Monday, August 17, 2015

A Runaway Convention
There are those – like Ben Paine, like myself – who are working to craft and ratify a 28th amendment to the U.S. Constitution that will end corporate personhood and build a Wall of Separation between big money and government.  There are those – like Ben Paine, like myself – who want to have an Article V Convention write the amendment rather than Congress, in order to get what we want and not a watered-down version with no teeth and no real hope for a better more democratic future.  But there are those who fear that an Article V Convention might degenerate into a “runaway convention” whose consequence would be to undermine all the benefits we have thus far enjoyed under the original U.S. Constitution.
In order to allay everyone’s fears, let me start by granting them their fear, let the Article V Convention “runaway” and utterly rewrite the U.S. Constitution, killing Federalism, killing our Checks and Balances, and killing all the rights granted us under the first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights.  Let us assume the impossible: the Article V Convention rewrites the U.S. Constitution and puts in its place a constitution that only Satan would love.  The consequence of such an unhappy event is that many people will have wasted a lot of their time at this convention, but there is no fear that this new document, this new constitution, would ever be ratified by the states, as that needs the approval of ¾ of all the states' legislatures and if it is that god-awful it will not get any state to ratify it.  Let us assume, otherwise, that the Convention rewrites the U.S. Constitution and makes it a little worse than what we have.  How many states will ratify that new constitution?  Not many, surely not ¾. Let us assume, finally, that the Convention writes a constitution that is BETTER than what we have!  (Hey, if that is impossible, it is impossible and don’t worry about it)  Well, if enough legislatures are smart enough to see an improved constitution, we will have a new and improved constitution, won’t we?  “Well,” you say, “who is going to say that this new constitution is better than the one we have?”  Why ¾ of the states is who.  If we don’t trust that hurdle, what can we trust?
A runaway convention is not a problem even if it happens.
And as the convention is not paid for by the public treasury, the worst that can happen is it wastes some of your time and mine as we follow its progress, and provides some exciting news for a few months, at least it costs no tax payer money.  Worst of all, it breaks the hearts of a few hundred or a few thousand American idealists.
No one is asking for an Article V Convention to rewrite the U.S. Constitution.  But if it were to be sabotaged and turn into a runaway rewrite, what I have said above applies: it wastes some people’s time.  And those who attend such a Convention will assuredly work to craft something that is likely to pass muster in ¾ of the states, no matter how grand or how limited.
So, if you hear anyone argue the possibility that an Article V Convention to craft a 28th amendment might be taken over and go runaway, your logical response is, “won’t happen and if it did, big deal, it’s fodder for late night comedy shows.”
An Article V Convention is the people’s convention, and what could be more exciting than to watch patriotic Americans sitting down to make things better, for themselves, for you and for me.