Patterico's Pontifications


Should We Address a Corrupt Congress with a Constitutional Convention?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:20 am

[Note by Patterico: this post was written by our reader Leviticus and posted at The Jury Talks Back, my companion blog written by readers. I have decided to promote this post to the front page of my main blog because I am interested in seeing people’s responses to the poll question at the bottom of this post. I hope every reader, both lurkers and commenters from the left and the right, will answer that poll question. — Patterico]

[Guest post by Leviticus]

Article V of the Constitution states that Congress, “on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which… 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.”

To my knowledge, such a mechanism was included to prevent the potential tyranny of a detached national Legislative Branch; that is, it provides an external means of regulating members of Congress — their selection, their tenure, and their powers. It’s a contingency designed to facilitate an end-run around an institution (hypothetically) too corrupt to reform itself. At least that’s my take on it.

My question, then, is this: given the current state of American politics — whatever your take on that rather weighty antecedent may be – would you support or oppose an application for a Constitutional Convention by your own state legislature?

I got some polling software, and I hope it works smoothly, but one way or another I’d appreciate it if you elaborated on your reasons in the comments section. I’m going to be doing some organizing around this issue with disaffected conservatives and liberals in my own state, and I would value the insights of this community as a contextual lens through which to view some of that work.

NOTE: This is the first of an extended series of posts I’m going to be doing at The Jury Talks Back, dealing mainly with big-picture solutions to the major problems of American politics — the first of which I deem to be a lack of true accountability in the American Congress. I’m going to be addressing a number of different ideas I’ve heard proposed as to how to fix that particular problem (as well as others), and I look forward to the sort of philosophical input you all can provide as people whose perspective on these matters (potentially) differs vastly from my own.

— Leviticus

157 Responses to “Should We Address a Corrupt Congress with a Constitutional Convention?”

  1. As I said over on the Jury blog, I believe such a Convention would be a big mistake.

    Given that the attendees would be selected by politicians, you would have a collection of statists, rent-seekers and pressure groups revising whole sections of the US Constitution. You are far more likely to get the Right to Quality Medical Care than you are to keep the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

    I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
    Take a bow for the new revolution
    Smile and grin at the change all around me
    Pick up my guitar and play
    Just like yesterday
    And I’ll get on my knees and pray
    We don’t get fooled again
    Don’t get fooled again

    Kevin Murphy (3c3db0)

  2. I would vote for “support,” but only conditionally – that is, all attendess agree beforehand to have all of the congressional districts returned to their 1970 – era boundaries. Which means that it’ll never happen.

    Dmac (5ddc52)

  3. we can’t trust the scoundrels with the constitution we have – we sure can’t trust them with one they write or modify themselves. it would be so self-serving it boggles the mind.

    quasimodo (4af144)

  4. First order of business should be to give Minnesota to the Canadians.

    JD (c26e0b)

  5. I would support it if elected officials were banned from serving in it.

    JD (c26e0b)

  6. It’s obvious something needs to be done. What we have is not working.

    Thomas (4d15b9)

  7. Ridiculous.

    There is nothing wrong with our Constitution. The problem is with our politicians, and with the lazy citizenry who refuse to vote them out when they consistently violate that Constitution. There isn’t any remedy for that, unfortunately.

    rockmom (17f3df)

  8. I oppose, because I think the end result of such a convention, in today’s political climate, would look a lot more like the EU than America as we have known it.

    I do favor a simple amendment to the Constitution. Create a third chamber of the legislature whose only purpose is to write and pass the rules of procedure for the House and the Senate. It would meet only once, maybe twice a year, and would be a fairly large body, maybe 1,000 or so. It would, as the rule-making body, thus be able to impose requirements like the “read the bill” requirement that all legislation be made available to the Members and the public for 72 hours, in final form, before final passage.

    PatHMV (c31294)

  9. My biggest concern with it is that most of the last two generations (at least) have had such poor schooling that they have no idea of why the government was formed in the first place, what its purpose is or what is entailed in the idea of a democratic republic. Most of the population alive today have, instead, been schooled on the idea that the government is conceived to pass out largess and politics consists of making sure you and yours are at the front of the line.

    Dennis (7e0176)

  10. No. You cannot be born again no matter how much you might wish it. All you can do is grow and learn.

    The founding fathers rough-shaped a nation which works and in my opinion works damn well and it’s our job to first preserve it and second better it without thinking that we can do better than they did.

    America is not disposable. And there is no WalMart which sells new Americas once you’re tired of the old one.

    nk (df76d4)

  11. I’m reminded of the bit from the Declaration of Independence: Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes;
    and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing
    the forms to which they are accustomed.

    I just don’t see the current situation being bad enough yet, and as others have said fear the results of what any such convention would produce.

    Soronel Haetir (2b4c2b)

  12. There are lots of possible constitutional changes that those on the Left would love, but those on the Right would loathe, and vice-versa. Are there any important enough for a Convention that might garner at least some support from a broad spectrum?

    One structural change that I would like to see is an end to gerrymandered Congressional Districts. Every 10 years, Congressional ncumbents of the same party as the governor and legislature of their state get together to make their Districts more secure. E.g. Democratic governor and Democratic state legislature appoint commission that redraws boundaries to benefit Democratic incumbents and Democratic hopefuls.

    Ironically, Republican incumbents also benefit, as adjacent Republican-leaning areas are concentrated into their Districts, to make otherwise-competitive neighboring Districts more left-leaning.

    For states with Republican-dominated politics, swap R for D.

    The structural effect of gerrymandering is to make the House of Representatives more polarized and more extreme than it would otherwise be. Wannabe Donkey Congresscritters have to appeal to the left-leaning primary voters of their left-leaning districts to make it to November. In the general election, there are more votes to be gained by staying left than by trying to garner moderate-right voters. Once in office, keeping the more-extreme base happy continues to trump appealing to the center.

    Again, swap Elephant for Donkey in the case of Districts gerrymandered for right-wingers.

    The evil gerrymander zombie has been given new life by the Voting Rights Act, under the doctrine that minority voters must be coalesced into “majority-minority” Districts so that they can exercise their group rights by electing “one of their own.”

    Discussing the malign effects of gerrymandering –including of this invented collective right–would be a feature, to me. But it would generate howls of protest from predictable parties.

    Still, it’d be worth a try.

    AMac (c822c9)

  13. I oppose it because the Conventions are not legally bound to any one item on the agenda. They can run loose over any and all laws and regulations. We might not like what we get.

    John425 (eae6ea)

  14. It’s obvious something needs to be done. What we have is not working.

    I would think that the 220-year record under the current Constitution would refute that. It is surely better than a random change.

    Kevin Murphy (3c3db0)

  15. I voted “oppose,” primarily because I think Leviticus put the cart before the horse. Simply calling for a convention could result in the debacle Kevin Murphy describes in the first comment — or play out in other ways that no one anticipates (or ends up wanting).

    A far better course (imho) would be to build support behind a particular reform or platform (though the smaller the better) to drive via calls for a convention. If you were successful enough to get close to a convention in the States, Congress — fearing the unpredictability of a convention ultimately not bound by the reasons that prompted it — would make the appropriate amendment itself.

    Karl (f07e38)

  16. States should be able to vote themselves out of the union. A free people should be able to decide to govern themselves and abolish ties to corrupt and oppressive governments.

    Jason (af83cf)

  17. I would support it to attack one thing, and one thing only. Term limits for congress.

    I think that would solve a large number of the issues we see today in the legislative branch.

    MAJ (ret) Kev (d9db9c)

  18. What is clear is that the Convention procedure outlined in Article 5 is only usable in extremis.

    I would prefer to add a 3rd method of Amendment: If 3/4ths of the States pass an identical Resolution of Amendment within a fixed time window, then that Amendment is placed before the voters at the next Congressional election for ratification, majority vote.

    This bypasses Congress when necessary, and strengthens the hand of the States with respect to the Federal Government.

    Kevin Murphy (3c3db0)

  19. I would value the insights of this community as a contextual lens

    You can get a contextual lens on, under “Cameras.”

    Official Internet Data Office (4514e0)

  20. Oppose. It’s not that bad yet. And you never know what a cons. convention is gonna come up with.

    mojo (8096f2)

  21. I might agree if the only delegates are the ghosts of our war dead.

    nk (df76d4)

  22. No, no, NO! Calling a constitutional convention throws open the door to change anything everything and it would quickly get out of control. You cannot control the scope at that point; it’s all up for grabs.

    As Kevin Murphy said, the kind of people who would worm their way into it are not who we want tweaking the Constitution. The last constitutional convention took place in a completely different social and political environment.

    It should be obvious that the kind of people who support conservative values do not typically participate in marathon, year-in and year-out meetings and organizing…that doesn’t make them bad. Who has the time or fortitude or money? The Tea Parties are an anomaly. We will lose out every time to the hard left, who will quickly infiltrate the convention to push their agenda.

    cassandra in MT (5a5d33)

  23. Call me a pessimist, but I see us upon the precipice. We have edged ever closer over the past decade or so; slowly enough to hardly notice the change. The gap between ideologies is ever-widening; compounded by the exploitation of those differences by the media and the two political parties.

    Our financial outlook is bleak. The chances for large economic turmoil are significant. One major natural (or man-made) disaster could become the last straw.

    Change is a-coming. Our current Federal System is out of touch and out of control. I don’t believe a vote-them-out approach will work. I think we’re too far past that point. The Tea Party movement is a small voice in the wind; but arriving too late.

    A Constitutional Convention would probably prove to be so political as to become a triggering event. Maybe it’s better to do that now and risk it.

    Corwin (60969b)

  24. The fault is not in our stars Constitution, but in ourselves.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (729964)

  25. There is nothing wrong with our constitution that can’t be amended. The problem is that we don’t follow it, and most people couldn’t care less, assuming they are aware of the issues at all.

    A constitutional convention would be a disaster – just look at Congress and the bills they can’t read.

    The assumption that people today want the rule of law is largely and demonstrably inaccurate. Representative democracy is running its course – toward the majority relying on their ability to vote other people’s stuff into their pockets instead of relying on their own talent or labor, toward savvy politicians positioning themselves to get their cut, toward the enslavement of us all to domestic demagogues or foreign creditors.

    Eighteenth century solutions were not designed for a population that wants to return to feudalism.

    Amphipolis (b120ce)

  26. America has undergone some changes over the years. It is natural that changes need to be made to reflect this on-going evolution. Man was not made for laws. Laws were made for man.

    The Emperor (0c8c2c)

  27. I’d support it, reluctantly. I’m concerned about the results of the occasional stunt where somebody asks a stranger on the street about this or that “law” (one of the Bill of Rights) and finds the person thinks it’s communist or something.
    If the swine flu could strike the capitol building, clearing it out entirely, the governors would have to choose replacements. Hmmm. Have to think about that.
    Problem is, with what the population wants from the government and what it is willing to give to the government in pursuit of what it wants back, I’m not sure any set of amendments would make much of a difference.
    We’d have to cut the actual size, budget, and activities of the government back to 1900-era size by amendment. Then crooks looking for an easy gig would go someplace else.
    But I don’t see the votes for that.

    Richard Aubrey (a9ba34)

  28. I know there has been talk of changing the state constitution in California, but mainly as desired by the left, in which, for example, they’d like to change the current requirement of 2/3rds of the legislators being needed to pass a budget to a simple majority.

    In general, I’d say the constitution of any of the 50 states or certainly the federal constitution — which IMO already has been amended enough times through the years to fine tune it to a satisfactory degree — is only as good as many of the people residing in that state or throughout the nation.

    More times than not, a lot of corruption can be traced to too much of the electorate being enablers to sloppy, phony-do-gooder people in various parts of government — local, state and federal — who often are of the left, embraced by the left. A perfect example being elected or appointed officials along the lines of Barack “Goddamn America” Obama, Joe “FDR spoke on TV” Biden and Hillary “Sniper Fire” Clinton.

    Mark (411533)

  29. I’d oppose it; I see no reason to believe that the Constitutional Convention would not be plagued with the same corruption that ails Congress, and assume that it would become the plaything of special interest groups seeking to write their pet peeves into the Constitution.

    I *might* support it in California, but that’s because I think California’s problems are structural and that it’s therefore worth the risk here in a way that it isn’t at the federal level.

    aphrael (73ebe9)

  30. Aphrael,
    I’d give California a few more years before thinking of a state constitutional convention. With gerrymandering abolished, we just might get a better crop of state legislators.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (729964)

  31. I oppose it. The Constitution isn’t the problem, it’s the politicians.

    zmdavid (b54854)

  32. The biggest and best reason to oppose a Constitutional convention is that such a convention would have virtually no rules for what could be proposed as amendments.

    This means that each and every bad idea that has been mentioned in the past 200 years, since the last Constitutional convention, could be made into a proposed amendment.

    Also, it has never been clear whether or not, any proposed amendments could be voted on “by the states” through their delegates at the convention or if any proposed amendments would have to go before the legislatures of each of the states for ratification.

    Bottomline .. it turns into a grabbag at a Constitutional convention and nobody can predict the outcome.

    Neo (7830e6)

  33. With gerrymandering abolished .. and impossible task. I mean, please explain how that would work.
    Your best hope is a limit on consecutive terms of office. Say ten years, then 2 or so years off, then repeat.

    Neo (7830e6)

  34. The people that I would want to attend a Constitutional Convention would prolly not want to get involved, or are dead. The people that would want to get involved, I would not want to see involved.

    JD (c26e0b)

  35. The last thing we need is a constitutional convention. One of my Politics professors at Princeton , many many years ago said if there were one, it would be a runaway convention and you wouldn’t recognize our existing constitution after the crazies got through with it.

    The answer is, vote the b–stards out.

    Corky Boyd (4e8f68)

  36. I agree with Corky.

    PCD (1d8b6d)

  37. Judging by the comments here so far, who are all those votes in support? If anyone is for a ConCon they need to explain why they’re willing to risk everything on one throw of the dice. With a ConCon we would get a new government – and in this current climate what kind of government do you think it would be?

    I would agree with Cassandra (#22) but I feel doomed not to listen to anything she says.

    Gesundheit (47b0b8)

  38. It’s very tempting to vote for a constitutional convention until one realizes that today we have only politicians, not statesmen. Incumbents will become even more entrenched, and even more of our freedom will disappear.

    Zoltan (9263e5)

  39. I support a constitutional convention because we need to address the increasingly imperial nature of our courts and federal bureaucracy.

    Our courts have a card — declare an act or law unconstitutional — that trumps anything the elected legislative or executive branches can do, with little in the way of recourse for the other branches if this trump card is abused, as it has been by the Warren Court and the 9th Circuit, among others.

    The issues with the federal bureaucracy are typified by the EPA, which allegedly will push cap-and-trade through regulation if Congress rejects it, as it should. No properly functioning republic should have such unelected, unaccoutnable and even anonymous bureaucrats exercising so much power over the people.

    Pro Cynic (28710a)

  40. The only thing wrong with our current Constitution is that it has been ignored since 1913. Our Constitution is written in plain English so as to be easily followed. Our esteemed leaders have perverted the meaning to produce an all-powerful central government. The Constitution was specifically designed to prevent this. If we can’t adhere to the original document, how will we comply with a new set of malleable words. Citizens empowered by the Second Amendment will have to stop the madness. Mere words will not save you from the despots. Open your eyes and see the deceit extant.

    Todd (3a87d1)

  41. ProCynic, you need to be more cynical. Do you think that in a ConCon those bureaucrats will have no influence? On the contrary, the amount of money that would be spent by lobbying groups and unions would be truly staggering. And the behind the scenes manipulation by the behemoth of bureaucrats would overwhelm the dreams of a grassroots uprising.

    If the grassroots don’t like what a legislator does now, there is some chance of voting him/her out. But if we don’t like what our rep at a ConCon has done to our government… what will be our recourse? What motivation does he have to listen to anyone but those who will pay him the most in cash or favors for his vote? The government that results would be one more likely to protect him in office, and the favors he gave would be certain to procure a lucrative position in the new and expanded ruling class.

    Gesundheit (47b0b8)

  42. Oppose. I’d draw a parallel to the current health care reform issue. Fix Medicare first and only. In terms of the Constitution, the tenets set forth called for minimal government, and most powers allocated to the individual states beyond maintaining a national defense and a stable currency. But oh Ma, look what they’ve done to it. I say forget making the Franken Stein more of a monster. Fix the bloat, the abuses, and the plundering that have emanated from politicians, judges, and bureaucrats playing tinkertoys with the Constitution. Any amendments more would only provide new playing fields for these wretched self-serving parasites. NO.

    political agnostic (f583c2)

  43. “A far better course (imho) would be to build support behind a particular reform or platform (though the smaller the better) to drive via calls for a convention. If you were successful enough to get close to a convention in the States, Congress — fearing the unpredictability of a convention ultimately not bound by the reasons that prompted it — would make the appropriate amendment itself.”

    – Karl

    Actually, Karl, as far as my own (burgeoning) work goes, that’s the general idea, for by very logic you outlined. I just didn’t elaborate it in the main body of this post because I wanted the question to be cut-and-dried.

    My real baby (and I know this won’t sit well with a lot of people) is a proportional representation system similar to that of Israel or Holland (and I know that Israel’s been having a lot of problems, but bear with me). The idea is exactly as you say, to use the (hypothetically) looming spectre of a constitutional convention (tied to calls for a PR system) to force Congress’ hand on an issue on which they’d never act of their own volition (or even at the behest of their so-called “constituents”).

    I see numerous comments stating that “we just need this particular reform or that particular reform, this amendment or that, and things’ll be alright. We don’t need to scrap the whole thing.” I agree, to an extent – I have a great deal of respect for the Constitution as crafted by the Founding Fathers, and find little in it with which to take issue. But the problem of corrupt politicians stems, in my mind, from a few structural oversights which will never be willingly amended by the people whose power hinges on their continued existence. In fact, I think that the prospects of any amendment of a remotely reformist nature are bleak – because politicians aren’t afraid of us anymore. Because of gerrymandering, because of single-member districts, because of a lot of things, politicians can get away with ignoring the will of their “constituents” on a regular basis – and they’re only representing the interests of about half their “constituents” at any given time, anyway.

    So I don’t think it’s as easy as “just dealing with the politicians”, or I’d be all for that course of action – I think the corruption of our modern politicians stems from the slow realization of their institutional insulation from the electoral wrath of the public. And I think that the only way to cut Congress out of the loop entirely on questions of reform is to call a Constitutional Convention. I think Kevin Murphy’s proposed amendment (#18) makes a great deal of sense, but again, I don’t think Congress would ever pass such a thing, that took the keys to the Constitution out of their grubby little hands. And I agree with Corwin (#23) – something’s gotta give, or things are gonna get crazy up in this piece.

    As I said, I think a specific type of proportional representation system is the key to electoral accountability in this country, and solves most of the problems you all have outlined… but I’ll save that discussion for another time.

    Leviticus (30ac20)

  44. Term limits, not consecutive term limits.

    You can only be President for 2 terms, no matter what; it should be the same way for all offices. There are over 300 million people here, we can find someone else to put in that spot when you get done.

    Lord Nazh (899dce)

  45. You’d end up with some weasel-worded 300-page abortion like the EU’s “Constitution”.

    mojo (8096f2)

  46. Two more things:

    1. As Gesundheit (#37) pointed out, it’s interesting that there are (at the moment) 180 votes for a Constitutional Convention with 113 opposed, yet the comments (largely from regulars to the site) seem to be overwhelmingly opposed to the idea, for a variety of good reasons. It makes me wonder whether or not the radicalism of the notion of a convention appeals to people on a gut level, yet defies logical articulation in the face of strong opposition (as we see in these comments).

    2. While I certainly understand (and to a large degree share) the fear of a gang of interest-laden politicians running any convention that is hypothetically called, I feel the need to remind everyone that the Notes on the Debates of the first convention paint a similar picture: highly partisan politicians with concrete interests haggling over issues that would affect their own power in the future system counterbalanced by democratic theorists with specific ideas as to how to empower people through the protection of their liberties (and, if necessary, through their government). So it’s not a situation without precedent, provided that not only politicians sit at the table… but… yeah. It’s scary.

    Leviticus (30ac20)

  47. The root cause of the so-called corrupt Congress is gerrymandering at the state level. The Democrats and Republicans have gerrymandered so many safe Congressional seats that the ruling class runs with little or token opposition. When a Republican state legislature creates safe Republican seats, it also creates safe Democrat seats and vice versa.

    You can term limit or whatever to throw out the rascals and yet another clone pops-up from the same district in the next election.

    Charlie Bratten (af62ad)

  48. Oppose–I agree with the commenter who said our current Constitution is fine. It’s our corrupt and morally bankrupt Congress, plus all of the voters who won’t address the problem. Given the current situation, I wouldn’t want to risk the Constitution for fear that we’d end up with something that only a socialist could love.

    Rochf (ae9c58)

  49. And safe seats lead to unresponsive representatives.

    Leviticus (30ac20)

  50. The calls for a Constitutional Convention almost always come from the Left side of the political spectrum. They want a Convention to enact all sorts of kooky campus concepts and mischief (like legalizing gay marriage) that even Democratic majorities and a Democratic president in both houses wouldn’t do.

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    Official Internet Data Office (4514e0)

  51. As I have stated before on this subject, the change to Proportional Representation is incompatible with the principles of a republican form of government.
    We currently have, in all of its’ imperfections, the longest surviving Republic in the history of the world.
    Proportional Representation will only lead to a mob-ochracy.

    AD - RtR/OS! (108af0)

  52. And safe seats lead to unresponsive representatives.

    Only because they believe that the Three-Box Principle of Elections has been overcome by current events.

    AD - RtR/OS! (108af0)

  53. Opposed. Our constitution isn’t broken and does not need to be fixed. The insane idea that a “living constitution” is a substitute for the written document we have is the root of the mess.

    Bar Sinister (d2caac)

  54. I think someone got thrown out of Honduras for asking the same question.

    bored again (d80b5a)

  55. Wow! Four words immediately come to mind: 2nd Bill of Rights

    Does any one else recall Obama talking in 2001 about “shortcomings in the Constitution” and how “flawed” it is? Much of his chagrin revolved around how the Constitution and courts weren’t biased enough in favor of social and economic justice and redistribution policies.

    When 97% of taxes are paid by 49% of taxpayers, it doesn’t take too much imagination to see how the Dems would promise the moon to the non-taxpayers and get their fondest wishes embedded into the new Constitution.

    I agree with the majority of commenters here – the problem is with the politicians that we elect – not with the Constitution. WE THE PEOPLE need to start to vote like our lives depend on the outcomes, because more and more they do.

    in_awe (a55176)

  56. I think someone got thrown out of Honduras for asking the same question.

    Actually, he was given the choice of being arrested or escorted to the border. And he didn’t ask any question, but rather instigated a call to change the Honduran constitution as it relates to term limits. An action which is clearly stated in the same constitution as being illegal. Allowing him a choice of arrest or leaving the country could be considered a gracious move by Latin American standards. Can you imagine Cuban or Venezuelan officials acting as magnanimously?

    political agnostic (f583c2)

  57. the only thing that needs to be changed is the life-long peerage our politicians have come to expect.

    ktr (e4cd3c)

  58. Gesundheit,

    Then we better damn well pay attention this time and make sure the right people are sent to the ConCon. We haven’t gotten here overnight, but with over two centuries of neglect, starting with Marbury v. Madison. It is still possible to make a simple, understandable constitutional document without “penumbras” or “intermediate scrutiny” or something like that. Keep it sharply limited and go from there.

    Pro Cynic (28710a)

  59. Based on my (fairly limited) reading of Article V, the State legislatures/conventions only have the power to call for a constitutional convention to consider amendments, but they do NOT have the power to dictate what topics those amendments would cover. If I am correct (and I’d appreciate any corrections), then no, I would not support it as I fear it would become the mother of all handout/bailout schemes.

    If, on the other hand, the purpose of the convention could be narrowly proscribed beforehand (such as to address term limits, limit the commerce clause, etc.), then I would support it.

    Tex Lovera (456ded)

  60. “Once the Plebians discovered that they could vote themselves bread and circuses, the Republic was doomed.”

    Always scribble, scribble, scribble – eh, Mr. Gibbon?

    mojo (8096f2)

  61. Can you imagine what sort of constitution we would get with the politicians around thesedays?

    John Costello (198888)

  62. John, I think we could get a good one. If each State Legislature has to approve it, then there’s a good chance it will have to be more federalist and less of what we have today, which is wholesale theft from the states.

    Most states are red states. If the new constitution was inferior to the old one, we could just stick with that.

    Dustin (bb61e3)

  63. The state of IL was also considering holding a constitutional convention, but the costs are high, but since term – limits and a real reform proposal were recently defeated, I don’t hold out hope for a repeat of the matter.

    Dmac (5ddc52)

  64. Of course, it’s moot. We can’t pass a simple amendment to the constitution about balancing the budget.

    This whole process could be handled through amendments to the tenth amendment to make clear it’s in real effect, the commerce clause to basically delete it, the 2nd amendment to be specific about our rights, and add in term limits and balanced budget.

    Other good reforms might be to make sure Senators are chosen by state legislators.

    Dustin (bb61e3)

  65. “As I have stated before on this subject, the change to Proportional Representation is incompatible with the principles of a republican form of government.”

    – AD-RtR/OS!

    With respect: though you have indeed stated as much before, you have yet to explain the reasoning behind your statement (at least to my satisfaction, which is admittedly far from the end-all and be-all of expanatory standards). Why is proportional representation incompatible with republican government?

    Leviticus (30ac20)

  66. Oppose for reasons well articulated in #s 1, 8, 10,11, 51, and 55.

    There is nothing wrong with the Constitution. The problem is the people we have elected to the Presidency and the Congress.

    Stu707 (0981d5)

  67. Well, I am one who voted for a Concon. But now that I have read some of the views and thought on how I voted and what would/could occur I now think that we need to preserve what our founders strived for and make the minor changes needed to better the constitution. Just like healthcare–let’s fix what we have not throw it out totally. I am also afraid that our frustration can lead to great errors–kinda like I made voting for a concon.

    bald01 (35bc9b)

  68. stu707, I disagree. The constitution is really stupidly written. We lionize it, but it’s just bad.

    The courts can interpret it badly because it’s written badly. Things that could have been said plainly weren’t.

    Saying we need to elect good leaders gets to the point: we shouldn’t have to. The constitution should make it impossible for bad leaders to ruin this country this badly. It should not matter this much who runs the federal government. The federal government has been able to gain a ridiculous amount of power, thanks largely to the Supreme Court.

    I don’t think a convention will occur, though. Like I said, we can’t get a simple amendment passed. I do think a few well written amendments would do as good a job with less risk.

    Dustin (bb61e3)

  69. Dumb idea. Our dirty socialist media would corrupt this process six ways to Sunday before breakfast on the first day.

    Journalists are scum. They should be shunned and scorned and also they should not be allowed to breed.

    Instead of a conventiony think we should work on making it to where no child should ever have to tell anyone that my mommy or daddy is a dirty socialist piece of shit journalist. Only then can the healing begin.

    happyfeet (71f55e)

  70. I very reluctantly voted yes. I think we are heading for a wall of default and maybe civil disobedience. Argentina is a warning of what lies ahead unless somebody gets control. The subjects for such a convention would be voting rights and taxes. Right now 47% of the population pays no income tax and feels free to vote more taxes on those who do. We have Congress that passes bills they can’t read. Some of it is district reform. Some is voting reform but not what Leviticus would like. That way lies chaos, which in some ways might be an improvement since a government that accomplishes little is OK with me.

    I don’t know if it can be saved. The tea party movement is the only bright spot on the horizon.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  71. Nay! It’s imperative to clean up the voter lists first or any proposed Amendment to the Constitution will suffer a fatal lack of legitimacy. It would be folly to consider Constitutional changes tainted with the stench of ACORN.

    No parasitic strange fruit can be allowed to infect the Tree of Liberty.

    ropelight (8ab8e3)

  72. Leviticus, it may be logically possible to have a PR system in our country, but it’s still an awful idea.

    Our country has 30% kooks on the left. People who think Bush should be in prison, that 9/11 was an inside job, etc. A lot on the right think stupid things too. A significant number of people are racist (on the left in particular, but on both sides). We have too many extreme whackos. Forcing them to deal with a two party system really helps keep the crazies down to 4 or 5 congresspersons.

    It’s not productive to have fistfights and huge hearings on retarded stuff. Our nation is too diverse economically, educationally, racially, for PR to work. In my (perfect) opinion.

    Dustin (bb61e3)

  73. Support –

    Only if we ratify the exact same constitution, but are able to blow up all of the legal precedence and buearacracy and start over from scratch.

    headhunt23 (9e1243)

  74. headhunt, the exact same constitution would require a lot of work. I would not mind a constitution that was nearly identical to ours, but written well.

    “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

    Should say something like

    “Every non-felon adult has the right to own and bear weapons. This right includes the right to rifles, pistols, and knives, but does not include weapons capable of mass destruction, such as rockets and grenades and chemical weapons.”

    There are a lot of areas of the constitution that should be written with an eye towards the supreme court attempting to reinterpret it. The commerce clause, the tenth amendment (many pretend it’s just not a real amendment… seriously), etc.

    The list goes on and on.

    And that’s before we consider the ideas in the constitution that are actually bad idea.

    Dustin (bb61e3)

  75. A con-con is a bad idea and certainly a lose-lose for conservatives. The more modern the constitution, the worse they become, having acquired the flabby barnacles of ‘positive rights’ and dangerous group/gender identity politics provisions. Well expressed already in #7:

    “There is nothing wrong with our Constitution. The problem is with our politicians, and with the lazy citizenry who refuse to vote them out when they consistently violate that Constitution”

    We have an awesome constitution because it was created in that narrow period of time when the ‘liberal trend’ was towards minimalist government. Thus, the Constitution is a wonderful harness on a Government that would otherwise be (and in spite of the constitution, in many respects is) very powerful.

    What would the con-con achieve? A few pet peeves solved? Or a Pandora’s box opened? You wont get the former without the latter, and one man’s neat idea is another man’s headache.

    To wit:
    – One cannot outlaw gerrymandering in any constitution. Drawing boundary lines is ultimately a decision, and a political one. Best you can do is reform the process state-by-state. Do otherwise and you invite the kind of judicial meddling that the VRA already allows – most of it unwarranted and destructive.
    – “I support a constitutional convention because we need to address the increasingly imperial nature of our courts and federal bureaucracy.” – A Con-Con is completely unnecessary to this end, and almost certainly would multiply it many times. Why? Because a whole new set of words are proffered for ‘interpretation’. What is necessary are Congressional laws, Congressional impeachments and failing that constitutional amendments that narrowly proscribe judicial activism.
    – Term limits: Good idea, make it a constitutional amendment. It solves this issue “I think the corruption of our modern politicians stems from the slow realization of their institutional insulation from the electoral wrath of the public.”
    – I would want traditional marriage definition locked into the constitution; what are the odds that gay activists storm the convention, twist arms, and by the end, we’ve got a federal constitutional right to gay marriage (trumping the 40 states doing the opposite)?

    Travis Monitor (483b36)

  76. #9. My biggest concern with it is that most of the last two generations (at least) have had such poor schooling that they have no idea of why the government was formed in the first place

    As opposed to the Baby Boomer generation which is responsible for this whole mess. It’s the worst generation ever and responsible for the demise of America. Think about it.

    Bob Seger (773541)

  77. I fully support this with suggested amendments at the link.

    james (582575)

  78. Sorry. Here is the link.

    james (582575)

  79. Against. The Constitution is fine, as is the amendment process, the problem is us, the public.

    Speaking just for myself, I was complacent, vaguely hoping the govt. would just stay out of my hair and not do anything too stupid. I didn’t follow legislation, politicians, court cases.

    It is easy to blame politicians, and I do blame them, but first I blame myself. There was some old song that had a line: ‘You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone’. I feel it’s almost gone, going fast, and nobody can fix it but us, starting with me.

    The idea of a constitutional convention is a fantasy fix. Backing away from the precipice we are on will not be easy or fast, we can’t get tired of it, or bored, or discouraged. That’s asking a lot of a public with a 30-second attention span. It will be like a war, without many clear-cut wins. I don’t see any other way.

    jodetoad (059c35)

  80. I am ashamed of the people commenting against a constitutional convention. The essence of their arguments is that you can’t trust the people. (I would like to see one held every 50 years anyway.) The problem right now is that congress is the center of the problem, and they won’t propose an amendment to restrict themselves.

    Like all the rest I can imagine some very bad amendments being proposed (popular election of the president, for example); but I have more confidence in our people than the rest of you apparently do. The half full side is that there are good amendments (term limits?) which could now be proposed.

    Just because convention runs away (worst case) doesn’t mean the states can/must accept the new constitution. I would insist on the proposal having the state legislators accept rather than by referendum – too many chance to cheat on a popular vote.

    Question: As necessity, does a convention present an entire constitution (everything accepted or not, up or down) or a slate of amendments (accepted or not individually)?

    tolonaro (40a780)

  81. “The People” wouldn’t be invited to the convention – just the same set of shiftless idiots and venal bullshit artists we have crapping in the national punchbowl now.

    C’mon, you know it’s true.

    mojo (8096f2)

  82. ” Most states are red states. ”
    We have 60 liberal Democrat Senators and a majority of states went for Obama.

    Where does this romantic and silly notion that somehow the class of players at a convention like this will magically be superior to the class of politicians that run around in the Congress, the White House and the states today?

    Odds are we will get a constitution filled with “social and economic justice and redistribution policies” as noted in a previous comment. We conservatives would then have to kill it off.

    Travis Monitor (8d33ce)

  83. As opposed to the Baby Boomer generation which is responsible for this whole mess. It’s the worst generation ever and responsible for the demise of America. Think about it.

    I have thought about it, and I as a reluctant and antithetical BB must agree. Giving rise to the whining/spoiled brat/slacker/entitlement generations has been nothing less than despicable. And there is not a whiff of sarcasm in that mini-diatribe.

    political agnostic (f583c2)

  84. The Constitution is fine.

    Where it’s threatened by the executive — as with Bush II and the Gitmo war tribunals — the Supreme Court, which is currently majority conservative, corrects it.

    Kevin Murphy basically throws cold water on the idea with comment no. 1.

    I.e., the other side gets a say, too.

    You might like the result less, seeing as how the “MSM,” the vast majority of academia and the majority in the Senate and House will be pulling for that side.

    Lindsay Graham, in his recent (and very entertaining) spate of bashing right-wing talk shows, had a funny bit on how the 24-hour media would cover a constitutional convention these days:

    Can you imagine writing the Constitution — you know, O’Reilly says Ben Franklin’s giving in on something! Can you imagine having to do that in this environment?

    He is basically right. It would be a circus. And we’d have a much weaker document as a result.

    No, I think we’d best leave it alone.

    A single founding father is basically worth about two dozen of the chuckleheads we have up there now, either party.

    Myron (6a93dd)

  85. tolonaro: I would argue that the essence of the constitution is that you can’t trust people. It does not assume that people will be saints or behave honorably or wisely, especially toward minority interests. That’s part of what makes it strong.

    By the way, I think popular election of the president would be almost a certainty at any convention. And it would be a terrible idea (even worse than popular election of U.S. senators, which damaged republican — small “r” — governance).

    Many lay people find the electoral college inexplicable.

    But the system basically protects the interest of the majority of states, enhancing federalism. Under a popular election, candidates would simply ignore most states.

    Myron (6a93dd)

  86. No. For several reasons.

    1) It is probable that the convention would be dominated by those who are responsible for the current mess. They would use the convention to remove constraints on their folly and grant themselves additional authority.

    2) There is no assurance that the existing process of ratification will be honored. The 1787-88 convention agreed that the Constitution could be ratified by only nine states, not all states as required in the Articles of Confederation. If the new Constitution was “ratified” by a majority vote in a national referendum, who could prevent its coming into effect?

    3) The present gang of politicians has found lots of subtle ways to game the system: gerrymandered districts and enormous “omnibus” bills, for instance. I don’t see any way to address these problems without getting mired in details that shouldn’t be in the Constitution. Even if such measures were included, the rascals would find ways around them in a few years; and short of another ConCon, there’d be no answer.

    Does this meanmean I don’t trust “the people”? Well, yes, I guess. I don’t trust “the people” to keep control of the process, and I really don’t trust the “elite” that would actually do it.

    Rich Rostrom (f3a9de)

  87. Travis Monitor, the states may be democrat, but the idea that there are 60 liberals in the senate is just wrong. It also misses the point.

    Not that I really care. We either trust America as a people, or we don’t. Many don’t, but I do. I think America, right now, is specially situated to reject the federal government’s ridiculous level of spending, corruption, and power grabbing. I think a reform movement could take shape that led to either amendments or a new constitution.

    It’s hard to see it succeeding, but what do you want to do? Nothing? The constitution was written terribly, and needs to be fixed. One way or they other. The road this country is on is totally unsustainable. Refusing to fix the fundamental problem because the people don’t agree 100% is not a good idea.

    I think it’s more realistic to just try some amendments, but that’s not working either. I welcome a constitutional convention, because the idea status quo is completely awful, and the risk is well worth it. Doing nothing is a sure-fire loser.

    Dustin (bb61e3)

  88. A ConCon would be an awful idea. The problem lies not with the document, Dustin #72 is making the Gouv cry with his comment, rather with an electorate who continually are satisfied with a legislature that does nothing but expand the bureaucratic state.

    Voters continually say, “legislature is corrupt, but my legislator is great.” It’s all a product of the pork working its magic. What is pork for others is a “necessary local program.” Politicians win office by “bringing projects home.” Whether it is progressive politicians voting to fund programs that service the underprivileged, or whether it is Newt Gingrich voting to fund obsolete aircraft being manufactured in his district, doesn’t matter. People love to take other people’s money and use it to their own purposes. All of which helps to expand the bureaucratic state as each of these projects needs an agency to oversee it. Long gone are the days of Congressional oversight, we now have bureaucratic oversight.

    As for those who believe term limits will solve the problem, please keep your illusions to yourselves. Term limits do nothing but pass more power over to a bureaucracy that will have more experience and control over programs, and increase ties between the groups that get people elected and the legislators. Term limits have made California the land of SEIU and CTU.

    Christian (22837a)

  89. Rich Rostrom, you articulate the problems very well.

    But the status quo is just not working.

    I think doing something is mandatory, I think the climate is great for real reform, and I think those trying to corrupt the process would have more trouble than in the past. Perhaps amendments would be better than a convention, but I think a wholesale attempt to fix our problems makes some sense.

    It’s a mess. Democracy is tough, and there is always that element of unfairness, corruption, etc. But avoiding the process altogether for the sake of our current constitution is wrong. Our current constitution has been twisted (and is written badly). It’s probably as bad as the nightmare scenario of union thugs rewriting the whole thing.

    I say something has to change, and quickly.

    Dustin (bb61e3)

  90. “Under a popular election, candidates would simply ignore most states.”

    – Myron

    That’s bullshit. The fact that most states can’t split their electoral college votes is the reason we have the Blue State/Red State dichotomy in the first place. If John McCain could get 30% of California’s electoral college votes by getting 30% of the popular vote, I guarantee he’d be spending a lot of time in California. But under our current system, it’s winner take all, so John McCain basically ignores a state of 55 million people for the entirety of his campaign. Do you think Obama would’ve spent any time in Nebraska if it hadn’t had a mechanism to split its electoral college votes?

    If every vote counts proportionalally (i.e. a popular election), then every vote must be courted.

    Leviticus (30ac20)

  91. A Congress of, say, 5,000 citizen-legislators would change that overnight. Would it cost more money? Yes. But today’s huge staffs could be cut, and perks and pork might even be curtailed by using the old chewing gum rule: If there’s not enough for everyone, nobody can have any.

    Term-limit activists have the right idea — getting new blood in Washington — but their remedy is anti-democratic. The trick is to swamp Congress with new blood and new ideas. Want more minorities in Congress? Done. Want more libertarians? More socialists? More blue-collar workers? Done, done, done.

    It would be like herding cats.

    Neo (7830e6)

  92. There’s good reason for opposing it. Washington is a leftie state by its political majority, and would be more likely than not to attempt reversing the original Constitution’s ‘limited government’ structure, or at least to remove many of the remaining limits.

    It would create an empowerment of bureaucrats, at the expense of liberty, freedom and individual responsibility.

    Insufficiently Sensitive (a939d1)

  93. christian, what’s “the gouv”

    Saying the Constitution is written well is just plain delusional. Read it. It led to a civil war, and is totally inconsistent in terminology and structure.

    We do not need to make it into a holy document. It is not sacred. Every time something new comes up, such as the birther thing, we get another example of how impossible it is to get a straight obvious answer. Natural born citizen means… your mom was from Kansas? you were born here? It’s hard to say.

    What’s the impact of the tenth amendment? Why does the commerce clause mean it’s the fed’s business if I grow my own wheat? Why is a well regulated militia relevant to my right to defend myself?

    I don’t think you’re right about term limits.

    Every single reform has some detriments. So what? There will always be risks and problems. Every time we get close to a real reform, someone bitches that it isn’t perfect and the process breaks down. Term limits are undemocratic and imperfect, but we need that reform badly. The interests you speak of are already in power. California’s problems have nothing to do with term limits.

    Dustin (bb61e3)

  94. Mr. Myron is the only one to point out how inimical to a nice little constitutional convention our media would be. Except for me and I got filtrated. But for reals, the media would have 70% of the population ascribing to conspiracy theories by day 2.

    They really suck balls is what our media does.

    happyfeet (71f55e)

  95. insufficiently sensitive,

    Why do you think Washington would control this process?

    I think people are completely wrong about how this would go. If Nancy Pelosi tried to take control over this, it would just plain break down. Nothing would come of it. The states would not adopt the measure. She is unpopular with 80-90% of the country.

    It just wouldn’t happen like that. I do not think there are any limits on government today, so I don’t know what you’re trying to protect. The commerce clause in our constitution is interpreted to give the federal government complete and total power.

    There’s just not much left to save. I think the American people are ready for a real discussion of what we want our federal government to be. It’s time for the states to get together and discuss what kind of federal government we really want. I do not think that would lead to a system as bad as we’ve got today. But I realize that the same problems we see in this thread would show up in that process… it would fail.

    Dustin (bb61e3)

  96. happyfeet, you are 100% right about that.

    Anyone seriously suggesting this would be called insane. Jon Stewart and David Letterman and Couric and all them would make it very hard to have a serious discussion.

    the corrupt want us to think the status quo constitution is somehow sacred and perfect. They love the fact that it requires strained interpretations they have control over.

    Sadly, that’s the real problem with the convention… it’s just unrealistic that it would happen at all. There’s nothing at all wrong with the idea of writing a constitution that is plain and incontrovertible, with good reforms.

    I do not see why such a rewritten constitution couldn’t be passed via the amendment process, though.

    Dustin (bb61e3)

  97. A fascinating idea. Seems like the next step from the tea parties.

    John S (783c76)

  98. A Constitutional Convention is a scary thought. I’m not sure that there remain enough Americans who understand the concepts of freedom and liberty for these ideals to prevail.

    RB (529753)

  99. “I am ashamed of the people commenting against a constitutional convention. The essence of their arguments is that you can’t trust the people.”

    NO. The essence of the argument is it tries to fix what isn’t broken (the Constitution) by inviting in a bunch of folks who ARE the problem (the politicians and special interest activists currently running things) to upend a 229 year-old document that has overall served us very well and replace it with a great unknown.

    Travis Monitor (483b36)

  100. I agree with the very first comment by Kevin Murphy, and with No. 83 by Rich Rostrom. The political class would make sure that they did not lose control of the process, and “the people” would be represented by those who believe their mandate is not to heed the people, but to do “what’s best for them,” even if the people are too stupid to recognize it.

    One thing I’d like to see, though, is repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment as it relates to the election of Senators. The original scheme of the Constitution was that the House represented the interests of the people, but the Senate represented the interests of the States as sovereign entities, and would thus be able to guard against the federal government riding roughshod over the interests of the States. Popular election of senators changed the focus of the Senate, and it now is sort of a duplicate of the House, except its members get to hang around longer before they have to face reelection. It’s no accident that the rise of “progressivism” and the power of the federal government in the United States coincided with the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment.

    Historically there were problems with deadlocked state legislatures, so I’d propose that if the state legislature did not elect a senator by some date certain, e.g., 30 days before the commencement of a session of Congress, then the governor of the state could appoint someone to the seat for the full term. (Nothing gets pols motivated more than taking their power away.)

    ExRat (d7355e)

  101. I think America, right now, is specially situated to reject the federal government’s ridiculous level of spending, corruption, and power grabbing.
    Then lets see it happen via a massive rejection of the Democrats in Congress who are doing the opposite. If this is true, the Democrats will face massive defeat in 2010. If the Democrats can get re-elected after all the cr*p they’ve pulled, then the Con-Con is a super-duper pipedream anyway.

    Travis Monitor (483b36)

  102. oh. my comment is there now … that should have been conventiony *thing* not conventiony think…

    I think people underestimate how vastly improved our governance would be if we simply didn’t elect dirty socialists.

    Baby steps.

    happyfeet (71f55e)

  103. Re: No. 100.

    Oops, I meant No. 86 by Rich Rostrom.

    ExRat (d7355e)

  104. One reason only – to term limit the legislative branch.

    EART (9d1bb3)

  105. Leviticus…we do not need proportional representation, or a pure-democracy election, to change the winner-take-all electoral vote system. Each State is allowed to determine how they will award their electoral votes in the Presidential Election. Both Maine and Nebraska, as I remember it, award their electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote within each congressional district, with the two votes that represents the senators being awarded to the winner state-wide. It is a system that those two states have chosen to use, and it is available to the other 48 if they so choose.

    But, to have a legislature chosen by P-R, you are having to conduct a national election, with the parties running against each other, not individual politicians running for Congress or Senate. Plus, if you end up with four or more parties in the Senate, how do they overcome the filibuster rule, or even muster 51 votes to change it (by-law changes at the beginning of a Congress only require a majority vote – or at least they used to, that is how we went from 2/3rds to 3/5ths during either the Johnson or Nixon Administration).

    Another wrinkle is that the parties, in their infinite wisdom, choose who runs where (or more appropriately, who will represent what) and you have the Gerrymander system writ large where the politicians choose the people, and not the other way around. Plus, since only 1/3rd of the Senate is elected each cycle, you would have 2/3rds that didn’t reflect the latest proportional result.

    So, in conclusion, if you want to change the way the Electoral College functions, that is available through each and every state legislature under the current rules; if you want to replace our Constitutional Republic with a Direct Democracy, you better start forming an army.

    AD - RtR/OS! (108af0)

  106. One thing I’d like to see, though, is repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment as it relates to the election of Senators.
    Odd indeed that we have a situation of too little responsiveness to ‘the people’ and yet people are grasping at making our already out-of-touch and elitist Senators even less responsive to ‘we the people’. Not a single one of the serious problems we face will be improved by having our Senators chosen in this indirect manner.

    Travis Monitor (483b36)

  107. Comment by ExRat — 10/7/2009 @ 12:35 pm

    The 17th Amendment was a primary goal of the Progressive Movement of the Early-20th Century.
    And Governors did have the power to appoint if the Legislature could not decide (as I recall, YMMV).

    AD - RtR/OS! (108af0)

  108. Murphy’s #18 idea was so good, I wrote up the Constitutional Amendment language….

    State-initiated Constitutional Amendment Process

    When 3/4ths of the States have passed in their respective legislatures identical Resolutions of Amendment within the prior 7 year period, the proposed Amendment in that Resolution of Amendment shall be placed before the voters of all the States at the next Congressional election for their approval, in the form of a ballot referendum.

    Such an Amendment shall be deemed to have passed the referendum under the condition where a majority of elector-equivalent votes are counted for the proposal, such elector-equivalent votes having been counted as follows: In each district or State where a number of electors are chosen for President, that number is used as the number of elector-equivalent votes. These elector-equivalent votes are considered for or against the Amendment referendum, depending on whether a majority of ballots cast by voters in that given district or State are for or against the proposed Amendment respectively.

    Any such Amendment, having been approved through the above process, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution.

    Travis Monitor (483b36)

  109. Actually, Travis, the Senators would then be responsible to those that chose them, and it is they (state legislators and/or governors) who have to answer to the people.
    How do you think we got Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, and John Calhoun? These were men who would be insulted to have the likes of Harry Reid sharpen their quill-pens.

    AD - RtR/OS! (108af0)

  110. #105, another flaw in the election of Senators via state leges is that the state leges are themselves often the product of gerrymandering.

    Congressional gerrymandering is also a flaw in the Kansas-style election system for President. It doesnt influence small states that much, but Cali could get affected. That said, imho it makes more sense, if we could, to have each congressional district be a vote for president.

    Popular election for President is a very bad idea, and a mathematician has proven (!!) mathematically that votes count more in the electoral system than direct election.

    Proportional systems for legislatures are very flawed.

    One good reform would be this: Stop counting illegal aliens for the purpose of congressional districts, or you end up with ‘rotten boroughs’ of low voter base districts. If we want one-person one-vote, consider the voting eligible voters only for that purpose.

    Travis Monitor (483b36)

  111. “Actually, Travis, the Senators would then be responsible to those that chose them”

    Yes, I understand, that’s what worries me! these guys would be responsible to the Governor-shills like the crowd at the Democrat Governors Association, who were wowed by Obama promising more of that stimulus gravy.

    Let me put it this way – 6 of the 100 Senators *today* have been “selected not elected” by the states … Are any of these 6 giants that put the other 94 to shame?
    Burris? Kirk? Bennett of CO? That hack campaign manager dude that Crist selected who’s so forgettable I dont know his name?

    Will these men be inscribed alongside Clay and Webster as giants of the Senate?

    ” and it is they (state legislators and/or governors) who have to answer to the people.”

    Few than 20% of voters can name their state representative. Many states are one-party hackery-galleries, gerrymandered to keep the competitors to the incompetents out. The shills they produce could make the Kerrys and the Boxers seem like giants.

    Their insulation from the people would have already made the Obama agenda a sure thing.

    Other bodies similarly insulated, like the EU Parliament, UN, etc., are similarly liberal-elitist-globalist.

    As I said, not a single serious problem will be solved by having Govs and state leges select Senators.

    Travis Monitor (483b36)

  112. “Another wrinkle is that the parties, in their infinite wisdom, choose who runs where (or more appropriately, who will represent what) and you have the Gerrymander system writ large where the politicians choose the people, and not the other way around. Plus, since only 1/3rd of the Senate is elected each cycle, you would have 2/3rds that didn’t reflect the latest proportional result”

    – AD-RtR/OS!

    First off, let me say that I would only want PR in the House of Representatives. I, too, think that the election of Senators should revert to state legislatures, to counterbalance some of the loss in the representation of geographic interests you’d see in enacting PR in the House… but again, I think that’s how it should be: ideological representation in the House, geographic representation in the Senate and the state legislatures.

    Beyond that: how the heck do you figure that “the politicians choose the people, and not the other way around” in a PR system? If anything, the sort of PR we’re talking about eliminates gerrymandering altogether by eliminating the electoral districts which allow it to exist in the first place. How can you manipulate a district if districts no longer exist (at least for Federal purposes)?

    Leviticus (30ac20)

  113. Legislative corruption always seems to boil-down to gerrymandering.
    If we can minimize that pesky problem, a lot of the rest of it will just whittle away.
    It will be interesting to see what happens here in CA after the ’10 Census when our recently passed Prop kicks in to hopefully correct the re-apportionment cesspool created by the Berman-Waxman Machine.

    AD - RtR/OS! (108af0)

  114. I voted to support it but with great trepidation. As many have said here, once you open up a convention, every slimy perverted creep will crawl out from under their rocks with proposed amendments that could curl your hair. There would have to be some way to control who participates and wht kind of amendments can be proposed. I’m not sure that can be done.

    Choey (3ba8b2)

  115. Comment by Leviticus — 10/7/2009 @ 1:18 pm

    Are you not familiar with Parliamentary systems?
    That is basically what you advocate.
    Using Britain as an example, the party decides who will represent which district (riding), which could be someone who doesn’t even live there – but, since most State Constitutions specify that Congressmen must reside in the District from which they’re elected, there is a big complication there: one, you will still have districts, and the party has to come up with someone from that district to carry the flag. And, if you’re not going to have districts, how will you have Primaries to select the nominees for the General Election?
    BTW, saying “the politicians choose the people, and not the other way around” is how we here in CA descibe our current system of gerrymandering.
    As I said, you can change the Electoral College within the current system by changing the way each state apportions its’ EC votes.
    The rest will require throwing away our current Constitution; one I swore to uphold and protect, form all enemies, foreign and domestic.

    AD - RtR/OS! (108af0)

  116. “from”, not “form”.

    AD - RtR/OS! (108af0)

  117. sorry if I’m repeating a point made earlier…

    there is already a mechanism for getting rid of any representative the public deems corrupt… and the fact that the public hasn’t done so is evidence that either (1) the public doesn’t share your definition of corrupt, or (2) the public as a whole doesn’t care (ex. Murtaugh, whose constituents seem to be quite happy with the job he’s doing).

    putting it bluntly, you’re in the minority and why should the country jump through all kinds of hoops to humor and accommodate your outlier attitudes? sometimes one just has to take a deep breath and accept the fact that not everybody else thinks like you do, and no matter how much huffing and puffing you do, they’re not going to think like you do.

    steve sturm (369bc6)

  118. Dustin @#68

    Please give examples of portions of the Constitution that are stupidly written.

    I believe it is a remarkable document that has enabled us to preserve our country and most of our freedoms for 220 years through war–civil and international, economic crisis, and political strife. It has made possible the development of a national market that has given us the highest standard of living in human history.

    I agree with you that the Supreme Court and the judiciary generally have misinterpreted it in ways that changed the meaning intended by the founders. I disagree that judicial abuses were caused by the manner in which the Constitution was written.

    I ask you to imagine what our history would have been had we not adopted it in 1789.

    Stu707 (0981d5)

  119. Myron @84

    A single founding father is basically worth about two dozen of the chuckleheads we have up there now, either party.

    I never thought I would ever agree with Myron, but amen to the above quote.

    Stu707 (0981d5)

  120. “Are you not familiar with Parliamentary systems?
    That is basically what you advocate.”

    – AD-RtR/OS!

    I am, and it’s not – I’m talking about national closed party list systems like Israel and Holland (which I said before). But I can see your point, if you’re using Britain as an example: the continued existence of electoral districts leads to the continued problem of gerrymandering, yes.

    But that problem is (in my eyes) mitigated by the Israeli system, which treats the entire country as a single electoral district, with seats in the Legislature assigned to parties according to their percentage of the popular vote. “Nominees” aren’t nominees so much parties which meet a certain threshold which allows them a place on the national ballot.

    steve sturm,

    You’re absolutely correct, but I also have the right to try to change people’s minds. That’s democracy.

    Leviticus (30ac20)

  121. It appears that our current legislature, working within their current bounds, are happily taking us down the road to disaster. So let’s not change their ability to destroy us, but depend on ourselves to change them. How’s that working for you?

    So, if the Republicans take back the House/Senate in 2010, is it OK then, to have a concon? Or, is there then no need since supposedly the brakes can be applied? How well did that work for you in 2004?

    Thomas (1c2383)

  122. And, on a more general note, I’m still not quite sure what to make of the results of this survey: at this point, we have 447 votes (66%) in favor of a Convention with 231 opposed (34%).

    Leviticus (30ac20)

  123. Leviticus, you advocate using a system of proportional representation that works in Israel, a nation smaller than Los Angeles County, and imposing it upon the largest industrial economy in the World, with 300+M people?
    Were you sober when you dreamed this up?
    My cousin Bob, for whom I had great respect, always said there was no such thing in the English Language as the word “can’t”…He never saw this proposal…It can’t work!

    AD - RtR/OS! (108af0)

  124. Do you need a full-blown convention to merely underline existing clauses?

    Joking aside, oppose. I think our only solution is to wait for the next generation of voters to gain a plurality, and hope for the best. The current lot lack the will to elect good legislators, and would lack the will to ensure good amendments.

    roy (a1e331)

  125. I support the idea. States must provide delegates who have the same basis for membership as existed at the time of the writing of the Constitution. They must be tax paying and land holding, and have a true stake of property ownership in the Country. I propose two additions: Members of Congress will represent no more that 100,000 Citizens, and represent Citizens of the political County where they reside. Second, Congress will move its situs of governing every five years, namely Congress will no longer meet exclusively in Washington, D.C. but at a location hosted by one of the 50 States, each five years.

    Ron Wilkinson (00d5b8)

  126. Absolutely opposed. We would end up with,

    “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

    As many have said, the problems are not with the Constitution but with the ever increasing violation of it.

    Machinist (79b3ab)

  127. Our current Constitution let us quickly rise to be the most advanced, powerful, virtuous country in the history of the mankind, a beacon of freedom to all men. Our fall from that has been hand in hand with our neglect of the Constitution and the betrayal of the founders. The solution is certainly not to let the offenders rewrite the document. Kick them out and hold their replacements accountable to abide by it.

    Machinist (79b3ab)

  128. Dustin,

    If you don’t know who the Gouv is, then you don’t know the Constitution.

    Christian (22837a)

  129. More Pons, and more Machinist, less asshats. That is always a good recipe.

    JD (3399c0)

  130. The poll is entirely mute. Obviously both people on this blog are unaware of public record. The Constitution mandates a convention call if two thirds of the states apply for one. As the blog posters did not mention this fact, it is obvious they are not aware of public record.

    Public record shows all 50 states have submitted 750 applications for an Article V Convention. The texts of the applications can be read at In violation of their oaths of office, members of Congress refuse to obey the Constitution and call it as required by the Constitution.

    Therefore the correct question should not be “if” there is a convention, but as the Constitution demands it, how will it be organized, what will be discussed and so forth.

    As the public record shows, the decision by all 50 state legislatures to hold a convention was made many years ago.

    Bill Walker (ee0789)


    “Washington, D.C. [Oct 6, 2009] – Today, the amendment offered by U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) to stop funding defense contractors who deny assault victims their day in court passed the United States Senate by a vote of 68 – 30
    …The legislation, endorsed by 61 women’s, labor and public interest groups, was inspired by the story of Jamie Leigh Jones, who watched the vote from the Senate gallery today.

    Jones was a 19-yr-old employee of defense contractor KBR (formerly a Halliburton subsidiary) stationed in Iraq who was gang raped by her co-workers and imprisoned in a shipping container when she tried to report the crime. Her father and U.S. Rep. Ted Poe (R-Tex.), worked together to secure her safe return to the United States, but once she was home, she learned a fine-print clause in her KBR contract banned her from taking her case to court, instead forcing her into an “arbitration” process that would be run by KBR itself. Just today, Halliburton filed a petition for a rehearing en banc in the 5th Circuit Court, which means that Jamie’s fight is far from over.

    Who are those 30 who voted against?
    Alexander (R-TN)
    Barrasso (R-WY)
    Bond (R-MO)
    Brownback (R-KS)
    Bunning (R-KY)
    Burr (R-NC)
    Chambliss (R-GA)
    Coburn (R-OK)
    Cochran (R-MS)
    Corker (R-TN)
    Cornyn (R-TX)
    Crapo (R-ID)
    DeMint (R-SC)
    Ensign (R-NV)
    Enzi (R-WY)
    Graham (R-SC)
    Gregg (R-NH)
    Inhofe (R-OK)
    Isakson (R-GA)
    Johanns (R-NE)
    Kyl (R-AZ)
    McCain (R-AZ)
    McConnell (R-KY)
    Risch (R-ID)
    Roberts (R-KS)
    Sessions (R-AL)
    Shelby (R-AL)
    Thune (R-SD)
    Vitter (R-LA)
    Wicker (R-MS)
    That’s the problem, not the Constitution.

    bored again (d80b5a)

  132. Well, #108 is well taken, but I think too complicated and adding things that would cause needless debate. Better stated:

    “If, during any 7-year period, the Legislatures of 3/4ths of the several States adopt an identical Resolution of Amendment, that Amendment will be submitted as a Referendum at the next Congressional election following to all persons qualified to elect Representatives. Should a majority of electors agree, the Amendment shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution.”

    Kevin Murphy (805c5b)

  133. NO to the question of a U.S. Con Con.

    I much prefer taking back the Constitution as written. To do this depends on the will, and determination, of the people to elect representatives who will act in accord with the plain words of the existing Constitution. The Tea Party movement is a step in the right direction.

    The power of congress is limited by Article I, Section 8. The power of the president are specified in Article II, Section 2. Representatives and presidents who stray from these limits should be shown the door. The courts would, over time, follow the example because to do otherwise, would destroy their legitimacy.

    I know I am dreaming here. But I do not believe my dream is as filled with as much room for mischief as is the one proposed by Leviticus. I do thank you, Leviticus, for beginning the discussion and thank you, Patterico, for the opportunity to discuss the issue.

    gnholb (710dbc)

  134. Bill Walker – You can ask the question the way you want on your own blog and answer it yourself.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  135. At Stanford Law School, the late Gerald Gunther, one of the leading constitutional scholars of the day, spoke a number of times to my Constitutional Law class about this subject. He firmly believed (and this is consistent with a number of comments above) that the delegates to such a convention could not be constrained to address only certain subjects, or to propose certain kinds of measures. Rather, the field would be wide open for whatever the convention might choose to propose.

    It should be remembered that the original constitutional convention of 1787 was conceived as a fairly modest effort to propose ways to “improve” the existing Articles of Confederation. It came as a great shock to many when the delegates emerged with an entirely new proposed constitution. The delegates (or at least many of them) essentially ignored their marching orders, and decided to do something entirely different. That same thing could happen with a 21st century constitutional convention. And with the great number of wacky ideas that have come into being in recent years, I would be very worried about what might happen this time around.

    I agree wholeheartedly with the other commenters who point out that the basic document is sound, and that the problem is our own refusal to abide by its terms. Just to pick one example: By what warrant is the federal government even empowered to take over all of health care? This is exactly the kind of power grab by the centralized government that the anti-Federalists warned about, and that the Federalists earnestly protested could not happen due to the “limited” nature of Congressional powers. Nobody seems to pay attention to those limits any more.


    Voiceguy (21bf12)

  136. I support a convention for two issues:

    Term limits for congress and popular
    recalls of The Supremes. Right now we are an oligarchy not a republic.

    Bart998 (e9a2e5)

  137. I might support a Convention if I thought the politicians likely to attend would be an improvement on Benjamin Franklin, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton – which seems unlikely. I would support amendments to rationalize redistricting and to limit Supreme Court justices to single, staggered 18-year terms. A constitution should be about process, not outcomes. Sensible policies have to be defended in the political arena.

    Mahon (5e03e9)

  138. I voted for a convention, but with many misgivings. I share the concern that the members have unlimited scope in fiddling with any aspect of the Constitution, but they don’t have final say as three-fourths of the states must approve in some manner. Since our generally corrupt representatives would be at the trough first it is still somewhat scary, and I sure haven’t seen the likes of Mr Jefferson or Ben Franklin lately, but I am not sure there is any other way to shake things up.
    My recommendations would be Congressional districts defined by state political entities (entire cities, counties or parishes are the only allowable boundary line delimiters); Staggered 12 to 18 year terms for SC (no lifetime black robed oligarchy); Term limits for all politicians; and a requirement that no Bill submitted to the President by the Congress can exceed the word count of the Declaration of Independence.

    Hrothgar (8b4b25)

  139. As a first step, I’d settle for public schools being required to teach about the Constitution and other formative documents of of nation. When I went to school we memorized the Preamble and Section 2 of the Declaration, the Preamble to the Constitution, the Gettysburg Address, etc.

    We have raised a couple of generations of citizens who are functionally illiterate about the essence of our political foundation…and it shows.

    in_awe (a55176)

  140. #139

    I agree.

    bored again (d80b5a)

  141. I voted no because that opens the wntire Constitution and I am not convinced that the delegates would not agree to chnage the Constitution to approve Obamacare and socialized econony and eviscerate the 2A.

    The only thing that the states seem to agree are the 10th amendment statutes they have enacted this year which could lead to a call for a Convention. But unless the states start to discuss what is OK. Like OK for the Federal government to fund the states or to strip the federal government of authority to make laws that effect the states.

    The tea parties seem at least have a better idea of what form of government they may want than or US Represenatives and Senators.

    I do not trust the various states leglislatures to strip the federal government back to only what it is authorized. That would get rid of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. I do not think een the people have want that. WE have too accustom to the system and are not yed fed up. The biggest revolt is to the new changes not the old change.

    RAH (eb6ecd)

  142. Leviticus – Have to vote no. As others have said in earlier comments, if you can’t trust the people in charge of the system now, giving them the power to reconstruct the system is a huge mistake.

    Change is happening, and kudos to you for this post. When you have happyfeet and Myron agreeing on something for similar reasons, it’s a sign to me that common dissatisfaction is rising higher and faster than our differences.

    There is a group of idiots at the wheel of our country, and they’ve taken a turnoff onto a treacherous mountain road. The course will be corrected, regardless of what they want or what we want. Physics doesn’t negotiate.

    It’s also like the term ‘power of the free market’. Free markets aren’t a theory, they simply are. When individuals want something bad enough, that something will change hands. Markets simply form, and there is no stopping them.

    Poor management of the country will be corrected, eventually.

    Apogee (e2dc9b)

  143. I vote yes. Calling a Constitutional convention is the answer to a Congress that does not seem able to follow a Constitutional path. The tea parties now are a harbinger of revolution later. Many Americans are waking up to a government that is illegally grasping power at such rapacious speed that they fear even applying the brakes of reasonable talk will not work. With a Constitutional convention, you will not be giving the power to untrustworthy people to reconstruct the system so much as you are holding up the Constitution in the face of these untrustworthy folk and allowing the American people to see and respond as well. At some point you need to have a modicum of trust in the system or all is lost.

    Jane (3d323f)

  144. I’d love to see it, BUT… I can’t trust those who woud appoint delegates, hence I cannot trust the delegates, hence I cannot trust that any covention would not stray where it should not. I see a door cracked open to relieve some pressure, then blown open and no control exerted.

    In the information age, I believe that a valid message can managed into a movement and force Congress’ hand. I point to immigration reform last year and Tea Parties now. It’ll take an amendment to impose term limits, which I think is the best imperfect solution. When we get mad enough, we can get Congress to put it up for state ratifications (wih exemptions for sitting members, of course).

    Chris B (d098d0)

  145. As I have stated before on this subject, the change to Proportional Representation is incompatible with the principles of a republican form of government.
    We currently have, in all of its’ imperfections, the longest surviving Republic in the history of the world.Proportional Representation will only lead to a mob-ochracy.

    We had a republican form of government back in the Coolidge Era. Today we have a have a managerial-therapeutic state run by bureaucrats and judges. See, as one of many examples:

    In any case, PR changes nothing about a purported “republican form of government” except for making it far easier to break up the two-party duopoly
    and,therefore,making it possible for more voices to be heard.

    icr (304f90)

  146. I love the comment of Daleyrocks and it is obvious he doesn’t grasp what I wrote. So I’ll try it one more time. This poll is about whether or not a convention should be held indicating by its text that a choice is still available or is to be made. This assumption is invalid based on official United States government record and the text of Article V. In sum, the states have, officially and formally, already applied in sufficient number to cause an official, mandated and authorized by the Constitution of the United States, convention call by the Congress of the United States for “a convention to propose amendments” to the United States Constitution.

    The applications I wrote about are official record. If you go to our website you can read photographic copies of the actual texts of the applications submitted to Congress. By the way many of the issues discussed at this blog as amendment issues have already been formally and officially advanced by the states in actual applications containing language for amendment proposals.

    In sum, all 50 states have submitted 750 applications for a convention. The courts have ruled on at least four occasions that a convention call is peremptory on Congress meaning it has no choice in the matter. You can also read factual material which discounts people such as professor Gunther that a convention is a threat. Simply put, the professor didn’t read his Constitution. Article V limits a convention to proposing amendments to the present Constitution and no more. Further, I would be willing to bet he never once mentioned that Congress has the identical power as a convention. If he was so fearful of Article V, did he not also state emphatically and repeatedly therefore that Congress should also not be able to propose amendments as its membership could not be restrained as to what it proposed? Did he or did not point out that the two thirds requirement on both bodies (result of equal protect by 14th amendment) presented a massive constitutional as well as political barrier to any such fear and that beyond that was the 3/4 barrier of ratification by the states. Indeed a recent Harvard symposium held on the Constitution complained mightily the Constitution was so difficult to amend the Constitution should be abandon altogether.

    Therefore given these facts, all of which can be read on the site and verified independently, this poll is mute because what it is really asking is: Do you support your Constitution or not? Those that above object to obeying Article V believe in selective enforcement of the Constitution by the government, that is, they support the government having the right to veto the Constitution whenever it chooses.

    You can read about the federal lawsuits at FAQ 9.1 in which the government asserted this right before the Supreme Court. The Court affirmed the right of Congress to do this which neatly explains why the government is vetoing so much of the Constitution. However, the government also acknowledged formally and officially what the terms of a convention call are: (1) it is peremptory; (2) it is based on a simple numeric count of applying states with no other terms or conditions meaning the applications do have to deal with the same amendment issues and (3) the members of Congress are in criminal violation of their oaths of office for refusing to obey Article V and call the convention as mandated by that article.

    Finally, if you dig just a little deeper you’ll find that two of the named defendants in the lawsuit, Walker v Members of Congress, were senators Barack Obama and John McCain. Under the terms of the federal law in question, neither could “hold or accept federal office” meaning that neither could accept the office of president as they were forbidding from continuing to hold office. This means the 2008 election was fraud and the current occupant of the White House is not legally entitled to hold or accept that office as he violated his oath of office while a United States senator.

    And by the way this is not my opinion for those who might otherwise comment. I’m quoting federal criminal law and the Solicitor General of the United States acting in his official capacity as Solicitor General and official attorney of record for the members of Congress in the lawsuit.

    Bill Walker (ee0789)

  147. Comment by Bill Walker — 10/8/2009 @ 9:21 am

    Then, would it be fair to say, that your position is that the current Government of the United States is de-ligitimate, and requires replacement?

    Are there any limits to the opposition that should be engaged in to replace this de-ligitimate government?

    Just asking!

    AD - RtR/OS! (814db9)

  148. My position that the Solicitor General of the United States formally and officially acknowledged that what I said was correct as to fact and law and that federal law required him to respond if what was stated was incorrect as to fact and law.

    If that brings into question the current status of the government regard how “legitimate” it may be, then that it is the way is. The problem that all have with this is it is an official act of the government and based on official documentation meaning it is not opinion but documented fact and admission.

    I will leave any conclusions to be drawn by those who wish to do so but the fact and law as stated have been stated and admitted by the government as correct as to fact and law.

    Bill Walker (ee0789)

  149. Christian – I don’t know who or what ‘the Gouv’ is; and while I can hardly claim to be an expert on the Constitution, I have taken a course in constitutional law within the last six months, and emerged from the course with the highest grade in the class. It’s possible the class just sucked; it’s also possible, and I would submit likely, that “If you don’t know who the Gouv is, then you don’t know the Constitution” is a misstatement of fact.

    aphrael (73ebe9)

  150. Congress is blatantly ignoring Article V of the Constitution (http://FOAVC.ORG/file.php/1/Amendments), and over 700 Article V applications from ALL 50 states (only 2/3 of the states are required).

    Congress and other levels of government are also ignoring other parts of the Constitution:

    As a result, the nation is deteriorating in many ways:

    (01) constitutional violations;
    (02) lies (or exaggerations) to escalate wars;
    (03) plutocraty/kleptocracy;
    (04) illegal immigration/unfair trade laws;
    (05) election problems;
    (06) debt of nightmare proportions (
    (07) inflation/usury/greed run-amuck;
    (08) regressive taxation;
    (09) insufficient/inadequate education;
    (10) 195,000 preventable deaths per year from medical mistakes;

    Yet, 40-to-50% of voters don’t bother to vote.
    Most voters don’t know who there Congress persons are.
    Too many voters merely pull the party-lever;
    Too many voters repeatedly reward incompetent, FOR-SALE, and corrupt incumbent politicians with 85%-to-90% re-election rates (
    Too many voters have no idea about Article V, or could tell you what the 1st and 2nd Amendment of the Constitution are about.
    Too many voters think the OTHER party is the problem.
    Too many voters wallow in the blind, circular, distracting, circular, destructive, partisan warfare.

    At any rate, the voters have the government that they elect, and re-elect, and re-elect, and re-elect, . . . , at least, until repeatedly rewarding failure and repeatedly rewarding incumbent politicians with 85%-to-90% re-election rates finally becomes too painful (as it did in year 1933, when the majority of voters finally ousted 206 of the 533 members of Congress). The sooner, the better, because a lot of pain and misery is already in the pipeline.

    Send your Congress person a letter asking them why they are ignoring Article V.

    And send your state legislature a letter askking them why they are ignoring Congress who is ignoring Article V.

    summars (23496f)

  151. […] to mediate the dispute. We believe that America has strayed from the Emperor’s wisdom. Where moderates and mollycoddlers call for redressing corruption with a new constitutional convention, we choose commemorate this […]

    Blawg Review #233 | Popehat (895595)

  152. Constitutional Hypocrisy

    Joel S. Hirschhorn

    Millions of Americans are politically informed, smart, active and angry. They see many wrongs in our political and government system. They are fed up with politics as usual, meaning corrosive corruption of politicians by corporate and other special interests. They see little good in either the Democrat or Republican parties. And they almost always share a common bond: They love and honor the US Constitution, even though they may see some flaws in it. Yet they are also constitutional hypocrites.

    Why do I say this? Because Americans are overwhelmingly ignorant or misinformed about the constitutional paths for amending the Constitution. Too many, in fact, seem to miss the profoundly important point that the Founders and Framers knew that they had not created a perfect document and blueprint for the US. That is why they placed two specific paths for amending the Constitution.

    But very few Americans know that only one of these amendment mechanisms has been used in the entire history of the country. All the current amendments were proposed by Congress. This should raise this serious question today: Considering the very low regard for Congress by the overwhelming majority of Americans, which is richly deserved, why should we have any confidence that Congress would ever propose amendments that could kill so much of the corruption that plagues our system, especially corruption of members of Congress?

    This situation was somehow anticipated by the Framers. They could see that there was a strong possibility that Americans would eventually lose confidence in the federal government. Which is why they put a second path to amending the Constitution into the document. A path that has never been used. This is the provision in Article V for a convention of state delegates that could propose amendments, which like the proposals from Congress would still have to be ratified by three-quarters of the states.

    Being human, the Framers made a mistake. They gave Congress the sole power to call or convene an Article V convention. The single explicit requirement that was supposed to make Congress call a convention was that two-thirds of state legislatures had to request an Article V convention. The Framers did not, apparently, envision a future in which Congress would stubbornly ignore state applications for a convention and get away with it, despite language that demands that Congress “shall” call a convention when one simple requirement is met. How could they envision that Congress would blatantly disobey something so simply stated in the Constitution? How could they anticipate such weak states, unwilling to make Congress respect their constitutional right? The Framers clearly were not cynical enough.

    The situation we face today is that all 50 states have submitted over 750 applications for a convention, considerably more than enough to trigger the constitutional mandate that Congress convene an Article V convention. How could Congress get away with this kind of unconstitutional behavior? Apparently, a combination of political corruption and public ignorance has allowed Congress to get away with this. Even among the millions of Americans that proudly declare their loyal allegiance to the Constitution, there is no recognition that unless they demand that Congress obey Article V, they are constitutional hypocrites. Congress has no right to unilaterally decide that it can ignore and disobey a part of the Constitution.

    Note that Congress never even created a mechanism where they would collect in a public way the state applications for an Article V convention, which helped create public ignorance of this situation. Add to this that many, many organized vested interests on the left and right like their ability to corrupt Congress to get what they want from it. This is why they have frequently mounted campaigns to make the public fear a convention, because such a convention might actually propose reforms that would remove corruption of Congress by contributing money for campaigns and pursuing lobbying.

    Ignorance and fear have combined to thwart public demands that Congress obey the Constitution and convene the first Article V convention. In fact, there is only one national, nonpartisan organization vainly attempting to educate the public so that Congress would be forced to finally give us the first Article V convention. Friends of the Article V Convention at is also the only group that has collected state applications for a convention and made them publicly available.

    Their efforts may be working. A new online survey asked this: Based on your assessment of American politics, would you support or oppose a call for a Constitutional Convention? Supporters won easily at 65 percent.

    It comes down to this, unless you get informed and join the mission to make Congress obey the Constitution, you are a constitutional hypocrite, not what the nation needs.

    [Contact Dr. Hirschhorn, a co-founder of FOAVC, through]

    Joel S. Hirschhorn (fa8e59)

  153. […] efforts may be working.  A new online survey asked this: Based on your assessment of American politics, would you support or oppose a call for a […]

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  154. […] efforts may be working. A new online survey asked this: Based on your assessment of American politics, would you support or oppose a call for a […]

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  155. […] efforts may be working.  A new online survey asked this: Based on your assessment of American politics, would you support or oppose a call for […]

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  156. […] efforts may be working.  A new online survey asked this: Based on your assessment of American politics, would you support or oppose a call for a […]

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