As the old saying goes, when you’re up to your [elbows] in alligators, it’s easy to forget that the initial objective was to drain the swamp.
Entitlement growth, exploding debt, rapacious taxation, oppressive regulation, illegal immigration, IRS/DOJ/EPA/DHS/HHS/NSA abuses, …, and the list just keeps on growing.
What’s a conservative activist to do?
Should we continue fighting these Big Government abuses and usurpations one at a time? Should we continue trying to “elect the right people” to Washington? Sure. Carry on. But an additional more powerful approach may be much closer to home than Washington, DC.
Most Americans tacitly assume that our state governments and legislatures are subservient to Washington because our Constitution, as “supreme law of the land”, declares it to be so. But it isn’t so. We-the-People actually have the ultimate power to reform Washington via our state legislatures. It’s right there, in black-and-white, in Article V process 2, the state-driven process for amending the Constitution.
Details can be found here, here, and especially here, but expressed simply,
America’s state legislatures have full Constitutional authority to amend the US Constitution without the permission or approval of Congress, the President, or the Supreme Court.
US Constitution Article V specifies two processes for amending the Constitution. Briefly —
- In the first process, Congress proposes and the States dispose.
- In the second process, the States both propose and dispose.
For reference, here’s the relevant part of Article V in the English of our Founding Fathers:
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 …
The second process has never been used successfully, although there have been many attempts. Knowing full well that Congress could one day become drunk with power, it is that second process that the Founders provided as the people’s ultimate remedy for an overreaching federal government.
In the state-driven process, neither Congress, nor the President, nor the Supreme Court has any voting or veto authority whatsoever. The state legislatures are in full control. It is, by design, the ultimate remedy for an over-spending, over-taxing, over-regulating, and increasingly dictatorial and lawless federal government. Clearly, its time has come.
In the state-driven process, Congress is assigned a role, but it is at most a mere administrative role. Of course Congress is very protective of its power, and could, through delay and inaction, attempt to convert its mere administrative role into a de facto veto power, halting any attempt for a state-driven amendment action. In the past, that’s apparently what Congress has done. That can no longer be tolerated by We the People.
Now more than ever, it is time for We the People to bring the power of Article V to the center ring of American politics. That starts with awareness and grassroots organization. Mark Levin’s book, Liberty Amendments, published in August, 2013, is helping raise awareness. And a new organization, Convention of States, launched in Sept, 2013, is providing the grassroots organization. Convention of States (COS) can bring more grassroots Americans than ever to the fight for a Constitutionally limited federal government.
There’s much more to say, including more history on Article V and other groups that have tried, and are still trying, to use Article V for specific initiatives like a balanced budget amendment. All these efforts are worthy of support, but COS, with its breadth of focus and grassroots orientation, may turn out to be the most powerful and far-reaching of Article V movements.
Are you interested? Visit the COS website for more information about how you can get involved. COS gratefully accepts donations, but it is citizen involvement that is needed most. Look over the roles you might play, and consider signing up at the site.
Consider also reading Levin’s book, Liberty Amendments, which is both informational and inspirational. You might start with the first chapter of the book, available (free) at this link. And the book itself is available at your library or on Amazon Kindle for less than $11.
Levin’s book offers 11 plausible amendments that might be discussed at a Convention of States. Consider just his first one, on term limits for Congress:
An Amendment to Establish Term Limits for Members of Congress
SECTION 1: No person may serve more than twelve years as a member of Congress, whether such service is exclusively in the House or the Senate or combined in both Houses.
SECTION 2: Upon ratification of this Article, any incumbent member of Congress whose term exceeds the twelve-year limit shall complete the current term, but thereafter shall be ineligible for further service as a member of Congress.
In only a few years, this amendment would clear out all the lifetime legislative-class elites in both parties. Whom am I referring to? Fill in your own favorite names for those old, fearful guardians of the status quo. Here’s a hint: our entitlement society and debt exploded on their watch, their obligations to special interests run long and deep, and they wield enormous power over the reform-minded newcomers we have sent to try to reform Congress.
Can We the People really limit our federal government, return to free markets, and restore personal and fiscal responsibility for ourselves and our children? Yes, we can. And we’d best get on with it.