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Joel S. Hirschhorn
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Thursday 22 August 2013
Elections now are the instrument for sustaining the status quo, not reforming the system itself.

Highly Respected Conservative Embraces Article V Convention Option

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No matter what else he has done, what conservative radio host and author Mark Levin does in his new book The Liberty Amendments has made him a hero for me.  For many years I have been writing articles on the wisdom of using something in the US Constitution that I believe offers the only constitutional path to urgently needed reforms of the political system.  I also co-founded the national nonpartisan group Friends of the Article V Convention.  Mark Levin has become the most notable, highly visible person to also come out loudly, advocating the first time use of the Article V convention option.

The good news is that someone who commands significant media attention has recognized both the wisdom and need for using what the Founders had the good sense to give us.  He forcefully makes the case for a convention of state delegates that would have the same constitutional authority as Congress has for proposing constitutional amendments.  And just like all the amendments that now exist and which originated with Congress, those coming from a convention would still have to be ratified by three-quarters of the states.  Levin recognizes that this high hurdle pretty much rules out truly nutty amendments, from either a conservative or liberal perspective, from ever becoming a reality.  Nor can a convention totally rewrite our Constitution.

Most importantly, as I and others have repeatedly said for years, Levin has come to the conclusion that rather fear an amendment convention Americans should more fear sticking with the current corrupt, dysfunctional government system that has brought the US down into what I called a delusional democracy.  Levin like so many others sees no hope to fundamentally fix our system by voting either for Republicans or Democrats, because of what I call a two-party plutocracy ruled by rich, powerful and corporate elites dedicated to maintaining the status quo.

Elections now are the instrument for sustaining the status quo, not reforming the system itself.  People need to understand that there have been many years when one of the two major parties controlled both the presidency and both houses of Congress, including two years under President Obama, four years under President George W. Bush, two years under President Clinton, and four years under President Carter, for example.  Even with such dominance, neither party truly reformed the system or loosened the grip of rich and powerful elites, nor did Supreme Court decisions.  Politicians keep lying and breaking promises.  More than 40 percent of political campaign contributions now come from the top 0.01 percent, the super-rich.  For nearly all Americans the choice is not between elections and an amendment convention.  The choice is between continuing to make stupid decisions or use what the Founders gave us.  Mark Levin has seen the light and now we need many millions of Americans to also get smart.

Now for the bad news.  Levin’s new book presents the case for a large number of specific constitutional amendments.  History has shown that many earlier attempts to use the convention option that were based on advocacy for specific amendments all failed.  I happened to like most of Levin’s amendments.  But the sad fact is that no matter how sensible any specific amendment may appear to most people, there will always be many people and groups willing to fight against it.  The historic result has been that the process of using the convention option has gone down to failure because of opposition to specific amendments.  In other words, the key to success is placing far more emphasis on the process offered by the Constitution to get systemic, core reforms through the states, recognizing that Congress will never propose true, fundamental reforms.

Moreover, Levin has not paid much needed attention to the ugly reality that there has already been a sufficient number of state applications to Congress for a convention (two-thirds of states), but Congress has intentionally violated the Constitution by not calling for the first convention, as Article V requires.  Friends of the Article V Convention has presented a wealth of data, analysis and information on this reality.  Someone with so much celebrity as Levin needs to forcefully inform the public and his many supporters that Congress has long stood in the way of using the convention option, obviously because it fears sharing the power to propose amendments.  This holds for both Republican and Democratic members of Congress.

The battle for fixing and, indeed, saving the US, in other words, requires fighting on two fronts.  First, convince many millions of Americans that the convention strategy is now what is needed.  Second, also convince the public that Congress must be made to honor and obey the Constitution, and the individual oaths of office all members take.  For too long Congress has ignored the states, not even creating an official mechanism for counting state applications for a convention.

Like so many others, David Limbaugh had written against using the convention option, but now he admits: “Like Mark, I was originally skeptical of the idea that we should support the calling of a constitutional convention in an effort to rein in the federal government and restore the power of the states and our individual liberties. But that's because I hadn't fully explored what that process would entail.”  We need many more people on the right and left to rethink their positions.

But already, soon after initial attention to Levin’s new book, many people are posting very negative and poorly informed positions against using the convention option on websites.  If these people have any critical thinking skills, then they should realize that rather than fearing a convention, they should fear the status quo and continued national decline because of the awful two-party plutocracy that feeds the thirst for power among both Democrats and Republicans.  There has been an incredible amount of brain washing from the right and left against using the convention option.  Look at what we have now: a truly delusional democracy with each branch of the federal government failing, robbing citizens of their money, liberty and hope.

ABOUT Joel S. Hirschhorn


Joel S. Hirschhorn has been widely published; his previous book is Sprawl Kills - How Blandburbs Steal Your Time, Health and Money.  He has published many articles and oped pieces in major newspapers (Washington Post, New York Times, Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune) and on progressive web sites such as CommonDreams, The Progress Report, SmirkingChimp and Opednews; Google Joel S. Hirschhorn to see his writings and achievements and see link below.  Before becoming a writer and consultant, he was a senior staffer for the U.S. Congress (Office of Technology Assessment), Director of Environment, Energy and Natural Resources at the National Governors Association, a full professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and head of an environmental consulting company.  He is the Chair of the Independent Party of Maryland and co-founder of Friends of the Article V Convention.

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