On her August 9 show on MSNBC Rachel Maddow went for an easy attack on those seeking government reforms through constitutional amendments but also missed a big opportunity to inform and educate her audience and millions more Americans.
She ridiculed those, especially Republican candidates and congressmen, making a big point of using constitutional amendments as a way to build public support for themselves. Her basic point was that amending the constitution is really, really hard. It is so difficult that the public should not take this political rhetoric very seriously as a practical way to change law.
It is certainly true that getting amendments proposed by Congress and then ratified by three-quarters of the states is a very difficult process, especially for amendments that would directly attack the many ways our government is made corrupt and dysfunctional. Congress and the many special interests on the right and left want to preserve the current system that they have learned to manipulate so well.
Where Maddow went wrong and showed her intellectual and journalistic laziness was failing to inform her audience that the Constitution provides another path to obtaining constitutional amendments. The Founders anticipated the day when the American public might lose trust and confidence in the federal government. With only 11 percent of people having confidence in Congress that day has certainly arrived. Included in Article V of the Constitution is the option of a convention of state delegates that would have the same constitutional power to propose amendments that would also have to be ratified by the states.
The only requirement for a convention is that two-thirds of the states ask for one. What Maddow obviously does not know it that there have been over 700 state applications from all 50 states and that Congress has for a long time ignored them. They can be examined on the website of Friends of the Article V Convention, the national, nonpartisan group working to get the first convention. Known for her ability to articulate so well her rage about what ails the nation, Maddow missed a huge opportunity to point out that the rule of law has been abused by Congress because they fear constitutional amendments that would truly reform the government system.
There is of course no reason to be against amending the Constitution. The Founders correctly anticipated the need to amend it. Those Americans that profess love and respect for the Constitution but then argue against amending it or against using the Article V convention option are nothing less than constitutional hypocrites.
To regain her journalistic integrity, Maddow should do another segment that focuses on the Article V convention option and how so many special interests have fought hard against using it. It is, after all, a form of direct democracy that Americans have a constitutional right to use to get reforms that our corrupt Congress will never take seriously. What she made a laughing matter of should be taken much more seriously. The issue should not be about specific amendments but about the process of considering and obtaining them. Journalistic integrity demands that Maddow do some homework and correct the situation, otherwise she is no better than so many other pundits that routinely present false and misleading information on their shows. If she learns the history of the convention option she will discover that some of the most respected people in American history favored use of the convention option. Serious consideration of constitutional amendments should not be a partisan issue, but rather what good citizenship is all about.
Get to work Rachel.