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A golden opportunity for progressives

By       Message Neal Herrick     Permalink
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All Americans would benefit from a truly representative constitutional convention.[tag]

From Washington Constitutional Convention 1787. We need to do it again!
Washington Constitutional Convention 1787. We need to do it again!
(image by Wikipedia)


One group is called Wolf PAC. It was organized by Cenk Uygur, formerly of Occupy. It identifies itself as "multi-partisan." Its Plan consists of 6 steps leading to a constitutional convention. It is now working on its first step called "Believe," which is aimed at educating people to the importance of a 2nd convention. Its second step will be to organize a group of volunteers in "every county and district." It has not yet developed a model form to use in applying for a convention. It believes this critical step should be taken by the states. [1]

Another group, called the Convention of States (COS) is a project of Citizens for Self-Government, was organized by Tea Party Patriots co-founder Mark Meckler, It is led by Indiana's Republican Senate President Pro Tem David Long. [2] Its first meeting (held at Mr. Vernon in December of 2013) was attended by almost 100 legislators from 33 states. A second meeting in Indianapolis on June 12 was similarly attended and another meeting is planned for December, 2014. U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee , Rush Limbaugh , Sean Hannity , and Glenn Beck have all endorsed a state-initiated constitutional convention. Upon the receipt of 34 identical applications, Congress must call a convention. Until now, the left and the right have not been able to agree on an agenda.Since the agendas on 34 applications must, for all practical purposes, be the same - no 2nd convention has been called.


The "mostly Republican" COS is going about its task in a rational manner. It is ignoring the federal government and working for and with the state legislatures. However, the 2/3 and 3/4 rules, fortunately, stand in the way of a constitutional convention controlled by either the right or the left. Either one of the political parties would need to dominate 34 state legislatures in order to call a convention. It would then need to dominate the selection of delegates to the convention in order to control the nature of the amendments proposed. Then it would need to dominate 38 state legislatures or ratifying conventions in order to turn convention proposals into constitutional provisions.

At present, Republicans "control" 28 state legislatures and we Democrats control 22. [3] The Citizens for Self-Governance and the Convention of States have not only "stolen a march" on us Democrats, but seem to know exactly what they are doing. Luckily, however, they cannot do it by themselves. Article V of our constitution, while deeply flawed in that it does not lay out a path to "the people's decision," [4] both protects us from a partisan convention and offers us a golden opportunity to call a convention "of, by and for" ordinary Americans from both parties..
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Before discussing our golden opportunity, here is the crucial standard application form of the COS . A standard application is critical since 34 identical applications are required in order to be sure that Congress calls the convention called for. Here is the substantive section (Section 1) of the COS model.

Section 1. The legislature of the State of ______ hereby applies to Congress, under the provisions of Article V of the Constitution of the United States, for the calling of a convention of the states limited to proposing amendments to the Constitution of the United States that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress.

Their model application is one sign that COS knows what it is doing. Since there is disagreement on how "similar" applications must bein order to count toward the required number (34) for a given convention, it is far better to "be safe than sorry." [5]


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The reader will note that the COS model calls for the following convention agenda items: (1) fiscal restraints, (2) limits on federal power and jurisdiction and (3) term limits. These subjects seem acceptable to this Democrat...

We could negotiate the following additional conditions to the COS model application: a delegate will be selected by lot from among the 100 registered voters in each congressional district who score highest on a written test covering US history, US government, the Constitution and the Federalist Papers; the use of any private money in connection this selection process will be considered a felony We could also negptiate the addition of the following subjects and subject limitations to the COS model:(1) the transfer of the power to try congressional and executive impeachments from the Senate to the judiciary should be open to discussion and (2) the agreement of the applying legislatures should agree that social issues (such as gun control and abortion) would not be discussed.

Our acceptance of this agenda, of course, would depend in large part, on the inclusion of the condition that no private money can be used in the election of delegates to the proposed convention or in any other federal election.


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Neal Herrick is author of the award-wining After Patrick Henry (2009). His most recent book is (2014) Reversing America’s Decline. He is a former sailor, soldier, auto worker, railroad worker, assistant college football coach, (more...)

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