Wednesday, 22 January 2014 18:30

In Defense of Con-Con, Meckler Chooses Ridicule Over Rebuttal

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LOL. Those are the letters with which Mark Meckler, president of Citizens for Self-Governance and a leader of the movement to bring about an Article V constitutional convention to alter the Constitution, chose to open his response to my article exposing the radical leftist fellow travelers in the “convention of the states” movement.

At The John Birch Society, the parent organization of The New American, we take federalism and the Constitution seriously, and we would choose three other letters to describe the situation: SOS.

This Republic is in trouble. This is something all of us agree on. We agree that Washington has run amok, and we all believe the stables on Capitol Hill need to be washed clean, and we know it will take a Herculean effort to do it.

We all believe that the answer to our current awful situation is to restore the Constitution. Or do we?

There is so much sarcasm and side-stepping in much of the pro-constitutional convention responses that it is difficult to determine what they truly recommend as a remedy (we know, though, it isn’t Jefferson’s "rightful remedy" of nullification). In much of the material the leadership of the Convention of the States group produces, it seems they would prefer to repair the Constitution rather than restore it.

Ask any antiques dealer and he’ll tell you that there is a big difference between restoration and repair. Restoration is done in a way that will preserve the value and function of the original piece, while repair simply attempts to “fix” what is broken or poorly functioning on the aged item. Someone repairing an invaluable antique will introduce external material, believing that such will strengthen the broken parts.

A restorer, however, knows that only original pieces, no matter how difficult to preserve or attain, must be used to return the treasure to its prior glory.

In the hands of experts, in fact, the antique can be restored in such a careful manner that it will not only retain the value of the original, but it will increase it. 

Perhaps the worst part of dealing in antiques restoration is trying to undo someone’s unskilled repair. What could and should have been done delicately and according to tried and true techniques is scrapped by a hasty repair job, making a proper, lasting restoration much more difficult.

The analogy is obvious. Our Constitution is indeed an antique, a priceless heirloom handed down to us by our noble forefathers. Lately, some of the Constitution’s caretakers have damaged the document, and admirers of the document recognize that it’s time to restore it and to restrain the federal government any time it tries to put a hand on it.

Unwisely, the con-con collaborators have chosen to try to "fix" the broken Constitution. While there are admittedly several qualified constitutional experts found among the “convention of the states” proponents, there are many in their camp who would slap shoddy materials on the Constitution, leaving it worthless and non-working. 

As I revealed in a previous article, there are dozens of socialist, progressive, and radically leftist organizations that are not only supporting the con-con movement, but behind them are billionaire fascists who will throw good money after bad to ensure these organizations (that work for them) get a seat at the “convention of the states.”

Which brings me to my next point: Are Messrs. Meckler, Levin, Dranias, et al. prepared to abide by the radical amendments to our Constitution that could be the product of their beloved convention?

Legally and constitutionally speaking, there is nothing the “conservative” bloc of the convention advocates could do to prevent delegates selected from the leftist wing of their movement from attending and influencing the convention they propose.

Imagine for a minute some of the “repairs” to our Constitution that the progressive delegates would offer. Actually, we don’t have to imagine. In an upcoming article, I will expose the shocking slate of items on the radical agenda of the many representatives of the leftist lobby fighting for the Article V convention.

That’s not to say we are going to give the self-described “conservatives” a pass. Not at all. In fact, a separate article will reveal strong ties between establishment Republicans and many of those pushing for a con-con who claim to be from the Right Wing. Suffice for now to say that many of the rank and file in the army calling for an Article V convention will be dismayed to learn the details of their leaders' association with groups with records contrary to constitutional principles.

And what about some of the self-professed conservatives who are clamoring for a convention? Imagine the good use the powers behind the promoters could make of a few popular, “conservative” Republicans. These trusted representatives of the Right could effect small but significant changes to the Bill of Rights, and those changes would be packaged and sold to the public as “improvements” for their safety.

