Article V Opponents Choose Fear over Hope

by Tim Baldwin, Liberty Defense League

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I am happy to see the Article V movement increasing. It is the epitome of self-government and political will of the people of these States. Obviously, Article V opponents do not see it this way. They describe Article V almost in religious terms as being the demise of all that is holy. Article V opponents have a different vision of America’s future compared to those who see the necessity of using Article V.

I am going to test Article V opponent’s philosophy, however, with this article and show that their opposition to Article V actually opposes their self-declared principles of State rights and self-determination. In the end, I will show that the only thing driving their opposition is fear and not hope in principles of liberty.

For purposes of demonstrating my point, I will assume (though I do not agree with) the virtually-impossible: that an amendment convention would “runaway” from the purpose for which the convention was called and would propose to the States an entirely new constitution—one that presumably is HORRIBLE (to Article V opponents).

So, what happens when acceding States ratify a new constitution?

Despite the unfounded hype of Article V opponents, the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and its results show us reality. Namely, a proposed constitution would be advisory only and would not be binding on any State that did not ratify it–even if other States ratified it and reached the number of States necessary to bring the constitution alive (according to the new constitution’s ratification clause).

For example, say the amendment convention turned into a constitutional convention, proposed a new constitution, and required, say, 26 states (a simple majority) to ratify it before the new constitution became effective. Say 26 States ratified the new constitution (acceding States), but 24 States did not (the dissenting States). The result: the 24 dissenting States would remain under the Constitution, and the 26 acceding States would become a part of a new union under a new constitution.[1] In reality, the 26 acceding States would be seceding from the Constitution; while the 24 dissenting States would remain connected under the existing Constitution.

Does one really think that all 50 States will abandon the Constitution to ratify a new (worse) constitution? This will not happen! There will be a sizeable number of people and States that choose the limited government model of the Constitution, and many people will move to those States for that purpose, thus strengthening the Constitution’s movement. Knowing this reality, let’s discover how this applies to today’s political plight and the remedies the States should consider.

Multiple Unions in America: The Past, the Present

Considering America’s history alone, a constitutional convention resulting in more than one union is not far from reality. James Madison foresaw more than one union existing in the United States under the Articles of Confederation. When times were really bad under the Articles, the States knew they had to do something, and Madison observed the public sentiment during that day. Madison said, “the bulk of the people will probably prefer the lesser evil of a partition of the Union into three more practicable and energetic governments.”[2]

This same sentiment continued and even spread after the Constitution was proposed to the States for ratification in 1787. Alexander Hamilton observed in Federalist Paper 2 that many notable statesmen “suggested that three or four confederacies would be better than one.” The reason many of them preferred this was because they believed one union would be too large for the federal government to handle well in republican form. (And, this was even when they only had 13 States under much more simplistic, homogenous circumstances.)

Political Science 101: the larger and more complex the society, the less influence and control each part has over the whole. In truth, many of America’s political experiences today have more to do with the nation’s characteristics in correlation with the Constitution’s natural limitations than with political corruption (that is for another article). Hoping thus for more meaningful control over the respective central governments, 1787 statesmen preferred smaller, separate unions.

Perhaps we have come full circle because political commentators today observe the same solution. Some are suggesting that the States form more than one union; let the “Red” and “Blue” States go their separate ways. Let there be peace. Reported by the World Net Daily, notable conservative, Walter Williams recently advocated such a remedy:

If one group of people prefers strong government control and management of people’s lives while another group prefers liberty and desires to be left alone, should they be required to enter into conflict with one another and risk bloodshed and loss of life in order to impose their preferences on the other group? Yes or no. My answer is no; they should be able to peaceably part company and go their separate ways.

In today’s political climate (given our secession history of the 1860s), the only way different unions could be formed peacefully is through a constitutional convention.

Article V Opponents Oppose Self-Determination through a Convention

By opposing a constitutional convention, Article V opponents deny the States’ right to secede through a convention, which is the best and most peaceful method of secession—something Abraham Lincoln admitted in his First Inaugural Address. Article V opponents oppose this even though most of them admit the all-encompassing scope of States rights, including the right of secession.

Let me shine more illegitimacy to Article V opponents. If Article V in fact authorizes an amendment convention to “runaway” and to propose a new constitution (as Article V opponents declare) this necessarily means that the Constitution permits secession through Article V. Let me say it again, if Article V allows for a constitutional convention to propose a new constitution, then Article V is the constitutional method for secession!

Do Article V opponents believe Article V permits secession? If Article V opponents deny this, they deny that the States have a right to secede from the union and admit that Article V does not authorize a “runaway” convention, which means the States and Congress may legally stop the “runaway”. Thus, they should be advocating Article V to limit federal power.

Additionally, if Article V opponents admit the right of individual secession (which many do), they must also admit the right of collective secession as demonstrated by the States in 1787 when they seceded from the Articles and ratified the Constitution. Moreover, if they admit the right of secession through a State’s single act, they must admit the States’ right to secede through Article V.

All the truth notwithstanding, Article V opponents will deny the States their right of self-determination through a constitutional convention (which is, to them, Article V). Article V opponents are at a constitutional junction, and both directions condemns their rhetoric and logic. Thus, they should cease all of their talk of State rights because they prove themselves hypocrites.

