Is it time for a Constitutional Convention?

dissipated-uncle-sam
“Dissipated Uncle Sam” by Michelle Winterowd Endicott

A dissipated, alcoholic, gone to seed, formerly favorite uncle. That’s what America has looked like to me for several years now. I think I can pinpoint 2009 as the year that everything seemed to fall apart. Good old Uncle Sam used to be full of vim, vigor, and a twinkle in his eye. You just looked at him and knew he was a good guy-wise, strong, and could always ready to help you out in a pinch.

Now he’s stumbling around with alcohol on his breath, his hair unkempt, his eyes glazed over. When you look at him, you see the shadow of what he used to be and you wonder if he’ll ever recover from his downward spiral, or if he’s down for the count. It’s hard to watch, and very sad and frustrating.

I hate feeling this way about my country. I grew up loving it and what it stands for. I now love what it used to stand for, what it’s supposed to stand for.  Freedom. Liberty. Limited government. Maybe I’m imagining things. Maybe we’re just as free as we were in 2008, or the ’90s, you say. Well, check this out: We are 11th in the world in economic freedom, behind Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Chile, Ireland, Estonia, and United Kingdom. 11th!  We are behind Estonia, for crying out loud. We should be #1. Always. There is no excuse for this. (Economic Freedom Chart).

Free

rank country overall change rank country overall change
1 Hong Kong 88.6 -1.0 4 Switzerland 81.0 +0.5
2 Singapore 87.8 -1.6 5 Australia 80.3 -1.1
3 New Zealand 81.6 -0.5

Mostly Free

rank country overall change rank country overall change
6 Canada 78.0 -1.1 23 Georgia 72.6 -0.4
7 Chile 77.7 -0.8 24 Finland 72.6 -0.8
8 Ireland 77.3 +0.7 25 United Arab Emirates 72.6 +0.2
9 Estonia 77.2 +0.4 26 Sweden 72.0 -0.7
10 United Kingdom 76.4 +0.6 27 South Korea 71.7 +0.2
11 United States 75.4 -0.8 28 Austria 71.7 +0.5
12 Denmark 75.3 -1.0 29 Malaysia 71.5 +0.7
13 Lithuania 75.2 +0.5 30 Botswana 71.1 +1.3
14 Taiwan 74.7 -0.4 31 The Bahamas 70.9 +2.2
15 Mauritius 74.7 -1.7 32 Norway 70.8 -1.0
16 The Netherlands 74.6 +0.9 33 Colombia 70.8 -0.9
17 Germany 74.4 +0.6 34 Qatar 70.7 -0.1
18 Bahrain 74.3 +0.9 35 Israel 70.7 +0.2
19 Luxembourg 73.9 +0.7 36 Latvia 70.4 +0.7
20 Iceland 73.3 +1.3 37 Macau 70.1 -0.2
21 Czech Republic 73.2 +0.7 38 Saint Lucia 70.0 -0.2
22 Japan 73.1 -0.2

And I didn’t imagine this change occurring in 2009. If you go to this Interactive Graph you’ll see that our freedom index hit a high of 81.2% in 2006 and then began taking a dive in 2009. It’s currently at 75.4% and still falling. To put that in perspective, the rest of the world is at 60.7%. Why are we dropping? In a nutshell, federal government over reach. To quote the Heritage Foundation,

America’s historically vibrant entrepreneurial growth is significantly hampered by intrusive, expensive, and often ineffective government policies in areas ranging from health care to energy to education. Government favoritism toward entrenched interests has hurt innovation and contributed to a lackluster recovery and stagnant income growth.”- Heritage Foundation

I could spend a lot of time discussing all of the government programs that have moved us away from being “free” to being “mostly free” but I will let you go to the heritage website and do some exploring yourself. The main concept that you need to remember is one that I always tried to hammer into my political science students: When government increases, freedom decreases. There is simply no way around this concept.

