From Obamatrade to SCOTUScare: Can a New President Fix DC?

In a period of just 24 hours, two staggering things happened. Yesterday the legislative branch gave the executive branch extra-constitutional powers on trade, effectively allowing the administration to steamroll any effort to stop at least three upcoming secret trade bills.

Today the judicial branch effectively bypassed the legislative branch to rewrite health care law and give the executive branch unconstitutional powers.

We the people gave Republicans the Senate on their promise that they would stand up to President Obama and stop his overreaching agenda. Not only have they repeatedly broken this promise, they have actually collaborated with him on legislation that most Americans simply don’t want–like Obamatrade.

As the Framers of the American Constitution knew all too well, separation of powers is critical in order to prevent tyranny. However, today we have a ruling class in Washington that is undeterred by this governing principle.

Instead the judicial, legislative, and executive branches largely work in tandem to impose burdens upon the American people. The judicial branch recklessly twists law to serve its own purposes. Bureaucrats are tasked with imposing endless regulations on the citizenry, seeking to perpetuate and grow the federal Leviathan. Likewise, Congress is made up of an elitist ruling class that is motivated by schemes which expand their spheres of power, prestige, and personal wealth.

I hear many of my fellow conservatives pointing to the events of the past two days as evidence we must elect a Republican President who will lead this feckless Republican Congress back toward the path of fiscal sanity and limited government.

I hope to God a Republican who believes in the Constitution will be elected in 2016 and will fight to restore power to the people and to the states. However, even in the unlikely event that such a person is elected, history has shown that man or woman will be incapable of addressing the nation’s systemic problems.

Even under eight years of a Reagan presidency, the national debt still grew and the federal government still expanded. Reagan did his best to put the brakes on the federal leviathan, eventually calling for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. When Congress refused, Reagan realized the answer did not lie in Washington.

Reagan turned to the several states, encouraging them to call a convention for a balanced budget amendment. Article V of the Constitution lays out a process by which the states can propose constitutional amendments. It almost worked, falling just one state short of the 34 necessary.

Today the problem has worsened. Unfunded liabilities total $200 trillion. Last year, we paid out a record number in taxes–our tax burden is the 3rd-highest in the industrialized world–yet the federal government still ran a $600 billion deficit.

People say we just need people who follow the Constitution in office. But the truth is that they do follow the Constitution–as interpreted by the Supreme Court. We need look no further than the court’s decisions on Obamacare. The federal government has mangled the General Welfare Clause as well as the Commerce Clause so that programs like Obamacare and departments like the EPA are deemed perfectly legal. I can hardly list the countless attacks on liberty and the constitutional structure, for they are numerous and everywhere.

We must confront the reality that we are living in a post-constitutional society. Our problems are now systemic, enshrined in precedent, which is why electing the right President is a half-measure.

In a letter James Madison wrote, “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.”

George Mason, the Father of the Bill of Rights, said the Article V convention process was necessary “if the federal government should become oppressive.” That time is upon us. Those of us who love liberty and revere the Constitution must stop looking to Washington for answers. There’s another way. There’s a solution, a blueprint if you will, and it’s in the Constitution itself.

Conservatives, libertarians, constitutionalists, and all those who love liberty have strength in two places: the Constitution and the states. An Article V convention combines these strengths while also establishing an enduring structural remedy, rather than a brief respite. Make no mistake: the effort to call an Article V convention will be daunting, but the benefits will be historic.

In addition to a balanced budget amendment (involving a permanent flattening of tax rates and a cap on federal spending) and congressional term limits, delegates to an Article V convention ought to consider a constitutional amendment that would give a super-majority of the states the ability to override costly federal regulations, laws passed by Congress, and Supreme Court rulings. Such an amendment would give the states a “veto,” a check on the federal government, discouraging oppressive laws, regulations, and rulings while giving the people recourse in the event that our voices are ignored at the federal level.

The delegation to an Article V convention also could propose amendments which clarify the meaning of the Commerce and General Welfare clauses, which have been hijacked by the Statists in order to centralize government and pursue Utopian schemes.

Separately or in conjunction, these proposed amendments would advance liberty and prosperity in America like nothing we’ve ever seen. The convention alone will spark a constitutional revival that will impact elections for the foreseeable future.

A balanced budget convention has achieved resolutions from 25 state legislatures, needing only nine more to make it official. Meanwhile, Convention of States Project has drafted legislation for a convention that would be open to a package of amendments limited to a topic of constraining the federal government. Despite launching just a year ago, their resolution has already been adopted by four states (Alabama, Florida, Alaska, and Georgia), while about 30 more are considering it.

The Founding Fathers anticipated the troubled times in which we live, and they gave us a process to effect real change in Washington. No more half-measures.

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