Conclusion

If our nation’s survival is on a short rope (as many of Article V opponents proclaim), there is not enough time to fix America using their method. Yet, they insist on the unworkable. By their own logic, America will fall before the fix. This means that the States are ultimately headed for a constitutional convention regardless of their “safe” methods. Yet, who are they preparing for such a day? No one. Sadly, they offer no solutions and foolishly lambast advocates of Article V.

They insist that America change its direction but they deny the real methods of doing it. They claim today’s Americans are too dumb, yet they failed to do what needed to be done generations ago. They claim my parents’ and grandparents’ generations were so much more moral and educated, yet their generations were perhaps the most apathetic of any American generation and led us to our current conditions.

They reject an obvious and necessary constitutional remedy because George Soros supposedly wants to use it for his purposes. They pick and choose their conspiracy theories instead of imposing a conspiracy theory of why Soros would do this (i.e. fake out, infiltration, subversion, etc.). They choose to lie down in fear and use much-needed energy in the liberty movement to actively oppose Article V—the expressed remedy for the States to control the federal government.

They claim the Declaration of Independence. They quote countless statements of the Founders. They glorify how brave the Founders were to take the steps necessary to create the United States. Yet they refuse the actions that brought to life those words and ideas. In short, they have a form of patriotism but deny the power thereof.

Article V opponents, you may be scared of exercising the tools of self-government, but there is a growing number of Americans who choose a better motivator to act than fear: they choose hope.


[1] This, of course, assumes the United States Congress would not oppose the secession of the 26 States, would not invade their States to force union upon them, and would recognize their new union as a separate nation.

[2] Madison letter of February 24, 1787 to Pendleton, in Rossiter, 1787, p. 72, cited in Weber, Paul; Perry, Barbara, Unfounded Fears, (Praeger Publishers, New York, NY, 1989), 18.

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Copyright (c) 2013 by PolyMontana LLC or by the author. All rights reserved.

Comments

  1. 1
    Montana Guy says:

    Dr. Ron Paul had the solution to save America. He wanted to FOLLOW the Constitution, not amend it. But he was sabotaged by the Republican Party. Not their kind of guy. And who is their kind of guy? Look at their best and brightest. There is GW Bush who laid the ground work for the Constitution-destroying NDAA, John McCain who carried the NDAA torch to ‘victory’, and Romney who ‘would have voted for it if he was President’. And we the great unwashed are supposed to look to RINOs for a fix to their treasonous actions? Yea right.

    The only thing standing against tyranny now is the 2nd Amendment. Oh how the RINOs and Democrats and their global elitist pals would love to disarm Patriots. What is it about independent individuals with strong moral values and character that puts their panties in a bunch? Instead of amending the Constitution, I challenge Republicans to start honoring their oaths to it.

  2. 2
    Gary Carlson says:

    I question the workability of this article from any aspect. Let me throw out a wild idea. Let’s be creative. Montana could just work with Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and North Dakota and set up an entirely new country. I do this just to open up your thinking. Don’t think of secession think of restoring. This idea may not be what we do, but it could start some new thinking.

    Gary

  3. 3

    @2, Gary, the federal government will not let individual States secede to form a new union (so long as they have power to prevent it). The most likely way the States could leave the union without federal interference is through Article V, as my article shows. Too, what you suggested IS secession. “Secession” – separation from an existing union/constitution. “Accession” – joining a new union/constitution.

    But the main point of my article is to show that assuming a “runaway” convention took place through Article V, the results would still be good for conservative States. Thus, there is NO excuse for not supporting Article V.

  4. 4

    @1, MG, Hate to say it, but you show your ignorance of constitutional law. The Founders and all the States ratified the Constitution with Article V, with the expressed purpose of giving the States a tool of correcting federal abuse, which includes the judiciary’s misinterpreting the Constitution. The Founders did this with the Bill of Rights and the Eleventh Amendment. These constitutional rules surpass voting. They are ingrained in how the judiciary will interpret the Constitution; thus, it would not matter if Ron Paul or Obama were elected–the constitutional rule is the same.

    Under your argument, there is NEVER a reason to amend the Constitution. Yet, the Founders found good reason to amend the Constitution: to limit federal power (Bill of Rights) and correct judicial errors (11th amendment).

  5. 5
    Gary Carlson says:

    Thanks Tim. I expected your proper reply. I just wanted to stir up some creative juices in people. Right now most Americans don’t think bold enough or creative enough. Thanks for your article and your reply

    Gary

  6. 6
    Gary Carlson says:

    Tim:

    I just want to follow up and recommend that all of your readers, and all Montanans read about the history of how our Constitution came about. The process of first meeting to revise or eliminate the Articles of Confederation is very important. Then, the process that took several months to put the Constitution together is worth reviewing. It was not until after the Constitution was signed that the Bill of Rights came into play and it was a compromise deal to have all of the states jump on board. Thank goodness for the Bill of Rights. It is also important to recognize how the founding fathers and the Constitution delegates all treated one another. I don’t believe all of our current leaders at state and national level have those same abilities to handle any tough issues. “We the People” should become involved and encourage new leadership at at all levels. Why don’t more good people run? I think we all know answers to that question.

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