Can Red and Blue States Unite to Save Democracy?
One news item receiving virtually no corporate media attention is that thirty-eight state legislatures have officially requested a constitutional convention under Article V of the US Constitution. There has only been one constitutional convention – the first – in 1787. Article V requires Congress to call a constitutional convention if 2/3 of (34) states request one.
Most, but not all the resolutions are from red states calling for a balanced budget amendment. However two blue states, California and Vermont, have requested a constitutional convention to end corporate personhood and restrict corporate funding for elections.
Tallying the numbers is a bit complicated. According to the Congressional Record, forty-nine states* have requested constitutional conventions. Eleven of these forty-nine states later rescinded their requests.
ALEC Seeks to Restrict Delegate Freedom
Forbes Magazine argues you also have to subtract the states which have passed a delegate limitation act. This would prohibit delegates from considering any amendments other than those requested by their state.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the lobby group founded and funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, is very keen to see all states pass a delegate limitation act and have even drafted model legislation.
ALEC and the corporations they represent believe the delegates to a constitutional convention must be closely controlled to prevent a runaway convention from passing amendments unfriendly to corporate interests – e.g. an amendment ending corporate personhood and limiting the ability of corporations to overrule state and municipal laws. Three states (Georgia, Indiana and Florida) have passed delegate limitation legislation. Another seven states (Idaho, Michigan, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Virginia, and Wisconsin) are considering it.
Using a Balanced Budget Amendment to Abolish the Fed
Clearly ALEC is calling for a balanced budget amendment in the hope it will force the federal government to cut spending for Social Security, Medicare and other social programs. This strategy could backfire if it leads to a debate on abolishing the Federal Reserve and stripping private banks of their power to create money.
Eliminating federal debt will be extremely difficult, if not impossible without scrapping a system in which nearly all our money is produced as debt (i.e. loans by private banks). There’s growing grassroots support on both the right and the left to abolish the Fed (see James Corbett’s excellent documentary explaining how banks create money out of thin air.) A constitutional convention could be the ideal scenario to make this happen.
Why Red and Blue States Need to Work Together
California and Vermont are only the first of many blue states in the Move to Amend coalition seeking a constitutional convention to end corporate personhood. The vital question here is whether red states seeking a balanced budget amendment will be open to talking to blue states seeking to limit the de facto ability of corporations to overturn state and municipal laws.
The corporate media has been extremely cagey of late about magnifying the distrust and enmity between the two camps. I find this quite sad as there are many issues on which the so-called “extreme” right and left agree, like ending NSA spying, ending the wars in the Middle East, abolishing the Fed, restoring civil liberties guaranteed under the Bill of Rights, ending the President’s abuse of executive power and curtailing the power of the corporate oligarchy.
I think it’s a very good sign that a non-partisan group called Friends of the Article V Convention is keeping count of the states. There has been some talk the Friends may file suit if Congress fails to set wheels in motion for a constitutional convention.
States Seek Broad Range of Amendments
In addition to requesting a constitutional convention to pass amendmentss calling for a balanced federal budget and an end to corporate personhood, various state petitions seek amendments to limit federal income taxes, to begin negotiations for a world federation (i.e. one world government), to change apportionment for the Electoral College and the House of Representatives, to increase federal revenue sharing, to end federal interference in school management, to guarantee a right to life, to end unfunded federal mandates, to end judicial taxing power, to establish term limits for federal office holders and to restrict new laws to a single subject.
There are a few more I would add to this list, including constitutional amendments abolishing the Electoral College, restoring Posse Comitatus and limiting the ability of the President to rule via executive order. I’m sure readers have their own personal favorites.
