I’m dismayed by the dissension and acrimony the idea of an Article V Convention of the States is causing within the Freedom, Liberty and TEA Party factions. The philosophical and analytical debates I have no problem with. What bothers me is the ad hominem and personal attacks. I find those to be totally unnecessary and extremely distracting.
I also believe the mis-characterization and ‘strawman’ approach to much of the debate is equally disheartening. The opponents of the Article V Convention seem to take most of their cues from the John Birch Society’s position and one of their lead columnists, Joe Wolverton. I have much respect for Mr. Wolverton and many of the positions he has exposited on over the last decade. However, for some reason, in this debate he and others seem to have lost much of their analytical ability and replaced it with scathing character assassination and condemnation by supposed association.
First off, to re-iterate for perhaps the 1000th time, an Article V Convention IS NOT a constitutional convention or “Con-con.” The last “Con-con” held produced the organic constitution we use today and the first Article V convention two years later produced the “Bill of Rights.” That gross misrepresentation (that a CoS is a “Con-con”) is where the opponents always seem to start.
Next, Mr. Wolverton has written extensively on how the proponent’s camp is infiltrated everywhere with George Soros operatives and his money along with a sordid list of leftists and leftist groups. In no meeting, contact, representative, group or presentation that I have attended, met with or heard from, in any of the five states I have regularly visited, is there seen one shred of evidence of Soros or his money or any of those leftist groups or their funding. Those groups were also nowhere in evidence at the last large planning session held at Mt Vernon last December by representatives from 32 states.
To the contrary, all of the state representatives of the Article V Convention, legislators and proponents I’ve met have been of the same class of freedom- and liberty-minded or TEA Party types encountered in meetings everyday. In the main they are true conservatives (in my book they’re called the “Remnant) and the type of Americans we need in all of our battles. The idea that some mysterious Soros or Progressive operatives are going to swoop-in and take over out-of-the-blue is just short of silly, when examined.
That is not to say that there are no insurgents involved anywhere in the other 45 states I haven’t visited. I would be more surprised if there weren’t any at all. Every movement has its insurgents and agent provocateurs. Does anyone out there think there were no British agents or Tories infiltrated all through the Revolution, the development of the Articles of Confederation or the new Constitution to follow? Or during the Civil War or since?
However, I think it’s fair to say that the Article V movement is, by far, obviously not a Progressive or Liberal movement by any stretch made. Or, one that could be hijacked anymore than the JBS is likely to be hijacked by liberals. Progressives and Liberals just aren’t that comfortable talking about the central principles ideas of the Constitution and their implications. They’d rather try to ignore it.
Which is another reason I don’t put a lot of stock into the idea that an Article V convention could be “hijacked” by the Progressives. They demonstrably don’t like to touch or be in any way associated with anything “Constitutional.” However, even if they do, given their lack of dealing at the straight constitutional level, I seriously doubt they would be effective or be able to overcome the super-majority of the truly Constitutional delegates (look at the make up of states legislatures across all 50 states and territories) that would come from the states. Which brings us to the next point.
The opponents of Article V CoS keep making the claim that we can’t mess with any amendments to the Constitution because “there’s nothing wrong with it.” Well, please forgive me, but there is. Even the opponents have acknowledged those problems for years and years but seem to wish to ignore them now. Shall we start with the 14th Amendment which opened the door to begin the nationalization process by declaring “equal protection thereby nationalizing the states? Or the fact that the new 13th Amendment at the end of the Civil War somehow displaced the original 13th Amendment which put the kibosh on Titles of Nobility and that somehow was conveniently “disappeared?” Or the next 13th amendment that was introduced on behalf of Lincoln at the outset of the Civil War saying the slavery WOULD NOT be abolished in the United States?
Or maybe we should talk about the enormous problems generated by the 15th, 16th, 17 th and 18th, only one of which was formally repealed. Two of them, the 16th and 17th were either never ratified or fraudulently so. So the idea there’s no problems in the Constitution that need fixing doesn’t stand much scrutiny.
On top of that there’s the abuses of the Congress and the Supreme and inferior courts. Congress has passed many abuses or outright usurpations of whole sections and clauses. They have passed laws that find no authorization source whatsoever in the document. Worse, when contested, the Supreme Court has upheld those abuses and usurpations against the American people. The Courts have developed methods and “construction” that contrive to find those abuses and usurpations constitutional. These “pretended Acts of legislation” and the bad decisions that follow then further extend the abuse.
Opponents of an Article V convention say, “Precisely. That’s exactly why we can’t have a Convention of the States (CoS)! If they won’t follow the existing Constitution, they won’t follow any further Amendments.” Forgive me, if that’s the reason we can’t have a CoS, then we’re already finished as a Republic. Congress will never pass the amendments needed even if we got a 50+% turnover of incumbents. We have a bypass process in Article V that was placed there for a reason, to be used when all the others methods failed. So, let’s use it and every other tool in the arsenal.