These well-promoted tweaks, however, would effectively repeal fundamental rights: the Tenth Amendment (“Let’s once and for all eliminate this nullification nonsense”), the Second Amendment (Even conservatives shun the “militia types”), the First Amendment ("right to worship" replaces free exercise thereof), and maybe the Sixth Amendment, too (“Sit down. Shut up! You don’t get a lawyer!”). Surely supporters who are savvy recognize that those changes mentioned are all being pushed by “conservatives” in the convention movement.

Even if we could count on genuine conservative (I prefer the label “constitutionalist”) bona fides of the organizers of the con-con movement, the irrefutable fact is that a convention would not occur in a conservative vacuum. Lobbyists from every industry and every social and political band of the spectrum will slaver for a chance to get their hands on the keys to the kingdom. How will we — those concerned for the Constitution and zealous for its perpetuation — be able to verify the good intentions of the many delegates sent to the convention of the states? Simply stated: We won’t.

And that brings up the issue of the election/selection of delegates. Article V is silent on the matter, making it certain that states themselves will establish guidelines for who can be chosen as a delegate and how they will be chosen. Suppose that a state legislature dominated by Republicans drafts the rules in such a way as to gerrymander the convention, making it next to impossible for Democrats to get elected/selected as delegates.

Can you imagine the legal donnybrook that would break out? No matter the schedule set by the Article V leadership, the opening of any “convention of the states” would undoubtedly be indefinitely delayed while the multiple federal lawsuits filed by those who felt disenfranchised by the process worked their way through the judicial system.

Next, the most frequent target of pro-convention vitriol is the suggestion, by those of us opposed to a convention, of the so-called runaway convention. I believe history teaches us that there is a legitimate danger that the convention, regardless of prior restraints, could break those chains and run off with the Constitution. 

Article V advocates contend that the constitutional convention held in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787 did not exceed its mandate.

They claim that the historical record of the convention of 1787 proves that it was not a “runaway convention” and that a modern-day convention could be carried out without exceeding a very limited purpose. They are wrong for two reasons.

First, as soon as Edmund Randolph presented the Virginia Plan on May 29, 1787, the convention broke through boundaries set by some of the participating states. The resolutions proposed by Randolph (and written by James Madison) were not intended (and admittedly so) to “revise the Articles of Confederation,” but to replace them. Look it up. I’ve yet to hear one cogent or convincing argument to the contrary. The fact is that the Articles of Confederation document was the law, and there was a legal (constitutional) method for proposing amendments. That method was mentioned in Congress' call for a convention in Philadelphia. That prescribed method was disregarded from day one. That could happen again and this time, we won't be in the capable hands of James Madison, James Wilson, et al.

Second, it is the unalienable right of the people “to alter or to abolish [our government], and to institute new Government.” Article V establishes the constitutional method for calling a convention of the sovereign people of the United States for this very purpose. Any intellectually honest and historically accurate proponent of the Article V “convention of the states” must admit that this convention could exercise that God-given right to rule and to replace the “broken” government with a “better” one. That happened in Philadelphia in 1787.

Over the next week or so, The New American will publish articles expanding on the points I presented above. These articles are not intended to attack anyone personally. I will not do that. If I have done that in the past, I’m sincerely sorry. I intend these articles to serve the purpose of educating and warning the many good-hearted, well-intentioned constitutionalists currently found among the ranks of the army calling for a new constitutional convention. 

Despite what Mark Meckler claimed in his response to my earlier articles, I do not believe that the constitutionalists on his side of this argument are dupes. I just don’t believe they are aware of who’s fighting alongside them and how closely many of the front-line leaders of their movement are tied to establishment Republicans and other big money lobbyists who are desperate to get their hands on the purse strings.

I am hopeful that Mr. Meckler, Mr. Levin, or some other chief of the Convention of the States coalition would write a thoughtful rather than a sarcastic rebuttal to all the points I’ve put forth in this article. If any of you talk to either of them or see them around, maybe you can convince them to put down the poison pen and lay out their case with respect — respect for the opposition and respect for the intelligence of their own adherents.

