Convention of States: fear versus fact

Numerous American citizens who were once engaged in politics have walked away because they believe the federal government is broken beyond repair. This assumption is correct, and yet they ignore the fact that our own Constitution offers a way to rein in tyrannical leaders. The Convention of States project is attempting to eliminate the fear that stops people from embracing this tool.

A Gift From the Founding Fathers

It is always sad when solutions are readily available, but not embraced because of fear or ignorance. The reality is, we have access to a solution designed by a group of extraordinarily intelligent men–otherwise known as the Founding Fathers:

Article V can be used to stop the abuse of federal power, but unfortunately, it is gathering dust in a corner as the Framers turn in their graves because of that arch enemy of every great and noble person or cause–fear. Recently, I had the pleasure of an interview with  Constitutional expert, Bob Menges, who has tirelessly taken up this campaign.

The Stranglehold of Fear

Fear leads to bad decisions. We the People have recourse against an overreaching federal government that is top heavy, out of control, oppressive, intoxicated with its own power and no longer operating within the guidelines of the Constitution. Yet the recourse–which is calling a Convention of States–COS–is ignored and indeed when it is mentioned, certain individuals immediately put their fingers in their mouths and begin trembling in fear.

Imagine if our Founding Fathers acted in a similar fashion when it came time to sign that document of treason called the Declaration of Independence?

Article V of the United States Constitution

To understand the viewpoint of both fear of the unknown and faith in our Founders, we must first understand Article V of the United States Constitution, which details the process through which the Constitution may be amended.

To do so, an amendment must be proposed, and subsequently ratified. Amendments may be adopted and forwarded to the states for ratification by either a national convention or a supermajority vote in Congress. With the former, a minimum of 34 states legislatures–two thirds of the states–must request the convention for a specific topic.

With the latter, both chambers of Congress must agree through a supermajority vote–two thirds in each chamber–to propose an amendment. When either of these two actions are taken, the amendment must then be ratified by three fourths–38–of the states to become a permanent part of the United States Constitution.

To date there have been 33 amendments to the Constitution sent to the states and 27 were ratified. The first 10 make up the Bill of Rights. Congress initiated all 33 amendments. We the People have thus far neglected to use this powerful tool.

Difficult by Design

Amending the Constitution via the United States Congress or a Convention of States is difficult by design. The Founding Fathers knew that if it were easy, it may be used one day for the wrong motive.

With the COS process, 34 states must apply for the United States Congress to call an amending convention. All 34 must apply under the same subject matter, which means in simplified terms that there must be a specific focus for the Convention, not a jumble of different proposals from each state–something feared by those who have never listened with an open mind to the process.

Once 34 states have applied, Congress must call the Convention.  The power to refuse was taken out of their hands. (see http://towardsarenewedmind.blogspot.com/2014/09/madisons-final-resort-for-states.html)

Any proposed amendments resulting from the COS must be sent to each state for ratification. It takes 38 states to ratify any proposed amendment before it can become part of the Constitution, and only 13 states to stop a proposed amendment from being ratified.

Two Arguments–One Based on Fact, One Based on Fear

When the fearful are asked to explain their viewpoint, their answers are anemic. They revert to shrieking about a “runaway convention,” the latter of which is a term used to describe a COS that essentially runs out of control and proposes amendments that have nothing to do with the subject matter for which it was called.

However, when asked for facts, the fearful are at an utter loss. They completely ignore the many firewalls built into Article V to prevent a runaway convention, the latter of which is an occurrence that has been called “just north of impossible” by numerous Constitution experts. One such firewall is subject matter limitations.

Fear: The COS will end up being a free-for-all on a variety of subjects that have nothing to do with why it was called.

Fact: The argument that Article V leaves the Convention process open to anything is right up there with fear of the Boogieman. More than 400 applications for a convention have been submitted throughout America’s history and a COS has never been called. This is because the subject matter was never agreed upon. If the firewall of subject matter limitations was irrelevant, multiple conventions would have been called by now.

The Biggest Historical Lie Ever Perpetrated on the American Public:

Fear:  A runaway convention occurred in 1787–and therefore could happen again.

Fact: 1787 was not a runaway convention.

The idea that the 1787 Philadelphia Convention was called merely for the purpose of making minor amendments–and then subsequently ran out of control–is simply not true. This is proven beyond a doubt by Madison’s statements in a document called the Federalist 40.

In Philadelphia in 1787, the charge given to the Convention by Madison was “In the opinion of Congress it is expedient, that on the second Monday of May next a convention of delegates, who shall have been appointed by the several States, be held at Philadelphia, for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation, and reporting to Congress and the several legislatures such alterations and provisions therein, as shall, when agreed to in Congress, and confirmed by the States, render the federal Constitution adequate to the exigencies of government and the preservation of the Union.”

What this last part means in modern English is that because the Union was in a state of emergency and coming apart at the seams, Madison told attendees of the convention to do whatever necessary to render it once again adequate. For this reason, they were obviously not commissioned to merely make “minor changes,” as many have been lead to believe. The Convention of 1787 had an extraordinarily broad mandate from Congress. (Read Madison’s charge in the Federalist 40 to forever settle this debate.)

Fear: Rogue groups may call a COS to propose outlandish amendments that would be harmful to the country.

Fact:  Another firewall in Articles V is that 38 states must ratify any proposed amendment. Fear mongers must ask themselves what are the chances of 38 state legislatures approving a rogue amendment? But let’s go back into the dark and fearful world of “what if” for just a moment. What if it did happen?”

Fact: It only takes 13 states to vote “no” to defeat any proposed amendment. Therefore, as an example, if 38 states lost their collective mind and voted to impose Sharia law nationwide or something equally as absurd, it would only take 13 states to shut it down. Do you think at least 13 states would protest Sharia law? Here, we have yet another firewall against a runaway convention.

Additionally, if this process could be used effectively for an evil purpose, we have to admit our out-of-control government would have used it to that end by now. Remember, Congress can propose amendments too, so why haven’t they proposed to confiscate the firearms they have unsuccessfully attempted to grab through gun control legislation? Because they know 38 states would not ratify a rogue amendment such as that and if they know it, so should we. Let’s not be exposed for being less intelligent than the Congress most of us despise.

The positive aspects of calling for a Convention of States are backed by sound, solid facts. Where are the facts of those who choose instead to live in fear? (Other than the non-existent runaway convention in 1787.)

Real Runaway Government Bigger Threat Than Imagined Runaway Convention

Article V is a gift to American citizens from our Founding Fathers. Unfortunately, many prefer to do the same old thing: elect the “right” people and then complain when nothing changes.

Fearing the “risk” associated with a Convention of States, which is microscopic at best, but not being afraid of America’s march toward a dictatorship is nothing more than super sized reverse order. Which option should we believe carries the greater risk: the almost impossible scenario of a runaway COS or our CURRENT out of control federal government?

If a building was being consumed by flames and people had a fire extinguisher, would there be any justification to just watch the building burn? Well, if we give our fears a vitamin, we can come up with all kinds of reasons. For instance, there’s a chance that some of the water might…uh…get somebody really wet. The fire extinguisher might malfunction and cut the person’s finger off. There may even be some strange element in the water we didn’t know about that will make the fire worse. Besides all that, what if it just LOOKS like a fire extinguisher and really it’s a bomb?

We better just let the building burn to the ground.

For more information visit http://www.conventionofstates.com/

Jesse Broadt

Jesse Broadt has been a full-time writer in the travel industry since 2007 and regularly contributes to news and political websites.

8 Comments
  1. Very important issue, Jesse! You made some excellent points and, yes, I do know real conservatives that are scared to death of a COS. I do understand their points somewhat, which seem to be- they do not trust the progressive socialist left because they seem to be above the law and Constitution. They ignore rule of law, make up their own laws thru executive actions and are scott free to commit criminal or treasonous acts with no consequence, but you or I would rot in prison. The sadder part that the frightened conservatives realize, is that the left know they can do what they want because the jelly spine “conservative” congress do nothing and barely even acknowledge the double standard much less insist on justice for the heinous crimes. The whole point, as you explained, is that the Constitution has already been shredded, how can it be any worse? Certainly not by using the one “gift” we were left to try to save it..

    1. The point that goes over the fearmongers heads is that if a runaway convention could truly happen–and if they don’t understand why it can’t from this article I GIVE UP–the liberal congress would have called one long ago to take away gun rights, free speech, etc. They haven’t done it because they know it wouldn’t succeed, yet the supposedly “smart” conservatives, who claim they are oh so much smarter than congress, insist that it could happen and toss this valuable tool into the garbage can. Sad. They don’t understand that fear leads to bad decisions, while faith leads to wise decisions. However, it is mainly old-timers who are afraid, and they are ineffectual overall when it comes to politics…look what they just did, after all. Why is Trump in the WH? Because people were afraid of Hillary. Bad decision based on fear. Afraid to vote 3rd party so they submit themselves to the selling of their souls and take the lesser of two evils WHICH IS STILL EVIL. That’s what fear does. Oh well, let the fearful be fearful still. LOL. Let the skeptics weep and howl while we proceed to a convention.

  2. I was very happy to see this great explanation of the COS. But ALSO the dismantling of the arguments against it! People like to talk about it, but no one ever takes on explaining why the “fearmongers” as you put it, are wrong. Great job!

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