The state of American liberty and the need for an Article V convention of states

Article V Convention of States

This time last year, my excitement for the upcoming election season was perhaps higher than ever before – surely, the rather obvious failure of Obama’s progressivism paired with a ridiculously distrusted and unlikable opposition in Hillary Clinton would pave the way for the Republicans to nominate and elect virtually any candidate they pleased.  The possibilities seemed endless to such a degree that even a strong and principled, libertarian-leaning conservative such as Rand Paul or Ted Cruz, who normally would fall outside the conventionally “electable” boundaries of the mainstream conservative voter, would become imminently viable as the nation grasped for a return to its roots.

My hopes and dreams for a nation worthy of leaving to my own children, one steeped in virtue and principles, and governed with the consent of an engaged and interested electorate seemed at hand.  Surely, a leader worthy of our collective respect who transcended the traditional party boundaries was set to rise from the ashes of decades of decline, domestic failure, and the erosion of freedom.

With at least a few good, solid choices present in the numerous Republican candidates that first took the debate stage last year, the opportunity to nominate a principled, conservative leader to guide the nation was possible, if not likely.  A principled leader would force debate on the merits of the conventional points of political discussion, finally setting up an intellectual showdown between individual liberty and limited federal governance and Progressive central planning and intervention.

It is difficult to overstate my disappointment in the selection of Donald Trump as that standard bearer.

Aside from favoring beliefs that are consistently antithetical to the foundation of American individual liberty, such as his recent support for unconstitutional restrictions on the Second Amendment, his recent support for a “path to citizenship” for illegal aliens, his recent support for punitive Progressive taxation, his recent advocacy for some sort of government-funded national healthcare scheme, his support for an unconstitutional “wealth tax”, and his recent call to “open up our libel laws” so newspapers can be sued for writing “purposely negative” articles (which is clearly unconstitutional) and articles which are “horrible and false” (which is already illegal), Trump is a progressive disaster of a mess of a candidate.

Perhaps I simply don’t understand Trump’s appeal because I lack his “very good brain” and have never enjoyed the opportunity to defend the size of my genitals on national television.  But, then again, I don’t “know words” and “have the best words” that Donald Trump clearly has, deviously contrary to the fourth grade vocabulary comprising virtually all of his speeches.

After spending decades hawking infomercial-esque failures such as Trump Steaks, Trump Airlines, Trump Ice, Trump: The Game (in which I assume the player capable of uttering a sentence containing more than six words wins by default), Trump casino (Taj Mahal), Trump Mortgage, Trump University (which is currently a defendant in a fraud lawsuit by several former students), and Trump Vodka, Donald Trump and the Republican party are pitching America on the biggest, glitter-covered impending failure yet:

Trump Presidency

There is no reason that Donald Trump’s signature move should be accepted in this election – spray painting a plastic ring and selling it to you as solid gold is not a valid or effective form of leadership, even in today’s orange spray tan, selfie-obsessed world.

Now, as the Republican party convention kicks off in Cleveland and the 2016 election devolves further into a runaway, fireworks-filled dumpster fire of a train wreck, with Donald Trump at the helm, where can the liberty minded find solace?

Our efforts thus far have failed – both parties have chosen dishonest, progressive, east coast, big government tyrants.  With literally zero quick and relatively easy options left, the only place to turn is to perhaps the most radical solution short of civil war (which I do not advocate) – an intellectual revolution in the form of an Article V Convention of States.

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 (emphasis mine).  – U.S. Constitution, Article V

While an Article V convention has never previously been called by the states, applications by individual states have existed for decades and are supported by libertarian-minded heavyweights such as Ted Cruz and Mark Levin.  Today’s movement is being spearheaded by Citizens for Self Governance, who have proposed a model resolution for consideration and passage by the state legislatures, which limits the scope of such a convention to proposing amendments for the express purpose of imposing fiscal constraint, limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limiting the terms of office for members of Congress and other governmental offices, such as the Supreme Court.

More detailed suggestions proposed by Citizens for Self Governance for amendments within this framework are proposing term limits upon all members of Congress and the Supreme Court, a balanced budget amendment that restricts the ability of the government to raise taxes, redefining and clarifying the extent of the General Welfare clause, redefining and clarifying the extent of the Commerce Clause, and limitations upon the use of executive orders and federal regulations which have the weight of law, among others.