Image of Gadsden flag, used during the Revolutionary War

 

Joe A. Wolverton, II, J.D. is a correspondent for The New American and travels frequently nationwide speaking on topics of nullification, the NDAA, the Second Amendment, and the surveillance state.  He is the co-founder of Liberty Rising, an educational endeavor aimed at promoting and preserving the Constitution. Follow him on Twitter @TNAJoeWolverton and he can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Related articles:

Article V: Con-Con or Nothing Is the Cry of This Cause Célèbre

Article V Group Ignores States' Complicity in Federal Power Grab

Article V Convention: Dangerous Precedent, Dangerous Loyalties

Convention of States and Article V: Tearing Up the Talking Points

Compact for America Proposal Could Increase Federal Power

Convention of the States: Wrong on History, Nullification

Convention of the States: Scholars Ignore History

Repair vs. Restore: Why Constitution Doesn’t Need Article V Fix

Socialists and Soros Fight for Article V Convention

14 comments

  • Comment Link Teri Wednesday, 26 February 2014 22:10 posted by Teri

    Mr Wolverton is so wrong! FIRST: This is NOT a CON-CON! This is a CONVENTION OF STATES. MUCH DIFFERENCE! The State Legislatures are NOT the ones to ratify the final amendment that might come from any Convention of States and neither is the Congress. THE PEOPLE are the ones that will ratify it/them. THE PEOPLE. THE PEOPLE. THE PEOPLE. NOT Congress. NOT State Legislatures. THE PEOPLE. That means YOU AND ME. THAT is what Article V safeguards. WE THE PEOPLE and our Liberty and Freedom (those are two separate things, did you know?)

    And in agreement with other comments on other articles here, the 16th and 17th amendments destroyed some Constitutional safeguards, along with a couple other amendments. Those can be undone one day people wake up and learn what the Constitution is really about, as opposed to what public school and universities have taught it's supposedly about for the past 120 years. I think the biggest danger is that the Founder set up the Constitution and Bill of Rights so that the Federal Government had very limited (numbered/enumerated) powers, and ALL other powers were left to the States (where the Constitution points them out only) and to the People (all other powers, because all the powers rightly emerged from the People in the first place.) The States were intended to safeguard and protect their citizenry from the Federal Government, by 'appointing' those who sat in the State Legislatures. However, now those Lesgislators are elected the same way that our State Representatives are, meaning the 17th Amendment ENDED "Senate" (though maintained the name only) and created a second "House of Representatives". So now both our Senators and Representatives are beholden to people and corporations, no to the States. The Sates are no longer safe. That means We The People of the states are no longer safe from Federal intrusion. The 16th amendment did the same thing by removing the protective "ceiling" over our heads of "no direct taxation" to today where we are directly taxed, and special groups of people are taxed. Totally screwed up our nation! The Convention of States lies OUTSIDE all that. It puts the power back in the hands of the PEOPLE.

    Learn the TRUTH about the Convention of States here:
    http://conventionofstates.com/

    Learn the TRUTH about the Constitution in a FREE online class here:
    http://www.nccs.net/

  • Comment Link Dan McGonigle Saturday, 01 February 2014 10:30 posted by Dan McGonigle

    The only enumerated restriction [and exception] on the power to amend the Constitution >> “.. Provided that .. no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.” [Article V]

    “The only restriction imposed on the power to amend is this: that ‘No State without its consent shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.’ [1]
    [1] Const., Art. V.” - - Thomas M. Cooley, LL.D., The General Principles of Constitutional Law in the United States of America (1880)

    Therefore, according to the top constitutional scholar of the 19th century, amending can only be legitimately restricted to keeping the number of U.S. Senators/State equal.

    A so-called "runaway convention" (or "conference") for wholesale change of the Constitution would be fully expected in the current un-American political climate, under which the Constitution & Bill of Rights are largely being ignored instead of being adhered to.

