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General News    H3'ed 9/1/17

Time For Formal Discussion

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Message John De Herrera
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U.S. Constitution - Illustration
U.S. Constitution - Illustration
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You know how life is these days, one story after another, no matter the significance, and we're whisked away to the next story without being able to really examine things. If you're American today, likely you've either turned off political discourse, or somehow you still enjoy debating friends and neighbors? It's become complicated. Still, you're concerned about the current situation, thinking that governance shouldn't be this hard only to be so lame.

It's currently the situation where the country conducts elections with a state by state hodgepodge of laws/equipment which produces various levels of transparency/accuracy. If Californians are bound to all the states east of us, and we have no real way of knowing anything about the accuracy of other state elections, then what's the point? Then indeed the electoral process and resultant policies are a type of charade that a certain type of people engage in, and that's the way it is, always has been, and always will be. If you believe that, you can stop reading now. But if you care like many still do, and we know the situation, then aren't we the ones to blame for not doing something based on what we know at this late date? Yeah--let's do something! For example, the current administration has spawned groups to impeach it. The same thing happened in the previous administration. Curious how that works. But we care and we want to do something! Please tell us what to do!

Looking at the situation objectively, obviously we need a federal standard for voting. We have such for food and drugs and highways, why not an amendment that creates it for voting? An amendment you say? For voting? No, legislation takes care of that kind of stuff! But wait, you do know that people used to be able to own other people in this country, right? And that women weren't allowed to vote, but now can? Amendments solved those problems once and for all, just as an amendment to create a federal standard for voting would. All the states, and all the people in them, are all relying on everyone to get it right.

We can discuss ideas informally all day on the street or on Facebook, and that's fine, but at some point we must engage in the formal discussion of amendments, and as it turns out, there are only two ways to do it--through the Congress or through the Article V Convention. Those two groups are the only two groups of Americans who can formally discuss constitutional amendments.

Of course since we know Congress has become compromised by questionable USSC rulings we can't count on it realistically. Thus, the reason the convention mode was included in the Constitution--wherever Congress failed, a convention could examine the situation. The reason we've never held an Article V Convention is simply because the Congress has failed to legally issue the call. That's a long discussion, but there is current political activity in that regard, for instance Representative Luke Messer of Indian's 6th District has placed House Resolution 1742 with the Judiciary and Government Rules/Reform committees. The measure would task the Director of the National Archives with collating all existing state applications for the Article V Convention that are strewn throughout congressional records. Once counted, we would find out that we're legally overdue for the call. But the chances of Messer's draft leaving those committees for the floor of the House are next to none, i.e. a situation that can't be considered realistically.

So here's the kicker, the big take away: on March 30th of this very year, the legislature of Arizona issued the call for a convention of the states, the first such call since the Civil War. Arizona issued it in order to hold a planning convention, meaning that there has been much talk about the Article V Convention, and Arizona took it upon itself to hold a convention where the states could work out some rules for it. That convention is to take place in Phoenix, starting September 12th.

What will happen in Phoenix? It's shaping up as a conservative conclave of folks who want a Balanced Budget Amendment. Will any liberal voices be heard? Too soon to tell, but maybe the point is, whatever your political beliefs/affiliations, if you're tired of the charade, or you think it's dangerous and we can't go on like this forever, keep an eye on the growing consensus for the Article V Convention. If you're not so sure about it, ask yourself: As an American, can we do better, and if so, isn't it time to enter into the formal discussion of how to go about it?

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Writer/artist/activist from California, with a degree in Creative Studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Advocating for the convention clause of Article V since 2001.

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