Article V Convention not just for conservatives

we-the-people

Byron DeLear says conservatives are focusing on a Article V Convention to force change so progressives better jump on too. This is a perfect platform to overturn Citizens United as well as the odious and corrupt concept that corporations are people.

Conservative politicians and groups are largely behind a renewed push to have the states call a constitutional convention, but a nonpartisan group dedicated to advancing the idea says progressives should be taking up the cause as well.

Byron DeLear, a co-founder of Friends of the Article V Convention, told The Huffington Post that the idea of a state-called convention, which is allowed for in Article V of the Constitution, is a “transpartisan idea” that only recently has become a tool for conservatives to push for change.

Article V of the Constitution says state legislatures can petition Congress to call binding conventions for proposing new amendments. Many such petitions have been made and naturally, Congress is ignoring the law and the petitions.

It’s a Catch-22—Congress will not issue the Article V Convention call only to have its overreaching powers scrutinized, and the people can’t enjoy their right for independent oversight without Congress issuing the call.

Sooner or later the US will have its Arab Spring and an Article V Convention may well be part of it. Lefties need to get involved now.

Glenn Beck’s Mormon prophecy of the Constitution hanging by thread

Byron DeLear

Dana Milbank’s article two days ago, “Mormon Prophecy Behind Glenn Beck’s Message”, talks about some coded language Beck’s been using–supposedly a prophetic prediction made by the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith.

Hanging by a thread. Sounds like the sign of the times in so many ways. We all know profit-driven ‘news-entertainment’ is dominated by fear and sensationalism, so we should expect an abundance of apocalyptic story telling from pundits like Beck. But even after disregarding the truth-warping profit motive, there is still ample evidence to heed this ‘constitution hanging by a thread’ notion. Accordingly, the people are restless.

He suggests an Article V Convention to propose constitutional amendments. The Constitution specifically allows this. Read the whole article for full details on how this can done.

Why regulating Wall Street isn’t enough

From Byron DeLear, author, lecturer, former US Congressional Candidate in Missouri and co-founder of Friends of Article V Convention.

Our Founding Fathers were all about preventing tyranny as they were throwing off the yoke of the British Empire; the despotism of Crown and Church, they could see it a million miles away and designed our government to prevent it.

Their remedy? Checks-and-balances, compartments of government self-regulated through inter-agency skepticism and scrutiny.

Given the recent Wall Street bailouts in the amount of trillions upon trillions, deficit spending and skyrocketing debt, it seems as if an important protection to help Washington be more accountable is missing from the Founder’s design. But it isn’t. It just hasn’t been used.

A consensus has emerged on how to fix the rules in our broken financial system – Regulation. This response to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression sees the deregulation that had occurred in the banking and mortgage industry – combined with good ol’ fashioned greed – as the primary cause of the collapse. It follows then, that by restoring key corporate oversight, a future economic meltdown will be averted. Only regulating Wall Street won’t be enough.

Wall Street had a silent partner in creating this mess: Washington, DC. Without the collusion between Wall Street and Washington, this debacle wouldn’t have been possible. The lobbyist driven repeal of important protections such as the Glass Steagall Act in 1999 or the unregulated mania of corporations like AIG, Bear Stearns or Lehman would never have occurred without a complicit Congress, essentially bribed to be asleep at the switch. We have witnessed, quite literally, the ‘Enron-nization’ of the American economy.

In our nation’s history, the Federal government has offered top-down guidance to the States. Sometimes in the form of a moral check-and-balance as in the case of women’s voting rights or guaranteeing African-Americans entry into schools in the South. America became stronger through these interventions. But the reverse, a restraining check-and-balance to an excessive Federal government, is also necessary. When Washington has grown beyond its means, overreaching and incapable of self-correction, the people must intervene.

This was the purpose of the convention clause of Article V of the US Constitution, to give the people an opportunity to offer solutions to a recalcitrant Congress unwilling or unable to act. When corruption has become institutionalized into the Federal government, the States can petition for a convention to propose amendments to the Constitution, a process occurring outside of Washington, bypassing the entrenched corruption. Before becoming law, amendments would have to be ratified by three-fourths of the States, eliminating any extreme or radical proposals.

