We see four major abuses perpetrated by the federal government.
These abuses are not mere instances of bad policy. They are driving us towards an age of “soft tyranny” in which the government does not shatter men’s wills but “softens, bends, and guides” them. If we do nothing to halt these abuses, we run the risk of becoming, as Alexis de Tocquevill warned in 1840, nothing more than “a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.” (Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 1840)
1. The Spending and Debt Crisis
The $17 trillion national debt is staggering, but it only tells a part of the story. If we apply the normal rules of accounting, the federal government owes trillions more in vested Social Security benefits and other programs. This is why the government cannot tax its way out of debt. Even if they confiscated everything, it would not cover the debt.
2. The Regulatory Crisis
The federal bureaucracy has placed a regulatory burden upon businesses that is complex, conflicted, and crushing. Little accountability exists when agencies—rather than Congress—enact the real substance of the law. Research from the American Enterprise Institute, shows that since 1949 federal regulations have lowered the real GDP growth by 2% and made America 72% poorer.
3. Congressional Attacks on State Sovereignty
For years, Congress has been using federal grants to keep the states under its control. Using these grants accompanied by mandates (which are rarely fully funded), Congress has turned state legislatures into their regional agencies rather than truly independent republican governments.
A radical social agenda and an erosion of the rights of the people accompany all of this. While substantial efforts have been made to combat the social engineering and to protect peoples’ rights, we have missed one of the most important principles of the American founding.
4. Federal Takeover of the Decision-Making Process
The Founders believed that the structures of a limited government would provide the greatest protection of liberty. There were to be checks and balances at the federal level. And everything not specifically granted to Congress for legislative control was to be left to the states.
Collusion among decision-makers in Washington, D.C., has replaced these checks and balances. The federal judiciary supports Congress and the White House in its ever-escalating attack upon the jurisdiction of the fifty states.
We need to realize that the structure of decision-making matters. Who decides what the law shall be is even more important than what is decided. The protection of liberty requires a strict adherence to the principle that power is limited and delegated.
Washington, D.C., does not believe this principle, as evidenced by an unbroken practice of expanding the boundaries of federal power. In a remarkably frank admission, the Supreme Court rebuffed another challenge to the federal spending power by acknowledging their approval of programs that violate the will of the Founders:
This framework has been sufficiently flexible over the past two centuries to allow for enormous changes in the nature of government. The Federal Government undertakes activities today that would have been unimaginable to the Framers in two senses; first, because the Framers would not have conceived that any government would conduct such activities; and second, because the Framers would not have believed that the Federal Government, rather than the States, would assume such responsibilities. Yet the powers conferred upon the Federal Government by the Constitution were phrased in language broad enough to allow for the expansion of the Federal Government’s role.
New York v. United States, 505 U.S. 144, 157 (1992).
What Does this Mean?
This is not a partisan issue. Washington, D.C., will never voluntarily relinquish meaningful power—no matter who is elected. The only rational conclusion is this: unless some political force outside of Washington, D.C., intervenes, the federal government will continue to bankrupt this nation, embezzle the legitimate authority of the states, and destroy the liberty of the people. Rather than securing the blessings of liberty for future generations, Washington, D.C., is on a path that will enslave our children and grandchildren to the debts of the past.
The problem is big, but we have a solution. Article V gives us a tool to fix the mess in D.C.
We are approaching a crossroads.
One path leads to the escalating power of an irresponsible centralized government, ultimately resulting in the financial ruin of generations of Americans. The other path leads to the restoration of liberty and an American renaissance.
The correct path can be found within Article V of the United States Constitution.
Many people don’t know that there are two methods to propose amendments to the Constitution, both found under Article V.
- Congress can propose amendments to the Constitution at any time if 2/3 of both houses of Congress agree.
- A Convention of States can propose amendments if 2/3 of states submit applications for such a convention. These applications must all deal with the same issue (i.e., limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government).
The Founders knew the federal government might one day become drunk with the abuses of power. The most important check to this power is Article V. Article V gives states the power to call a convention for the purpose of proposing amendments to the Constitution.
