Thomas: Power back to the people
“Power to the People” was a chant used by anti-war and civil rights protesters in the ’60s. John Lennon wrote a song with that title in 1971. The idea flowed from the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution which begins, “We the people.”
The concept behind that phrase was that the people, not the government, are sovereign and the government’s power is granted to it by the governed.
That has been reversed in our day as government has become evermore powerful, some would argue dictatorial, as demonstrated by restrictions on our liberties with the COVID-19 virus used as the excuse.
The government has also become expensive and remote from most people. Recall it was Ronald Reagan who said, “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” How ancient that seems today, given government’s growth and reach.
According to conventionofstates.com, which tracks the progress of resolutions, 15 states have approved calling for a convention of the states to reign in what they believe is out-of-control government. The support of 34 states is needed. Thirty-eight states are required to ratify any proposed amendments. The website says seven states have approved a resolution in one of their legislative chambers and 22 state legislatures will consider doing so this year.
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The founders saw state conventions as the ultimate safeguard against government overreach and a necessary workaround should Congress exceed its constitutional authority, which supporters of state conventions believe it has.
Critics of state constitutional conventions say they could potentially open the door for revisions in our founding document that even convention proponents would oppose. Convention supporters say the agenda, such as balanced budgets and term limits, could be limited by the states.
I have been on the side of the cautious on this issue, but as I see President Biden issuing record numbers of executive orders, bypassing the authority of Congress, and Congress on a spending binge that is driving the debt to record and unsustainable levels, perhaps threatening our very survival, I have come to the conclusion that nothing but a carefully organized and controlled constitutional convention can return power to where the founders intended it to reside – with the people.
The reason government has become so dysfunctional and unwieldy is that it has for too long exceeded the boundaries originally set for it. The founders wanted government to be limited, so the people would be mostly unlimited in their pursuit of happiness, accompanied by individual responsibility and accountability.
Today’s federal government has achieved the opposite. It has grown ever larger and limited freedoms we once took for granted. This has caused serious consequences, including too many people believing that government is their primary source for all things. In return, government promises increasing benefits based on entitlements, which have the effect of addicting growing numbers of people to Washington. They, in turn, mostly vote for the politicians (i.e., Democrats) who give them stuff.
If what we are seeing in Washington does not define out-of-control government, what does?
Attorney and media commentator Mark Levin, who helped launch the current campaign for a convention of states, responded to my request for a comment: “When the framers wrote Article V of the Constitution), it was precisely for a time like this. Our republic and liberty are at stake, threatened by a mob, political demagogues, and a corrupt media. In the end, it’s the only tool that can save our constitution.”
Increasingly it appears he is right.