It should be noted that such a convention, while groundbreaking and without any existing guiding precedent for the rules and organization for such a momentous event, is not a more traditional “constitutional convention.”  An Article V convention occurs within the structure of the existing Constitution and any proposals that such a convention produces must still be ratified by three quarters of all state legislatures, exactly how the same ratification process as the existing Amendments proposed by Congress has worked.

An Article V Convention of States requires applications from two thirds of state legislatures, or 34 states.  As of this writing, 33 state legislatures are controlled by Republican majorities and six states have passed the model application (or a similar variation of it).  Several other legislatures are expected to consider and pass the model application in the coming months and years.

Liberty is not dead in America, but it is bleeding against the ropes.

So, rather than spending our time carefully agonizing over which of the 2016 red or blue port-a-potties to execute a perfect cannonball into, or wallowing in despair over the destruction of a once great nation, the liberty movement should focus on the only solution left in the toolbox – radical, intellectual revolution in the form of an Article V Convention of States, to propose amendments that clearly and unquestionably limit the scope of the federal government to the originally intended boundaries, thereby freeing its citizens and states to govern themselves as they best see fit.

M.A. Weimer

M.A. Weimer is the founder of The Bulletproof Patriot, a constitutional liberties blog, a husband, a father, and an engineer. He is a fierce defender of individual rights and constitutional federalism and believes that the best form of government is the one closest and most accessible to those it impacts.

  1. Totally disagree with an Article V convention. Progressive Liberal Socialists aka GOP Establishment (those worshiping Lying Trump) and Democrats will remove every last vestige protecting American individual rights.

    1. This used to be a fear of mine, as well, but remember that such a convention is limited in scope and would require ratification of 3/4 of states. The alternative is what we currently have, which means fighting and continuing losing ground. I think we both can agree that the status quo is not acceptable. It is time for a radical solution. Fighting Progressivism with the courts or trying to change minds via the media is a battle already lost.

    2. Like the idea of Article V. Puts the process back into the hands of the states, specifically as the Founders prescribed. Ratification process helps ensure “a runaway convention” is unlikely. Provides ample time for open debate on proposed amendments. A vibrant republic requires an active citizenry. This aids that.

  2. I prefer an Article V convention similar to the electoral college model – not an actual place, but more a process. It will of course require more than the 2/3 from the get go, but this method of doing the convention accomplishes all the elements required in Article V and provides a level of certainty that a brick and mortar convention won’t be hijacked and become at least a big waste of time. We have never had an Article V convention, so the first has the honor of setting the precedent.

    In this proposed version of the Article V convention, 3/4 (instead of 2/3) of the state legislatures act as their own convention delegates so they can in a single Act do the three separate things required by the states in Article V: First, as a state legislature they petition congress for the Article V convention, second, as their state’s delegates to the convention they affirm the (pre-written) text for an amendment proposal, and finally third, as a state legislature they tender their ratification of the same. The second part of the Act is set to take affect after 2/3 (34) of the states adopt this same Act and congress calls for the convention, and the third part of the act is set to take affect after 3/4 (38) of the states adopt this same Act.

    1. I’m not sure I agree with this approach, even if it is geared towards a more efficient and productive convention in which the actual amending can occur quickly. The reason is that it removes the decision making process from a distributed one in which the legislatures meet and debate in their respective states (which would be more accessible to the People to influence and have input), so a centralized one in which no local debate occurs before the final decision is made.

  3. Agree with your points here. Like you, I was so hoping for a conservative leader to emerge from the rather extensive field with which we started. I’m beyond shocked at where we have ended up, and feel now that no matter which candidate wins, a Convention Of States may be our best, and only, and last hope of containing Washington, short of (as you pointed out) an armed revolution or an attempt to split America into two countries, either of which would result in deaths and destruction beyond comprehension.

    Thanks for your lucid (and calm) explanation.

  4. Very good insights and it is easy to support the recommendation. An Article V Convention of States is our best tool for restoring federalism and sanity to dealing with our federal government. Overreach through rules, regulations, laws, and prosecution is unsustainable and oppressive. Time to mount the repair that will serve us much better than progressive transformation into total administrative authority. Thanks for penning it so well!

  5. Considerably valid points about Trump. An Article V convention will not avoid people like Trump being elected to the presidency. When and only when Americans decide to change their hearts for the country and not for the politicians will a good president ever be elected again. However, the Article V Convention can and will help the states gain back the power that has been slowly sucked out of each state, with the majority of the power configured like the leftist in large cities. Our major city citizens are killing the fundamentals of freedom. We need a government that will stand up to the constitution and not the left leaning elite from the big cities.

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