State Elections Give Americans Rare Opportunity

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Forget the national races and the will-they-won’t-they debate of whether Republicans will take back the Senate this November. Instead, consider that the political trend at the state level could reach historic proportions, paving the way for a movement that would change how DC does business.

Republicans currently control 27 state legislatures, and recent polling indicates they could capture as many as eight more following the November elections. In other words, Republicans have a good shot at claiming 32, 33, 34, or even 35 state legislatures. Given that Republicans at the state level are typically interested in limited government, this development presents an opportunity for states to follow their constitutional obligation to pass nonpartisan, popular constitutional reforms via an Article V convention of states.

A Runaway Federal Government

Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Harry Reid, Nancy PelosiA recent study indicated that average Americans have “virtually no impact whatsoever on the making of national policy in our country.” If Americans have an opinion on a matter, the federal government is more likely to listen to lobbyists and big business cronies. The vast majority of Americans want a balanced budget amendment, Congressional term limits, an end to judicial lifetime appointments, an end to corporate welfare, and the abolishment of the IRS. Most members of the federal government, elected or otherwise, either could not care less or are actively opposing such efforts.

What will GOP control of the Senate mean? Almost nothing. Yes, Republicans will be able to block the President’s appointments, (if Mitch McConnell has the resolve), and yes, Republicans can push legislation through both houses of Congress which puts political pressure on the President. However, President Obama will inevitably veto any measures that seek to repeal or reform Obamacare, secure the border, or lessen federal taxation and spending. The next two years are destined to be a period of do-nothing partisan politics as a lame-duck President continues to work on his golf game and play the weary demagogue.

Even if Republicans can hold onto both Houses of Congress in 2016, and even if a Republican President is elected, there is little evidence to suggest that party leadership is prepared to institute significant reforms that would resolve the nation’s systemic problems, including the looming bankruptcy of entitlement programs Medicare and Social Security.

Republican leadership has showed an apathy and cowardice that suggests they are unlikely to pursue significant cuts to government, a balanced budget, or term limits. Even if a Republican President or Congress institutes some of the necessary reforms, they can essentially be repealed by their successors. What’s more is that all branches of the federal government, under both parties, have grown the federal Leviathan to the point that we are nearly indistinguishable from tyrannical forms of government. For all intents and purposes, we are living in a post-constitutional America. There is virtually no reason we should pin our hopes on the federal leadership of either party.

The Constitutional Solution

10563115_506994362764696_7887635264438528685_nArticle V of the Constitution. James Madison called it “the final resort” should the government overstep its bounds. Many Founding Fathers were advocates for the state-led process, including Alexander Hamilton and George Mason.

Article V says that states can call a convention for proposing constitutional amendments if two-thirds (34) pass similar resolutions. Delegates representing the various states then meet up and craft their proposals. When three-fourths (38) of the state legislatures pass an amendment, it becomes part of the Constitution. Congress, the Supreme Court, and the President—i.e. those elitists who have been ignoring us for decades—have virtually no say in the process.

This year, three states (Alaska, Florida, and Georgia) have passed resolutions calling for an Article V convention that would limit the federal government’s jurisdiction and thereby restoring liberties and prosperity to all Americans. Possible amendments on the lips of many state legislators include a balanced budget amendment, congressional term limits, and other limits on the bureaucracy that would forever change how DC does business.

While the media obsesses over what party or political faction has the upper hand, perhaps we should push forward the movement where we have the upper hand over the elitist Washington insiders.

We should encourage our state legislators to pursue an Article V convention, and state legislators should utilize this rare opportunity to institute lasting reforms for a more prosperous, more free America. It’s their constitutional responsibility.

 

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13 thoughts on “State Elections Give Americans Rare Opportunity

  1. Proposal for Constitutional Amendment: THE PRESIDENT AND ALL SENATORS MUST FACE A ‘NO CONFIDENCE’ VOTE EVERY TWO YEARS. If the President received a NO-CONFIDENCE vote, he would be replaced by the Speaker of the House, the most democratic representative of the people. If a Senator received a NO-CONFIDENCE vote, he would be removed from office within two weeks and replaced in a manner prescribed by his state.

    This government is completely out of control and unresponsive to the wishes of the people. Drastic changes are called for and such an amendment would make the voice of the electorate more powerful.

    I know such an amendment is never likely to happen, but changes like this should start being discussed.

  2. Kathy Dixon wrote this,,I like it>>>>>Please leave the Constitution alone. There is no one honorable or brilliant enough to make it any better than it already is.
    We should not adapt the Constitution to “modern society”. We should start adapting “modern society” to the Constitution as written
    YOU GOT ANYTHING BETTER??

