Article V Convention; Be Careful What You Wish For

Timothy Birdnow

There is an old adage “be careful what you wish for, you might get it.” This is illustrative of human intellectual limitations, of our inability to see the consequences of our actions. Often what we wish turns out to be more curse than blessing and we are sorry for having ever sought it out. This is especially true in politics, and rarely do our best-laid plans work out as we envision.

In 1787 a convention was called to amend the constitution of the United States. Amend is the operative word; the Articles of Confederation of Perpetual Union Between the States http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/rbpebib:@field(NUMBER+@band(rbpe+17802600 were not working out, although they offered adequate safeguards to the sovereignty of the individual states. The confederacy that the Articles had created afforded a central government that was too weak to act effectively as a national government, and the purpose of the convention was to fix some of the more problematic aspects of the Articles. This did not occur; once the convention got underway the delegates created a whole new document that formed a radically new central government.

It was a runaway convention; the old government was swept aside.

There were many great men at the time who opposed the new Constitution. James Winthrop, Patrick Henry, George Mason, Richard Henry Lee, Melancton Smith, and a host of others resisted the tremendous expansion of power of the central government . Their arguments against this new government were compiled in a series now called the Anti-Federalist Papers.. http://www.constitution.org/afp/afp.htm

But these opponents of expanded government did not prevail, and the U.S. Constitution was adopted as the law of the land. And, in one of those extremely rare instances in history where everything worked out better than was hoped, the Constitution created the freest, most prosperous, most successful nation in history. But it easily could have gone the other way.

Sadly, America’s political class immediately began subverting the very document they had created.

But the point here is that a “convention for proposing amendments” to the Constitution” could well get out of hand - as it did in 1787. And, furthermore, we often do not see the long range impact of amendments, which may come back to bite us - if we obey them at all.

(For the record, I actually support calling a convention because America is no longer able to solve her problems through the political process and I fear we are at the point where a measure of last resort is necessary. The purpose of this essay is to point out the pitfalls and dangers of an Article V convention. I fear too few conservatives understand what a dangerous thing this will be.)

There is another historical example of the failure of such a convention. On March 19 1861 the Missouri Secession Convention unanimously rejected a proposal to leave the Union. The governor of Missouri at that time (Claiborne Jackson) was staunchly pro-secession as was the Missouri state legislature. A convention was called to address the issue. The secessionists were slow in moving, however, and the loyalists packed the body of delegates. After their unanimous decision the legislature and governor declared the convention null and void and voted for secession. They couldn’t do that; the convention was the law of the land. This plunged Missouri into a state of true civil war, with forces inside of the state fighting for control. And it had huge repercussions for the nation; Missouri was the most populous slave state, and the most industrialized. Furthermore, the other border states were watching what happened in Missouri to make their decisions. Had Missouri joined the Confederacy the war may have had a very different outcome. As it was the Confederates never made a major push in Missouri and Lincoln’s point man Nathaniel Fox was able to hold the state.

A Constitutional convention is fraught with this sort of peril. The Left is better at organizing than Conservatives, and they are extremely good at worming their way into positions of power. What would we do if they hijack the Convention? Remember, Amendments supersede the original text; the Left could put a series of “positive rights” (such as those Barack Obama promoted for the Kenyan Constitution) http://kenya.rcbowen.com/constitution/chap5.html into the text and they would become law.

And it may not just be liberals who promote things we do not want; what is to stop the proponents of amnesty for illegal invaders from enshrining such a notion into \our Constitution? We know that many in the Republican Party support amnesty, and there will be a huge lobbying effort at any convention. The state legislatures and governors may well appoint pro-amnesty people as delegates. Once there they can do as they please.

In point of fact such a convention could well do the exact opposite of what it is intended to do, strengthening Washington rather than limiting it.

This is a measure of last resort. That is not to say we shouldn’t do it, but we must go into this with our eyes open. We could easily be outmaneuvered and find ourselves in worse shape .

And we are not the men the Founders were, nor the men of the Civil War era. America is infested with moral relativism, with pragmatism over eternal truths, with carnal motivations. While Americans still claim to be Christians in large numbers, far too many see their faith as a purely internal thing, a purely personal matter. Moral relativism makes it increasingly difficult to promote absolutes - like the absolute nature of our Constitution and our laws. We no longer believe in natural law. As such the argument will inevitably turn to “who are we to judge” when we try to amend the Constitution in this fashion. There will be a large part of the electorate that will oppose reform on that basis. There will be much talk about a war on women and a war on the poor. Do not forget that the media will work tirelessly against anything we propose, forcing us to compromise until our efforts come to naught - or worse.

