Boaz’ s Blog 010 How to Wake up from a Political Nightmare: Convene an Article Five Convention to Secure Democracy
A week ago, I was opining here on why a President Clinton would likely support an Article Five Constitutional Convention. Today, with democracy imperiled, I believe it is imperative that we—the citizens—realize that it is we who must secure democracy without any support from our political leaders. We, individually and collectively, must begin pressuring state legislatures to apply to Congress to call for an open Article Five Convention.
For the second time in sixteen years Americans will have a President who lost the popular vote, only to have won the constitutionally sanctioned anti-democratic Electoral College. What kind of democracy is that? Whatever happened to the fundamental democratic truism of “one person, one vote?”
Ironically, just days after being elected to the Senate, with Al Gore ahead in the popular vote and the winner of the 2000 presidential election still undetermined, Senator-elect Clinton stated that the Electoral College should be abolished. Nice rhetoric. But she never introduced the amendment while in the Senate. She must have known there was no way Congress would ever pass a constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College. It’s all about power.
The House of Representatives chooses the President when, after an election, no presidential candidate has a majority of electoral votes. The House will not give up that power unless forced to do so. That begs the question: Q. How do we force the House of Representatives m to give up their constitutional authority regarding presidential elections? A. We pass an amendment to abolish the Electoral College at an Article Five Convention.
In summary: Article Five of the Constitution provides that when two-thirds of the state legislatures apply for a Convention to propose amendments to the Constitution, Congress shall call one. Amendments passed at an Article Five Convention require ratification by three-fourths of the states—by way of the legislature or a ratifying Convention.
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Why do we need an open Convention rather than limiting the Convention to one or two issues?
1) The wording of the Constitution states that when the requirements for an Article Five Convention are met, Congress “shall call a Convention for proposing amendments.” (That’s “amendments”— not “amendment.”)
2) The Constitution requires several amendments; just to shore up democracy.
3) The sheer financial cost of a Convention does not justify a limited agenda.
The challenge of meeting the conditions required to convene an open Article Five Convention are herculean and will require the cooperation and coordination of thousands of varied and disparate groups; each espousing a cause that may be divergent from other causes and other groups, with all groups united in the belief that an Article Five Convention is necessary and that only a national coalition can accomplish it.
Why do I believe that an Article Five Convention is necessary to secure democracy?
- To get private money out of public elections; thereby nullifying the holding of Citizens United and making it possible for ordinary citizens to run for Congress and the presidency.
- To abolish the Electoral College so that every vote counts.
- To abolish the filibuster and cloture rule for both houses of Congress so that all matters brought to the floor of either chamber are decided by a simple majority.
- To establish the right to democracy. (Currently, only the Declaration of Independence states that American government is a democracy.)
- Abolish the presidential veto. It’s a practice that made more sense in a Caesar-dominated Rome. Why should one vote from the executive branch be allowed to check the will of 535 congressional representatives?
- Require that whenever a federal election is held along with a state election that federal voting laws and regulations preempt state law.
- Grant the presidential and congressional vote to all Americans residing in territories and commonwealths and provide that each territory and commonwealth have a least one member of the House of Representatives. There should not be two tiers of American citizenship.
- Prohibit the forfeiture of voting rights for convicted felons.
- Re-establish that only humans can assert a claim to or a violation of a human right; that rights are only for humans. This would prevent corporations from having an equal standing with individuals when a violation of human rights is at issue. (In Citizens United, corporations are accorded the right to free speech; with a limitation of campaign financing being the equivalent of a denial of free speech.)
- Establish term limits of twelve years for federal appellate judges; including justices of the Supreme Court. (Citizens should not be held hostage to a bad federal appellate or Supreme Court decisions that can last for one or two generations before they are reversed or favorably modified.)
America can only become great if we have a fair and inclusive form of representative democracy. Otherwise we shall remain an oligarchy; limiting the individual potential of all Americans. Wake up Americans and come together to accomplish our first open Article Five Convention and strengthen democracy.
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Next: Blog 011. A Comprehensive Body of Rights for Government and Society (unless contemporary events prompt a different response).