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Brett's Blog: Monday, May 6, 2024: Where the Power Lies

Published in Blog on May 05, 2024 by Brett Sterley, State Director, Convention of States Missouri

What’s the most powerful elected position in the government established by our Constitution?

Is Congress the most powerful elected body of our government? It’s reasonable to conclude this as the federal government has a ubiquitous presence in our lives. Everything from a car’s miles per gallon efficiency to the wattage of a lightbulb is ultimately the result of congressional action. All federal appropriations bills originate in the House of Representatives. The ability to determine how our tax dollars are spent is quite important and it's something every tax paying citizen should be concerned about. What are the prospects of an individual citizen meeting with their congressperson? Well, not very good as it turns out.

There are two non-elected entities in our federal government – one is authorized by the Constitution; the other is an invention of our politicians.

First, let’s look at the Courts. The Supreme Court is the only court created by our Constitution. Today’s view of the Supreme Court is that they’re the ultimate arbiter of right and wrong. And yet, this is not The Framers’ view. The purpose of the Supreme Court is to decide issues between the states and to apply the Constitution to the laws passed by the Legislative Branch. This constitutional test would invalidate laws that violated the authority granted to government by the Constitution. The Supreme Court is accountable to Congress, as Congress can limit the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the lower courts Congress created.

Second, there’s the federal bureaucracy. The so-called '4th branch' of the federal government is a creation of Congress. These agencies have been given the ability to implement regulations, some with criminal penalties for violating them. These regulations have not gone through the legislative process to be approved by our elected officials. So, the federal bureaucracy is largely unaccountable to individual citizens as anyone who has dealt with a federal department knows. These federal agencies have given birth to parallel state bureaucracies that in similar ways are unaccountable to the people as well. Most of these agencies act in areas where there is no constitutional authority for government involvement whatsoever. Ironically, these agencies are established by Congress (where states and individuals have little influence) and justified by the Courts (where Congress exerts minimal oversight and are unaccountable to the citizens.)

Third, is the Chief Executive. The Framers spent the most time at the 1787 Convention deciding the structure and responsibilities of the President. The tyrannical rule of King George III was fresh in their minds. One proposal was to have an Executive Council. That was deemed unwise, as singular action was needed in times of national emergencies and negotiating foreign policy. Over time, Executive authority has expanded considerably – mainly through the use of Executive Orders. These orders are intended to be administrative policies to allow Executive Branch offices to carry out passed legislation. The Framers would reject the scope of the EOs Joe Biden has signed.

So, what is the most powerful elected position in our Constitutional republic?

The Framers said and the Constitution establishes state legislators as holding the most authority in our system of government. James Madison said, “The state legislatures” would be the “sure guardians of the people’s liberty.” State legislators can propose and ratify amendments to the US Constitution. There’s no other government official, elected or otherwise, who has that authority. It is the duty of state legislatures to exercise their oversight of the federal government. Conveniently, state legislators are the most readily accessible government officials to ‘we the people’. As a result, individual citizens have greater ability to influence and interact with our state legislators than any other entity acknowledged by our Constitution.

“...the State Legislatures will jealously and closely watch the operations of this Government, and be able to resist with more effect every assumption of power, than any other power on earth can do; and the greatest opponents to a Federal Government admit the State Legislatures to be sure guardians of the people's liberty.” – James Madison

We are blessed in Missouri that our legislators are as accessible as they are. I’ve worked with volunteers in other states where it’s next to impossible to meet with their state representative or senator. It’s critically important to have access to and open dialogue with the officials your House and Senate District have selected to work for you. This is a key part of being a self-governing citizen. Seeing how our state government works (or doesn’t work) helps you make better decisions at the ballot box. This also helps you determine what actions to take at a local government level in candidate recruitment, candidate support, running for office yourself and volunteering in organizations like Convention of States Action.

We are in the middle of election season. This is an ideal time to engage with current officials running for re-election and with new candidates. In hopes to earn votes, candidates are looking to meet new people when they’re campaigning. Developing these relationships before they enter office is critical. Once they’re sworn in, they’ll be inundated with legislation and other issues specific to their office.

I invite you to be an active volunteer on the Convention of States Missouri Team. Whether it is educating and building support in your House District, speaking to groups, meeting with your fellow citizens for coffee or visiting the State Capitol there are opportunities for you to make a difference.

The cavalry isn’t coming. We ARE the cavalry.

Stand up! Show up!! Speak up!!!

In liberty,



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