NO to a Federal Constitutional Convention
By Steve ByasDuring the American War for Independence, Fort West Point in New York came very close to falling to the British, along with the capture of the commander-in-chief, George Washington – not from any overwhelming assault by the Redcoats – but from the traitorous turncoat, General Benedict Arnold. One lets down one’s guard when it is a supposed friend who is going to stab you in the back.
In that case, it was an American general – Benedict Arnold – who was going to destroy the American cause, which caused Washington and others to be come perilously close to losing our country.
In Oklahoma, we can expect the Democrats in the Oklahoma Legislature – a motley crew of left-wingers – to do us in, if they could. Fortunately, there are so few Democrats left in the Legislature that we do not have to worry about them. Unfortunately, the war on our liberty and our Constitution comes from within the Republican caucus.
How so? Some Republican leaders are advocating the calling for a national convention to change the Constitution of the United States. They call it a “Convention of States,” a term that appears nowhere in the Constitution. The argument is that such a convention – whatever one calls it – can make changes to our Constitution that will rein in our out-of-control federal government. No doubt our federal government needs some reining in, but we already have plenty of such restraints in the Constitution. The problem is that most of what Congress does now is unconstitutional.
What makes one think that an additional amendment will make any difference? The Bill of Rights was put into the Constitution in 1791 – ten amendments – which were designed to “rein in” the federal government. The First Amendment forbade Congress pass any law abridging freedom of speech or the press. Yet, only seven years later, in 1798, Congress passed the Sedition Act – abridging freedom of speech and the press!
Our Legislature’s Republicans want to call a convention to pass term limits on members of Congress, for example. Others want an amendment to require a federal balanced budget.
To hear advocates of term limits tell it, term limits will cure heart disease. The truth is, the same electorate that has chosen our present membership of Congress, such as Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell, will choose their successors, whoever that may be. What makes anyone think that an electorate that picked those two and so many others like them, will pick someone better? Term limits would also throw out the few good guys, as well.
And a balanced budget amendment? The problem is that Congress spends money on things not authorized in the Constitution. To balance the federal budget – a great idea in the abstract – requires cutting federal spending or raising taxes, or a combination of both. We are already taxed enough, and does anyone really believe that Congress would cut enough federal spending to balance the budget, when the Constitution already states they cannot spend money on stuff they are spending money on now?
Calling a national constitutional convention is playing Russian Roulette with the Constitution. Do these Con-Con advocates really believe that the delegates would all be limited government folks? The Left would send their people, too. The Con-Con would probably look pretty much like our present sorry Congress, unless you have a different electorate – one that believes in limited government – doing the electing.
There are many great conservatives who have opposed the very idea of a Con-Con. They include Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, Phyllis Schlafly, Ron Paul, Glenn Beck, Antonin Scalia – and James Madison. Scalia said that this a bad century in which to write a Constitution.
If a convention met to do some term limits and a balanced budget amendment, the Left would be there, too, fighting for their agenda. Left-wingers have already expressed support for a Con-Con, so they can abolish the Electoral College and the Second Amendment, and maybe even scrap the whole thing. After all, the Left, operating under Marxist dogma, believe the Constitution is a fundamentally flawed document.
Some say, well, state legislatures would not ratify anything crazy coming out of a constitutional convention. Really? Are you prepared to put the Constitution up to the good will of the state legislatures in this country? Hey, our own state Senate – right here in Oklahoma – voted a few years back for a scheme that would have essentially ended the Electoral College. You trust them?
No to a federal Constitutional Convention.
Steve Byas is Editor of the Oklahoma Constitution and author of several magazine articles and books, including History’s Greatest Libels. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org