For those of us advocating the first-time use of the Article V convention option in the US Constitution it seemed like heaven-sent blessing that the Wall Street Journal the other day published an oped article by Virginia state legislator James M. LeMunyon, a Republican. The headline conveyed the key message: A Constitutional Convention Can Rein in Washington.
Okay, it would have been much preferred to avoid using the term constitutional convention and, instead, use Article V convention, because the language in Article V clearly limits a convention to amendments and prevents a wholesale rewriting of the constitution. Still, the article focused repeatedly on a most important theme that the public urgently needs to fully understand: There really is no remotely possible scenario of a runaway convention that would do terrible damage to the Constitution, either from the left or right. Thank You Mr. LeMunyon.
LeMunyon did a masterful job of clarifying how the difficult job of ratifying any amendments proposed by a convention would have to get accepted by a large number of state legislative houses, with many controlled by Democrats and others by Republicans. Indeed, the state ratification requirement gives the safety net that sensible Americans must see as removing all fears of a damaging runaway convention. Why is this so important? Because convention opponents, mostly on the right, have for many years used the runaway convention argument to instill public fears about using the constitutional option of an Article V convention. It has made all those supposedly constitution-loving conservatives nothing more than constitutional hypocrites. With all their angry rhetoric about the many harms of the uncontrolled federal government they, nevertheless, have not seen what so many others, like LeMunyon, have seen: Using the Article V convention option is necessary to rein in Washington and all of the status quo corruption in the two-party plutocracy. Thank You Mr. LeMunyon.
Rather than fear a convention of state delegates, people must fully appreciate that, as stated by LeMunyon, "Congress is in a state of serious disrepair and cannot fix itself." Clearly Congress fears a convention, and what Congress fears we the people urgently need: the first Article V convention. The one major point not presented in the article is that, with over 700 applications from all 50 states, the one and only constitutional requirement for a convention has been met, but Congress has refused to obey the Constitution. So, state legislators like LeMunyon keep proposing new state legislation to submit still more applications for a convention. Until recently the whole historic set of state applications were not even made easily available for public scrutiny. Not by Congress or anyone else, until the nonpartisan Friends of the Article V Convention did so and made them available on their website.
Regardless of all the sound information and arguments given by LeMunyon, his highly visible article has stimulated considerable negative, anti-convention writings on many right wing websites. This, despite the logic that there is so much more to fear and oppose than a convention. All this irrational and irresponsible fear-mongering merits careful thought. Exactly why do so many people who profess love and respect for the Founders and the Constitution keep opposing using what the Founders knew we would have to use when the public lost trust in the federal government? Why do these anti-convention people ignore what LeMunyon correctly noted? There have been hundreds of state constitutional conventions that did not wreck states.
The baseless harangues by anti-convention screamers only act to maintain the political status quo and perpetuate the fiction that elections can succeed in sending enough radically different people to Congress and the White House to really reform and fix our nation. These people want to preserve their own organizations as means to oppose and fix the political and government system. They want to protect and retain their own perceived power and influence. They have had enough time and failed. Now it is time to use the Article V convention option.