In recent days the idea of using the Article V convention option in the Constitution received support in an article by Texas US Senator John Cornyn published on the Fox News website. He noted "Recent polling suggests that a plurality of Americans support a convention to propose a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution if Congress will not do so." He made a good case for using the convention option by saying it "would be part of a national conversation that could last well beyond one or two election cycles. The very length of the convention and ratification process would allow the American people ample opportunity to judge proposed reforms, and ensure that they would strengthen the checks and balances that have served our nation well."
A few days later, on the pages of the Wall Street Journal a strong case was made for a "repeal amendment" that would give state legislatures the power to veto federal laws, something worth proposing. Though the oped by a professor and the Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates did not say so, obviously Congress would never propose such an amendment. That means using an Article V convention whereby state delegates could propose new amendments just as Congress has done, which the Speaker has acknowledged elsewhere.
At the same time a policy report from the Goldwater Institute recommended that "states seriously consider" using the convention option "to restrain the federal government."
So the issue of using this convention option that Congress has refused to convene despite hundreds of state applications and that establishment powers on the political left and right have long opposed merits serious examination. Start with this: Americans overwhelmingly say they love and respect the Constitution and usually specific amendments, though often different ones on the political left and right. Three frameworks help understanding why most Americans oppose using the Article V convention option. Two explain why convention proponents have not been able to impact most opponents that fit these two frameworks. I offer a third framework or plan of attack which I believe will work.
First, consider the craziness framework. Many Americans have been taught to fear using the convention option, even though it has never been used. They are irrational. This is like being afraid to eat the fruit of the constitutional tree first planted by the Founders even though no one has ever tasted or been harmed by the fruit. Such people stubbornly think they are acting rationally; I think they are crazy and irrational. This delusional thinking based on what is imagined to might happen is not easily changed, because such people have been purposefully and successfully brainwashed. They have an emotional block. Rather than fear a runaway convention, people should fear our runaway politicians and government.
Second, consider the analytic framework. Many Americans use what they think are rational, substantive arguments. Convention proponents use facts based on the exact language in Article V or other historical facts to objectively contradict wrong-headed thinking. But correcting the record has not worked sufficiently, largely because opponents invent their own facts, ignore correct ones, and consume disinformation disseminated by convention opponents. They have an intellectual block. Cognitive dissonance works to prevent the pain of accepting new information incompatible with their negative views about a convention.
We should not invite, respect or participate in arguments by opponents that fit these two frameworks. We should, in particular, recognize and condemn morally offensive fear mongering used intentionally by convention opponents. Convention opponents seeking protection of their ability to influence the political system and selling fear and disinformation must face their constitutional guilt.
Converting convention opponents to proponents requires a paradigm change, which is very difficult. However, the current justified high level of dissatisfaction with government, politicians and both major political parties and the strong desire for reform of government justify use of a new approach.
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