Could constitutional ‘circuit-breaker’ stop our government from running rampant?
Voter impatience with a dramatic lack of congressional and presidential discipline in federal spending and accountability is driving a national movement for a first-ever Article V Convention of States to amend the United States Constitution.
I was privileged to attend such a convention – the first-ever simulated Convention of States Sept. 21-23 in Williamsburg, Va., one of the founding venues of the American Revolution.
With almost 150 delegates, about 120 of them state legislators from around every state, not only did I attend, but I was asked to chair the First State of Delaware’s delegation. Attending also was Delaware Sen. David Lawson of Marydel. Greenville-based activist Clinton Laird also was scheduled before post-surgical recovery stopped him from attending.
Find video footage of the simulation at www.ConventionOfStates.com. The text of Article V of the Constitution follows:
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 founders of this great nation, recognizing that any human work is imperfect, knew their great creation would need some “tweaking,” and if Congress couldn’t do it, they looked to the states, or two-thirds of them (38 of the 50 today), to fix the problem with a constitutional amendment.
Between 1789 and the end of the last Congress in 2014, approximately 11,539 measures to amend the Constitution were proposed in Congress. Just 33 became amendments proposed by Congress to the States for ratification, and only 27 of those subsequently were ratified to become part of the Constitution, 10 of them known collectively as the Bill of Rights.
Article V’s Convention of States never has been used.
The simulation I attended is a creation of center-right and even libertarian political elements who tend to value smaller federal government, with more of the balance of power shifted back to the states, as the founders seemed to have intended.
“I’m wary of a government that intends to make subjects of its citizens,” a phrase I use to self-describe, would also apply to many of the women and men in that Williamsburg room.
Interestingly, a much smaller, even niche, political movement on the left contemplates a similar strategy for different political goals.
Said to be funded by currency-trading billionaire George Soros, it hopes to water down the protections of the 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms, and perhaps move America even more towards the Western European social democracy with its layers of safety nets for whoever wants to avail themselves.
Whether one stands where George Soros stands, or where Mark Mekler, a founder of this simulation, stands, a real impatience exists in America with Congress and its inability to create change, to hold itself accountable.
Public opinion surveys for generations have shown that most of us really like our own congressional representatives – Sen. Tom Carper, Sen. Chris Coons, and Rep. John Carney, all Democrats in Delaware’s case – but that we don’t like and don’t trust the institution of Congress.
I’ve known all three since before any of them ever were elected the first time. They’re good guys, and Congress is full of good guys and women like them. But, somehow, perhaps because so many are beholden to the special interests who got them there, Congress rarely has mustered the political will to raise what they spend, and then spend only what they raise.
Federal debt today is $19.5 trillion, or some $60,000 for every woman, man and child in America. With a population of 324 million residents, the U.S. raises about $3.2 trillion in tax revenue, or $10,000 each, from every individual, according to www.USDebtClock.org. The U.S. is spending $2.5 trillion, or 3/4 of what it raises from each individual, just in interest on the national debt.
Imagine your household has $100,000 in income, but, before any mortgages, you’re carrying $600,000 just in credit card debt that you have to service. You get the idea!
What my generation, and the couple of generations before me, has done in enslaving our children and grandchildren to this debt burden is so immoral as to be disgusting.
That right-thinking individuals around America today are thinking of exercising for the first time ever the “circuit-breaker” the founders intended, an Article V Convention of States, is inevitable. I’d ask people to read up on this, join up, and consider it.