  • Comment Link Thomas R. Eddlem Friday, 24 January 2014 13:35 posted by Thomas R. Eddlem

    I met Mark Meckler at a conference at Harvard University a few years ago, on an assignment for The New American magazine. The conference was called by one of the leftist professors there, Laurence Lessig, with the view that the left and Tea Party should align to go to a constitutional convention in order to get a constitutional amendment banning corporate political donations. Meckler sounded like a reasonable guy with a deep knowledge of business and marketing strategies, and he left the forum with the general idea that this cooperation would not happen. Obviously, he's had a change of heart. Meckler's column -- unfortunately -- is neither reasoned nor helpful.

  • Comment Link Dennis Friday, 24 January 2014 04:21 posted by Dennis

    It seems to me that we are on the same side (Con-Con vs Constitutional Conservatives (we could both even use the same moniker "Con-Con)). We all agree that our federal government has run amok. No? I have read Mark Levin's book "Liberty Amendments", and agree with most, if not all, of his proposals; however, I am not convinced that an Article V Constitutional Convention is the answer. I'm just leaning that way.

    Mr. Wolverton, I believe that you could better state your position if you would expound on your proposed solutions on how we can right this ship we call America. I am open to all ideas - so long as they conserve the intentions of our founding fathers.

    Presently, when observing our federal government, it becomes clear that our politicians believe that the Constitution is an idea whose time has passed. It is disregarded, ever more so by this administration than any other before it. We are seeing the results. Mr. Wolverton, if you are suggesting that we do nothing but vote our conscience and demand that our elected officials uphold our Constitution, then you will not hold sway over your target audience. That is what has got us where we are today. How do we restore our Constitution? Use for example the need for a Balanced Budget. Perhaps in that context you can articulate how a restoration can be achieved.

    Thank you.

  • Comment Link Heidi Preston Thursday, 23 January 2014 17:25 posted by Heidi Preston

    Judging by the comments on here we (Americans) are still having tunnel vision. The nations' laws and what it would do to it ect. which is a good exercise in hypotheicals, but the real action is even broader than that. with TTIP.
    Once we start "amending" the constitution, like I said before it becomes subordinate to something else. What might that be? Well, here is a clue from the German Speigal magazine; "even the most ardent supporters of the agreement have serious doubts about one important point in the trade deal: its provisions for Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS).

    It may sound harmless, but it's not. The provisions would create a kind of special parallel legal system for corporations, essentially giving them carte blanche that would fall outside of national laws. "

    Let's go ahead and repeat that for full emphasis- GIVING THEM CATE BLANCE THAT WOULD FALL OUTSIDE OF NATIONAL LAWS. Now what does Mr. Levine and his cohorts have to say about this scenario...never happen? Well, let's just give a listen to what he says about that and amendments down the line that would subjugate the US law into international finances. We already have the BIS soooooo why would we need to join this branch of legislation which would benefit a global status not local National sovereignty.

  • Comment Link matthew schoech Thursday, 23 January 2014 15:02 posted by matthew schoech

    Trusting in the state legislators to act as a check for a convention seems more than shy on factual information. Both the ratifying number, 3/4, and the idea that the legislators themselves will be doing the ratifying can all be changed by the delegates at the constitutional convention. (It could be delegate appointed conventions in the state) Wishful thinking will be no excuse for those who get us caught up in a collectivist sting operation. The only words I can think of that would adequately explain it, should this be our fate, was spoken by a Russian Officer in the movie, The Hunt for Red October. Discovering that the American sub maneuvered him into the path of an oncoming torpedo he exclaimed, "American ass, you've killed us."