One quick example-Obamacare. People were supposedly crying out for government subsidized health care. Now we have it. We no longer have the right to not purchase health care.  More government control. Less freedom for us. (Not to mention skyrocketing health care costs.)

bho-signs-bill
If you like your health care, you can keep your health care, right?

 

So what do we do about it? Elect freedom-loving politicians?

The BGOV Barometer shows that 90 percent of House members and 91 percent of senators who sought re-election in 2012 were successful, exceeding the incumbent re-election rates of 2010, when 85 percent of House members and 84 percent of senators seeking re-election were successful.” (Bloomberg News Article)

For whatever reason, that simply isn’t happening. Despite the fact that public approval of Congress is at an all-time low, we keep re-electing the bums. And given our two main candidates for the upcoming presidential election, I have very little faith in changing things via election at this point in time.

trump-and-hillary
Who Scares You More?

So that brings us to an idea whose time may have come. A constitutional convention. Before you get your panties in a bunch and start worrying about a runaway convention where our 2nd amendment is obliterated, hear me out.

A few years ago I was driving home from my late night political science class, and I heard an attorney on the radio talking about an Article V Convention of States. I was intrigued. I went home and began doing some research. I discovered that Mark Levin was already all over this idea. I ordered his book, The Liberty Amendments, on Kindle and read it fairly quickly.

liberty-amendments-book

A few days later I was out for a walk and listening to a talk radio show. Mark Levin was the guest and he said something I’ll never forget. He said we needed to use the Constitution to save the Constitution. I felt spiritual confirmation in that moment that what he was saying was right. So I continued my research. I began to think “if God can inspire the founders to write the Constitution, why can’t He inspire us now in how to save it?” Why would He be done protecting this country? He wouldn’t. He isn’t. Not if we’re still willing to fight for it and if we’re willing to take direction from Him.

I am willing to fight and to take direction. I was being directed to look into this further, which I did. I ended up at www.convetionofstates.com. Here, I was reminded about Article V of our Constitution, which reads

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.

– Article V, U.S. Constitution

I believe that a Convention of States is our only hope for saving our country in any semblance of what we used to know it as. As you can see by Article V, we would need 2/3 of the state legislatures to call a convention to propose amendments (such as term limits, abolishing federal agencies, balancing the budget, etc.) and 3/4 of the state legislatures to ratify proposed amendments.

I mentioned just a few ideas for amendments. There are several other great ideas such as giving the Supreme Court Justices term limits, allowing a majority of state legislatures to overturn Supreme Court decisions, requiring all new proposed bills to show that they comply with the Constitution. The list could go on and on. But even ratifying a few of these amendments could make a big difference in the size and scope of the federal government-and the quality of our lives.

uncle-sam-picture
Maybe we could get this guy back again!

The biggest concern that most people have is that there will be a “runaway convention”, where people will show up and somehow manage to convince 3/4 of the state legislatures to repeal the second amendment or completely do away with the constitution, etc. The convention of states website lists the following reasons that this is very unlikely to happen:

 

  1. There is a clear, strong single-subject precedent that would almost certainly be declared binding in the event of a court challenge.
  2. Ratification of any proposed amendment requires the approval of 38 states.
  3. Improper changes to the process can be legally challenged by state legislators.
  4. There is absolutely no historical precedent for a runaway convention.

You can read more details about these four reasons at www.conventionofstates.com.

I am not as concerned about a runaway convention as I am about allowing the country to continue to move in the direction that it is moving. What else is going to save us? Hillary? The Donald? Gary Johnson?

trump-and-hillary

I would love to hear other suggestions for saving this country! Antonin Scalia was in favor of a Convention of States. (read about it: Scalia on Article V Convention) Many other politicians and commentators have also endorsed this as the best weapon in our fight against runaway government. More state legislatures are signing on to this every year. If we as a people decided that this is what will save us, it will happen. Nothing can stop us. Please go to conventionofstates.com and educate yourself, sign the petition, donate if you can. Let’s do this thing. It’s our last, best, probably only hope.

declaration-of-independence-hero-h

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