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SENTRY JOURNAL » Uncategorized » Article V Convention: It’s Time

Article V Convention: It’s Time

For many years now there has been a growing discontent among the voters in regard to their representation in Washington.  Many refrain from politics due to the gloomy cloud that constantly rains down a message saying, “You mean nothing”.  It is a consequential response of our narrowing political focus at the national level.  Our perspective as citizens in the political game has become more and more strained as we concentrate power and attention in the District of Columbia.  When all decisions are decided at the summit, it is hard to hear the voice of those at the base.   

It was precisely for the purpose of countering an out of control Congress that the founders included the clause “on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments “.  Few are even aware that we, as states, have the power to bypass Congress and the President and author our own constitutional amendment.  The reason that it is not well known is because…well, it has never been done. 

That’s not to say that we haven’t been close or that the failed efforts in the past were actually failures.  In fact, had it not been for the states’ attempts to apply for Article V Conventions then we might not have seen Eighteenth, Twentieth, Twenty-first, and Twenty-second Amendments.  The processes for those four amendments weren’t started in Congress, but at the state level with their own Constitutional Conventions.  It was the threat of the states writing these amendments that pushed Congress into preempting the conventions and ratifying them themselves.  If I know nothing else about Congress, they do not like giving up their legislative power to the “lower” legislative bodies.  This is precisely what an Article V National Convention does and would do. 

Today we have a Congress that just doesn’t get it.  They are constantly pushing us to detrimental levels of debt, aggressively spending an ever growing amount of money, putting off important budget legislation for political posturing, and ignoring the cries of the people.  The message is clear from the majority of citizens that includes a lot of common sense democrats, republicans and tea-party peoples; we need a Balanced Budget Amendment.  We can no longer trust our legislative branch to fiscally restrain themselves – we need to hold the law over their head.  The problem is that they write the laws and aren’t willing to legislate the kind of boundaries that all of us have to personally abide by.

Think of an America where Congress HAS to run the government in the black.  That limitation alone would, at least in part, take care of much of our waste, pork, and crony deals that Congressmen have been getting away with for decades.  It creates a line of responsibility and a renewed accountability that we can no longer accept as fallible.  This last week, in combination with decades of encroachments, has proven to us that any expectation of this governing body to reasonably limit themselves for the sake of the republic is hopeless.  It is time that we reinstitute the decency, integrity, and liability of our nation’s government through the processes that were granted to us in our Constitution. 

The process starts with the people.  We have become a force.  Without the voices of the dissenting public, the impotent debt-ceiling bills proposed over the last few weeks wouldn’t have even garnered a national debate.  The patronizing lip service paid to us through our representation in Washington never would have echoed in the chambers of Congress had we not clamored.  If we weren’t watching diligently and holding them accountable this entire “debt ceiling crisis” would have silently blown over as a minor debate on little more than which earmarks made the final bill.  We have their attention but not their loyalty. 

The people start the process through communication with their state legislatures.  If your senator or representative in Washington is too distant to hear your concerns, then rest assured that your legislature is near enough.  All that is required for a National Convention is the application of 34 states (2/3rds).  If 34 state legislatures apply for a Constitutional Convention then Congress is forced to uphold their request per the Fifth Amendment.  At that time it would require 38 states to ratify the proposed Amendment. 

Before you write it off as impossible or improbable, consider a few things.  First, never has a Balanced Budget Amendment been so popular.  Every state excluding Vermont has some version of a balanced budget amendment.  This last week was the first time that such an amendment passed in one legislative house.  Oh, and we already have 32 of the 34 required states with legal applications (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming) which means we only need 2 more. 

Consider the legislative bodies that now make up Ohio and Wisconsin and that neither of these legislatures is among the 32 who have already petitioned Congress.  Consider the strong Tea Party movement in Kentucky (think Rand Paul) and that they too are not on the list.  Perhaps conservative Alaska or Montana would consider jumping on board.  We’re not talking about just convention ability, but ratifying ability. 

If you live in one of these states this is your time.  No longer can you hide behind the excuse of too small a voice – you have the power to make grand changes.  A letter or phone call to your state legislature may just start the chain reaction that leads to editing our most sacred document and puts this course back on the road to ethical and fiscal sanity.  It is time.

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RightHandMan

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Comments
  • Chris W August 2, 2011 at 12:22 AM

    Great post.

    And for those that fear that an Article V will turn into a con-con, maybe it would be better to blow the whole thing up and start again. Things can’t get much worse than they are today.
    Chris W recently posted..Leviathan Wins, America LosesMy Profile

    • Trestin August 2, 2011 at 11:00 AM

      Actually it could be much worse. The constitution is the only thing we have left
      Trestin recently posted..Utah’s Good, Bad & UglyMy Profile

    • RightHandMan
      RightHandMan August 2, 2011 at 11:21 AM

      I simply do not see it happening. The process is legitimate and, if it is legitimate then it shouldn’t matter what other ideologies attempt to use it. In other words if socialists become popular enough to push their agenda through the convention process it won’t be because of the process, but because they’ve already won elsewhere.

  • Steve Dennis August 2, 2011 at 5:48 AM

    Great post, glad to see my state–New Hampshire–is already on the list. I had no idea we were so close to pulling of a convention, maybe this is something that can be done after all.
    Steve Dennis recently posted..The debt ceiling debate is finally overMy Profile

    • RightHandMan
      RightHandMan August 2, 2011 at 11:22 AM

      Few do know Steve…Perhaps there’s a reason for that.