One last historical example; the Republicans dared the Democrats to propose an amendment to the Constitution that would authorize a federal income tax. They did it.

Granted, none of the examples I cited are identical to what we will do with an Article V convention, but I think we can at least learn caution from them. If we call such a convention we may be quite pleased with the results - but it may be the worst thing we could do. It is a measure of last resort.

Be careful what you wish for.

Timothy Birdnow is a St. Louis based writer. Read more from Tim and friends at The Aviary. He may be reached at bgoccia@outlook.com

Views: 864


You need to be a member of Tea Party Nation to add comments!

Join Tea Party Nation

Comment by joseph C Avila on March 12, 2014 at 5:17pm

All the history lessons are great, but school's out. They have no direct affect on our present situation? NONE!

You want a history lesson? "The American Revolution".          DUH

Comment by joseph C Avila on March 12, 2014 at 12:47pm

We were a nation of laws prior to Obama. So now the person who carries a gun trumps the person who reads.

No disrepect to Mark Twain or Mangus.

Comment by tony newbill on March 12, 2014 at 12:06pm

Jerold I would say we are in " Stage 6 " with the shadow government of NSA / facebook , twitter etc etc doing what is said here .....


It is important to also be harvesting and continually maneuvering for a forum moderator position. Once this position is obtained, the forum can then be effectively and quietly controlled by deleting unfavourable postings – and one can eventually steer the forum into complete failure and lack of interest by the general public. This is the ‘ultimate victory’ as the forum is no longer participated with by the general public and no longer useful in maintaining their freedoms. Depending on the level of control you can obtain, you can deliberately steer a forum into defeat by censoring postings, deleting memberships, flooding, and or accidentally taking the forum offline. By this method the forum can be quickly killed. However it is not always in the interest to kill a forum as it can be converted into a ‘honey pot’ gathering center to collect and misdirect newcomers and from this point be completely used for your control for your agenda purposes.

Comment by Jerold Ross on March 12, 2014 at 11:55am

I'm just saying the Administration and Congress are terrified by COS. Read a little about how they deal with

such things:  http://planet.infowars.com/resistance/cointelpro-tactics-101-1-of-5

If we are not informed, we cannot function.   I'm done

Comment by D.B.S. on March 12, 2014 at 11:41am

Thomas.... That's the logical thing to accomplish now! Restoration of the Constitutional rule of Law should come first.

Comment by Jerold Ross on March 12, 2014 at 10:31am

Tea Party folks, beware of COINTELPRO. If you don't know what it is, do a little research. I strongly support Mark Levin and his work on this issue, which I feel is well thought out.

Mangus, you are an asset to the Tea Party; you are well thought out and well informed. Thank You

Comment by Mangus Colorado on March 12, 2014 at 8:03am


You might want to read Robert Natelson's work on this subject it is well presented and documented - keep in mind that the Congress instructed the Convention to find ways to "CORRECT" the weakness of the Article of Confederation and to fix them using any method that would provide "PROTECTION FROM FOREIGN INVASIONS WHICH EVERY STATE FEARED" - The many States sent Representative [some more and some less] each State had but one vote. 

In the end all 13 State Legislatures RATIFIED THE NEW CONSTITUTION - so there was no secret undisclosed killing of the AOC - they were replaced by all 13 State Legislatures = 100% approval. 

Comment by joseph C Avila on March 11, 2014 at 8:16pm

Thomas: The Democrats do not interpret the constitution as you or I. They either ignore it or twist it to suit their purpose.  So it needs to be rewritten so those who attended public schools, in the last 40 years, can understand it, otherwise they will simply believe the interpretation given by the Democrats.

Then we can begin to clean up our education system with the aid of those ignorant souls.

Comment by Norman Zink on March 11, 2014 at 4:47pm

@Gail Engelhardt~~~Very well said.  I am glad for the clarification for the misunderstood.

Comment by Mangus Colorado on March 11, 2014 at 4:33pm

Thomas - the Article V REPEAL project does return them to the limits of the Constitution. The reason they do not obey it now is the three amendments give them the MONEY [16th] and the Powers [14th] along with making the Senate just another House of Representatives . . if the Senators worked for the State Legislatures do you think they would have passed Obama care? NO way it cost the States to much money - around 30 States said no to Medicaid and State exchanges.

NO money to bribe factions means they must return to the limits of the Original Article I section 8 enumerated powers.

Tea Party Nation is a social network

© 2016   Created by Judson Phillips.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service