*The 49 states which have formally requested a constitutional convention:
- Alabama: balanced budget, June 2011
- Alaska: federal fiscal restraints and term limits, April 2014
Arizona: ending judicial taxing power, Mar 1996, rescinded 2003
- Arkansas: right to life amendment, May 1977
- California: abolish corporate personhood, June 2014
- Colorado: unfunded federal mandates, June 1992
- Connecticut: prohibit interstate income tax, May 1958
- Delaware: balanced budget amendment, Feb 1976
- Florida: balanced budget, term limits, limit laws to 1 subject, April 2014
- Georgia: balanced budget, Feb 2014
Idaho: limit income tax, April 1989, rescinded 1999
- Illinois: increase federal revenue sharing, June 1976
- Indiana: right to life, balanced budget, 1977, 1979
- Iowa: balanced budget, June 1979
- Kansas: balanced budget, May 1978
- Kentucky: change apportionment for House, Oct 1965
- Louisiana: balanced budget, May 2014
- Maine: limit income tax, April 1941
- Maryland: right to life, Jan 1977
- Massachusetts: right to life, 1977
- Michigan: balanced budget, Nov 2013
- Minnesota: change apportionment for House, May 1965
- Mississippi: right to life, Feb 1979
- Missouri: unfunded federal mandates, Mar 1993
Montana: change apportionment for Electoral College, Mar 1973, rescinded 2007
- Nebraska: balanced budget, April 2010
- Nevada: right to life, unfunded federal mandates, June 1979
- New Hampshire: balanced budget, May 2012
- New Jersey: right to life, April 1977
- New Mexico: balanced budget, Feb 1979
- New York: federal interference with school management, Oct 1972
- North Carolina: balanced budget, Feb 1979
- North Dakota: end judicial taxing power, Mar 1996
- Ohio: balanced budget, Nov 2013
Oklahoma: change apportionment for Electoral College, May 1965, rescinded 2009 Oregon: balanced budget, Feb 1979, rescinded 1999
- Pennsylvania: balanced budget, Feb 1979
- Rhode Island: right to life, May 1977
South Carolina: balanced budged Feb 1979, rescinded 2004 South Dakota: unfunded federal mandates, rescinded 2010
- Tennessee: balanced budget, April 2014
- Texas: balanced budget, Mar 1979
Utah: right to life, rescinded 2001
- Vermont: corporate personhood, April 2014
Virginia, change apportionment for House, May 1964, rescinded 2004
- Washington: change apportionment for House, Mar 1963
West Virginia: increase federal revenue sharing, Jan 1971, rescinded 2001
- Wisconsin: change apportionment for Electoral College, Mar 1963
Wyoming: change apportionment for House, mode of amending constitution, Feb 1963, rescinded 2009
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Also posted in Veterans Today
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You ask, dear Stuart: Can Red and Blue States Unite to Save Democracy?
It seems to me, saving democracy is extremely urgent in our day and age. I hope the states are going to work on it. For all our western world it is very important what happens in USA.
Agreed. A lot of the corruption – both corporate and intelligence-related – originates in the US. It’s really up to the American people to get these monsters under control agian.
Your take on the subject is refreshing, thank you. Is there not any way to bend Gordon Duff’s ear on this and have that news site get serious about it? In terms of political science we just need to let it be known, the only thing coming out of a federal convention is an amendment or two or three that 75% of the voting members of this society agree on. Even if the country is too polarized to find super-majority consensus, the process of a convention is at least a collective civics lesson that corporate power does not want taught.
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Thanks, John, for your really kind comment. Jim Dean was very supportive by laying out this article for me at Veterans Today and featuring it in the news feed.
I sense the only way a constitutional convention can be successful is if the so-called “leftist” and “conservative” elements of the political spectrum become more comfortable and trusting about working with each other on a number of issues they agree on (e.g. ending the wars in the Middle East, ending NSA spying, ending the War on Drugs and restoring the Bill of Rights).
I saw some of this starting last year – it was essentially a left-right convergence in Congress (and major opposition at the Pentagon) that kept Obama from bombing Syria back to the Stone Age.
However I still sense a lot of distrust and paranoia on both sides.
Ralph Nader has just published an extremely interesting book on left-right convergences. I plan to post a review tomorrow on Veterans Today. We’ll see what kind of reaction I get.
It seems to me that there should be a time limit on the states’ request for a convention. I saw 1941 and 1958 as two of the dates listed. I think that a 10 or 15 year limit would be in order otherwise the required number of states will eventually be reached but many of the issues underlying the initial request may have abated or already been changed.