By calling a convention of the states, we can stop the federal spending and debt spree, the power grabs of the federal courts, and other misuses of federal power. The current situation is precisely what the Founders feared, and they gave us a solution we have a duty to use.
After the states propose, debate, and vote upon the proposed amendments, they will be sent to the 50 state legislatures for ratification. Three-quarters of the states must agree for any of the proposed amendments to be ratified.
Congress has no authority to stop such a process. The Founders made sure of that.
We are approaching a crossroads. Which path will we choose?
We believe our strategy give us an almost certain chance of success.
Two goals separate our plan from all other Article V organizations:
1. We want to call a convention for a particular subject rather than a particular amendment. Instead of calling a convention for a balanced budget amendment (though we are entirely supportive of such an amendment), we want to call a convention for the purpose of limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government.
2. We believe the grassroots is the key to calling a successful convention. The goal is to build a political operation in a minimum of 40 states, getting 100 people to volunteer in at least 75% of the state’s legislative district. We believe this is very doable. Only through the support of the American people will this project have a chance to succeed.
Our Solution is Big Enough to Solve the Problem
Rather than calling a convention for a specific amendment, Citizens for Self-Governance (CSG) has launched the Convention of the States Project to urge state legislatures to properly use Article V to call a convention for a particular subject—reducing the power of Washington, D.C. It is important to note that a convention for an individual amendment (e.g. a Balanced Budget Amendment) would be limited to that single idea. Requiring a balanced budget is a great idea that CSG fully supports. Congress, however, could comply with a Balanced Budget Amendment by simply raising taxes. We need spending restraints as well. We need restraints on taxation. We need prohibitions against improper federal regulation. We need to stop unfunded mandates.
A convention of states needs to be called to ensure that we are able to debate and impose a complete package of restraints on the misuse of power by all branches of the federal government.
What Sorts of Amendments Could be Passed?
The following are examples of amendment topics that could be discussed at a convention of states:
- A balanced budget amendment
- A redefinition of the General Welfare Clause (the original view was the federal government could not spend money on any topic within the jurisdiction of the states)
- A redefinition of the Commerce Clause (the original view was that Congress was granted a narrow and exclusive power to regulate shipments across state lines–not all the economic activity of the nation)
- A prohibition of using international treaties and law to govern the domestic law of the United States
- A limitation on using Executive Orders and federal regulations to enact laws (since Congress is supposed to be the exclusive agency to enact laws)
- Imposing term limits on Congress and the Supreme Court
- Placing an upper limit on federal taxation
- Requiring the sunset of all existing federal taxes and a super-majority vote to replace them with new, fairer taxes
Of course, these are merely examples of what would be up for discussion. The convention of states itself would determine which ideas deserve serious consideration, and it will take a majority of votes from the states to formally propose any amendments.
The Founders gave us a legitimate path to save our liberty by using our state governments to impose binding restraints on the federal government. We must use the power granted to the states in the Constitution.
The leadership of the COS Project believes the success of a convention of states depends to a large extent on the American citizens. Our plan is as follows:
1. We seek to have a viable political operation that is active in a minimum of 40 states.
2. Our goal is to have local leaders–District Captains–in at least 75% of the districts in these states.
3. District captains will organize at least 100 people in each of these districts to contact their legislator to support a convention of the states, and turn out at least 25 people per district at legislative hearings.
Legislators must know that our grassroots team will have their backs if they support a convention of the states. A widespread grassroots organization has been missing from the Article V movement. CSG’s President, Mark Meckler, was the co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots—one of the largest tea party groups in the country. Michael Farris is the founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association. As such, he brings with him over 30 years of grassroots leadership and activism in all 50 states. We are rapidly building not only a staff for this project, but networking with like-minded coalition members who will support this project once they see it up and running.
We believe that our unique application strategy combined with strong grassroots support will guarantee the success of this Project.
Only one question remains. Will you help us?
NORM ‘n’ AL Note: If you believe, like a majority of Americans, that this country is in dire need of help today, you owe it to yourself as a citizen and to the USA as the country to which you pledge your allegiance, to be part of that help. Visit ConventionOfStates.com now to learn more and to explore the many ways you can provide valuable assistance.
As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by
NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis