Sometimes things don’t turn out right. It is easier to believe everything is going to be fine, but the reality we have seen through history should humble each of us. Look around the nation and the globe at the various crises facing average people. What would you do once you realized it was too late to stop something you could have influenced? Let’s get real: There is still time.
Peaceful protest is beginning to turn violent in Europe. Police control crowds with little concern for the safety of civilians; it is action meant to quell an insurrection. In the U.S., we see a sudden rise in the popularity of secession petitions in nearly every state as we rush toward the fiscal cliff with no sense of positive resolution.
History has demonstrated who will get the short end of the stick in these solutions: the common people. We have seen throughout the world that leaders are continuing to give away nearly everything in tax breaks for the wealthy, cutting services and benefits to the people who paid in to these systems. Soon many Americans will face the loss of the Social Security they paid for all their lives. This issue has been on the table for years on a national scale; when will it make you angry enough to react and take action? Once you realize they stole money you earned? When, after you question the powers that be, you are answered with silence? What if it meant the health care of your mother or child? Could being forced into this situation anger civilians, anger you, to the point of violence, as it has in Europe? At what point will they – at what point will you – say enough?
Those who run our government are detached from the reality of economics. All civilians pay the price for the mistakes of people who live outside the average citizen’s economic circumstances. We the people face the same dilemma our forefathers did: We struggle for honest government representation in the face of corporate violation and the restriction of our given rights as human beings.
Our nation’s Constitution affords its citizens the right to gather and propose solutions at a constitutional convention. This right has never been implemented. It requires the application of 34 states. Article V.org has counted 42 states with standing applications. According to the Federal Government, the count is zero and always has been.
The federal government does not track the applications.
In fact, Congress ignored numerous requests to stage the nation’s first constitutional convention. On July 9, 2012, the Congressional Research Service reported:
“Between 1973 and 1992, 22 bills were introduced in the House and 19 in the Senate that sought to establish a procedural framework that would apply to an Article V Convention. Proponents argued that constitutional convention procedures legislation would eliminate many of the uncertainties inherent in first-time consideration of such an event and would also facilitate contingency planning, thus enabling Congress to respond in an orderly fashion to a call for an Article V Convention. The Senate, in fact, passed constitutional convention procedures bills, the ‘Federal Constitutional Convention Procedures Act’ on two separate occasions: as S. 215 in 1971 in the 92nd Congress, and as S. 1272 in 1983, in the 93rd Congress. Neither bill was considered in the House, although the Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights of the House Judiciary Committee held hearings on the general issue in 1985.”
The opportunity to call for a constitutional convention is available to us. We can, we are obligated to, reform our system as citizens. We can improve an already good thing to fix mistakes, loopholes, and oversights. We can adapt to the changing world. Iceland did this recently, with great success. Iceland’s citizens did not bother to meet; they made changes to the constitution to prevent things they knew were wrong. They did not go behind closed doors, they had it online for everyone to read and contribute ideas to.
In last week’s U.S. election, Colorado amended their constitution to legalize marijuana. This is a permanent change that dictates how the future laws will be written. That same idea can be applied to national debt, budget, trade, prohibition, election law, and so forth. We do not need to destroy a system to make it work better, nor should we fear a departure from a status quo that is clearly not working. Small changes have a huge impact.
For instance, consider the way we count votes. We only ask citizens for their first choice. We could choose instead to track a ranked vote, which would allow third party candidates to see more second place votes. The totals would reflect a very different, and possibly a more reflective, popular vote. The way we count votes could change the dynamic of two party politics dramatically.
We as a nation must embrace the opportunity to make changes. We are responsible for saving ourselves from the powerful, the people who write the laws, but who are not subject to their inconsistencies and their failings. Our forefathers went through all of this before, and they had hindsight when writing the U.S. Constitution. They knew that eventually this day would come. We have done an admirable job holding on to our rights and democratic tools, but not long after September 11th, we forgot how important they were. Freedoms were exchanged for false securities. But it is within our power to revive the Constitution to a living, breathing document, and an involved and vocal citizenry is obliged to foster its evolution.
Before the Civil War, many states began holding their own abolitionist conventions. They, of course, did not succeed, and the nation plunged in to a bloody war. It does not matter if we cannot be certain of success; we have to call for what we believe this nation needs. We need to gather, to discuss, to deliberate. For ourselves, for our children, we must fix the problems that a broken system refuses to address. Our Congress needs to hear a clear demand from the American people for an Article V Convection to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution.