It’s time for Federalism and a Convention of States

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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.

JD Rucker

JD Rucker is Editor of this site as well as Soshable, a Conservative Christian Blog. He is a Christian, a husband, a father, and founder of both Judeo Christian Church and Dealer Authority. He drinks a lot of coffee, usually in the form of a 5-shot espresso over ice. Find him on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

6 Comments
  1. A few weeks ago, Ben Domench of the TheFederalist.com, discussed the viability of a single issue party to force action my a major party. Ben pointed out that is exactly what the Prohibition Party (still in existence) did to the GOP. They competed against Republicans weak on prohibition, costing the GOP seats, and at least one presidential election. The Republican Party finally adopted the issue and prohibition was passed.

    The dynamics today are a little different. The Republican leadership is not conservative and they really don’t care about winning a majority and pushing an agenda. They prefer to be the minority at the table of power in a big, centralized government rather than the majority at the table of power in a small government with limited and enumerated powers.

    Given the crisis driven media and concerns on other issues, a single-issue party might not even be able to compete effectively in isolated districts.

    Still, there are probably some useful ideas to be taken from the mental exercise. If the Federalist Party makes restoring balance of power and federalism the cornerstone of the party platform, some Republicans might move toward our position.

    I still think a party offering a “complete” platform is necessary. Emphasizing a simple and memorable agenda representing three or five points that all originate from the overall goal of restoring federalism will make a deep impression and define us. The full platform provides depth and backup to round out a governing vision.

    1. As usual, you’re spot on. That’s the goal – 1 primary issue (smaller government) and several satellite issues (life, protecting liberty, promoting sovereignty, etc) upon which to build the party.

  2. Indeed…. A new party with the primary purpose of returning this Nation to the fundamentals of the Constitution, is right to use the platform our Founders crafted. Restore our Liberty, or the result is death.

  3. The convention that scrapped the Articles and produced the Constitution was essentially a CoS. Seems naive to think a CoS could ever be properly restrained when we can’t seem to do so with the central government created with the scrapping of the Articles. JS

  4. While it is much appreciated that TNA is willing to publish an article not in lockstep with their own thinking, many of these comments alluded to were out of line and anything but constructive. I do commend TNA for publishing them. We need to understand where these people are coming from. We need to hear their voice. They are very revealing. I would say right here and now, that the tactics described by TNA of the effort at intimidation of the website by these “patriots” indicates the unreadiness for the deliberation and calm reflection that is absolutely essential in any such endeavor. If this is the CoS “team”, I would not care to make common cause with them. There were also a number of very thoughtful comments which supported my view.

    I have submitted many articles on a regular basis to TNA and from time to time I have received emails from JD Rucker with regard to the effort to establish and build a new conservative party. In reply to some of these I stated quite clearly and up-front the fact that if TNA were supporting a constitutional convention I would NOT concur with that agenda. I have been open and above-board all the way. All of my articles reflect my own, and not someone else’s opinion. If others agree with me, I am gratified. But I do not parrot someone else’s statements. Many of the ugly and inappropriate comments which were posted made it very obvious that they were a part of an organized campaign – not only to promote a con-con, but to attempt to silence any opposition to it, which is nothing if not un-American in spirit. If these are the people who will be working with TNA on this project, I would want no part of it. If there is one thing we would need in the unfortunate case of such a convention being called, it is a spirit of willingness to listen to the concerns of others and an interest in the reasons for those concerns. That is not evident in the comments of those who wrote urging this convention. At least one bragged that at a meeting of such an organization the one dissenter was shouted down. I would hope these are not the allies of Mr. Rucker et al.

    As to the body of this article, I would suggest that while some prominent figures are cited here as supporting this convention, many others of equal and greater prominence have strongly opposed such a route. Further, Mr. Rucker herein states that there is a “sickness in the halls of Congress . . . “. I believe the sickness is in the people who elect the people who are in the halls of Congress – people who have been persuaded to vote for the “lesser of evils” for generations. People like Mr. Levin, himself, who never fails to disappoint. Levin will rage unrestrainedly against the failures of people such as Mitch McConnell or Mitt Romney or John McCain or Donald Trump, whom he rightly takes to task for this failure to represent the Republican and conservative base that is called time and again to come to their aid and put them over the top every election year. Then, like clockwork, Levin collapses in on himself, endorsing the very people who are destroying first the Republican Party, then the two-party system, and finally America itself. It is these people, who consistently fail in the clutch, who send these miscreants to Congress, who are to blame. They are clearly not ready to put country first, or to strategize as to how to outflank these betrayers. They put party first, America second. This cannot be put on anyone else. And putting forward band-aid remedies such as “term limits” for example, only makes children of us. (“No, you can’t vote for this one.”) If we are to be worthy of self-governance we must be ready to vote out someone who doesn’t keep his word once elected! If we did this, we might elect some Democrats, true, but it need be for only ONE TERM. Then we could elect a conservative who knew that we were serious about not being betrayed. We could learn from Don Corleone on this. The defeat of the candidate who betrays us would be a warning and a direct signal to the next one we elect that we expect him to keep his promises. This is the kind of term limit the Founders envisioned. And, as John Adams observed, our Constitution is fit only for a virtuous people. I would think this is what he meant.

    No constitution – no matter how perfect, will work if we do not OBEY it. Our present Constitution is not really the problem at all. It is the fact that no one is holding our government to account when they violate it. This accounting must take place on election day.

    I disagree with Mr. Rucker and those who support a constitutional convention, and I further refuse to play word games about it. Any convention called to consider amendments to our Constitution is – by definition – a constitutional convention, no matter what you PREFER to call it. No doubt many, including Mr. Rucker and his associates, support the idea because they care about America and think this is the “only way” to “fix things”. This, however, would be to open the door to a horde of groups who do NOT care about America. This was visited in my original article. I have since, by the way, submitted an article by way of rebuttal, but this has not as of yet been posted. I do not disparage people of good conscience who would put their reputations on the line for this – it is a very great risk, indeed, but my issue is that it is not just “their” Constitution – they are risking OUR Constitution. They want us to trust them not only to be the kind of leaders our Founders were, but also to contain the urges and agendas of those who do not have our best interests at heart. TNA itself would not exist if its founders did not believe these groups and organizations were a threat. Frankly, I would not trust anyone to do this in today’s political world – even TNA.

    There are two kinds of “conservative” – those who think we must have a GOP victory and those who think Reince Priebus and company need a lesson more than they need a victory. Mr. Levin, Mr. Coburn and many others are in the former category. I think the answer lies in the latter category.

    I stand by every word of my original article. I doubt not that my merely commenting on this article will spawn more venom. So be it. With all due respect, I sincerely disagree with the idea of a constitutional convention. I would call upon those who value the Constitution we have and would like to see such amendments as are deemed necessary undertaken without the peril of opening it up to “improvements” by such groups, to petition their state to rescind any existing resolutions in support of this and to actively oppose adoption of such resolutions should they be brought forward.

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