All Article V proposals face a common enemy, the frightening spectre of a “runaway” Convention that somehow subverts our Constitution. This fantasy was originally ginned up in the 60’s by, among others, Bobby Kennedy. Rather than bicker with one another, all Article V campaigns should work together to destroy this pernicious myth. Yours truly is guilty of some of that bickering, and will try to avoid it in the future.
The recent debate in the Idaho Senate on the BBA Resolution is a prime example of the problem. The opponents, led by Majority Leader Bart Davis, talked a lot about balancing risks and rewards — the reward of a desperately needed Balanced Budget Amendment, vs. the risk of a runaway. Davis stated that the risk would have been outweighed by the reward, if Clinton had won the election. But with Trump’s victory, the calculation changed, and now the risk is not worth taking. So our Resolution was defeated.
The prime purpose of the Nashville Convention is to demonstrate that, in reality, as opposed to theory, there is no risk. Not at this time, under these circumstances. 50 years ago, with the progressive anti-Constitutionalists in control of our politics, it might have been of concern. But today, in the midst of the Trump insurrection against progressivism, it’s pure paranoia.
How would an Amendment Convention “run away”? The delegations from 33 States will be controlled by conservative Republicans. Why, in the name of God, would these delegations, mostly from small States, allow voting to take place on anything other than one State, one vote — especially since that is the universal precedent, dating back to Colonial times? And if, as it surely would be, the voting is one State, one vote, why would these 33 Republican States go outside the scope of the Call, and allow any attack on our liberties? Is George Soros going to bribe them all? Can you be serious?
Or, alternatively, are Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell going to try to force the Amendment Convention to vote by something other than “one state, one vote”? This would be lunacy, and would be ignored by the Convention if it were tried. Congress has no authority over the conduct of the Convention, and the Convention would dissolve rather than submit to any outside authority.
The runaway argument then proceeds to ratification. It’s claimed that the Convention of 1787 changed the rules on ratification, so any Amendment Convention could do the same. Aside from the fact that this is historically inaccurate, it is utterly ludicrous. What they’re describing is a coup d’etat, a group of conventioneers seizing control of the Constitution and the government. Who would allow this coup to take place? Where are President Trump, the Congress, the State Legislatures who control their delegations, the Courts, and the military? Are they all going to stand down in the face of a preposterous plot to destroy the Constitution? Or, rather, would any such attempt be made, would it be laughed at? Is the foundation of the Republic so fragile that it could be undone by a sort of beer hall putsch?
But these are mere arguments, and the Nashville Convention will be more than that. It will be a tangible demonstration of the absurdity of the whole idea. The men and women present will be the same, to a great extent, as the ones who will attend an Amendment Convention. The idea of “running away” is so foreign to these people that the subject will never arise, except to be ridiculed. Senator Davis and other skeptics, it is hoped, will attend. They will have the opportunity to observe, up close and personal, the people who will be entrusted with power at an Amendment Convention. And when the Nashville Convention adjourns, will Davis and the others still fear them? Or, rather, will he find that the delegates he has met from around the country share his devotion to the Constitution. They are his peers, his colleagues, his fellow constitutional conservatives. They should be embraced, not feared.
The Nashville Convention is not just about the BBA. It’s about discrediting the whole idea of a runaway convention. It’s good for all Article V proposals. The Balanced Budget Amendment is in the vanguard, but Article V will be the real winner.
So it is with great frustration we see talk of protests in Nashville about the conduct of the Panning Convention. I earlier made a reference to a proposal to modify the Resolution calling the Nashville Convention, but that was merely a concept being floated around.
The Legislature of the State of Tennessee has stepped up, shown some leadership, and is prepared to make a critical contribution to the entire Article V movement. For this they deserve our support. From all of us.
[First published at Reagan Project at https://reaganproject.com/]