I am so proud to be a citizen of the United States of America and more locally, a constituent in the state of Beer, cheese curds, and of course the Green Bay Packers.
I’m also a fervent history buff. I love the history of our country; the good, the bad, and the ugly.
I love that we learn from our ugly parts and though it is slow going (see: Molasses in wintertime) our growing pains brought us to a country proud to be the freest and most amazing Constitutional Republic ever created. Okay, it’s the only Constitutional Republic ever created, or at least the only one that has survived over two centuries of war, shifting cultural ideologies, and the above-mentioned growing pains.
I love that our good parts are so strong that we overcame and continue to overcome the bad and the ugly parts of the nation. This is not to erase the stain of our ugly choices and the consequences. It is however, to praise the fact that we eradicated slavery, opened up equal opportunities for people across gender, ethnicity, and religious lines, and produced a thriving, growing economy that benefits not only our citizens, but people and nations on a global level.
As a strong proponent of learning from our past rather than rewriting it, it seems like a great time to address our Founders’ original intent for the second-best document on governance in the world (losing only to the Judeo-Christian scriptures).
We learn very little about the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence and the 39 signers of the Constitution in our history books these days. We hear about Jefferson, Franklin, and Washington, but we’re told that the signers of both of these inspired documents were deists, atheists, or just token Christians, dismissed as racist, sexist, bigoted, classist white men who may have had a few good ideas, but no foreknowledge or wisdom to extend to us in modern times.
We’re told they’re best left in the past, where they can collect dust along with the archaic documents they penned in fancy hand, while we enlightened, moderns can progress to greater heights and breathe new life into our “Living Constitution.”
This is just a nice, pretty way for people to say our government is as fluid as a fast-flowing river and changeable on the whims of a select few who hold the power at the federal level.
These same people who now turn to other nations for advice on how to run a country in these woke times. Because asking for advice from countries, who average a new constitution every seventeen years and can’t seem to figure out how to protect their own borders or fund national healthcare, is an excellent idea for the freest, most innovative and highly developed country in the world.
There is a reason America is the land of the free and the home of the brave with a Constitutional Republican form of government and a 232-year-old document that holds true in its original form, in spite of the butchery our federal government has performed on its pages in the last several decades.
America is a nation founded on principles, unchanging, unalterable principles firmly rooted in the acknowledgement of the laws of nature, nature’s God, and the immutable facts about human nature.
Men are not angels, and thus they need government. However, because men are at their core, made in God’s image, they are also able to create societies based on principles that all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. These rights are protected from government overreach and abuse by a fully informed, virtuous citizenry checking the government periodically to make certain their God-given rights are not abused.
The Constitution was written for one purpose and one purpose alone: To create checks and balances on a multi-level, multi-branched government wherein the powers given to this government were enumerated (written down, specific, and defined with clear boundary lines). These enumerated powers were put in place, divided amongst three federal branches with the sole purpose of protecting and defending the God-given rights of the United States citizens.
Whatever was not enumerated to the federal government was firmly in the hands of state governments and individuals who act as a parental figure over the federal government, keeping it in check on one more level.
Can we just pause to reflect on how amazing their wisdom and discernment were in how they wrote the Constitution? So concise and precise in every detail.
Every one of the Founders was firm on this point. The Federal government cannot touch our God-given rights.
Yet here we are, 232 years later, steadily losing our rights (see: Handing them over) one by one. We the People have grown complacent in our peaceful, prosperous nation and we have allowed the federal government to usurp the power from its parent states, glutting itself until our Constitution is barely recognizable under the weight of its overreach. We flipped our government on its head and we’re in deep trouble.
We need a fix and Congress isn’t going to give it to us. The judicial branch members are too busy being activist judges and making the laws rather than adjudicating them. The executive branch isn’t able to curb the abuses of power and federal spending no matter how many executive orders it signs.
It’s up to the states to remind the Feds that We the People are the parents and it’s past time we clarified the rules for them again.
Enter, a tiny, little known article in our Constitution called Article V. Our Founders were convinced (and argued for days about this) that there would come a time when our federal government got too big for its britches and they added a fail-safe, that would return us to the correct track, righting our course before we fell into complete and utter tyranny. After all, they’d just fought a long, bloody war to escape that very problem.
