It’s time for Federalism and a Convention of States

Based on the headline, a reader may assume that the cause of our angst is the Presidential election. In truth, that’s the most notable symptom of a much bigger problem. That problem is systemic. It’s rooted in a sickness in the halls of government as well as the electorate that produced the two annoying symptoms we see running for President. If anything, we can count it as a blessing that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have helped us see the truth: without dramatic actions laid out in the Constitution and set forth by our founding fathers, we will not be able to fix the issues.

Call me overoptimistic, but I see at least a little bit of a silver lining in these two awful nominees. They showed us that we have to act united as a people to rein in the plague of federal government expansion that has weakened the country for far too long.

As a publication, we are very much in favor of an Article V Convention of States, but last week we published a controversial article in opposition to it. We do not believe in censoring our writers despite repeated calls (and threats) to do so. We prefer discourse and published every comment made on the article, including several that probably shouldn’t have been published due to their lack of manners. This was a special case so we let them slide.

The opening to the article made it clear that these were the views of the author alone. Nevertheless, the publication as a whole was attacked on multiple fronts. These attacks came from those who didn’t take into consideration that we’ve been adamant supporters of a CoS as a publication from the moment we launched. Moreover, we’ve supported the cause on the grassroots level, through donations, and with multiple articles in favor of one. Here’s an example of an article I published on DaTechGuyBlog a little over a month ago. I’m not the only voice on this site that feels this way, as one of other writers demonstrated last year.

As Mark Levin, Jim DeMint, Tom Coburn and other patriots have noted in recent years, the turmoil in government is intertwined. Sometimes with good intentions but often as a result of corruption, the federal government has become a juggernaut that must consume in order to maintain its power. The more it consumes, the bigger it gets, which means it must consume more, which makes it grow larger; this cycle can never end without two very dramatic steps.

The first step is the unification of forces. There are plenty of great people working towards the cause, but they are often disparate in either their overall goals or their methods to achieve them. We believe in the purposeful intent of a CoS: clearly define what must be accomplished encapsulated within a single subject. Too often people associate “clearly defined” with being big and detailed, but that’s not how the founding fathers saw it and neither do we. The 2nd Amendment, for example, didn’t require hundreds of pages to be “clearly defined.” In fact, it barely required a single page. Some would say that this has been the cause of confusion, but that would be a logical fallacy. When a subject is clearly defined with as few words as necessary to state the clear intent, the result is a touchstone by which the convention can establish the necessary amendments. To us, the subject that would work the best to lead into a CoS would be something like this:

To balance the power between states and the federal government by removing unnecessary and/or unconstitutional powers that have been accumulated by the federal government since its inception.

To understand why we believe a CoS must be guided by purposeful intent, let’s look at one of the most popular individual calls made by some groups promoting it: a balanced budget amendment. We can have a balanced budget amendment, but as a standalone amendment it would result in increased taxation and tariffs. In other words, by simply taking away the power of the federal government to spend more than it has coming in, their response will be to bring more money in rather than to make the necessary cuts. When our goal is clearly defined as stated above, we reduce the risk of inappropriate amendments being ratified.

The biggest fear is a “runaway convention” that goes hog wild and reforms the government under modernized perspectives. Such an event would essentially rewrite the Constitution and send the nation into chaos and collapse… if you listen to those fearful of a CoS. It’s not that their concerns are completely invalid. If the framework is established through clearly defined intent of purpose, the chances of a runaway convention are reduced to nearly zero. This isn’t like Congress making laws or a President signing executive orders. This would be “commissioners” of the states attempting to bring balance by removing unnecessary overreach and irresponsible practices perpetrated by their “nemesis” – the federal government. With the right intent, they will not take too much power away from the federal government to the point that it could be subservient to the state governments. In fact, the only legitimate fear is that they will not do enough to rein in the federal government to the point of balance.

As unlikely as it would be to see things spiral out of control if the CoS is called with the appropriate subject as the reason, we still can’t risk it without one further step: a new conservative party that held enough sway in the form of voters. This new party would not need to be at a stage where it controlled enough seats in the state legislatures. It would only have to represent the will of a large portion of the voting population. 15% would be a nice number. The goal would be to compel the legislatures, most of which are Republican controlled, to select a majority of commissioners with small government conservative principles at their core. Essentially, we’d need to hand-pick our commissioners in as many states as possible; 38 votes are required to ratify an amendment. That means we’d need to place conservative majorities in the 38 most suitable states.

Unlike with most elections, a CoS proposal and ratification vote pays no attention to state size. Alaska and California have equal say – one vote. The votes are decided by a caucus of commissioners in each state selected by the legislature. This is why we need a new party to work in concert with efforts by the grassroots. It all has to come together at once with at least 34 states backing the same subject in order to call the CoS while a new party works in those states to compel legislatures to pick our delegates. If we have enough voters unified behind this message, we’ll have the clout to hold a majority of commissioners in a supermajority of states.

I know this can all be confusing and a single article doesn’t come close to detailing the plan in full, but the key takeaways are these:

An Article V Convention of States is the only way to steadfastly unravel the mess that the federal government has made. A new party such as a Federalist Party would need to have clout to control the results of the CoS. Combined, these two steps represent the most tenable process to rein in the federal government before it’s too late.

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on The New Americana on November 3, 2016, and was transferred here for relevance.