'Tis Only My Opinion!

January 2017 - Volume 37, Number 1

"Swamp Cleaning"

How do you clean a swamp?

First, you have to define what the swamp is?

Then, your have to decide how and where to start cleaning the swamp and the method to use.

If the definition of a swamp is "the culture of our national government and its inability to live up to the founding documents", the task becomes gigantic and almost impossible to accomplish.

The voters are responsible for cleaning the swamp!

In the final analysis, it is the citizens of the representative democracy called the United States of America under its Constitution as amended that are those who must demand that the swamp be cleaned and elect members of Congress and the President to do the cleaning.

In the 2016 election, only the office of the President could be seen as effecting change as most of the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate were re-elected.

Since the Congress is responsible for all legislation and funding, it would appear that the money spigot will continue to run. For despite calls to set term-limits on our representatives, the outlook for the passage of such a bill would seem to be extremely unlikely.

In the 2016 election to the House of Representatives, a total of 380 of the 393 House incumbents seeking re-election won, resulting in an incumbency rate of 96.7%.

In the 2016 Senate election, 34 of the 100 seats were contested in regular elections. Only two incumbents lost their seats, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Mark Kirk of Illinois, both to Democrats Maggie Hassan and Tammy Duckworth, respectively.

As these numbers suggest, the current political system makes it very difficult to effect change through the current voting system.  Whether that is a function of the two-party system and party politics remains a question.

Supposedly, the U.S. government is a government "of the people, by the people and for the people."

The  voters are shirking their responsibility ...

Unfortunately, many of the people really don't care as the number of voters shows.

In the recent election, considering a voting age population (VAP) of 251.1 million people and voting eligible population (VEP) of 231.6 million people, the turnout rate was only 55.3% of the VAP and 60.0% of the VEP. Voting turnout percentage was up compared to 2012 (54.9% VAP) but down compared to 2008 (58.2% VAP).

In other words, 40% of the population could not be bothered to vote.

Only the voters can clean the swamp!

Of course, the most important and often-overlooked requirement is that the citizens that vote are legally-entitled to do so.

In California, the state has issued to illegal aliens over 700.000 drivers licenses in just the last two years. In many states, all you need to have to vote is a utility bill with your name on it. 

Mail-in ballots are easily forged. Oregon has gone to all mail-in balloting. Other states, including: Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Washington State, allow mail-in voting at one level or another, and may have restrictions on whether mail ballots may be used only for ballot questions, non-partisan races, etc.  

Political parties do not demand honest voting practices by people who are citizens of the U.S. as they perceive they might gain some advantage under the current system. Some of the methods that destroy the credibility of the voting booth are:

  • The lack of a paper trail that can be independently audited.

  • The failure to match voter registration lists with the social security death index to eliminate dead voters. Requiring election boards to compare these lists through a computer matching process 90 days before any election as well as comparing addresses with utility databases would eliminate much of the fraud that currently exists.

  • An IG audit of the Social Security Administration found that the nation’s database of active Social Security numbers includes more than six and a half million people who are older than 112 years of age.

  • Election boards could send certified letters to the last known address for clarification and if not cleared up, the voter could be purged from the list. Florida election officials have just announced that over 53,000 dead voters were just found still on the voter rolls and are now being purged. Wonder how many of them voted in the last Presidential election which was decided by just a few votes?

  • When someone votes at a polling location, an indelible ink should be affixed to a finger to prevent that same individual from voting at another location.

  • Mail-in votes can easily be subject to fraudulent handling and should be disallowed except under very controlled conditions. In 2016 Montana where the Senate election is expected to be extremely close according to recent polling data is reporting that massive mail-in ballot irregularities have been uncovered by a non-partisan group, Media Matters Montana.  It is expected that a majority of votes in the November election will be mail-in ballots.

  • In the last few elections, there have been instances where more votes have been cast than the census reported that people lived in the voting district. The current Senator from Minnesota was the beneficiary of just one instance of this problem.

Requiring a government-issued ID also with the above would eliminate a significant portion of the fraud.

In this age of computer databases, the ability to match names against various databases to highlight discrepancies is not a big deal. It just takes a decision that "only eligible voters will be allowed to vote" to set in motion the machinery to clean up the problem.

Trump's Swamp

During the recent Presidential campaign, Donald Trump defined the swamp as being the Washington bureaucracy and proposed several measures that might help drain the swamp according to his definition.

First, and most fundamentally, Trump wants to reduce the size of the federal government, and cut regulations and make them as simple as possible.

Second, and more specifically, Trump wants to wrench the federal government from its cozy relationship with large, established businesses and institutions in areas ranging from health care to finance to education. Trump’s proposal would bar former White House officials and Congressional members from taking up positions as lobbyists for the first five years after they leave office, extending the one- to two-year ban created by the 2007 law.

The boldest, part of Trump's plan is a Constitutional amendment imposing term limits on members of Congress.

Other facets of his plan include barring the hiring of additional federal employees outside of military, public safety, and public health divisions, and placing a restriction on regulations, mandating that new federal regulations can only be put into place if two others are eliminated.

Also, Trump would push for a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections.


As we have shown, it is up to the voters to clean the swamp by demanding term limits and/or to limit their representatives to only a few terms.

President-elect Trump can only begin the job using one of the three branches of government. The legislative branch must get aboard with Trump to truly effect change.

For if they don't, they could face a major game-changer set forth in the U.S. Constitution in Article V.

Article V of the Constitution itself lays out the rules for calling a "Convention of States"-- two-thirds of the states, or 34, have to petition Congress to call the meeting, according to Article V of the Constitution. The graphic below shows the current status of the movement.

If, during 2017, the Convention of States movement gains the required number of states, then everything is on the table and not just the Balanced Budget Amendment ... be careful of what you wish for!

Swamp cleaning is needed ... let's hope that they don't throw out the whole enchilada!

But then - 'Tis Only My Opinion!

Fred Richards
January 4, 2017


Corruptisima republica plurimae leges. [The more corrupt a republic, the more laws.] -- Tacitus, Annals III 27

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