There is a great deal of talk, more like shouting really, about Article V of the Constitution and what it does and doesn’t say. Currently, the “pro” side of the argument seems to have a nearly unstoppable momentum. Some proponents, many of them bearing the ill-defined and self-appointed political label of “conservative,” are working tirelessly to assure rightfully suspicious opponents and fence-sitters over to, if not actively opposing, a new convention. That these proponents have been as successful is testimony to the methodology they are using. It is our duty, however, to point out that the methodology they are using is that of the political left.
How so? Primarily, it is how the message is being disseminated. For instance, Article V convention proponents, generally speaking, don’t like debate. So, they actively work in ways to squeeze out opponents in public forums. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Goldwater Institute in recent years, as part of their well-funded convention campaign, invited state legislators from all over the country to attend meetings in a resort setting where they were treated to open bars, lobster and steak dinners, and golf outings sprinkled liberally with slick, professionally prepared handouts and Power Point presentations touting the wonders of the Article V convention process. These materials were prepared with talking points and “facts” compiled by so-called “conservative” constitutional “experts” and “scholars” who wrote papers purporting to prove that the Article V process was completely “safe” and totally in the control of the forces of constitutional conservatism. Furthermore, it was touted as the last, best hope to restore the republic to its roots in “liberty.” In the interim other groups like Convention of States have tapped into a mysterious fountain of money available to groups with large mailing lists of constitutionally uneducated families who can be easily swayed, out of loyalty to the leaders of these groups, to come over to the convention proponent side using the materials generated by ALEC and the Goldwater Institute.
Why would this be a problem? The problem is not with these groups using their wealth and influence to bring people to their viewpoint. That is how the game is played. The problem is with maneuvering opponents into a position of having no access to media, meetings, legislators, and other influential people and venues to counter their message. That’s not how the game is played if genuine debate is being courted. and that’s exactly the point. In Ohio legislators have given convention proponents nearly open access to committees and members of the Senate and the General Assembly. At the same time opponents have been relegated to discovering that convention-call resolutions have been fast-tracked, set for single hearings in committee followed by an immediate floor vote with only sponsor and proponent testimony (no opponents allowed!) are mere hours away and having to mount grassroots campaigns to get a fair hearing in a rigged environment AND prepare testimony. We have also found ourselves on the outside looking in when TEA Party groups hold state-wide meetings in which convention proponents are in control of the agenda and opponents are simply not permitted any access.
So, why are they running their campaigns this way? The answer is actually fairly simple. They know that we are well aware that their “scholars” and “experts” are hiding behind their degrees and reputations to offer less than honest presentations of what history, the Constitution, historical documents, court cases, etc. actually say about how a constitutional convention actually works and what it can and cannot do. They know that if we get equal access in these venues that we will ask questions, using the same materials they are presenting, that they cannot honestly answer in a way that supports their case, and they know we will call them on their dishonesty. They know what this will do to their case and will mean that the tens of millions of dollars (where is the money coming from?) spent on the campaign to get a new convention will have been wasted. And they also know we can do all this with short, simple and easy to understand presentations.
The video presented below is an illustration of what we mean.
Watch as we ask the following questions that the proponents of a new convention claim they have answered-
1) How many conventions of the type being asked for have there been in Anglo-American history?
2) What is the difference between an Article V “amendments convention,” a “convention of states,” and a “general” or “national convention?”
3) Is there any other kind of convention?
4) What exactly is an Article V convention and how much power does it have?
5) Why does a convention exist at all?
6) What has been the result of EVERY general convention called in Anglo-American history?
7) Who controls a convention?
8) Has any governing body ever controlled a convention? Has any body tried to control a convention?
9) Who is in charge of calling a national convention?
10) Why is the notion that it is the states who will control the delegates and agenda fatally flawed?
11) Why didn’t all 13 states send delegates to the Philadelphia convention?
12) What modern view of the relationship between the states and the Federal government insures that Congress controls all aspects of a convention?
13) What does Article XIII of the Articles of Convention mean for the supposedly iron-clad protection of the ratification procedure?
14) What did James Madison think would be the result of another convention?
15) What are the problems with what conventions are being called for and what are the problems with those proposed amendments?