  • Comment Link Robert Thursday, 23 January 2014 09:18 posted by Robert

    First you put words into the mouth of many of the Convention of States supporters.
    Most would prefer a "restoration" of the constitution. This would be affected by repealing the 16th and 17th amendments and either repealing or severely limiting the 14th.
    Second, there is no doubt many on the left would like to insert awful language into the constitution to "legitimatize" the illegal acts they perpetrate already. The important thing to note is that they ARE perpetrating them already. They have infringed on free speech, they trample religion, they ignore 4th amendment protections, they have infringed on the 2nd and they laugh at the 10th.
    BUT none of those things would ever be ratified. Even after Sandy Hook, it was Democrats in the senate that doomed radical new anti-gun laws because they knew it was deadly for them.
    It only requires 13 states to kill a bad amendment and states HAVE killed 20% of all proposed amendments. They can do it. None of your wild-eyed predictions would ever be ratified even if they came out of the Convention.
    70% of the "Tea Party" candidates elected to congress voted for debt ceiling increases without getting any significant concessions. Washington is an utterly corrupt cesspool and it will never correct itself.

  • Comment Link Heidi Preston Wednesday, 22 January 2014 23:37 posted by Heidi Preston

    Oops got carried away in my discussion and forgot to give credit where credit is due. The quotes are from the book "Wallstreet and the Bolshevik Revolution by Antony Sutton.

  • Comment Link Heidi Preston Wednesday, 22 January 2014 23:13 posted by Heidi Preston

    "Consequently, one barrier to mature understanding of recent history is the notion that all capitalists are the bitter and unswerving enemies of all Marxists and socialists. This erroneous idea originated with Karl Marx and undoubtedly useful to his purposes. In Fact, the idea is nonsense. There has been a continuing, albeit CONCEALED , alliance between international political capitalists and international revolutionary socialists-to their mutual benefit."

    "This alliance has gone unobserved largely because historians with a few notable exceptions-have an unconscious Marxian bias and are thus locked into the impossibility of any such alliance existing. The open-minded reader should bear two clues in mind: monopoly capitalists are the bitter enemies of laissez-faire entrepreneurs ; and, given the weaknesses of socialist central planning, the totalitarian socialist state is a perfect CAPTIVE MARKET for MONOPOLY CAPITALISTS."

    Me- This is exactly what we are witnessing now and the icing on the cake would be to destroy the very document which has been done with Presidents Bushes administration, Clinton and now Obama administration. Why? Because the same players are in control and use the various organizations, political talking heads ect. to do their biding. The game hasn't changed but the stakes have been upped to ensure the agenda gets played out. Remember the robber barons right before the great depression? What happens when the great depression hits again and no safety net for the Americans because it's all gone so far global that the thread by which we hang today is severed forever? Then we truly are a people without a nation.

    Look at what happened to Russia, Germany after their great "reforms" of totalitarianism. Re-education first and foremost, new banking systems,redistribution of wealth to "restore the nation". This is the end game that these to supposedly opposite forces are looking to achieve and maybe it will happen sooner than later but at least we still at this moment have the CHANCE to stall it ...slow it down...preserve some of our AMERICAN ways. But we are certainly on a thin piece of thread as I write. It's just disheartening to see the future being replayed from the past......

  • Comment Link Tionico Wednesday, 22 January 2014 22:51 posted by Tionico

    We already have a great governing document, seriously weakened and daily further threatened by the past few administrations. When we return to the strict application of that document, and yet find it wanting, then perhaps it might be time to consider an Artical Five COnventioin. Not until then.

    One of my greatest fears was plainly expressed in this article, that we have no way of assuring the radical anti-liberty lot won't somehow, with their money, influence, mainstream press, ignorance and apathy of voters, effectively trash the written letter of this Constitution rather than assure what is already written is faithfully applied.

    No, a COnvention is NOT the answer.. at least, not until we restore the existing document to its rightful place and function.

