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Open Letter to Bill Moyers and Howard Zinn

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Message John De Herrera
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Dear Mr. Moyers and Mr. Zinn,

I'm sitting here with a laptop. It is sunny outside, but the wind tossing the palm trees is very cold. On I just saw a diary posted about Mr. Moyers' call for us to see our situation outside of politics as usual. Something extraordinary is needed at this moment to reset our country back on track to the rule of law. It is somewhat answer enough that the To Do list of the 110th Congress is flawed in that it does not include the two most important things: corporate media and electoral reform. We all know we're in Iraq because popular information is in the hands of interests, the larger body of which, is the aerospace/defense industry and most everything else corporate. It's as if what Eisenhower warned us about has reached its terminus and the America we all love and cherish is about to perish. Some say it is already too late. I say we still have a chance.

As you know, it all comes down to political science. If the right idea at the right time breaches into the mainstream media and popular discourse, things change. If politics as usual is about to grant corporations property rights to the broadcast spectrum and create a voting machine lobby with this year's proposed legislation, then clearly we cannot profess to call ourselves Americans who live in a free country. We might as well consign ourselves to be some type of Communist or Fascist state whose true heritage is a figment of the imagination.

So we want to get out of this mess, but how? It's not going to happen through legislation from a branch controlled by special interests. Only an amendment to the Constitution can save us now. Only a 28th Amendment to the Constitution has the political might to break the institutionalized corruption of the status quo.

If so, the immediate question is what amendment? What should it be concerned with? But that's the wrong question. The question is, how; how do we propose an idea to the states? The answer is there are only two American individuals who can generate such an amendment proposal: a member of Congress, or a state delegate at convention. We all know--or we should be fairly certain by now--that Congress will not generate a proposal to secure popular information and the vote from private interests. We need to hold a national convention so that state delegates can propose such. With governance where it is now, simply calling a convention will be more significant than any amendment proposal which results from it.

As you know, the traditional fear of an amendatory convention is that there might be a runaway convention; that the Constitution might be tampered with, or that the same special interests in control now will take it over and destroy what little protections from a corporate tyranny that remain. But the framers of the Constitution made ratification of any amendment a three-quarter requisite. Why? Because they knew that to get 75% of any group to agree to any one idea is nearly impossible. Any future idea to be tacked onto their work was going to be one with overwhelming and broad support. If we call a convention anything any of the delegates propose must first suffer ratification by 38 states. The 3/4 requisite basically sanctifies the popular will.

Now, the part about the call--the issuing of the convention call by the Congress.... Last year a federal lawsuit concerned with Article V of the Constitution and the convention clause specifically, was appealed to the Supreme Court in the form of a writ of certiorari. Some contend that the denial of cert is not the last word on the matter, but by denial the court allows a lower court ruling to stand which was that the convention call is a political question and therefore Congress gets to decide whether to issue it or not. The Constitution says Congress shall call a convention as soon as state applications are in order and the evidence in Walker was the Congressional Record which showed the applications have been pilling up all these years and each session of Congress has ignored them; congressional laches, ignoring them on purpose.

So where does that leave us? Well, as you know, is an example of a group which has helped raise awareness of certain issues, and I was wondering if we could get your experience and name recognition and thoughts over at We're just putting together a steering committee to mount a campaign calling on members of the 110th Congress to issue the call for America's first Article V Convention. The Anti-Conventionists have no argument because on the one hand the applications are on record, and on the other the courts have ruled the call is up to Congress. That means all that needs to happen is for the Conventionists to create some political science that carries the idea into the popular consciousness.

Over the years I've come across many great quotes of fellow Americans, but I always thought this was one of the best, and especially in light of where we are now and the possibilities we find in the convention clause of the Constitution:

"To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places--and there are so many--where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory." --Howard Zinn

What do you say Mr. Moyers? Mr Zinn? It's about what we emphasize now. You two are voices of reason for this generation, and if you say Article V, then other well-known Americans will, and as soon as a celebrity or two finds out about it and signs on, it's over. Congress will hold a hearing, examine the evidence, and issue the call. And then the states can hold elections and we'll all get to watch America's best and brightest propose solutions. I think it's the right and natural thing to do. I hope you consider the offer.


John De Herrera
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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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