Heed the Will of the People

Heed the Will of the People

By Newt Gingrich & Dan Varroney - August 14, 2010

The father of the U.S. Constitution and future President, Virginia's James Madison once said, "The people are the only legitimate fountain of power, and it is from them that the constitutional charter, under which the several branches of government hold their power, is derived."

Many of the Federalist legislators were voted out office in the election of 1800. Despite their losses, they reconvened in a "lame duck" session during the winter for a last-ditch effort to enact partisan legislation. The Federalists, who held the majority in Congress as the Democrats do today, refused to abide by Madison's principle and paid dearly for it.

During the winter lame-duck, John Adams and the Federalists passed the Judiciary Act of 1801. The Judiciary Act more than doubled the number of federal judges, which President Adams promptly filled with his Federalist allies. These appointments were an explicit and ultimately futile attempt to hamstring the newly elected President, Thomas Jefferson, and Congress because the Jeffersonians simply reversed the Act with the Judiciary Act of 1802.

For their arrogance, the Federalists never again regained control of Congress and disappeared completely in the 1820s, all because they tried to overrule the views expressed at the ballot box.

Since gaining control of the White House and both chambers of Congress, Democrats have imposed a $1 trillion health care program, an $862 billion stimulus package that has failed to create jobs, and a new financial regulatory apparatus that enshrines in law future taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street. Despite the Democrat leadership trumpeting "accomplishments", public opinion polls assert that they have forced redistributionist policies upon the American people and small business owners.

The Obama-Pelosi-Reid team passed all of these despite clear majorities of Americans opposing their big-government, high-tax, anti-jobs agenda.

Democrats know they are facing tough elections this year and can't vote for more enormously unpopular, budget-busting bills if they want to get reelected. But they are also bracing for major losses in the House and Senate this November, and they will never be able to advance their agenda under realigned House and Senate majorities.

Faced with this reality, Democratic leaders are raising the specter of passing their unfinished job killing agenda during a lame duck session of Congress. At a recent conference with left-wing bloggers, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) assured the audience about the Left's unfinished priorities, saying, "We're going to have to have a lame duck session, so we're not giving up."

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) recently stated, "A lot of things can happen in a lame-duck session, too."

Senator John Kerry wants to press ahead with a new national energy tax: "I have to tell you, [cap and trade] is not dead...if it is after the election, it may well be that some members are free and liberated and feeling that they can take a risk or do something."

The Declaration of Independence states that legitimate government derives its power "from the consent of the governed." That means that elected representatives are only legitimately empowered when the American people support their agenda, not when they are "free and liberated" from the opinions of the voters they represent. Likewise, a lack of support from voters ought to inspire a lack of boldness in legislators.

Voters intend to press their case on Election Day as they reinforce one of James Madison's pillars of government: "The people are the only legitimate fountain of power." Some Congressmen and Senators may insist that a lame duck session is necessary to complete work on a budget. This is not the case.

Congress only needs to pass a clean, pork-free, continuing budget resolution through March that will fund the government at current levels. That will leave it up to the new Congress - one that reflects the will of the American people - to develop a new budget based on the mandate given to them by the "consent of the governed."

Georgia Congressman Tom Price is forcing the lame duck issue in the U.S. House. Through his work, 236 members are on the record as supporting a lame duck Congress. At American Solutions, over 90,000 concerned citizens have signed the petition opposing the lame duck session and are demanding that every member of Congress take a pledge not to overrule the American people. We urge you to take action and ask your Member of Congress to take the No Lame Duck pledge so we can stop a last minute power grab.

This Congress should heed the lesson that the Federalists learned the hard way: in America, it is the people, not the politicians who govern.

Newt Gingrich is the Former Speaker of the U.S. House and is the General Chairman of American Solutions.   Dan Varroney is its Chief Operating Officer.   Join the Stop the Lame Duck pledge at

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