I know many of you don't pay much attention to the right-wing noise machine, and when you do dismiss what you hear for obvious reaons -- like they're generally full of shit.
Well, that's all true, but that doesn't mean they're not dangerous. After all, many liberals and progressives laughed at and dismissed Rush Limbaugh and the other right-wing talk radio shock jocks as clowns, back in the 90s, but look how much influence he has had and how much damage he's done to our civil discourse. These things have a way of flying under the radar until they reach a critical mass, then they explode to cause no end of trouble.
That's why I'm writing today about a growing movement in far-right circles that sounds like a bunch of crackpots, but could actually pose a serious danger to our democracy. Spurred on by Mark Levin and others, there is a grass-roots conservative movement to convene an Article V convention of the States to amend the Constitution by enacting so-called "Liberty Amendments" that would eliminate the popular election of Senators, require a balanced federal budget, prohibit the federal government from any activity conducted by the states (including healthcare), effectively eliminate the commerce clause and the general welfare clause, enact term limits on judges and enable the States to overturn judicial decisions, impose nation-wide voter id laws, and enshrine several other far-right hobbyhorses as Constitutional imperatives. And this movement has support from people who should know better, like state representatives from Indiana and Georgia. While obviously on the fringe now, these sorts of things have a tendency to become mainstream conservative thought if unchecked. Follow me below the squiggle for more details.
There is a meeting of representatives from at least 30 states scheduled just three days from now, Saturday, December 7, at the library in Mount Vernon. (Is nothing sacred? George Washington is probably spinning in his grave even as we speak.) Elected officials will be among the attendees: David Long, President of the Indiana State Senate; and Jason Spencer, Georgia state representative.
In fact, the state of Indiana has actually enacted legislation to facilitate the appointment of delegates to such a convention, and to govern their activities.
To take a step back, I should explain that Article V of the Constitution provides two ways to amend the Constitution. The first, with which we are familiar because it is the way all amendments have been enacted to date, is for two-thirds of the House and Senate to vote for an amendment, which is then sent to the States for ratification (which requires approval by three-fourths of the States). But alternatively, if two-thirds (34) of the States so request to Congress, Congress must then call a convention to propose amendments (which must then be ratified, again, by three-fourths of the States). Although the procedures for such a convention are unclear, the folks currently pushing this take the position that such a convention would be a creature of the State legislatures, with delegates appointed by the legislatures and bound by their instructions.
Think about it -- while I haven't done the math, I bet you could come up with two-thirds of the States with a combined population less than that of California and New York. At any rate, clearly the convention could be convened at the request of legislatures representing a small minority of the nation's population. This is yet another attempt by the right to enact policies that they can't win through legitimate elections.
As I said, these folks are meeting this Saturday, they are serious, and they are backed by mass media. We need to make people aware of this threat to democracy and preemptively discredit those pushing it, before it picks up more steam. In particular, we should contact our State legislative representatives and make very clear our opposition to any such constitutional convention.