Convention Of The States Vs. We The People

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I have some issues, both practical and admittedly emotionally based. First, for those who are not familiar:

Article V

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.

The gist of the argument is that the federal government is failing to regulate itself, therefore we need a Convention of the States to propose further amendments to the Constitution in order to further regulate its behavior. Mark Levin, The Great One, has been a driving force behind this movement and many hold up his book, The Liberty Amendments as a blueprint for what could be accomplished via an Article V Convention of the States. I’ll take these one at a time and attempt to explain my reservations.

1: Impose Congressional term limits. This one proposed amendment seems by far to be the catalyst that rallies the most support for this movement and also crystalizes my reservations. Term Limits were NEVER meant to be a part of our Constitution. Even the President did not originally have term limits, although the vast majority of early Presidents followed George Washington’s example and limited themselves to two terms. Self-regulation, you know, the concept that our system of government is built upon. We The People ALREADY have the power to limit the length of service for each of our politicians at every election cycle. So, because the PEOPLE are not doing their job then we must amend the Constitution to do it for them? Suppose you have a representative who IS doing a good job, who IS representing his/her constituents and who IS honoring his/her Constitutional Oath? Should we throw out the baby with the bathwater because the American people are not doing their job? How about we educate and motivate the American People to pull their heads out of the sand and reclaim their responsibility as citizens of this nation and as masters of the government that only rules by the power of “Consent Of The Governed.” Throwing out the good with the bad so that We The People can shirk our responsibility to be educated and informed seems counter-productive to me.

2: Repeal the Seventeenth Amendment. Now this one I actually agree with, but is this the way to go about it? Senators were intended to represent the State not the people. “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof…” completely undermines this Constitutional Republic. What once was a balance of power between The People, The State and The Nation was subverted. The 17th Amendment moved us away from a Republic and towards a Democracy. The last remain bastion of Republicanism is the Electoral College which many seek to remove as well. If they succeed then we will become a representative democracy where the minority is subjugated by the majority. Popular vote of the people will replace the supersede the interests of the State, the large urban areas will control the vote without a balance of concern for the less populated rural areas and individual liberty will be consumed by the power of mob rule.

3.Impose term limits for Supreme Court Justices and restrict judicial review. Here is another issue that I believe warrants attention, however I question this approach. Perhaps such concerns would be addressed at Convention and better solutions proposed, but that brings up a whole different set of concerns that I’ll get to in a moment.

4. Require a balanced budget and limit federal spending and taxation. Balanced Budget, limit spending and taxation, well hell yeah! I’m all for that, but… There’s always a BUT, right? Now you get into the micro-management arena. There are times, like during war or other catastrophic situations that may require immediate expenditures that may exceed what can be balanced in the budget. There are so many arguments from economics to national security that make strict limitations in these areas hard to manage without a laundry list of exceptions. Every exception is a loophole to be taken advantage of down the line.

5. Define a deadline to file taxes (one day before the next federal election). Again, I like the sound of it. Pay your taxes one day, vote the next while it is still fresh on your mind. If States support this on the national level then they should institute it in their State first (if the have a State Income Tax). States that DON’T have a State Tax should not support this on the federal level until it has been implemented on the State level as a trial. After all, one of the purposes of having States is to experiment in these ways rather than inflicting an experimental “feel good” amendment upon the nation.

6. Subject federal departments and bureaucratic regulations to reauthorization and review. I personally believe that every federal AND STATE department, regulation or policy should be required to have a “Sunset” provision that forces the review of its efficacy and/or continued need. Now to play devil’s advocate. There are those, many of whom support this movement, that believe the Department of Defense needs to be seriously curtailed or eliminated completely. If this is codified as a Constitutional amendment and comes up for review during a particularly liberal or even libertarian administration, how many Americans are comfortable with the DoD going bye-bye simply because the current Congress and President didn’t feel it necessary to reauthorize it? I know people use the Dept. of Education or the EPA as examples of why we need this, but when you apply the same logic to ALL Departments, Regulations and Policies it seems a little less palatable.