The Founders placed Article V in the Constitution carefully and coherently, as they did for the rest of the document, and a curious learner can easily access the full notes on the debate surrounding this article, thanks to James Madison’s meticulous record-keeping. While the first part of Article V was vigorously debated and argued before they accepted it, the second part regarding the rights of the states to propose its own convention was accepted with not one dissenting voice. Put another way, the Founders trusted in the voice of the people and the States so strongly, they unanimously accepted an Article V convention as a viable and necessary part of our Constitution, checking the Federal government when the Federal government refused to check itself.
Madison writes in his notes on September 15, 1787:
“Colonel George Mason thought the plan of amending the Constitution exceptionable & dangerous. As the proposing of amendments is in both the modes to depend, in the first immediately, in the second, ultimately, on Congress, no amendments of the proper kind would ever be obtained by the people, if the Government should become oppressive, as he verily believed would be the case.”
Any arguments people have against Article V can be debunked easily by reading the pages of writings by many of the Founders during that time. The Federalist Papers are a great place to start for an eager learner. However, this is it in a nutshell:
The argument that stands out the most against an Article V convention is the “runaway convention” argument.
It’s fascinating to think that after all the meticulous care the Founders took to place checks and balances on their government, the modern citizen could believe that these men left a massive Achilles heel open for the complete destruction of said government. A runaway convention implies that 34-plus states would convene, propose a complete overhaul of our Constitution, and then leave anarchy and mob rule in its destructive wake. This is patently ridiculous, and it’s never happened in all 232 years of the nation’s history. For those arguing that it did in the first Constitutional Convention, one simply has to read the original instructions given to the delegates for the 1787 convention to see that the Founders were honorable men who acted within the boundaries of their authority in a fledgling nation, and did exactly what they purposed to do: create a workable government that would last for generations, founded on immutable principles.
The Convention of States Project (COS) wants to call a convention on a particular subject, not a particular amendment.
It is painfully obvious the federal government is way out of bounds. It is, therefore, the states’ job to reign them in and the best way to do that is to call an Article V convention to propose amendments.
That is all the delegates can do at convention. They can argue, debate, and discuss the merits of various amendments to the original Constitution and propose (by a one vote per state process) amendments that will tackle the subject of federal overreach and abuse of power. They cannot ratify amendments nor can they overhaul the entire Constitution. Just like the Founders of old, they can propose ideas and bring them home to their states to either ratify or reject.
There are specific guidelines and boundaries our Founders put in place in order to run an Article V convention within the bounds of the Constitution. They even were given rules on how to reign in or return home those hypothetical rogue delegates who might try something crazy like repealing the Second Amendment.
The whole point of a Convention of States is to bring the states together to start the process of Constitution-saving measures that will clarify the few enumerated powers as laid down within its pages.
On that note, it would only take 13 states to vote down any crazy, runaway amendment proposed at convention. And once convention is called, the specific rules relating to how it is conducted and for what purpose would legally bind the states to its purpose and prevent destructive deviation.
As referenced earlier, one other objection is that men are not angels and therefore need a strong, centralized government to keep them in line.
Plainly put, those who oppose COS on this basis are saying that instead of a multitude of delegates representing each state, they want to place a relative few, non-angelic men at the top of the hierarchy of authority, trusting those non-angelic men to govern the rest of us wisely without ever falling back on human desires for power and money.
How is that working out for us?
Again, the Constitution was written to distribute the power in many ways in order to check the abuses of men, not consolidate them. Centralizing power only enhances and encourages man’s natural tendencies, rather than controlling and channeling them into pathways that harness the government to protect and defend.
The problem isn’t the Constitution. It is the abusive interpretations by the federal government in all three branches that led COS to call this convention.
Our original Constitution is the best and closest to perfect document on governance that it can humanly get. It is the men and women in power who corrupt it by interpreting it for their own gain in an effort to create a centralized government that will have its fingers in every aspect of its citizens’ public and private lives.
Amending the Constitution will be our best chance at clarifying the boundaries between what the federal government can and cannot do and will allow American citizens to continue to live as free, self-governing men and women, created equal by their Creator God, with the protections of their divinely given rights to life, liberty, and property once more firmly in place.
COS proposes this Article V convention because We the People realize that every generation has a duty to pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor to fight against the forces of oppression and tyranny to remain free, as our Founders and as God himself intended.
This is our time to join that fight.