  • Comment Link Old Mullet Wednesday, 22 January 2014 22:40 posted by Old Mullet

    Extraneous words and stretched expletives about who (or whom) may (or may not) interrupt a "con-con" and side track it into a bastardization of what those who filed it may have meant it to be. That seems to be the gist of this article. Unfortunately the "life" clock is ticking on our republic. There have been massive numbers of discussions, consensus forums, and other all blame, no solution commentaries. Still, we are frozen by those who would rather lose than offend or upend some faction's apple cart. Our States MUST take action or lose our freedom. Agenda 21 may be called a conspiracy theory but a simple ticking off of goals set will show it is near fruition and the U.N. is ready to step up and lead. So, gurus of all that won't or may not work or may do damage, or..... What is your plan? Nullification can work. It didn't at the onslaught of the War of Northern Aggression. Will the Con-Con work: It has in small ways over the decades. It also requires more cooperation between the states as well as cooperation by the Congress. As the comedic tale by the late great Jerry Clower went, "...just shoot up here amongst us, one of us has gotta have some relief".

  • Comment Link J. Warren Clark Wednesday, 22 January 2014 21:54 posted by J. Warren Clark

    Joe: A very good article as usual. You hit maybe not all but the right points. Given the fact that our last convention was a clear break with its mandate, your point on the likelihood of a runaway convention was particularly cogent. Also, given the ubiquitous influence of money in modern American politics, the idea that we might have a clean convention seem to me to be very very remote.
    And beyond that, even if the choosing of delegates was to happen free of taint, as an educator who knows well the sham that modern education has become, the idea that we might find delegates who could come even close to the cultivation, intelligence, sincerity, and wisdom of the Founders seems fanciful in the extreme. Those who think that we have plenty of adequately cultivated men are themselves, it seems to me, men who have no idea what this means. You hit upon this as well when you point out that "this time, we won't be in the capable hands of James Madison, James Wilson, et al." Again, in addition to the problems arising from the immense size of the states, the general corruption of the system, and the dangerous apathy of the citizenry, where are we going to find good men who are also willing to serve as delegates? This, for me, is the overarching question.

    Incidentally, I am writing a response to Tim Baldwin's essays pushing for a new concon. I wonder if you would be interested in reviewing it for me when it is done. I feel the need to make it as hard hitting as I can out of the knowledge of the extreme nature of our crisis and knowing full well that a serious refutation is not necessarily a personal attack. Refutations can and do descend in this way, but there is no necessity that, in the hands of a gentleman, it should do so. I trust that you will agree with me on this.
    Again, thanks for the thoughtful essay. JWC

  • Comment Link Ed Bradford Wednesday, 22 January 2014 19:03 posted by Ed Bradford

    I have grave doubts about an Article 5 convention. While an out of control convention that invents a new constitution does not scare me, progressive Amendments that promote the UN's "universal human rights" scare the nonsense out of me. Does an Article 5 convention just propose Amendments that the House and Senate must confirm? Another concern is, and this is my major concern: If all Levin's Amendments are passed why does anyone think a 2032 version of Barack Obama won't simply ignore the law like the current Administration. How does an Article 5 convention directly cure the horrible usurpations we are experiencing?

    My view: I support an Article 5 convention knowing full well that if the resulting work is well stated, almost all Amendments will fail. I also support nullification without qualification. Nullification is the verb that solves the usurpation problem. Changing laws and the constitution to conform to our understanding does nothing when the leaders will not enforce today's plainly stated laws. We must support both Nullification and Article 5 convention. We must make certain that any wording of an Amendment that is produced by an A5 Con is clear, short, concise and easily understood by the low information voters. Any such work product should have a "pros" and "cons" list formulated by the farthest left folks and the farthest right folks.

    SUMMARY: Only nullification addresses today's usurping Federal Government. I'm OK with an A5 Con, but only if it includes a far right and far left 'pros' and 'cons'.

  • Comment Link Bob Donohoo Wednesday, 22 January 2014 15:41 posted by Bob Donohoo

    Well stated, Mr. Wolverton...

    A simple read of the journal record of the 1787 Convention shows that some number of delegates had no desire to honor Article XXXIII of the Articles of Confederation. It appears that this is what lead to Article VII of our current constitution.

    Why wouldn't similar efforts be conducted to get new amendments passed bu EITHER right or left (what ever right/left actually means)?

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