David, if you want the truth on this subject, go to http://www.foavc.org. In short, the facts are the convention mode was placed in the Constitution with the foresight that in the event the Congress stopped working in the people’s interests, a convention could be called to build consensus among the states and the people. Any act to limit a convention is an act of corruption because it’s an act to thwart the people from formally discussing what Congress won’t. There are no terms or conditions placed on a state application, meaning once cast they never expire until a convention is called. Why? Because if a state has the power to rescind an application it puts the power of whether or not to hold a convention in the hands of a single state, which would be a form of estopple, or preventing a law from obtaining its purpose for being. Also, congressional records show the states have legally satisfied the convention clause of Article V and the 116th Congress is the latest to fail to carry out its obligation to issue the call. That is on the way to changing as there are now more Americans than ever who see the need to formally discuss amendments politicians won’t. We are close to the tipping-point, once it happens Congress will issue the call, and in a natural progression of events consensus will be built and solutions will be proposed.
Thanks for the clarification, John. Most helpful.
in the five years since I wrote this article, David, I’ve come to see the Constitution itself is deeply flawed in that none of us had any say in the basic political framework that determines how Americans “govern” themselves. And for the most part, none of our ancestors did (as women, Blacks, Native Americans and men without property were excluded from framing the Constitution).
I believe very deeply that we either need a new one, crafted by a citizens’ assembly, or a revolution.
Constitution is not flawed. Constitution is working well. Every adult willing to vote has a say in how we govern ourselves. If the majority of voters are evil, so too is their government. Likewise, if the majority of voters are good, so too is their government. The Constitution was framed by very intelligent men. Life back then was hard and in many cases brutal. Many people could not read or write. Today, the World benefits from the great nation created by the U.S. Constitution – The United States of America.
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Keith, the first branch of government (US Congress), has not proposed an amendment to the people in over thirty years. The states have repeatedly, based on federal records, cast requisite applications, legally satisfying the convention clause of Article V, and each session of Congress ignores it. In other words, the Constitution is currently suspended by the Congress for not calling the Article V Convention. foavc.org
WE DO NOT NEED A NEW CONSTITUTION… WE NEED TO ADHERE AND ABIDE BY THE ONE WE HAVE! Those of you who are “all for: a new constitution really want a MARXIST DOCUMENT THAT WILL DESTROY OUR REPUBLIC AND MAKE US A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY! Have any of you looked at the historical development of the destruction of South Africa…. Venezuela….. Somalia…. Sudan…. Cuba…. or any of these listed here https://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/third_world.html .. PICK ONE… WOULD YOU WANT TO LIVE IN ANY ONE OF THESE? WHY ARE PEOPLE COMING TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA FROM THESE COUNTRIES? CERTAINLY NOT BECAUSE THEY WANT THIS COUNTRY TO CHANGE INTO THE COUNTRIES THEY HAVE LEFT! please people… a constitutional convention is just what THIS COMMUNIST DEMOCRATIC PARTY WANTS… ONCE THE CONSTITUTION IS OPENED…. THEY WILL REPLACE IT WITH A MARXIST/SOCIALIST/COMMUNIST DOCUMENT WHICH WILL CHANGE THIS COUNTRY INTO A THIRD WORLD WEALTH DISTRIBUTION COUNTRY WHICH WILL RESULT IN A BANKRUPT FAILURE OF ANY AMERICAN DREAM. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE… DO YOUR HOMEWORK PEOPLE RESEARCH HOW THOSE OTHER COUNTRY BECAME PIMPLES ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH… THEY ALL STARTED THEIR DECLINE WITH THE SAME THING AS A CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION WITH THEIR OWN GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS….. AND PLEASE … WANT BETTER FOR YOUR UNITED STATES OF AMERICA….. WE HAVE A WAY TO MAKE AMENDMENTS…. A LEGAL WAY TO MAKE THEM AND APPLY THEM…. WE NEED TO STICK TO OUR LAWS AS WRITTEN OR WE WILL FALL TO THE WISH LIST OF THE DECLARED MARXIST/SOCIALISTS OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY. CHANGE IS NOT ALWAYS GOOD!
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Hi, the Article V Convention is part of the Constitution for a reason. If you’d like to educated yourself: foavc.org
A convention is nothing but a formal discussion to build consensus about change. If you fear a convention, you can actually be a delegate yourself if you’d like to: articlevconvention.org
I’m on TruthSocial President Trumps new media site and I’m trying to get their attention but I’ll never give up! So I’m going to continue to watch the webinars and push on TS
Mark, please share this link; it’s an online Article V Convention this May 25th: articlevconvention.org