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Constitutional Traitors

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In recent days the idea of using the Article V convention option in the Constitution received support in an article by Texas Senator John Cornyn, a Republican, published on the Fox News website. He noted “Recent polling suggests that a plurality of Americans support a convention to propose a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution if Congress will not do so.” He made a good case for using the convention option by saying it “would be part of a national conversation that could last well beyond one or two election cycles. The very length of the convention and ratification process would allow the American people ample opportunity to judge proposed reforms, and ensure that they would strengthen the checks and balances that have served our nation well.”

A few days later, on the pages of the Wall Street Journal a strong case was made for a “repeal amendment” that would give state legislatures the power to veto federal laws, something worth proposing. Though the op ed by a professor and the Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates did not say so, obviously Congress would never propose such an amendment. That means using an Article V convention, whereby state delegates could propose new amendments just as Congress has done.

At the same time, a policy report from the Goldwater Institute recommended that “states seriously consider” using the convention option “to restrain the federal government.”

So the issue of using this convention option that Congress has refused to convene despite hundreds of state applications and which establishment powers on the political left and right have long opposed, merits serious examination. Start with this: Americans overwhelmingly say they love and respect the Constitution and usually specific amendments, though often different ones on the political left and right. Three frameworks help understanding why most Americans oppose using the Article V convention option. Two have been unsuccessful because convention proponents have not been able to impact most opponents who fit these two frameworks. I offer a third framework or plan of attack which I believe will work.

First, consider the craziness framework. Many Americans have been taught to fear using the convention option, even though it has never been used. They are irrational. This is like being afraid to eat the fruit of the constitutional tree first planted by the Founders even though no one has ever tasted or been harmed by the fruit. Such people stubbornly think they are acting rationally; I think they are crazy and irrational. This delusional thinking, based on what is imagined might happen, is not easily changed, because such people have been purposefully and successfully brainwashed. They have an emotional block. Rather than fear a runaway convention, people should fear our runaway politicians and government.

Second, consider the analytic framework. Many Americans use what they think are rational, substantive arguments. Convention proponents use facts based on the exact language in Article V or other historical facts to objectively contradict wrong-headed thinking. But correcting the record has not worked sufficiently, largely because opponents invent their own facts, ignore correct ones, and consume disinformation disseminated by convention opponents. They have an intellectual block. Cognitive dissonance works to prevent the pain of accepting new information incompatible with their negative views about a convention.

We should not invite, respect or participate in arguments by opponents that fit these two frameworks. We should, in particular, recognize and condemn morally offensive fear mongering used intentionally by convention opponents. Convention opponents seeking protection of their ability to influence the political system and selling fear and disinformation must face their constitutional guilt.

Converting convention opponents to proponents requires a paradigm change, which is very difficult. However, the current justified high level of dissatisfaction with government, politicians and both major political parties and the strong desire for reform of government mandate use of a new approach.

The patriotic framework better addresses the root of the problem from a rule of law perspective. Rather than condemn convention opponents as irrational or ignorant, we condemn unpatriotic constitutional hypocrites. When they openly oppose the convention option they are constitutional traitors.

With the patriotic framework, we take advantage of frequent strong public support for constitutional amendments not proposed by Congress, including these: In 1996, 74 percent of Americans favored a constitutional amendment to limit the number of terms that members of Congress and the US Senate could serve. In 2005, 76 percent favored an amendment to allow voluntary prayer in public schools, and in 1983, 81 percent favored it. In both 2000 and 2004 61 percent favored amending the Constitution so that the presidential candidate receiving the most popular votes would win, replacing the Electoral College. In 1995, a balanced budget amendment passed the House but failed to meet the two-thirds requirement in the Senate by a single vote; this year there is a strong national movement to get it and a number of other amendments that would surely earn broad public support.

About Joel S. Hirschhorn

Formerly full professor Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, and senior official Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and National Governors Association. Author of four nonfiction books and hundreds of articles.
  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Continuation of the status quo will not eliminate the corruption and dysfunction that the two-party plutocracy sustains. Many reforms can only be achieved through constitutional amendments that Congress will never propose; this is inarguable.

    Yes, we need a Constitutional convention, and the Tea Party is not a political party, it’s a movement. It possess an unclear platform and is totally-void of real solutions to any of our problems.

    JD Great article, Joel.

  • Arch Conservative

    Brilliant article Joel.

    As usual jeannie has to chime in with fascist tendencies.

    “it’s a movement. It possess an unclear platform and is totally-void of real solutions to any of our problems.”

    That is your opinion jeannie. We all know you don’t like the Tea Party because they don’t share your views and that if you had your way the Democrats in Congress would make a law stating that all Tea Party members be banned from exercising their right to free speech under the penalty of death. Despite your ugly attitude torward those who disagree with you, the Tea PArty has a right to form a political party if they so choose and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.

  • zingzing

    as usual, archie will throw around the word “fascist” for no real reason. and then he’ll cry about the 1st amendment for no reason and with nothing but ridiculous claims. do you really even believe “the Democrats in Congress would make a law stating that all Tea Party members be banned from exercising their right to free speech under the penalty of death?” no, no you don’t. but you’re perfectly willing to spread bullshit lies in order to silence people. that’s an ugly attitude.

    i think you understand that the “tea party” is a movement within the gop. are they running on republican tickets? they haven’t (yet) become their own party. if they do, how do you think that will go? you’ll just split the conservative vote, thereby handing the liberals a major victory. currently, their “platform” is just the gop platform with more buzzwords and soundbites about “smaller government” and “more liberty” and “dumptrucks of freedom.”

    jeannie wasn’t trying to silence the tea party. (they really have very little to say anyway, so what’s the point?) but you know that. yet you want to throw out some “fascism,” you want to make up junk (this law that the dems are planning for what to kill you with), and some junk about jeannie wanting to keep the tea party from becoming an actual party. none of which is true. why? thaaaaaaat’s archie!

  • Arch Conservative

    ” do you really even believe the Democrats in Congress would make a law stating that all Tea Party members be banned from exercising their right to free speech under the penalty of death?”

    Of courrse not. But based on the history of the things jeannie has said about people she disagrees with I do believe she would be more than OK with the government infringing upon the 1st amendment rights of those who political views differ from her own.

    She’s like a lot of other leftists. She only believes in free speech when it’s speech she agrees with.

  • Joel S. Hirschhorn

    Would prefer to see comments on the substance of my article, not on comments to it.

  • zingzing

    well, either leftists don’t believe in free speech or maybe you’re vastly overstating your case. i think it’s the latter. you’re quite free to put up ridiculous stuff like that in #2. gotta wonder why, since the leftists are in power right now. if you were right,

  • zingzing

    ahem. archie, if you were right and leftists really would take away your freedom of speech, they’d have done it, right? and yet you and fox news and the tea party and rush limbaugh and all those other right wingers are out there being louder than ever. something doesn’t compute.

    joel, you’ll eat what we put on the table.

  • http://blogcritics.org/culture/article/must-we-always-cave-to-islamist/ A.B. Caliph

    Would prefer to see comments on the substance of my article, not on comments to it.

    Hah! Dream on, Mr. Hirschhorn. This is a war I’ve been waging to no avail for months at BC, including an extended exchange today with the zing-ed one on another thread.

    But you needn’t leave this page to see his arrogant condescension on display. Just check out comment #7:

    joel, you’ll eat what we put on the table.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Alan, if you’re seriously engaged in a “war” to control the direction of conversation on the internet I’d suggest you bunk in for the long haul. Lots of luck, champ.

  • Joel S. Hirschhorn

    Perhaps there should be some policing by editors, especially for articles in the politics section. There are plenty of other places on the web for people to just talk endlessly with little content; BC should be better than that. Those who feel compelled to use the comments part of BC without having the intellect to comment on the articles themselves are shameless losers without critical thinking skills.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Those who feel compelled to use the comments part of BC without having the intellect to comment on the articles themselves are shameless losers without critical thinking skills.

    Oh that’ll play…

  • Jordan Richardson

    Really, Joel, you’ve been here since 2007. Are you just now fed up with the off-topic nonsense here or just having a bad day?

    Interesting, too, that Alan would champion this stance – especially considering one of the more recent “comments” he lofted your way:

    “Jesus Mary and Joseph, why not just commit suicide and be done with it? You’re obviously way too superior to coexist on the same planet as the rest of us poor slobs.”

    Winner.

  • Joel S. Hirschhorn

    I do not intend to visit or publish on this site for a really long time. Bye-bye….

  • http://blogcritics.org/culture/article/must-we-always-cave-to-islamist/ A.B. Caliph

    … shameless losers without critical thinking skills.

    You’ve hit the nail on the head, Mr. Hirschhorn (#10). The problem is that, when you call for “policing by editors,” you overlook the fact that they too are shameless losers without critical thinking skills. So we’re in sort of a bind.

    I do not intend to visit or publish on this site for a really long time. Bye-bye.

    Good move, Mr. Hirschhorn (#13). That’ll really show ‘em, huh?

  • zingzing

    alan, it wasn’t arrogant condescension, it was a joke. like what your mother would say. eat what’s in front of you or go hungry, because that’s all there is. not everyone is as mean-spirited as you are.

    and yes, good luck with your war. have you heard of the internet before? look it up.

  • http://blogcritics.org/culture/article/must-we-always-cave-to-islamist/ A.B. Caliph

    You just drove Mr. Hirschhorn into premature retirement from BC, and you call me mean-spirited? Now that is both arrogant condescension and a joke.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Joel is an adult. Nobody “drove” him anywhere. He’s been here since 2007, so the notion that this is new territory for him is a little hard to believe.

    And please, your insistence on controlling how other people interact on a free forum is getting downright creepy. If the discourse here annoys you so greatly, you can always limit your own participation as it suits you rather than attempting to force others to conform to your standards of decorum and modesty.

    By your standards, you’d make a great “Islamist.”

  • zingzing

    i didn’t drive him to do anything. that was a light pat on the bottom at worst. i didn’t tell him to go commit suicide or anything. that would be mean-spirited, don’t you think?

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    “I do not intend to visit or publish on this site for a really long time.”

    I’ll alert the media, but since you hadn’t written anything since July, I am not sure anyone will notice.

  • http://blogcritics.org/culture/article/must-we-always-cave-to-islamist/ A.B. Caliph

    “Why not just commit suicide and be done with it?” I asked rhetorically. That was nearly eight weeks ago. Obviously, it did not inspire Mr. Hirschhorn to either kill himself or retire from Blogcritics. And he returned the compliment the very next day, writing, “When you say ‘the rest of us poor slobs’ you infer that you are one of those fools and idiots. If anyone should commit suicide, then as a grand patriotic gesture, for the good of the country, these poor slobs should do exactly that.”

    I don’t know about the rest of us poor slobs, but I did not follow Mr. Hirschhorn’s suicidal advice, nor did I retire from Blogcritics.

    Yet after being set upon today by the gang of four, Mr. Hirschhorn immediately took down his shingle. Some contrast, huh?

  • Jordan Richardson

    Yes, it is. It says a lot more about Joel than it does anybody (or anything) else.

  • Jordan Richardson

    And considering that Joel was complaining about Arch and Jeannie initially, that “gang of four” is starting to look like an ensemble.

  • http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/ A.B. Caliph

    Good point. Let’s make it cluster of six.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Whatever gets you through the day.

  • Mark

    Actually, jeannie is the only one to comment on Joel’s article thus far…

    Joel, have you had any feed back from Tea Party sympathizers on your convention ideas? I imagine that they’d welcome the chance to propose constitutional limits on Federal government based progressivism and am somewhat surprised that they haven’t latched onto the convention idea.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Actually, jeannie is the only one to comment on Joel’s article thus far LOLOLOLOLOL!

    :D Thanks Mark.

  • http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/ A.B. Caliph

    Good show, Mark (#25). I admire your technique. Just pretend he didn’t stalk off to sulk, and lure him back with a question about Tea Party sympathizers. I saw that approach pay off once, in kindergarten. As I recall, the kid’s name was Joel, too. So, yeah, this just may work.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    I would prefer my entourage of two(Arch & Alan) not follow me from thread to thread, but, what can I do?

    I really enjoy your articles, Joel, and if you don’t mind, I’ll go ahead and Tweet this one for you.

    JD

  • John Wilson

    IMO Joels plan won’t work, for two reasons:

    1-the Convention method has never been used so it is clunky and there is no body of convention to support it,

    2-too easy for some faction to dominate the convention and dictate the content.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    John, #29

    You mean like our election process where, corporations, now have the same rights as individuals thanks to SCOTUS?

  • John Wilson

    Groups with vested interests and money to spend and favors to bestow will find it easy to dominate the action at a constitutional convention because there is no body of standards, law and convention to inhibit them.

    That means that large monopolistic corporations will extend their reach, and they will do it in an environment that is relatively lawless.

    Ultimately, the goal of corporations will be to extend their ‘personhood’ privileges while diminishing the rights of actual flesh and blood citizens, the endgame being to re-institute something like feudalism, where every citizen is born owing tribute (tax) to a state, which will be corporation controlled.

    The SCOTUS decision illustrates that.

  • John Wilson

    Also, IMO the increasing domination of the California initiative process by big-bux corps, instead of the citizens it was intended to facilitate, tells me that ready-made demagoguery will prevail. Further, the roots will be untraceable and irrevocable.

