Public discussion about a "constitutional convention" or the Article V Convention to propose amendments is on the rise these days. For over fifty years Americans have had this discussion about whether or not we should dust off the Constitution and take it for a spin; and for all those decades Americans have read op-eds in the nation's leading newspapers warning that if we ever do turn the ignition key, we might end up driving off a cliff. To voters on the right the op-ed writers have conjured the fear that if ever called, the liberals would take over a convention and repeal the 2nd Amendment; and to voters on the left, the op-ed writers have conjured the fear that the conservatives would take it over and make us all live like Christians whether we want to or not.
Of course those fears are irrational and illogical for several reasons, but let's hold off a moment about the fears of the Anti-Conventionists. Let's first talk about what would happen if the 114th Congress issued the call next week. Let's say that because there are over 750 Article V Applications on record, Congress instructed the National Archives and Records Administration to enroll them, thus making them official federal documents, and held a joint session of Congress to confirm that the Article Five clause had been satisfied by the states, and carried out the ministerial act, thus issuing the call containing a date and location for the convention.
Ask yourself what is the first thing that might happen once the news agencies report that Congress had issued the call. Chaos is what a lot of know-it-alls will tell you would happen, but that's untrue. After the call goes out the first thing that will happen is that everyone will go "Oh shoot, we're gonna hold a convention!" Please let that sink in a moment, because it's not meant to be funny.
Whether you're a sitting judge or elected official, self-employed or employed by a corporation, once the call is issued, everyone will blink. Americans who have turned off politics because the current system is such a charade will also go, "Wait. What? What's this about?" Judges and elected officials, whether Conventionist or Anti-Conventionist, will begin walking and talking differently over Article V. In other words, the first thing to happen after the call goes out is that the status quo of "politics as usual" is shattered and utterly destroyed. Anti-Conventionists perceive that as a type of chaos when in actuality it's simply the first step in a multi-step and constitutional process. After the call, and after everyone says "Oh shoot!" next, thousands of Americans begin contacting state officials, asking all kinds of questions, including if they have a right to become a delegate. Shortly after that, a state, or number of states in rapid succession, will declare how they intend to move forward. So, to be clear:
1. The call goes out.
2. Everyone blinks and says "Oh shoot!"
3. States declare their intent moving forward.
Maybe some states declare they're electing delegates, others that theirs will be appointed; maybe some have gag orders, while others allow their delegates to discuss whatever they think has a good chance at being ratified. The critical point is, regardless of the variation within the individual state attitudes towards the Article V Convention, all that has really happened with the call is that an informal discussion that Americans have been having for over half a century is suddenly transformed into a formal discussion. Activating a formal discussion within the states is not chaos as Anti-Conventionists would have us believe, it's nothing but the first step in how we're meant to proceed as a society--one currently facing taxation without fair representation.
Once the call is issued we know that through a natural progression of events, amendments will be formally proposed, and either broad consensus will be found, or it won't. That's all that's going to take place, and what it will look like after the gavel falls and the convention adjourns is not a big mystery because both the political left and right of today agree there is too much money in politics and that it has a corrupting influence on policy. Which means that the only thing with a shot at reaching 75% consensus today is boring, old electoral reform. Are there are other issues? We have terms for the President, how about terms for politicians and judges? There are many ideas worthy of adoption, but the point is, whatever the idea, it's got to be a no-brainer or it's left in the dust.
In conclusion, all this talk of a "constitutional convention" or the Article V Convention, all comes down to whether you yourself are afraid to enter into a formal discussion about amendments to the Constitution. Our parents and grandparents, their whole lives, had informal discussion about how to alter the corruption in government. And when they considered entering into a formal discussion the stereotypical know-it-alls, writing op-eds for national newspapers, insisted they dare not ever do that. Well, it appears that until we do enter into the formal discussion, private interests will buy elections and influence policy to the point Americans end up like the people we hear about in other parts of the world, where they have no real freedom. If you have children consider that until the society we're all a part of enters into the very important formal discussion over amendments to the Constitution, you're risking your children's future life and liberty.
Should the topic pop up in everyday conversation this year of 2016, let the person you're talking with know that you think we've had enough informal discussion about how bad our government is these days. Let them know that you are unafraid and ready to begin the formal discussion of how to improve our situation. Let them know that you trust the sense of 7.5 out of 10 Americans over the current version of Congress.
For more information please visit Friends of the Article V Convention.
(Article changed on January 7, 2016 at 11:37)