We arrived at the Iowa Grassroots Coalition's Candidate Honest Assessment Summit early. First we listened to a lady speak, and then I took a seat and relaxed, lackadaisically listening as a gentleman talked about how we need to amend the Constitution. I was rudely awakened when he announced, "that's why I'm running for President."
"What? Running for President?!" I thought, "Who is this man?" John Cogswell is a Colorado attorney, running for the U.S. Presidency as a Republican, but only in Iowa. He asks Iowans to vote for him to send a message across America. Cogswell was very pleasant when my sister and I asked to take pictures with him afterward, and he gave me an autographed copy of his book, Fix the System: Reform the Constitution.
Miscellaneous Facts: John Cogswell is 76 years old. He's a fifth-generation Coloradoan. Cogswell has 4 children, and I'd estimate he's 6 feet 3 inches tall.
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Synopsis of Cogswell's Book, Fix the System
Reverence and justice is what has kept our nation from becoming a battlefield. Today we have a battlefield of ideas, and the choices we make will result in either continued freedom or tyranny. Our representatives love power, and checks and balances have become ineffective.
Government is slowing down businesses with regulations. Freedom to choose is the best regulator, although government is necessary to prevent fraud and injury. Today the battlefield is largely a battle of nomenclatures, between Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives. This battle is not likely to do much good.
I ran for office several times, but was not successful. In 1982 I created a business plan for Campaign Constitution, but no one was interested. Still I continued to collect ideas on improving the Constitution, as I continued to grow more and more frustrated with our government. Freedom is taken for granted. For the past 30 years the big issue has been, "How much can the government do for us?" I finally dusted off my Campaign Constitution plan--a plan to fix the system by reforming the Constitution in a Constitutional Convention called for and convened by the states.
Alarmists oppose a convention because they fear changes would be made to fundamental parts of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. To overcome this, the constitution convention would be limited to a resolution determined and approved in advance with a limited jurisdiction.
Proposed amendments include text pertaining to, but not limited to, the following:
The President shall have a line-item veto for appropriations bills. No spending authority shall be delegated to the President. The President and Senate shall fill appointments in a timely manner or not be paid. The President shall appear before the House of Representatives to answer questions upon request, but not more often than weekly, and for not more than 40 minutes per appearance. Doubts as to whether the President can lawfully assert executive privilege on any matter to avoid releasing information to Congress shall be resolved against the President.
CongressThere will be Congressional committee term limits. States shall have the authority to decide on term limits for their own Congressmen/women. Congress shall not exempt itself from any law. Compensation for Congress will be decided by a separate body, and there will be no special retirement, health, or pension benefit laws for Congress or federal employees, except the military. Votes on earmarks will be public. If a budget is not approved in a timely matter, all members of congress will be disqualified from future elective office. A Supermajority of 60% in both houses required to raise or spend money. Congress shall not appropriate monies greater than 20% of GDP without 2/3rds vote of both houses. Congress's delegation of legislative authority to federal agencies shall be strictly construed. If any part of a bill that becomes law is determined to be unconstitutional, the whole law shall be unconstitutional. The "general welfare" clause as used in the preamble of the Constitution does not grant Congress any power, and as used in Article I Section 8 grants power exercisable only by at least a 2/3rds vote of both Houses.
StatesThere will be no state bailouts by the federal government. The Tenth Amendment will be reinvigorated, and amendments to the Bill of Rights, 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments shall not be authorized without unanimous approval of all states. Two-thirds of the state legislatures shall have the power to repeal a federal law. There shall exist a Board of Governors (state governors) to assist States in the exercise of their powers under the Constitution. The Seventeenth Amendment is repealed. State legislatures shall elect U.S. Senators.
CitizensAs a condition to the right to vote in a federal election, every citizen shall annually pay an equal tax sufficient to raise revenues necessary to operate Congress, provided the tax shall begin at $10 and, when changed, shall never be more than the cost of one-fourth of one troy ounce of silver. Whether any law is unconstitutional as applied is a question of fact for a jury. Every citizen shall have standing in court to seek the meaning of the Constitution or to challenge the constitutionality or validity of any federal law or regulation or to seek a declaration of the meaning thereof. No person shall be guilty of a federal crime unless the person's mens rea has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Federal regulations cannot exceed four times the size of federal statutes. Federal regulations shall automatically be void ten years after their adoption unless earlier approved by Congress for a stated term. There shall be no retroactive regulations. All agencies shall be prioritized with a number from the President.
MiscellaneousThere shall be no restrictions on the amount of political contributions or expenditures in federal elections as long as properly disclosed. No government person shall suppress information regarding UFOs.
-----We have so many regulations that laws are ultimately determined by people. This is inconsistent with the rule of law, and causes society to degenerate into the rule of men. When men begin to rule, freedom begins to die. The more laws and regulations we have, the less rule of law we have.
After explaining each proposed amendment, Cogswell finishes his book with ten essays on Reforming the Constitution, Changes to the Constitution, Process Amendments, First Principles, Freedom, Human Nature, Rule of Law, Decision Making, Forces of History, Tyranny of the Majority and Unaccountable Minorities, Wealth, and Class Warfare.
The book has appendices with the Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States (with proposed changes), Business Plan, Constitutional Convention Resolution, and Cogswell's Curriculum Vitae.
Further Resources: You can visit John Cogswell's website to learn more about him. Cogswell's book, Fix the System, is available on Amazon.
My remarks: I was very surprised to hear Cogswell was running for President, but he told me there were hundreds of other candidates like him, seeking the Presidency of the U.S. I could spend until next election writing about them!
The most interesting amendment proposed may be the one mandating government disclosure of all information on UFOs. President Carter promised as a candidate to disclose this information to the public, but did not, citing defence implications. You can listen to President Obama's remarks on aliens here.
Cogswell seems very well educated. I enjoyed his references to some of my favorite authors: Von Mises, Tocqueville, and F.A. Hayek. He is obviously a visionary, but whether Americans are ready for his solution is questionable.
Disclaimer: Candidates' speeches are reconstructed from my imperfect notes. If you notice any mistakes, just let me know. I would not intentionally misrepresent anyone's position. I am not endorsing any candidate or candidate's position at this time, and no candidate has endorsed me. And yes, I do realize that often speeches are to some extent propaganda, but it's interesting to me to see the points candidates consider as most important.
For my personal political views, please see this article.
For my personal political views, please see this article.