    1. Thank you for commenting, John. The truth is that the Framers crafted the second clause of Article V so that states would have recourse against a runaway federal government, and they talked about the necessity of constitutional amendments. This is a necessary check the states have against the federal government. Why should we forfeit it?

      James Madison said “The Constitution authorizes 2/3 of the states to institute and 3/4 to effectuate an amendment of the Constitution, establishing a permanent rule of the highest authority.” George Mason said that this mechanism was absolutely vital “if the Government should become oppressive.” In Federalist 47, Madison again concurs, writing: “Should the provisions of the Constitution as here reviewed, be found not to secure the government and rights of the states, against usurpations and abuses on the part of the United States, the final resort within the purview of the Constitution, lies in an amendment of the Constitution, according to a process applicable by the states.” In Federalist 85 Alexander Hamilton writes extensively about Article V, stating: “We may safely rely on the disposition of the State legislatures to erect barriers against the encroachments of the national authority.”

      The vast majority of state legislators who are organizing this effort do not wish to adapt the Constitution to modern society, rather they wish to craft amendments that would put additional safeguards, such as the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments) or the 22nd amendment (Presidential term limits). Of course they may not be as wise or inspired as the Framers, but those representing the Assembly of State Legislatures have been extremely cautious as they continue to pursue this constitutional provision; the vast majority have overwhelming respect for the Constitution and are taking their responsibility seriously.

      394 of the 397 House and Senate races this election cycle have been won by the incumbent. This, of course, is not how the Framers intended it, for they discussed a regular rotation of citizen legislators. That is why one of the primary amendments being discussed is an amendment to establish Congressional term limits, which great statesmen like Thomas Jefferson and Dwight Eisenhower have supported. The other main one is a balanced budget amendment. Both of these amendments would limit the federal government, restoring it to constitutionalist principles. I completely agree we should adapt modern society to the Constitution, which is why we must pursue a Convention of States, as the Framers instructed us. They gave this to us, and it’s our constitutional obligation to use it!

      1. Why should we forfeit it? Because liberals, progressives, ignorance, corruption, special interests groups, political correctness, quid pro quo, biased media, and compromise will be involved every step of the way. No thanks.

        1. Thank you for commenting, Lynette. The strength of those of us who love liberty is in two places: the Constitution, and the States. Article V combines these advantages. 27 state legislatures have a Republican majority, and we have a chance of controlling as many as 35 after November, as I point out in this article. When it comes to Article V, WE have the advantage, not them. WE have the majority, not them. Why should we surrender just because there will be opposition? Should we do nothing and allow the Republic to collapse?

          1. A Republican majority does not mean it is a conservative majority.

            So many supporting COS seem to have forgotten that that tea parties sprang up to rein in the Republicans. We cannot trust the Republicans to be conservative much less do the right thing. State governments have scoundrels in office too.

            Until the state governments have demonstrated their support of Article VI, Clauses 2 and 3. Until then, they cannot be trusted to tinker on a Constitution they do not support, nor fear the wrath of God for having perjured themselves when they took the oath.

            Until we, as citizens, take responsibility, learn the principles of Liberty, federalism, republicanism, and place some value on preserving the Judeo-Christian principles upon which our nation was founded, you can amend it every month, and it won’t change a thing except that convening an article 5 convention give the liberals and progressives a chance to rapidly and radically advance their agenda as they will be involved every step of the way. No thanks.

          2. Mr. Humbertson in your replies directly above you say now is the time for an article 5 convention because we have a Republican majority. Yet in another reply you said, “Republican party does not represent constitutional principles, rather they are interested in being a moderate Democrat party, or neo-Statism, continuing to allow for the growing degradation of the constitution and thus the American Republic.” By your own admission it does not sound like the republican party is to be trusted to amend our Constitution.

  3. Garrett I think you have spent some time looking at the article V advantages. But even Madison was not so sure about it’s out come. You like so many can’t see the forest for the trees,,,A government that won’t follow the Constitution will follow it if it is amended. There my friend is your problem,, it is enforcement that you are missing. There is NOTHING wrong with our Constitution we really should try using it. ENFORCEMENT Garrett enforcement!! The Founders gave us many ways to stop this Government. The easiest and safest is to VOTE THEIR ASS OUT OF OFFICE. If the time money and effort had been spent on electing people that knew our constitution and would USE IT rather than this Con-Con or what ever they are calling it this week, then we would not have this problem today.

