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Boaz’s Blog 004 Beyond Bernie. The Article Five Convention.

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In the recent Democratic primaries, I was heartened by the enthusiasm shown  by young voters for Bernie Sanders and his ideals. Heartened because millennial voters apparently want authenticity and integrity from  their political leaders and  they  want policies that are  fair and give more consideration to their generation’s values and  their particular  and immediate social/economic challenges.

Millions of citizens would like to see federal government achieve the following goals of the Bernie Sanders campaign platform:

  • free universal health care;
  • free education at public colleges and universities;
  • universal pre-k school, free child care, a reasonable amount of paid family  and personal sick leave; a reasonable amount of paid family leave for  mother or  father for the birth of a child;
  • a reduction in liability and other assistance for those with outstanding student loans
  • a reduction in the income gap between the  rich and the poor;
  • a living minimum wage;
  • an annual vacation leave for all employees;
  • a progressive tax system treating all persons and organizations equally and fairly;
  • an ethical and stable financial sector;
  • a restricted amount of private and corporate money in public election campaigns;
  • nationwide bans on assault weapons and on  cartridge magazines of more than ten rounds; nationwide background  checks on all purchasers of guns;
  • abolish private prisons and no incarceration for non-violent drug offenders; instead, rehabilitation  and  job training.
  • abolition of the  death penalty

 

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Download Three Free Chapters from the Author Dennis Boaz Author of Seven rights for Citizen Slackers to be released in September 2016 creator of Article5alive

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Bernie has often said that his movement is a revolution. However, he knows that most of  his proposals will not be passed by a polarized Congress for the foreseeable future. If he wants a revolution  to succeed, it needs a sustained effort.  Why, then, has he not acknowledged that it will  require an Article Five Constitutional Convention to achieve many of  his goals. A continuing effort to  achieve an Article Five Convention would give Bernie’s movement an opportunity  to achieve a political revolution.

So, beyond Bernie is an Article Five Convention. Beyond an Article Five Convention is a government based on  securing and encouraging the people’s rights. For now, I will focus on the Article Five Convention. (Actually written as “Article V” in  the Constitution;  but I have a negative attitude towards Roman numerals.)

Let us examine why many of Bernie’s ideals  would have a better chance of passage at an Article Five Convention than by attempting change through congress–either by  legislation or  passage of constitutional amendments.

Remember when polls indicated that 90% of Americans wanted background checks for all firearm purchases? When the bill was ready for a vote, the Senate could not muster 60 votes to pass a motion for  cloture.  That vote proved to me that an Article 5 Convention  was necessary. Until the cloture rule and the  filibuster are abolished, no substantial controversial legislation will come from Congress.  And , this we know, the  Senate will not amend their rules  to remove the filibuster or motion for cloture because the majority party views them as  necessary tools to exercise or block the use of power. The cloture rule is used when in the majority and the filibuster is used by the same party when it becomes the minority. The cloture rule means that it takes 60 votes to pass any controversial legislation in  the Senate.  60 is the new majority.  Whatever happened to democracy?

Bernie wants us to believe that the Supreme Court will overturn its anti-democratic Citizens  United decision if a Democrat President can fill vacancies to the  high court. Really, Bernie? Perhaps it  is true that Citizens United is to democracy what Plessey v.  Ferguson was to racial equality, but it took fifty-seven years for the Supreme Court  to overturn the legal validity of the horrendous and dysfunctional separate but equal doctrine of Plessey v. Ferguson.

Because of the long-time infusion  of private money into elections, meaningful representative democracy was in trouble long before Citizens United. But now, democracy is in even deeper peril requiring dramatic change; similar to the kind of policy changes needed to  deal with climate change.

The Citizens United issues of corporate personhood and the equation of money  with free speech are not the only  forces working  against democracy that require constitutional reform.  The Electoral  College should  be abolished along  with  the presidential veto and filibuster. And, most important, private money should be  prohibited in public elections.

There are other goals  of Bernie that will require constitutional change: If Bernie is truly opposed to the  death penalty, a constitutional amendment will be required to abolish it in all 50 states, territories and commonwealths. If Bernie wants universal healthcare, he must realize that it will happen in the foreseeable future only with a constitutional amendment.

There are other  constitutional reforms that go  beyond Bernie’s proposals, such as a recognition of lifetime  cultural and  educational rights;  a recognition that government should be based on human rights; and, a more rational distribution of government resources.

I have not mentioned that certain groups will  be pushing  for  conservative amendments; likely  to include a balanced  budget and a full or partial repeal of Roe  v. Wade.  But I leave those issues to conservatives as they do not  fall  into  my Beyond Bernie  progressive classification.

Article Five requires two thirds (34) of the state legislatures to apply to Congress to call an Article Five Convention “for proposing amendments” to the Constitution Those amendments passed at the convention must then be ratified by three-fourths of state legislatures or three-fourths of state conventions; the  mode of ratification to be decided by Congress.

A great coalition  of  groups  with diverse, even  opposing  issues and views, must be gathered together in common cause in order to mount an offensive capable of pressuring or persuading 34 state legislatures  to call for  an Article Five Convention. A successful effort  to  achieve a call for an Article Five Convention will require the cooperation of groups ideologically opposed to one another, but if we are to  move  beyond Bernie, this is  what must be  done.

Next: Boaz’s Blog 005. How  the  Ninth Amendment and Declaration  of Independence could influence an Article Five Convention.