But ideas like a Balanced Budget Amendment, which would help to root out abuse and cronyism inherent in the system today, could be introduced and seriously debated through our nation’s first Article V Convention. Delegates would assemble, C-SPAN would cover it, we would all get educated a little more and our representative democracy reinvigorated. There is a critical reason why the convention clause exists, and the Framer’s put it there not to be ignored, but to provide a “peaceful alternative to a violent revolt” during times of strong popular frustration with the Federal government.

Constitutional scholars believe we have been denied our right to a convention. To date, there have been 754 valid applications from all 50 States for an Article V Convention that have hit the doorstep of Congress, far surpassing the two-thirds threshold needed (34). The research documenting these applications was completed last year by an intrepid non-partisan group of legal experts, a retired Michigan Supreme Court Justice and impassioned citizens from every State. The Friends of Article V Convention (FOAVC.org) assert that Congress has not only failed in its non-discretionary duty to issue the call, but is purposefully quashing the convention as a perceived (and real) threat to its power.

Aside from the partisan polemics surrounding the recent Tea Parties, it’s clear that millions of Americans of all political stripes are voicing deep concerns for the future of our country. They see the massive influence of lobbying power, industries writing their own laws, shameless earmark abuse and trillion dollar bailouts as the symptoms of a broken system.

President Eisenhower once remarked about Article V,

“Through their state legislatures and without regard to the federal government, the people can demand a convention to propose amendments that can and will reverse any trends they see as fatal to true representative government.”

It may be time to finally heed the original design our Founding Fathers built into the law of the land for just such an occasion – they did have a couple things right after all.

Byron can be reached at: ByronDeLear@gmail.com

Article V Convention. The people change the constitution

foavc.org

Our “John Rich. They’re Shutting Detroit Down” post on April 20 has gotten 8,000 hits so far, way more than a popular post normally gets here. Why? Because the song was timely, heartfelt, and crossed political boundaries. John Rich is right-wing yet long-time progressive Kris Kristofferson acted in the video. Does party affliiation make any difference when the factories in your town are shutting down? Nope. Not even slightly.

Both the teabaggers and the left are angry that bailout money is going to Wall Street while the rest of us, Detroit included, gets screwed. This isn’t about left vs. right, it’s about an unresponsive system that benefits a few and no longer answers to the people.

But perhaps there is a solution. Call a constitutional convention and force the needed changes. Such a right is, in fact, guaranteed by the constitution.

From Friends of the Article V Convention

Article V of the United States Constitution provides that “on the application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, [Congress] shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments…”. The Founding Fathers of our nation recognized the importance of providing this means by which the citizens of our country could initiate amendments to change and/or clarify the Constitution; the fundamental document which they intended to be not only the blueprint for our federal system but also “the supreme Law of the Land”.

Yes, the convention would be called by Congress, but just the mere threat of such a convention might well start forcing needed changes. And if held, such a convention would probably be much more controlled by the populace and much less by Congress and the current corrupt system of lobbyists and big business money.

Any proposed constitutional amendments from the convention would become part of the constitution if ratified by three quarters of the state legislatures. This is a high bar, and deliberately so.

What would I like to see?

1) Public funding of elections with strict spending limits and timetables, with no contributions allowed to politicians ever by anyone or any entity. Period.

2) A parliamentary system of government. By its nature this would encourage the growth of third parties and give them the chance to have real political power as part of ruling coalitions. The US is the only democracy to my knowledge that doesn’t have a parliamentary system. If it had one, Dubya would not have lasted eight years in power, that’s for sure.

What would you like see in the way of constitutional changes?

The non-partisan Friends of the Article V Convention has lots of information about how this works and have made no specific proposals for changes. This is where is gets a bit tricky. If such a convention happened, what would the rules be? Could it get jacked by extremists? Or, just maybe, could it be a genuine exercise in real democracy instead?