7. Create a more specific definition of the Commerce Clause. Yes, this is probably the most ABUSED clause in the Constitution and Yes it could probably use some more specificity, but who is to say that the resulting “definition” will be better or worse? There’s another hint to my deepest reservations, more in a minute.

8. Limit eminent domain powers. Yes, limits in government are good, in theory. The precise nature of those limits are the determining factor. Ditto from my comment on the Commerce Clause.

9. Allow states to more easily amend the Constitution. The phrase “light and transient causes” comes to mind. Amending the Constitution is not meant to be easy. Such changes to the very structure of our government are supposed to be difficult and require the involvement and “consent of the governed.” This goes against that very concept. The combined power of the People and the States can ALREADY make the federal government dance like a marionette on a string, IF they had the intestinal fortitude to exercise that power. What good is there in making power easier to wield if you give to those who have proven themselves unwilling to wield the power they already possess. 

10. Create a process where two-thirds of the states can nullify federal laws. This is a prime example of people not exercising the power they have already. States and even individuals have the power to nullify federal law and yes there are consequences, however if a federal laws is so heinous that it deserves nullification or repeal isn’t it worth the consequences? Does making it “Eeeasier” make it more likely to be practiced? Probably. Does it make it more likely that it will be abused? PROBABLY. If something needs fixing, Damn The Torpedoes and GET IT DONE. We Have That Right AND That Power Already.

11. Require photo ID to vote and limit early voting. Why is this even an issue that rises to the level of a proposed Constitutional Amendment? This should be a no-brainer and just further illustrates the dereliction of duty on the part of the American People. There is no reason why we couldn’t have a Bill on the floor of Congress within a week that would institute Voter ID, just like we have to show ID for every thing else we do. While we’re at it we could have Election Day declared a national holiday, maybe even make it a 3-Day weekend, where all businesses are closed and you have 3 day for everyone and their brother to vote. Everything is closed, so there’s not a damn thing else to do. All it would take is for We The People to demand it.

Let’s sum up my concerns here. We have gone through these proposals and I have presented concerns and support for or against each on its own merits. Now comes the BIG QUESTION: Who is to say that ANY of these even get discussed at a Convention of the States? Who is to say that they won’t repeal the 2nd Amendment rather than the 17th? Who is to say that they won’t come up with a whole list of other amendments that would garner support from the more liberal/socialist factions with America and build support to get those through the state ratification process? There is a reason that Article V is considered the last stand and that is because of its unpredictability. Many who support and promote this movement are undoubtedly conservative and see it as a means to put a leash on an out of control federal government, but a SIGNIFICANT portion of the American people would like to see such a Convention go in the exact opposite direction. I have serious misgivings when it comes to such a potentially volatile “nuclear option” as this. I would much rather see our efforts focused on educating and motivating the masses to do their civic duty as Americans. I realize that is a lengthy proposition and ill-suited for this instant gratification society, but that desire for a “quick fix” is probably the most troubling element of all in this conversation.

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Jon Britton aka DoubleTap is Chief Operating Officer of CDH, Inc., a regular contributing author and regularly involved in most aspects of their social media. “Writing was never a goal or even vaguely contemplated as a career choice, it just happened, an accidental discovery of a talent and a passion.” A passion that has taken him in many directions from explorations of the zombie subculture and zombie stories to political advocacy. Joining the U.S. Air Force right out of high school, Jon had the opportunity to experience many different parts of the world and different cultures. His post military career path, both white collar and blue collar, allowed him to work alongside both CEOs and average Joes. As a founding member Cold Dead Hands his study of human nature and writing ability found a purpose. His zombie roots provided a variety of issues from prepping to human behavior under crisis to firearms that he applies to his advocacy for gun rights. A ravenous appetite for the study of history combined with his current events political junkie addiction led to him writing an e-book Gun Sense: Past, Present and Future.

 

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