The purpose of amending any contract is to close “loopholes” that have sprung over time to be exploited by one party or the other. Or, to cover unforeseen circumstances or new events in the previous amendments and/or organic contract. The last century the conservatives, NeoCons, Progressives and liberals have each shown us where the “loopholes” and problems are in the Constitution. In some cases they’ve blown big holes right through it. Time to fix that.
Whether in exploiting the Preamble phrase “promote the General Welfare,” the limits of ” to regulate commerce with….and among the several states” in Article I, or in the Supreme Court’s hypocritical introduction of the “one man, one vote” concept into the states in Reynolds v Sims, or various Presidents’ exploitation of the Antiquities Act and Executive Orders, there are many compounded lines of Congressional, Judicial and Executive error/usurpation that can be corrected and adopted, at once, in a Convention of States. No language is bullet-proof, that’s clear. However, it’s also clear that some simple, direct and near-bullet proof language can fix a lot of bad situations through amendments.
There are no panaceas. Not in Nullification, Article V, Elections, Legislation, Executive and Judicial fiat, Revolution or Civil War; none. Every process has its flaws because humans have their flaws. That’s why people use all possible solution processes and structures to effect a solution until all options are exhausted and War and destruction is the last option on the table and highly likely to fail as well as we’ve seen more times than not.
I have just under 25 years of experience in the citizen-initiated Amendment process at the state constitutional level in Colorado. No would could conclude that the Amendment process is perfect but neither are humans. The legislature in Colorado has attempted to befoul the state Constitution many times with bad referenda that the people have turned down. The Citizens have attempted several initiated Amendments, some good some bad. In the main, the Citizens have been more successful with Amendments that hold government in check and expand freedom.
The opponents spend (way too) much of their time on the “fear factor” in trying to effectively “shout down” an Article V convention. The assertion is made that Congress would “control the process and make the rules, thereby controlling the convention,” when that is in direct contradiction to the process that is already underway via the application and approval Resolutions passed in various states legislatures thus far. Next they say, the CoS will simply ignore those Resolutions and all the rules and simply do what they want. Sorry, but if that happens the entire convention is automatically shut down and the delegates ordered to go home (and punished for their misbehavior with civil penalties) by each of their states as already defined in the Resolutions.
The opponents also confuse the “Balanced Budget Amending” applications and the “Convention of the States” applications. Those are two entirely different efforts. There is so much misinformation and misconstrued history that the opponents campaign has come to reflect a propaganda campaign, reminiscent of those they pretend to hate, when accomplished by state actors.
It’s time to back-off all the hyperbole, polemics and vitriol. The fear-mongering and paranoia seems to be most pervasive and reflects, I believe, a risk aversion far out-of-proportion to the task and means at hand. America is coming to an important crossroads, as it has only a few times in its history thus far, and the appropriate solution is necessary for the real risk of the times. A CoS application, call, conduct and conclusion would measure whether or not America does live up to the legacy handed to it by the Founders. Otherwise, it continues down the current path and simply slinks off, to continue degrading into the sunset, until the Republic completely implodes into a black hole similar to a dying star.
With 37 states as effectively “Red” states, in their legislatures and executive branches, strategically we have the best possible conditions in the last 50 years to call the CoS and get the best possible outcome of amendments. Each state gets 1 vote on each amendment for passage in the Convention. Then the package of amendments actually passed in Convention go back to the state legislatures for ratification. Only 13 “no” votes by those legislatures will then kill any amendment. Each amendment must be voted on separately.
It is highly unlikely that ANY CoS would be held prior to 2017 given the logistics and planning involved. There’s a lot of bad water to flow under the bridge before then in the further decay of the fiscal situation of the federal governments and the economic condition of the U.S. Those events and the next two election cycles, I believe, will accelerate both the favorable conditions and the necessity of the call for a CoS.
That analysis recommends that the two sides get together and agree on the best strategy for both Nullification and Interposition to succeed within the states. Then, use the best conservative minds (and even a few liberals–if they step up–after all they can’t be excluded even if they don’t have a controlling minority of the states) we have to also plan the CoS and the possible amendments and rules of conduct to succeed strategically across the states.
Prove that in the 21st century we have a new Remnant that is every bit up to the task as our Forebears in the 18th and 19th centuries (they had to deal with factions , too). Otherwise, I’d suggest the only other alternative is to prepare for the next Revolution or, at worst, the next Civil War. That is a much less desirable outcome, I would think, that all players do want to avoid.