  • Bunkerville August 2, 2011 at 8:19 AM

    I am with you. What is there to loose? Death by an thousand paper cuts, or just have it out, one way or another. The sooner the better while we may have a slim majority to pull it off.
    Bunkerville recently posted..Cuba to lift ban on buying propertyMy Profile

    • RightHandMan
      RightHandMan August 2, 2011 at 11:23 AM

      There’s nothing to lose and a lot to gain.

  • Infidel de Manahatta August 2, 2011 at 9:09 AM

    I hope a balanced budget amendment becomes reality. But never put it past Washington to bypass the will of the people.
    Infidel de Manahatta recently posted..The Manhattan Infidel’s Guide to the U.S. DefaultMy Profile

    • RightHandMan
      RightHandMan August 2, 2011 at 11:23 AM

      Exactly why we should bypass them.

  • Jim at Conservatives on Fire August 2, 2011 at 9:49 AM

    Personally, I am not in favor of a BBA. I would much prefer a law that limited the national deb to a percentage of GDP say 40%, for example. Debt isn’t always a bad thing, in my opinion. How many of would ever be able to buy a house or a car without taking on debt? But forget about that. I have a question maybe you can help me with. If a balanced budget is what so many people want, why does it have to be by amendment? Why couldn’t Congress just pass such an act which could only be revoked by a super majority? Is it because congress would never voluntarily put such a restriction on themselves or is there a constitutional reason why it can’t be done by an act of congress?
    Jim at Conservatives on Fire recently posted..Cloward-Piven, Alinsky, Obama __ A Frightening CombinationMy Profile

    • RightHandMan
      RightHandMan August 2, 2011 at 11:36 AM

      A balanced budget amendment would necessarily redefine our current monetary system and move us away from the Keynsian theories and it would likely bring about a bit of suffering. The idea of tying spending to our GDP is unpalatable for me simply because government would grow as the economy grows. Under that theory, the most direct way to shrink government would be to suffer economically.

      As to your other question, Congress is just unwilling to make the reforms- there is nothing that prohibits it in the Constitution.

  • John Galt August 2, 2011 at 10:42 AM

    As much as I sympathize with the purpose and the ideals behind Balance Budget Amendment movements, I remain highly skeptical of its practicality, its chances of passage, and its unintended consequences.

    As an example only; a budget that doesn’t exist cannot be balanced. The Obama administration – and I assume other Administrations could do the same – has not produced a budget since 2009 in complete disregard of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 which happens to be the law of the land.

    Another example. Many states have already such balance budget requirements but almost all of them continue to produce deficits. And there are many more misgivings, not the least of which is the double edge sword that represents during harsh economic times.

    I wish life could be so easy.
    John Galt recently posted..A Minority Tea Party Beats Superior ForcesMy Profile

  • RightHandMan
    RightHandMan August 2, 2011 at 11:39 AM

    I’m with you John and understand that there are a number of unintended consequences that would come with the amendment… But let us not forget the current alternative. I’m sure that Congress will find ways to get around the amendment (like leaving certain things out of the budget). That said, it will make it harder and create a new baseline for the fiscal debate.

  • Trestin August 2, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    It’s a great idea, if we can keep it limited by item. However, we need to be careful, a lot of people would try to use this to push for a con con.
    Trestin recently posted..Utah’s Good, Bad & UglyMy Profile

    • RightHandMan
      RightHandMan August 2, 2011 at 2:49 PM

      The majority of legal opinions believe that the convention must be focused on the specified request made to Congress. I tend to beleive that that is the case as well.

  • Mike August 2, 2011 at 1:09 PM

    There’s a reason why we have a Constitution. If Congress followed it to the letter, there would be no need for a BBA, as the Constitution lays out what spending the Congress is responsible for and what it isn’t. Congress has way overstepped it’s bounds in this regard.

    And as others have pointed out, even if we did get a BBA, Congress would find a way to get around it.
    Mike recently posted..Whoo Hooo 25,000 hits…Rule 5My Profile

  • RightHandMan
    RightHandMan August 2, 2011 at 2:53 PM

    While it is likely true that Congress will find ways to get around this legal fence, it is also true that it would make such moves harder. The Constitution does spell out what Congress can spend money on, but not how much money it can spend. The how much is, at this present time, the more important issue due to our circumstances.

  • Matt August 2, 2011 at 8:40 PM

    This is potentially scary. We could end up with something that we don’t like. It is also true that our elected elites will disregard new Amendments, just as they disregard the Constitution as a whole.
    Matt recently posted..Group Formerly Known as ACORN “Alinsky’s” the Wrong BankMy Profile

  • RightHandMan
    RightHandMan August 2, 2011 at 9:00 PM

    Matt,

    What exactly is the thing that we could end with up and not like? The convention could only provide an amendment specific to the purpose of the request. In other words, we cannot go to the convention under the guise of a balanced budget amendment and come out with a commerce clause amendment.

    I’m not sure why so many are afraid of this. Perhaps you could better explain your feelings.

  • steve August 3, 2011 at 9:15 PM

    I’m not sure if this would help. It’s not like they are following the Constitution now. Remember Stretch Pelosi’s famous “Constitution?… Are you serious” quote about ObamaCare?

    I think the only thing they understand is being thrown out of office.
    steve recently posted..Sarah Palin: “If we were real domestic terrorists I think President Obama wouldn’t have a problem with us.”My Profile