About 100 state legislators met at Mount Vernon last weekend to discuss the possibility of having an Article V Convention for Amending the Constitution. According to Garret Humbertson at Red Millennial (HT Bosch Fawstin), there has been interest among state legislators in having a convention for some time. But if you’re like me, you’ve heard about this procedure only recently, thanks to Mark Levin’s latest book, The Liberty Amendments. Levin and others have come to the conclusion–with which I agree–that Washington has become so corrupt, so statist in its basic orientation, that the only practical, nonviolent means of steering the country away from totalitarianism is a convention initiated by the state legislatures. Apparently an application for a convention must be passed by 34 state legislatures. With legislative representatives from 32 states traveling to meet at Mount Vernon over the weekend, it sounds like such a convention might soon become a reality.
It’s great to see so many people fed up with our out-of-control government; and it’s especially good to see them wanting to take practical action to fix the problem. I wonder, however, whether most of those involved are intellectually armed to the extent necessary to do what really needs to be done. For example, the article at Red Millennial names “term limits” and a “balanced budget amendment” as two issues around which they hope to form a bipartisan consensus. Term limits may be the right way to go, especially given the pervasiveness of cronyism among the career politicians. But term limits are merely procedural. A balanced budget amendment may help curb our government’s excessive spending; but it may also just encourage politicians to increase taxes to fund that spending.
I look at it this way: The assembled legislators say their goal is to propose amendments that can attract bipartisan support. Practically, they have to do this, because they need 34 state legislatures to apply to have the convention, and then they need 38 legislatures to pass the amendments for them to become effective. This means that the amendments resulting from such a convention, were such a convention to be held today, would likely be a lot worse than any amendments held as ideals by today’s best politicians. And what sort of amendments would those be?
Yaron Brook and Steve Simpson of ARI just published a revealing article over at The Daily Caller discussing Mike Lee’s views on income inequality. Lee, who I had thought was one of the most promising politicians in Washington, turns out to think about the income inequality issue much as our president does. Here is Mike Lee, first quoted and then interpreted by Brook and Simpson:
“For all America’s reputation for individualism and competition, our nation has from the beginning been built on a foundation of community and cooperation.” Our political system is distinctive, according to Lee, not because it recognizes that we are independent individuals, but because it assumes that we are all dependent on one another.
Even though Lee says he opposes government enforced charity and cooperation, Brook and Simpson continue, “if you concede that wealth, success, and prosperity come from ‘community and cooperation’ rather than individual initiative, why shouldn’t government force us to ‘give back’?” Read the entire article here.
If Mike Lee is one of today’s best politicians, and even he holds views incompatible with a consistent defense of our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, then it is too soon for a convention to amend the constitution–particularly a “bipartisan” convention–to do much good.
The good news is that the proper ideas are starting to be heard and have an influence. The Daily Caller piece by Brook and Simpson is an example (I encourage everyone reading this to go over there and comment on the piece, in order to help it have the most impact). Brook also spoke to The New York Meeting last night on income inequality, and I gather there were several politicians in attendance including, if I heard Brook correctly, Senator Ron Johnson. Brook will also be speaking on the same topic this evening in Washington, D.C.
Until our politicians can address issues like income inequality as Brook does, no amendments they propose will be able to inoculate us against totalitarianism. Let’s hope that Brook’s and others’ efforts to educate politicians and the public pay off sooner rather than later.