    At the base of this is the appalling ignorance of US citizens, which is nurtured by a mainstream media dedicated to filling our senses with stupid junk and corporation manipulated lies. Few citizens seem interested in pursuing their own sources or doing their own research so they are simply unprepared to deal with the extravagances they are presented with in the noisy media.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    John Wilson- You would do a lot of people a great service, if you wrote an article or two about these subjects, SCOTUS’s foolish ruling and the corporate-owned media that is destroying this country.

    JD

  • chuckie b.

    It appears that Mr. Wilson is guilty of the very same problem predicted by Mr. Hirschhorn when he said “No one can accurately forecast exactly what a convention would propose…” , therefore, we should have a convention. Yeah, like that makes a lot of sense. The crazies from both sides of the aisle will try to “take over” the convention or drive an agenda, but I believe that “we the people” will prevail.

  • chuckie b.

    Besides, has anyone bothered to visit Hirschhorn’s website? You might be surprised.

  • Clavos

    At the base of this is the appalling ignorance of US citizens…

    Did you see that, Jeannie?

    To all who object to the free-wheeling ambiance of the comment threads:

    Be advised that it is not the policy of this site to force comment threads to remain on any one topic, including that of the article.

  • John Wilson

    Basically, I do not believe that struggles between radical rightists and radical leftists will result in moderate policies.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    At the base of this is the appalling ignorance of ___ citizens…

    Fill in the blank with the country of your choice, Clavos, there’s ignorance all over the world. We are global, aren’t we?

  • Clavos

    Clavos, there’s ignorance all over the world. We are global, aren’t we?

    So you don’t believe in American exceptionalism either, eh Jeannie?

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    I think everyone has the potential to be something extraordinary and wonderful, Clavos. So, on the other thread I want to leave a few questions for you in regards to education in America, if you don’t mind.

    :D Just two.

  • Bill Walker

    I find it most fascinating that when people are proved wrong on the Internet, they resort to avoiding the issue altogether. As noted by one comment, all of this useless conversation except one comment did not address the issue raised by Joel in his article. Considering the intellectual level demonstrated by those comments, I’m not surprised at this.

    Now as some facts which I know will be ignored but as it has been said, “facts are stubborn things.” As to 29′s comment:”the Convention method has never been used so it is clunky and there is no body of convention to support it,

    2-too easy for some faction to dominate the convention and dictate the content.

    The author should check his facts before making such a statement. The fact is there is quite sufficient law to hold a convention and the courts have ruled on these matters of law. I suggest all go to FAQ 9.1 at this site and read about the law and a convention. You can also go here to read a more concise version of the law if you wish.

    While you’re at it, why not take time to read the over 700 applications from the states for a convention. The Constitution mandates a convention call at 34 applications/34 states. Then after that, for those who demonstrate their stupidity, why don’t you all grow up and start really addressing this very serious issue instead of just mouthing off.

    It comes down to this: either the government can veto the Constitution or it can’t. If it can, then we have a dictatorship, if not we have a convention. Right now, based on the comments I read you all, except for where comments did address the actual issue of the article, seem all to favor being unAmerican, unpatriotic constitutional hypocrites and you favor dictatorship. If you win I can tell you one thing: you won’t get to make the comments you’re making now. Think about it.

  • John Wilson

    Yes, there’s law for a Constitutional Convention, but since one has never been held we have not developed the accouterments of exercised law as we have for other parts of the constitution. For example, all of the cases and decisions that ensued from, say, the 2nd amendment, have gone to clarify and test the law as stated in the constitution. Thus it is stronger in application and a large body of argument and decision supports it and contributes to future decisions.

    In such a naive environment it will be quite easy for a powerful and determined mob of hired lawyers armed with plenty money to overwhelm everyone else and have their way. The 2000 Bush v. Gore triumph of republican power comes to mind.

    I suspect that the dominant forces will be put forward by the business community, and the result will reflect their interests, probably to the exclusion of everyone else.

  • Bill Walker

    Mr. Wilson, I’m sorry but I must disagree with your opinion. All of the law of which I refer is well tested and well settled law particularly in the area of the 14th amendment as well as the court’s ruling regarding interpretation of Article V. The decision preventing Congress from controlling a convention is well settled law and is universally recognized as binding since 1790. In short, while the law may not have been applied to a convention, the 14th amendment demands that as it was already applied to Congress and the states and has become well settled as a result, that law will be equally applied to a convention meaning how it was applied then is how it will be applied now. Again, I urge all to study FAQ 9.1 and the other citations I gave as to the details regarding this issue.