Moreover, it’s revealing just how little the proponents of an Article V convention (aka a convention of the states, a constitutional convention, or a Con-Con) talk about restoring the Constitution as originally intended.
1. The Constitution Is Not the Problem.
We must correct all those Article V convention proponents who constantly refer to the need to rein in our “out-of-control” government. What we are actually facing is an “out-of-compliance-with-the-Constitution” government. Therefore, the Constitution is not the problem, so changing the Constitution with an Article V convention is not the solution. The only true solution, as daunting as it may appear, is a large-scale, grassroots, constitutional education program that would inform the electorate sufficiently to demand adherence to the Constitution from their representatives. Without such an informed electorate, no form of constitution, whether our current Constitution, a revised Constitution, or a completely rewritten constitution, will work.
As James Madison stated in a speech at the Virginia Ratifying Convention on June 20, 1788:
But I go on this great republican principle, that the people will have virtue and intelligence to select men of virtue and wisdom. Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks — no form of government can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea.
Or, as Thomas Jefferson said in a similar vein in a letter to Colonel Charles Yancey on January 6, 1816: “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”2. All Article V Conventions Would Have the Inherent Power to Be Runaway Conventions.
To their great credit, most state legislators have voted down most Article V convention applications over the past thirty years, based on their belief that such a convention could easily become a “runaway convention” that could make harmful changes to the Constitution. In truth, all Article V conventions would have the inherent power to be “runaway conventions” that could propose harmful revisions to the Constitution as well as provide for new methods for ratification that would increase the likelihood that the harmful revisions would be adopted.
Such conventions would consolidate the inherent powers of a free people, whose right “to alter or abolish” our government is described in the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence:
Based on this right as proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence coupled with the precedent of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, an Article V convention would therefore be empowered to rewrite the Constitution without any limit on its action. In this sense such a convention would be superior to Congress, the Executive Branch, and Supreme Court, or any state legislature as well. In Federalist No. 78, Madison justified the legitimacy of the 1787 Constitutional Convention by referring to the “fundamental principle of republican government, which admits the right of the people to alter or abolish the established Constitution, whenever they find it inconsistent with their happiness.”That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Therefore, on the one hand, we acknowledge the transcendent blessings we’ve received from the Constitution of 1787; however, on the other hand, we must warn against the great dangers to our freedoms and rights that would be posed by an inherently unlimited Article V convention at this time in our nation’s history. See the next section for why we say this.
3. An Article V Convention Would Enable Powerful Special Interests to Revise the Constitution in Their Favor.
A Rasmussen poll of 1,000 likely voters conducted April 15-16, 2014 found that 67% “view the federal government today as a special interest group that looks out primarily for its own interests.”
What this poll result indicates is that about two-thirds of likely voters believe that special interests now control our federal government.
Which is to say that it is a fairly widely shared belief that our government is controlled by powerful special interest groups, such as Big Business, Big Labor, Big News Media, the Education Establishment, Foundations, Internationalist Foreign Policy Organizations, Big Political Donors, etc.
It is these special interest groups that over the last century or so have influenced public officials to usurp powers not granted in the Constitution.
Proponents of an Article V convention assure us that delegates appointed by state legislatures can propose amendments, the amendments can be ratified by the states, and the resulting amendments will miraculously rein in our “out-of-control” federal government. This starry-eyed scenario is a major fairy tale. Not only do special interests have working control over the federal government, they also have powerful influence over state legislatures. The power elites mentioned above have learned how to elect and influence federal and state legislators a very long time ago. You don’t believe it?
Just try working with other grassroots activists to stop the special interests’ Common Core education standards juggernaut in your state, and see how far you get!
As another striking example of just how pervasive special interests’ influence is over state legislatures, consider the current campaign by multinational corporations and internationalist foreign policy organizations in cooperation with the Obama administration and Republican leaders in Congress to merge the United States into a Trans-Pacific Union and a Trans-Atlantic Union via the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreements. Such mergers would mean the end of our national independence and personal freedoms as secured by the Constitution.
Nevertheless, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which boasts of nearly 300 corporate and private foundation members (including many leading multinational corporations) and nearly 2,000 state legislator members (out of the national total of about 7,000), officially supports both the TPP and TTIP agreements on its website. Furthermore, ALEC is a major supporter of Article V conventions and has been for several decades. For further information read, “The Not-so-smart ALEC” by Bill Jasper, posted at TheNewAmerican.com on April 21, 2014, and “How the Free Trade Agenda Is Knocking Down America,” a Special Report of The New American, September 2, 2013 (order copies at ShopJBS.org or also available as a PDF at JBS.org).
Since powerful special interest groups have such extensive influence over the federal and state levels of government, the most likely result of one or more Article V conventions would be changes in the Constitution that legitimize the myriad usurpations of power that have already taken place in the service of the special interests. This would make it all the harder for We the People to ever regain control of the government from the special interests and secure our God-given rights.
What is absolutely necessary is to energize and inform enough citizens to turn this situation around. In order to secure our freedom, we must create an informed electorate that will roll back the power of the special interests by electing federal and state representatives who will enforce the Constitution as originally intended by the Founding Fathers.
The solution is the Constitution, not Article V.
(To learn more and take action on this issue, go to our "Choose Freedom — STOP A CON-CON" action project page.)
(This article was originally published in the February 2015 issue of the JBS Bulletin.)