    1. Madison’s initial concerns with the convention process were purely logistical in nature, and he ended up voting for, endorsing, and writing essays in support of the process. That is partially why the Assembly of State Legislatures was formed this past year to establish rules ahead of a future Article V Convention of States (which is completely different from a Constitutional Convention, or “Con-Con” as some have called it. The Constitution provides no authority for a constitutional convention of the kind you imagine, rather it authorizes states to hold a convention to propose, not ratify, constitutional amendments to the rest of the states. Remember, under this process, state legislatures would still have to ratify, by a three-fourths majority, any amendments that are proposed by the convention, for them to officially become law. Also keep in mind that the Framers never referred to this process as a constitutional convention).

      To your other points, yes, we ought to support conservative candidates for national office who will “enforce” the Constitution, but any reforms they make can essentially be repealed via the next election cycle. Elections will not solve the systemic problems we currently face, namely a federal government that is obviously out of control at every level. Constitutional amendments allow for permanent reforms that can restore power to the states and to the people.

      Constitutional amendments, and a Constitution generally, works because they are and it is known to the people. We can even ensure enforcement by clarifying certain clauses of the Constitution which have been distorted over the past century or so (i.e. General Welfare Clause, Commerce Clause) to restore their meaning to the Framers original intent. It’s a conversation we ought to have, and if an Article V convention were to be had, then it would undoubtedly increase awareness and the general populace’s knowledge of our history and Constitution–a Constitutional revival, if you will. That in turn could and likely would lead to an energizing of the conservative movement in local and national elections.

      We can keep telling ourselves that we just need to vote out the career politicians, the Statists, and the insiders, but remember that in the 397 elections taken place so far this cycle, 394 of incumbents have won their primaries. The Democrat Party has reverted to Statism, and the leadership in the Republican party does not represent constitutional principles, rather they are interested in being a moderate Democrat party, or neo-Statism, continuing to allow for the growing degradation of the constitution and thus the American Republic. Under the previous administration with a Republican majority in both Houses of Congress, federal spending grew at its fastest rate. There is little evidence to suggest that leadership in either party, at the federal level, is interested in reforms that will stem the tide of tyranny.

      Corruption has infiltrated the electoral process, and thus we must adjust the constitutional system to rectify and uproot the problems. Action of a significant and serious nature MUST be taken, for these are serious times. Madison called Article V “the final resort” for the states. We have reached that point. Now is the time. Otherwise, we will inevitably continue to witness the decline of the American Republic and may soon pass the point of no return.

    2. A Republican majority does not mean it is a conservative majority.

      So many supporting COS seem to have forgotten that that tea parties sprang up to rein in the Republicans. We cannot trust the Republicans to be conservative much less do the right thing. State governments have scoundrels in office too.

      Until the state governments have demonstrated their support of Article VI, Clauses 2 and 3. Until then, they cannot be trusted to tinker on a Constitution they do not support, nor fear the wrath of God for having perjured themselves when they took the oath.

      Until we, as citizens, take responsibility, learn the principles of Liberty, federalism, republicanism, and place some value on preserving the Judeo-Christian principles upon which our nation was founded, you can amend it every month, and it won’t change a thing except that convening an article 5 convention give the liberals and progressives a chance to rapidly and radically advance their agenda as they will be involved every step of the way. No thanks.

        1. Thanks for commenting again, Lynette. You purposefully omitted my usage of the phrase “leadership in the Republican Party,” by which of course I have made clear, both in my replies and in the content of the original article, that I am referring to leadership at the federal level. We do have a few good constitutionalists at the federal level, thanks to the Tea Party movement, but they are outnumbered and not in the most prominent of leadership roles and are not likely to be anytime soon. Case in point: When the voters of Virginia unseated the pro-amnesty big government cronyist Eric Cantor as Majority Leader, the GOP replaced him with not a conservative but Kevin McCarthy, who is much more liberal than Cantor. So I share your disillusionment with the GOP at the federal level. Let’s not forget that in 2010, the year of the Tea Party’s wave, there was still an 85% reelection rate in Congress. My point was that the solution does not lie at the federal level, for the election process has been so corrupted. I do not believe that the whole of the Republican Party is doomed, just the opposite. I believe that most of us who identify with Republicans are good people who believe in liberty, which is how the Tea Party got it start. However, the capitulations of the party leaders have frustrated both private American citizens and state legislators alike.

          Therefore, our only recourse lies in the states. This is not a remedy that I or any other contemporary figure has created; it was ingeniously designed and graciously given by the Framers of our miraculous Constitution. Among the other Framers who wrote extensively of this process, George Washington, who presided over the Constitutional Convention, said in his Farewell Address: “This Government, the offspring of our own choice, uninfluenced and unawed, adopted upon full investigation and mature deliberation, completely free in its principles, in the distribution of its powers, uniting security with energy, and containing within itself a provision for its own amendment, has a just claim to your confidence and your support.” He went on to say: “If in the opinion of the people the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this in one instance may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.”

