  However, it is not as simple as that.  Short of another revolution to overthrow the government – there are many necessary steps in “changing the government.”

I believe what your teacher was referring to was our country’s ability to change our elected officials when we are not pleased with their performance or the direction they are taking us.

This applies to all levels of government; local, county, state, and federal.  At a local level, every city and county has laws written that gives the citizens the ability to remove elected officials.  In some cases there impeachment process, in others, there are recall processes that citizens can institute.  However, in order for impeachment and recalls to occur – there needs to be proof of wrong doing and there has to be a majority of citizens (usually by petition) to institute the recall.

The same thing applies at the state level.  If you have a Governor that has committed crimes, over-stepped their authority, etc., there will usually be investigations – and – in some cases the Governor may be forced to resign.  There are also recall options, as was witnessed in California when Ahnold took over. A recall requires a petition signed by a specific number of state citizens according to their constitution and then validated by the state’s supreme court.

With regards to Senators and Representatives of a state – the Governor has the authority to recall these individuals and remove them from office.  Again – depending on the state laws and how they are written – these could be through citizen recalls, Governor authority, or the result of lawful investigations in which said representatives were found to have committed an offense worthy of a Governor recall.  In other cases, there could be investigations at a federal level that result in their removal without the need for citizens or the Governors to get involved.

However, with regards to Congress – the constitution has granted them a form of sanctuary as it relates to their offices.  Apparently, their personal offices within Congress are completely off limits when it comes to any investigations.  So, technically, a Congress member could commit an egregious crime and hide the evidence in his/her office – which is completely off limits.  You may recall the case with Congressman William “Cold Cash” Jefferson from Louisiana – they found $100,000 in his home freezer.  During an FBI investigation – they raided his congressional office looking for additional evidence against him.

Any evidence or information that was taken from his office had to be returned and could not be used against him.  Reid and Pelosi immediately invoked their privileges and reminded the FBI that they encroached on sancrosanct grounds by going in to his office.

Lastly, there is the President of the U.S.. By constitution – only Congress and the Supreme Court may conduct any investigations in to a President’s conduct.  During the time an individual holds the office of President no civil claims or criminal investigations (other than the aforementioned) are allowed to proceed.  If a Congressional investigation proves wrong-doing on the part of the President and the Supreme Court upholds the investigation and findings as being constitutional – and the wrongdoing proves to be unconstitutional – the President may be impeached and removed from office – as was the case with Nixon.  In Clinton’s case – he was impeached – but, for whatever reason, was allowed to remain in office.

Aside from all the aforementioned – the other ways that we as citizens may “change our government” is through elections.  Congressional Representatives are elected every 2 years; Senators every 6 years; Governors every 4 years; and Presidents every 4 years.  Unless a state has it written in their state constitutions, Governors are not term limited.  The President is allowed only two 4 year terms.  Representatives and Senators have no term limits.  If you want to change the way government is working – it is up to you as a citizen to vote out those Representatives and Senators you feel are not doing their jobs to the liking of the citizens of your state.

Each city, county, and state has their own laws with regards to council members, mayors, and other elected officials as it relates to term limits.  Again, it is up to you as a citizen to change your government if you don’t like it – and that is through voting (unless there are impeachment or recall efforts as the result of wrong-doing by an elected official).

The wall that you run in to is when you have public officials who are appointed versus elected.  Unless an investigation has proven that the appointed official has conducted him or herself in a criminal manner or in a manner that goes against the state constitution – only the official who appointed that individual may fire that individual.

So – in closing – yes, you may change your government – but, not as easily as your teacher made it seem.

Bob O

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