28th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America:

War Powers Authorization by Public Vote

Suggested by Michael P. Garofalo

March 17, 2008, St. Patrick's Day, Second Draft  
May 28, 2007, Memorial Day, First Daft


XXVIII (28th) Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America

War Powers Authorization by Public Vote

The President of the United States and the U.S. Congress shall retain the power to take immediate military actions in response to serious and imminent threats to the security of the people and/or property of the United States of America.

When we have a political or military situation that is not an immediate and/or direct threat to the safety and security of the people of the United States of America (e.g., Vietnam, Gulf War, Bosnia, Iraq, etc.), and involves and requires a serious decision about a major commitment of United States military resources, then:

1. The proposal to take military action must be put to a popular vote. At least 66% of the voters must approve the proposed military action (War).

2. If the proposed military action is approved by 66% of the registered voters, then all adults over 18 years of age living in the United States will pay an annual War Tax.  Every adult in the United States will pay the annual war tax for a minimum of four years.  The War Tax will be determined by Congress based upon the cost of the proposed and actual War, and updated annually in March. 

3. If the proposed military action is approved by 66% of the voters, then we will dramatically improve the short term and long term pay and benefits for those in military service during the approved military action (War) and for all veterans of the Armed Forces of the United States of America who served during the approved military action. We will support our Armed Forces with more than adequate manpower, equipment, and supplies to successfully complete their mission in the shortest time possible. 

4. The approved military action (War) will be only for a four year period. At the end of the four year period, the military action (War) can proceed only after a second 66% approval by popular vote by for another four year period.

5.  This amendment will include detailed provisions and procedures for how and when to decide for a public vote.

6.  This amendment will include detailed provisions and procedures for dealing with participation by the United States government in limited and shared humanitarian and peace-keeping missions of the United Nations.  


Arguments in Favor of a 28th Amendment:

1. Many Americans delight in blaming elected officials and bureaucrats, or the political party they have a knee jerk dislike for, for questionable military actions like in Iraq (Republicans) or in Vietnam (Democrats and Republicans). Now they will have to point the finger of blame towards themselves for voting to approve military actions that will cost billions of dollars and will result in the destruction of property, injuries, and deaths for thousands of people.

2. Many Americans are just “sunshine patriots” who object to increased taxes to pay for military wars (or any reasonable increased taxes), and object to serving, and have never served nor their children served, in the United States Armed Forces. Their “contribution and commitment” to our military efforts are to tie a yellow ribbon on a tree, put a bumper sticker on their car, cheer for the political party in power that they like, chide others about “not supporting our President,” and watch a TV clip on a Memorial Day service. With the 28th Amendment, adults would, at least, vote themselves for the military action (War), and, if approved, all would pay something for the military action with a War Tax for four years.

3. The 28th Amendment in no way takes away the authority of the President and/or Congress to take immediate action to respond to serious and imminent threats or attacks against the United States of America.
    Our recent invasion of Afghanistan, in my opinion, is an example of a prompt and legitimate Presidential and Congressional response to a clear and present danger to our security from the Taliban leaders hiding and supporting terrorist gangs who had attacked the United States on 9/11. However, our recent pre-emptive invasion of Iraq is clearly a case where many years of political action and debate preceded the invasion of Iraq, nearly all countries advised us against taking the military action, we had no United Nations support, Iraq had not declared war against the United States, Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction it was threatening to use, and Iraqis had not attacked the United States; therefore, it would clearly have been a situation that would come under the 28th Amendment requirement for a popular vote on whether or not to invade Iraq.

4. Requiring a 66% approval by popular vote is reasonable and appropriate considering the seriousness of the decision. In many States, we require a 66% approval rate just to increase taxes on property. Spending billions of dollars on a military action and destroying the lives and property of thousands of people is a far more serious matter than increasing property taxes to pay for local infrastructure improvements to public water and sewer systems.

5. Placing a time limit (four years) on the approved military action (War) is reasonable. If the facts show that the original reasons for entering a war were incorrect or fabricated, then the voters can choose to not approve continued military actions. The public might also want to consider recalling or impeaching inept or duplicitous federal elected officials; and the dismissal of incompetent appointed officials, federal bureaucrats and military personnel working in military “intelligence.”
    Even with the 28th Amendment, 66% of the voters might have approved a military invasion of Iraq in 2002 because of the 9/11 revenge frenzy and panic over false WMD reports from the President; but in 2006, less than 40% of Americans approved of the war in Iraq and would not have voted to approve continuation. Also, knowing of the aversion of our typical “sunshine patriots” to paying any additional War Taxes for four years, and their unwillingness to take any personal responsibility for supporting our wars themselves, we might not have gathered the 66% of the popular vote in 2002 to invade Iraq in the first place.

6. Everyone should pay for a military action (War) that 66% of the voters approve. It should not be just the middle classes, the wealthy, and businesses that must pay for a war. A poor person, or a retired person, or an unemployed person’s vote counts just as much as a wealthy person’s vote. Everybody, including illegal aliens in the U.S., should pay for the approved military action for four years. We should not make somebody else, or our grandchildren, pay for a war we approved.

