Col: MASON 2ded & followed Mr. Randolph in [criticizing] the dangerous power and structure of the Government, concluding that it would end either in monarchy, or a tyrannical aristocracy; which, he was in doubt, but one or other, he was sure. (Excerpt from Sept. 15 session, James Madison’s Notes on the Constitutional Convention of 1787)
[On June 26, 2014, an italicized author's note was added for clarification to the fourth paragraph of this article.]
The Article V convention advocates, such as Mark Levin and numerous others, are forced to maintain two inconsistent viewpoints at the same time.
First, the main reason why state legislators have generally voted against calling on Congress to convene an Article V convention over the past several decades is that they don’t want to enable a convention that could end up proposing harmful changes to the Constitution. So, the Article V convention advocates do everything they can to assure us that such a convention would be a “limited” convention, limited that is to consideration of only one or two (or a few) amendments.
Second, the reason Article V convention advocates want such a convention is to rein in our out-of-control federal government (which we should be referring to as our federal government that is operating outside the confines of the Constitution). And they know that is the reason why our Founding Fathers included Article V conventions in the Constitution in the first place. For example, on page 14 of The Liberty Amendments Levin quotes from James Madison’s Notes on the Constitutional Convention as to Col. George Mason’s forceful argument on September 15, 1787, in favor of adding a provision for the states to have the authority to call a convention for proposing amendments “if the Government should ever become oppressive, as he verily believed would be the case.”
So, Levin and the other Article V convention advocates try to walk the tightrope of deceptively assuring those of us who are concerned about harmful changes to the Constitution that such a convention would be “a limited purpose convention” (page 16 of The Liberty Amendments) while at the same time truthfully portraying an Article V convention as included in the Constitution for the purpose of making the changes necessary for reining in an oppressive government. [Author's note, June 26, 2014: Of course, an Article V convention would not be a remedy for our present situation where the problem of an oppressive government is due to the lack of adherence to the Constitution by most federal and state officeholders and to the lack of an informed electorate that would hold these officeholders accountable to the Constitution; that is to say our oppressive government is not due to defects in the Constitution and therefore is not susceptible to being fixed with amendments. Therefore, the solution to our problem of an oppressive government is to create an informed electorate that will truly hold elected officials accountable to the Constitution. The John Birch Society has demonstrated the effectiveness of this solution in various areas of the nation over the years.]
So, that’s the scam. In order to gain the necessary widespread support from both voters and state legislators for their inherently risky attempt to solve the problem of an out-of-control (unconstitutional) government by means of an Article V convention, the Article V convention advocates need to fool huge numbers of people into believing that the provision for Article V conventions was included in the Constitution only for making limited changes.
If we want to understand what would happen at an Article V convention held at a time like this when there is widespread agreement that the federal government is out-of-control, we have no farther to look than the opening passages of the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident…. — 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.
Since it is a God-given “Right of the People” “to alter or to abolish [our government], and to institute new Government,” and since Article V provides a constitutional method for bringing about a convention of the sovereign people of the United States for achieving this, we have to agree that the proponents of an Article V convention have the right to pursue their goal of bringing about such an unlimited convention; but, we must interject immediately, such an unlimited convention would be extremely dangerous to the Constitution, given the lack of knowledge of and lack of commitment to the Constitution on the part of most of the voters and/or legislators who would determine the composition of the delegates.
And, of course, such an unlimited convention would have the option of changing the method for ratifying its proposed changes, just as the Constitutional Convention of 1787 did.
Our problem is not the Constitution. Our problem is a federal government that is operating outside the confines of the Constitution. The solution is to bring the federal government back into compliance with the Constitution through voter education campaigns and state nullification laws.
(Click here to send an email message to your state legislators in opposition to any new legislation calling on Congress to convene an Article V convention for any purpose. Emphasize to them that an Article V convention cannot be limited by anyone.)
(Click here to go to "Choose Freedom — STOP a Con-Con," an action project webpage with links to "Learn More," "Tell Others," and "Take Action.")
(This article also appears in the December 2013 JBS Bulletin.)