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The size and scope of the federal gov­ernment has far exceeded what the Founders intended.

Crazy. I know.

“We the People” have wit­nessed the intense pro­lif­er­ation of the federal gov­ernment. The problems of con­stant budget deficits, over-reg­u­lation, can­cerous bureau­cracy, and idle politi­cians require a solution that has never been suc­cess­fully used before. We need a rev­o­lution to recommit our­selves to fed­er­alism. There exists only one solution big enough to solve the problem: calling an Article V Con­vention of the States.

Article V delin­eates the two methods of proposing amend­ments. Only Con­gress has pro­posed amend­ments to the Con­sti­tution in the past. The second way to propose amend­ments, however, is the game-changer for returning power back to the states and the people.

When the Con­sti­tution was being written, Col. George Mason spear­headed an effort to ensure a safe­guard for state powers in case the federal gov­ernment ever rad­i­cally and con­sis­tently over­stepped its bounds. This effort gave rise to the second manner in which amend­ments are pro­posed: “On the appli­cation of the leg­is­la­tures of two thirds of the several states,” Con­gress “shall call a con­vention for proposing amend­ments.” Herein lies the solution to the federal gov­ernment Goliath.

The process is simple. First, two-thirds of the states (34/50) must pass res­o­lu­tions or appli­ca­tions with iden­tical oper­ative lan­guage requesting that Con­gress calls a Con­vention of the States for the purpose of proposing amend­ments to the Con­sti­tution under certain con­straints. His­torical precedent allows one state-one vote at the con­vention, to prevent control by large states. States can send as many or as few com­mis­sioners, but every state is equal at an Article V Con­vention of the States.

Com­mis­sioners can write and discuss pro­posals within the con­straints written in the appli­ca­tions. To propose an amendment for rat­i­fi­cation, a simple majority vote is required. Con­gress then decides if the amend­ments will be rat­ified by three-fourths (38/50) of the states by state leg­is­la­tures or by state con­ven­tions.

This recla­mation of power requires a unified, national movement. Cit­izens for Self-Gov­er­nance, led by Pres­ident Mark Meckler, is leading the charge in the nation with the Con­vention of States Project. The project is a national movement seeking to remedy our broken structure of gov­ernment by grass­roots lob­bying in each state for an Article V Con­vention of the States. Since the COS Project was launched in late August 2013, twelve states have passed the iden­tical res­o­lution requesting a con­vention to propose amend­ments that “impose fiscal restraints on the federal gov­ernment, limit the power and juris­diction of the federal gov­ernment, and limit the terms of office for its offi­cials and for members of Con­gress.”

I suspect there may be a few objec­tions, but allow me to put to rest any myths that the “anti-con­sti­tu­tional” crowd likes to throw around.

First and foremost, this is not a “Con­sti­tu­tional Con­vention”. The Con­sti­tu­tional Con­vention of 1787 was an act of the states ini­tiated by Vir­ginia. The states called the con­ven­tions and Con­gress was merely notified out of respect. It was not a “runaway con­vention” under Article XIII of the Articles of Con­fed­er­ation because it was not called under that doc­ument. This is the premier oppo­sition point used as a fear-mon­gering tactic directed at state leg­is­lators.

This new Con­vention of the States seeks to be called under the authority of the Con­sti­tution. It cannot throw away the Con­sti­tution or amend it outside of the areas listed in the state appli­ca­tions according to Supreme Court rulings and the precedent of past inter­state con­ven­tions.

Now, even though this future con­vention could not become a runaway con­vention, let us say for argument’s sake that it does. You would still need 38 states to ratify any amend­ments pro­posed. Do you really think that there are not 13 states in the Union that would deny rat­i­fi­cation of amend­ments that would subvert the Con­sti­tution? Do you really think that say, a repeal of the 2nd Amendment or the 1st Amendment, would be approved by 38 of the 50 states?

Second, “electing good people” to office is no longer effective. Since 2010, radical turnover has hap­pened in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, Senate and the Exec­utive Branch but absolutely nothing has changed. We need to con­tinue to elect liberty-minded public ser­vants to state and federal offices; but that is not enough.

Former Senator Jim DeMint, R-South Car­olina, explained to me that he worked to elect ten “good con­ser­v­a­tives” at the Senate Con­ser­v­a­tives Fund, but in the end the swamp swal­lowed eight of them.

Everyday, the federal courts grow more pow­erful and biased, while elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives neuter them­selves and pass dif­ficult deci­sions to either the courts or the unelected bureau­crats who labor to con­sol­idate their power. If that is not enough, a Repub­lican-con­trolled Con­gress, Senate and Pres­ident just passed a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill.

The Founders con­structed the Con­sti­tution the best way they could to restrain power-seeking ten­dencies. The problem is ulti­mately not the people in office. Corrupt people over time have broken the structure of gov­ernment. Every election cycle, men and women are elected to serve in Wash­ington, D.C., and we fall for the same, old “mer­i­tocracy” shtick.

Wash­ington has failed time and time again to reduce the federal gov­ernment, even with the clear mandate the people sent to the Repub­lican Party this pre­vious election cycle. This quid pro quo of promised gov­ernment shrinkage for votes is a charade that we can defeat by using our final check for self-gov­er­nance found in Article V.

Third, from history we know that con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments work — the Con­sti­tution has been amended sev­enteen times since the Bill of Rights, including the rat­i­fi­cation and sub­se­quent repeal of the Pro­hi­bition Amendment. The United States has adopted amend­ments for four reasons: to correct drafting errors, to resolve con­sti­tu­tional dis­putes, to respond to changing con­di­tions, and to correct and fore­stall gov­ernment abuse. Amend­ments are effectual and pow­erful expres­sions of the national will. The civil society and federal gov­ernment do obey con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments  They have worked and will work.

The new Cit­izens for Self-Gov­er­nance Club at Hillsdale is working to promote the Article V solution and empower stu­dents to be a part of history. My co-pres­ident, Lucy Meckler, and I seek to promote the prin­ciples of self-gov­er­nance not just in edu­cation, but in action. The club has already brought DeMint, the former pres­ident of The Her­itage Foun­dation. We offer oppor­tu­nities for intern­ships in lob­bying and the local leg­islative process. Come to our weekly meetings in the Formal Lounge, Thursdays at 6 p.m. If you are ready to be part of the solution, we invite you to join our rev­o­lution.

Thomas Jef­ferson said, “Every gen­er­ation needs a new rev­o­lution”

This is ours.

Weston Boardman is a sophomore studying eco­nomics. Boardman is the co-pres­ident of Hillsdale’s chapter of Stu­dents for Self-Gov­er­nance.

  • Rich Rauch

    Last I heard (it’s been a couple years), Hillsdale Pres­ident Larry Arnn was anti-COS. Do you know, is that still the case?