          Notice that the remedy Washington gives for “usurpation” (tyranny/lawlessness) is a constitutional amendment; to correct any wrong “distribution or modification of the constitutional powers.” Clearly, we have suffered countless changes by usurpation over the past several decades. The Framers anticipated this, and they designed a process by which the people acting through the states would have recourse, as George Mason especially insisted. Constitutional restoration can be achieved, but we must act, not simply talk about these principles. Do we believe in the Constitution or don’t we? Action matters.

          The most popular common sense reforms must address the elitist ruling class that occupies Washington, as well as restoring fiscal sanity. If we truly want term limits and a balanced budget amendment (and other restrictions on the federal government), then our hope does not lie in the normal electoral process which has been corrupted by power-hungry incumbents with endless resources who are loathe to limit the power of their own offices. Yes, of course we continue to support and campaign for constitutionalist candidates, but attempts for lasting structural restoration at the federal level will not be achieved within the current system.

          You reference Article VI which states “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution.” Of course, the Constitution they are held to support includes Article V. The states have a constitutional obligation to utilize it. The states are a necessary and constitutionally-designed check on the federal government.

          You fear that so-called “progressives” (more accurately termed Statists) will hijack this process, but they have already hijacked the federal government. We have been losing this fight for over a century. Every time Congress meets, we lose more of our liberty. Every time the EPA issues a new wave of regulations, we lose more of our liberty. The IRS, the NSA, the DOJ, and many more agencies are all guilty of blatantly violating the Constitution and targeting innocent Americans. You fear that Statists will radically advance their agenda? Their force and might is focused at the federal level, and they have eroded our liberties on nearly a daily basis. The federal government has become an instrument of Statism and vice versa.

          However, while the Statists have concentrated their power at the federal level, both politically and structurally, conservatives and lovers of liberty have been taking a stand in the heartland. That is why Republicans control the majority of state legislatures, and that is why we are likely to see more gains at the state level. I myself have spoken with members of the recently-formed Assembly of State Legislatures. These are not people who have been corrupted by the DC bubble. They take their responsibility in this matter seriously. Of course we can assume there are also some sellouts at the state level, but they are rare and, more importantly, more accountable to the people, unlike national politicians who have vast resources to counter the dissatisfaction of more engaged constituents.

          I had similar fears when I first heard about an Article V convention, as did other prominent conservatives. Thankfully, I learned that there are several safeguards in place that make a runaway convention impossible. First of all, the 34 resolutions required to call the convention must use similar language. 24 states have passed an Article V balanced budget amendment resolution. Other states have passed the Convention of States Project resolution, which calls for a convention that will limit the federal government, impose term limits, etc. These are the two movements that have gained the most steam: the first called to discuss a balanced budget amendment, the second to discuss a package of amendments that would limit the federal government. Therefore, under either of these conventions, the agenda of the radical Statists is off the table. Furthermore, it would be an impossibility for 34 states to agree to a convention of a radical nature under the current political climate at the state level.

          Secondly, state legislatures select delegates to the convention, and they reserve the right to recall any delegate who act outside of their authority. Even if some radical or some sellout sneaks through this process, he or she can be recalled and therefore will have no influence on the convention. Thirdly, at least 34 states represented in the convention have to agree before any one amendment is officially proposed to the rest of the states. As most of these states will likely be represented by Republican legislators or delegates of red states, it is unreasonable to think any radical amendment would be even considered by this assembly, much less survive the drafting process and subsequently proposed. Lastly and most importantly, 38 state legislatures still must pass any proposed amendment before it can become part of the Constitution. The convention itself has no authority to change the constitution, only to PROPOSE amendments. The state legislatures, most of which are in red states controlled by Republicans, must approve any amendment before it can become law. Stated another way, it means that just one house in each of 13 states can reject any proposal. Surely you can agree that there are 13 states who would stand up to a radical amendment. In fact, there are at least 30. At this time in history, we have a tremendous advantage at the state level, and we must take advantage of it.

          75 percent of Americans agree we need a balanced budget amendment and congressional term limits, and therefore we also have the support of the American people.

          It is time for a Constitutional revival, yes, and I pray that we will heed the words of the Framers, that we will accept the gift that they so graciously gave us in this, our most desperate hour. For the mistakes of previous generations, I pray that my generation and the generation of my children will not be punished.

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