7. In this country, local police officers get better pay and benefits and ongoing support than the men and women in the Federal Armed Forces, and our federal military veterans. Which job is more dangerous: issuing a ticket for not wearing a seat belt in Fresno, or going searching for insurgents in Baghdad? The 28th Amendment makes improving the pay and benefits for the men and women in the Armed Forces, and for their families, and for Armed Forces veterans a top priority. Should the soldiers not make the same pay and benefits as the Haliburton Corporation security employees working in Iraq who are paid from contracts from the U.S. federal government?  Those who truly shoulder the burden of war should have fair compensation and support; and the lazy “sunshine patriots” will just have a few less toys to play with on the Fourth of July.

8. Joining in coalitions with other countries to combat terrorism or other threats to international security, or joining with military efforts to support United Nations resolutions, makes good sense. We should listen to the good advice of other countries from around the world. However, if we choose to go to war in a situation where an imminent threat to our own security is not arguable (e.g., Bosnia, Gulf War, Iraq), then the decision to take serious and involved military action should be made by popular vote as per the 28th Amendment.

9. The amount of the War Tax for four years should be set by auditors and the Congress at the time of the vote. The amount should pay for a war and its consequences at home and abroad. The amount should provide fair compensation for members of the Armed Forces.  I hear various reports on the cost of the war in Iraq, up to $503,100,300,000.00, accumulating each day by $275 million dollars, at $4,100 per household total.  How much extra have you paid in taxes to finance this war?  The current President is giving us $600.00 tax rebates in 2008 so that we will spend more to boost the profits of corporations like WalMart, Sears, Chevron, United Airlines, etc.   The people who vote for these wars should pay for the war!   It might be reasonable to distribute costs over a 10 year period.  The New York Times had a interesting way of showing how we could better use the $1.2 trillion we have spent bringing democracy to appreciative Iraqi's. 

10.  The procedure of deciding how and when to call for a public vote giving our government war powers will need to be worked out in detail.  Here is one suggestion from me:  The Congress will vote (50% majority of both Houses) on whether the military and political circumstances warrant calling for a public vote, and no authority can be granted by the Congress to allow the President nor can the President unilaterally conduct a serious military action (war) in a non-emergency situation under 28th Amendment rules.   After the Congress has approved a public vote on War Powers Authorization, then it shall be put to a public vote within 50 days in all States.  The federal government will pay for all costs for conducting this public vote on War Powers Authorization.  All persons working in polling booths will be paid $100 by the federal government. 

11.  It makes sense to give the President and Congress some latitude when considering and agreeing to participate in humanitarian and peace-keeping missions of the United Nations.  I don't think it necessary to require a public vote on war powers to participate, along with many other countries, with shared expenses, in efforts, for example, to stop Christians from killing Moslems in Bosnia, stopping genocide in Rawanda, distributing food to the starving people in Somalia or Chad, helping with relief after the Indian Ocean Tsunami, helping with relief after the disastrous earthquakes in Pakistan or India, or helping to stop the horrors in Darfur.  As long as others are helping and shouldering the responsibilities, then we need to proceed in a timely manner.  If other countries don't want to help with these problems, as with Darfur, then shame on us all as we stand aside and watch with tears in our eyes.  As I recall, the United Nations did not support our invasion of Iraq, nor do 66% percent of Americans support our spending hundreds of millions of dollars a day to kill insurgents and do police work in Iraq.    

12. Would we not prefer open public discussion, open debates, and a open popular vote decision on such a serious matter as going to war? Most of us are quite content to let our elected federal representatives make decisions on most matters of government, and to respond efficiently and effectively to emergency situations. However, a decision for the United States to go to war, when no imminent threat to our security is evident, is too grave a matter to leave solely to our elected federal officials and their supporting bureaucracy. The American voters should stand up and be counted as to their willingness to wage war, and to support their own decisions with personal sacrifices and War Taxes appropriate to wartime. In this way, our hardworking elected officials will know the true will and resolve of the American public, and this will help reduce the divisive federal partisan political disagreements that produce internal rancor and give hope to our enemies.

Thank you for your consideration,

Michael P. Garofalo

Red Bluff, California

Second Draft, St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 2008

First Draft, Memorial Day, May 30, 2007


If you would like to help get this 28th Amendment in place: 1) Compose a better version of the proposed Amendment, 2) write to your federal and state legislators asking them to support this amendment, 3) email and share these ideas with your friends, 4)  write to newspapers and organizations in support of the amendment, 5) get television newscasters to give a sound bite on the matter, 6)  bring the idea up gracefully with coworkers over lunch or on breaks, 7) discuss on your blog or webpage, 8) believe that citizens can change the course of history for the United States of America, 9)  believe that The People can again take control of the policies of the American government, and 10) believe that working for peace in the world is really worthwhile.    



Suggested Reading

Congressional War Powers: Too Many Options to Forget 

War Powers Act - Or How to Avoid Declaring War on Another Nation

War Powers Resolution: Yale Law School

War Powers Resolution: Wikipedia 

War Powers Amendment: The Governance Imperative

Other Suggestions for Amendments to the Constitution 




















































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