America’s Founders anticipated that the US federal government could one day become corrupt. And they knew that a corrupt government would never reform or restrain itself. So they crafted an escape clause in Article V of the US Constitution: the states could, if they deemed it necessary, propose Constitutional Amendments reining in the central government by calling a Convention of States.
They didn’t want such a convention to be called on light cause, so they didn’t make it easy; indeed, there has never been a Convention of States. Thirty-four disparate states would need to agree in order to trigger such a convention. It would be even harder to actually amend the Constitution — thirty-eight states would need to ratify any amendment proposed by such a convention.
Such a convention is now just fifteen states away from being called, with rapid progress toward a call expected in many of these remaining states. It’s very likely that within two years, such a convention will have reached its critical mass.
Why? Few Americans at this point think the central government isn’t out of control. The federal debt is a on an unrelenting and accelerating path to insolvency. Congress and its appointed agencies generate endless new laws and regulations, repealing few; the total body of law has more than doubled since just 1970. Not surprisingly, the US has the world’s highest ratio of prisoners per capita. As the saying goes, “the more laws, the more offenders.” But isn’t this what voting Americans want? After all, they elected Congress. No, only 21% of the US population approves the job that their elected Congresspeople are doing. Just vote them out, you say? Thanks to corruption of the political process, many Congresspeople are essentially elected for life, with incumbents typically reelected 80% of the time. As the federal government takes over more of our lives, forcing one-size-fits-all decisions on the country, right and left are increasingly divided. All this is unsustainable, and the most likely outcome, without root and branch reform, is disaster.
Is there risk in a Convention of States? Here are five short videos that explain how such a convention would work, and why it’s safer than you think.
To get the basics, you could hardly do better than this lucid explanation by Rob Kelly, Counsel for the Convention of States Action. It’s just a 9-minute speech, but he nails the key points in a rapid-fire opening statement.
Think it’s too risky? Listen to this intelligent discussion led by political commentator Tim Poole.
President Dwight Eisenhower, in the waning days of his administration, saw that the federal government was getting out of control. He warned of what he called The Military Industrial Complex, that is a confluence of corporate and military interest pushing for unnecessary wars. He also saw that the day might come when the people would need to invoke Article V and call a Convention of States to regain control of the federal government. His message: when the time comes, do it, call the convention.
Milton Friedman correctly observed that without a cap on federal spending and taxation, both would rise inexorably, taking financial control of more and more of ordinary Americans’ lives. The only solution, he said, is to amend the Constitution. Of course, Congress isn’t about to limit its own spending, so that cap must be imposed from the outside.
Lastly, here’s an inspiring pitch for the Convention of States.