Whoever wins the presidency on Nov. 8, Congress should shut down the government, except for essential military or law enforcement personnel, on the first day after the 2017 inaugural unless and until the new president restores the republic by doing the following:
Immediately end multi-trillion dollar presidential wars that have not been declared by Congress as required by Article I, section 8, clause 11 of the Constitution. That means, among other things, ceasing the offensive use of the military to fight wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
All United States military personnel should be withdrawn from these war zones for redeployment back home to protect Americans against foreign aggression as the Constitution envisions. To demonstrate that fighting wars only in self-defense does not subtract from our respect for the military, all rank-and-file soldiers should be given pay raises concurrently with the end of all presidential wars.
James Madison, father of the Constitution, explained: “The constitution supposes, what the History of all Governments demonstrates, that the Executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care vested the question of war in the Legislature.” Congress has declared war but five times in 227 years, and only in self-defense when the United States had been attacked or believed it had.
1) Immediately renounce the claimed and exercised limitless presidential power to play prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner to kill American citizens suspected of endangering the national security based on secret, unsubstantiated evidence shielded permanently from all external review. We fought the Revolutionary War to overthrow a lesser tyranny practiced by King George III.
2) Immediately revoke Executive Order 12333, which authorizes the warrantless surveillance of Americans for foreign intelligence purposes. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, 50 U.S.C. 1809, makes criminal electronic surveillance under color of law except as authorized by statute. An executive order is not a statute. The privacy of citizens is too important to be left to the President alone.
3) Immediately submit the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which seeks to restrain Iran’s nuclear ambitions, to the Senate as a treaty requiring a two-thirds majority for ratification. At present, the JCPOA is an unconstitutional executive agreement. The sole reason it was not submitted as a treaty, according to Secretary of State John Kerry’s testimony before the House Foreign Relations Committee, was “[b]ecause you can’t pass a treaty anymore.” Alexander Hamilton explained in Federalist 75 that the President cannot be trusted with international commitments: “An ambitious man might make his own aggrandizement, by the aid of a foreign power, the price of his treachery to his constituents. The history of human conduct does not warrant that exalted opinion of human virtue which would make it wise in a nation to commit interests of so delicate and momentous a kind, as those which concern its intercourse with the rest of the world, to the sole disposal of a magistrate created and circumstanced as would be a President of the United States.”
4) Immediately renounce the giving of diplomatic, economic, military, or other assistance to foreign countries in exchange for their funding international endeavors that Congress has not approved. Such cynical maneuvers evade the congressional power of the purse—an invincible instrument for preventing or remedying executive abuses. James Madison amplified in Federalist 58: “This power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure.”
The United States stands at the precipice of executive tyranny. If Congress fails to arrest limitless presidential power, the Minutemen sacrifices at Lexington and Concord will have been in vain. History is watching Members of Congress to separate the courageous from the cowardly. A Member who recoils at defending shutting down government as a justified price for restoring the Republic will be execrated by posterity.