Right for the Wrong Reasons

In the midst of the seemingly indeterminable presidential electoral campaign, some of the candidates have been asked about the possibility of convening a constitutional convention in the hope of addressing the nation’s most pressing issues, most ominously the gargantuan federal deficit now in excess of $18 trillion.

Governor John Kasich supports such a notion with the explicit purpose of passing a balanced budget amendment.

 

Washington_Constitutional_Convention_1787A famous painting by Junius Brutus Stearns depicting the signing of the US constitution.

 

Mark Meckler, president of Citizens for Self Governance, a leading group pushing the idea, believes that “If it starts to become a serious presidential issue, we could get it done in 2016.”*

Not all presidential contenders are on board with the idea. Senator Marco Rubio has expressed trepidation over the possibility of a convention for amending the current document fearful that it would lead to a total rewrite:

 

Just make sure that we know how it is going to turn out because if you open up the Constitution, you are also opening it up to people that want to re-examine the First Amendment, people that want to re-examine the Second Amendment, people that want to re-examine some other fundamental protect[ions] that are built into the Constitution.”**

 

RubioFresh-faced senator Marco Rubio – for once he’s actually right about something, but for the wrong reasons…

Photo credit: abcnews.com

 

Unlike most issues on which he pontificates, Senator Rubio is this time right in his analysis, but most likely for the wrong reasons.

 

The Birth of Leviathan

The original Constitutional convention was called to “revise” the supposedly defective Articles of Confederation, but by the time the deliberations (more like arm twisting, threats, and bribes) were over, the Articles had been replaced by a brand spanking new document.

The Constitution granted the central government far more power than it had before while the individual states had, in effect, lost their cherished sovereignty and had become mere appendages within the new “federal” union.

Under the current ideological climate, the convocation of another constitutional convention would not return the nation to its halcyon days as a confederation of independent states, but would more than likely increase the central government’s power at the expense of what is left of state and individual rights. The idea of amending the current document is naïve at best, but more importantly a gigantic waste of time.

Groups like Citizens for Self Government do not grasp the essential problem of American political, social and economic life. It is the Constitution itself that is the cause of the myriad of problems which besiege the land. The adoption of the Constitution despite what its sycophantic champions of today and yesteryear have erroneously argued, created a highly centralized national state which is virtually limitless in its power.

 

declaration-p1July 4, 1776 – the unanimous declaration of the 13 United States of America, page 1.

 

The Articles of Confederation, on the other hand, were just that – a system where the national government was dependent for its existence on the individual states’ benevolence. American constitutional history can be seen as the systematic destruction of state, regional, local and, eventually, individual sovereignty from the aggrandizement of federal power, all achieved under Constitutional rule.

The Constitution negates one of the great safeguards of individual liberty – “voting with one’s feet.” Under a confederation of states, tyranny can be avoided, to an extent, by simply relocating to another political jurisdiction. If a state becomes too confiscatory in its taxing policies, its subjects can move to a less tax burdensome district. Thus, the more political jurisdictions there are the better.

Under the Constitution, there is no escape from its dictates unless one expatriates. The ability of populations to move and the greater number of political units provides a far superior check on tyranny than the supposed “checks and balances” and “separation of powers” so celebrated in American federalism.

Amendments, conventions, “strict interpretation” of the Constitution, and all other reforms of the federal system will do nothing to limit or eventually slay the American Leviathan. Decentralization is the key which means secession and a dismantling of the Union.

Secession should not be limited to the Union, but allow for the breakup of the existing states along political, economic and cultural lines. States as geographically, culturally, and economically diverse as California should be broken down into numerous smaller entities. The overriding principle in regard to liberty and prosperity is the greater number of political configurations the better.

Until the Constitution is seen for what it truly is, the rapacious federal state will continue to gorge itself on the ever dwindling productive efforts of its citizenry. Once this is recognized and efforts are taken to disembowel the beast, will the lives, liberties, and property of Americans and a great many around the globe be secured.

References:

 

*David Sherfinski, “GOP Hopefuls’ Support Boosts Constitutional Convention Idea.” The Washington Times. 24 December 2015.

**Ibid.

 

Addendum, by PT

We welcome Antonius Aquinas as a new guest author – his positively Nockian view of American history has definitely struck a chord with us, so we asked him whether we could republish his work on Acting Man, a proposal which he graciously accepted.

We have long planned to discuss the above issues in these pages, but unfortunately the day only has 24 hours, and there is simply too much to do and too little time to do it in. We are therefore quite happy to have found a kindred spirit who is able to convey these ideas in such a succinct and trenchant manner.

 

This article originally appeared at antoniusaquinas.com.

 

 
 

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6 Responses to “Another Constitutional Convention: An Idea Whose Time Has Not Come”

  • DeeBee9:

    Congress has the authority to propose an amendment to the Constitution at any time, and then 38 states must vote to adopt the amendment for it to take effect. No Constitutional Convention is required for this. Under Article 5 of the Constitution, 2/3 of the State Assemblies can also propose an amendment to the Constitution, and then, as above, 38 states must vote to adopt the amendment for it to take effect. Is the author’s argument that there is some great danger in the States exercising their power that isn’t present when the Congress exercises its power? Are the States to be less trusted to rein in Congress than we can trust Congress to rein itself in? I hear no serious discussion of a ‘Constitutional Convention’ (which would rewrite the entire Constitution just as was done in 1789 when the Articles of Confederation were replaced); rather I do hear much discussion of a Convention of States to propose amendments to the existing Constitution — including some to undo the damage wrought be many earlier amendments. I say that’s good news.

  • rodney:

    Excellent article … Well done.

    State legislatures restricting further centralization? When has that ever happened? Never. You might as well question the motivations of state level politicians. It doesn’t take that much wisdom to know that the solution cannot come from within politics.

    From the article:

    Under the current ideological climate, the convocation of another constitutional convention would not return the nation to its halcyon days as a confederation of independent states, but would more than likely increase the central government’s power at the expense of what is left of state and individual rights. The idea of amending the current document is naïve at best, but more importantly a gigantic waste of time.

    Agreed 100%.

    • Stormtrooper:

      So, Rodney, if having the 38 required legislatures amend the Federal government out of existence doesn’t solve the problem, what would be your solution?

  • No6:

    Ave Antonius Aquinas.

  • Roger Barris:

    The central argument here — that decentralization and more jurisdictions are key restraints on government power — is an important observation. I saw this logic at work in my former residence in Switzerland. Here is my blog on the subject: http://www.economicmanblog.com/2012/11/29/venez-a-londres-mes-amis/.

    Roger Barris

  • Stormtrooper:

    Whoever this guy Antonius Aquinas is, he has absolutely no idea what he is talking about. Is he an American? Has he ever read the US Constitution? The Convention of States has nothing to do with Marco Rubio or any of the other meaningless candidates for the position of POTUS. The Convention of States would be conducted, under Article V of the Constitution, by delegates from the various state legislatures with no involvement from Marco Rubio, Congress, a US President (when we get a legal citizen in that position) or the Supreme Court. The states, thru their delegates, would decide what amendments to the Constitution are needed to correct the abuses perpetrated on the US by the current and previous Federal governments. These amendments could include any subjects, up to and including, the total dissolution of the current form of Federal government. The state legislatures are unlikely to consider any amendments that would give even more illegitimate power to Washington, D.C. as they would surely like to return as much power of to govern to themselves as possible. And the Bill of Rights, it was created to protect the citizens of the Republic from the Republic itself. Should the states decide to dissolve the Republic thru a Constitutional amendment, there would no longer be a need for the Bill of Rights.

    Acting Man: I suggest that you review the articles that you post more closely if you want to remain credible.

Your comment:

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