OPINION – Frustration over an increasingly runaway federal government is prompting a number of suggestions of how the states could take action to rein in leviathan.
But one of the most reasonable looking proposals under consideration may actually be the most dangerous of them all.
The Compact for America is lobbying the various state legislatures to embrace a measure calling for a convention this July Fourth in Dallas, Texas, comprised of delegates from each of the 50 states. The stated purpose of this convention would be to ratify a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
While the prospect of bringing federal spending under control is an appealing and necessary idea, this particular method carries a degree of risk that cannot be dismissed.
When state legislatures send delegates to represent the people, for the purpose of amending the Constitution, they are following a pattern established in 1787. That’s when the original 13 states sent delegates to Philadelphia with a mandate to amend certain deficiencies in the Articles of Confederation.
But when the delegates began their work, they disregarded their instructions, threw out the Articles of Confederation, and instead created the Constitution.
The justification for their actions was found in the wording of the Declaration of Independence where it states: “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
The delegates to the Philadelphia convention were acting under popular sovereignty as representatives of the people, not the states. This is why the preamble to the Constitution begins with the words, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union…do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Their departure from their stated purpose for meeting resulted in a runaway convention and the most remarkable founding document that the world has yet seen.
But could a runaway convention in our day produce similar positive results?
Promoters of the Compact for America insist that the participants would strictly adhere to the business of securing a balanced budget amendment. But the historical precedent is crystal clear: once the convention begins, the delegates have the absolute power to set aside any and all instructions and to rewrite or throw out the Constitution as they see fit.
Can anyone suggest with a straight face that we have leaders that could favorably compare in knowledge or character to Washington, Madison, or Adams?
Few political leaders today are well versed in history. They are like children in that they don’t understand what happened before we got here and therefore they cannot draw from the lessons of history.
Many of the delegates to this proposed convention have been schooled in modern philosophies regarding the founders and the principles they embraced. They no longer are taught to use logic, to think, and to reason.
As Jon Rappaport explains, “Ideas no longer need to be judged on their sense, merit and alignment with basic principles. Nor are they judged by their position in a well-formed argument. All that is out. New education, then, once you strip away the old essentials, is really nothing more than learning who the bad guys were and the good guys were. This can be taught by ideologically motivated professors in a few hours.”
This means that the prospects of the delegates actually securing individual freedom, the free market, private property and properly limited government are highly unlikely.
There is also the risk that most of the delegates would be owned outright by various special interests and lobbyists. In today’s utterly corrupted political climate the Constitution is regularly ignored or twisted through interpretation. How can we expect a rewrite to improve upon the original?
The deficiencies that have led to our current situation are not found in the Constitution. They reside in a federal government that refuses to abide by the limits of the powers delegated to it, and in the states that have forgotten that they are not subservient to that government.
The Compact for America is not the solution to bringing leviathan to heel. Strict adherence to the Constitution and the proper exercise of state powers—including nullification–are a better approach.
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
Twitter: @youcancallmebryCopyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.