Checks and Balances at Work

convention of states platform

written by Van R. Mellon, Jr., SC Libertarian Party Member from Kershaw County

For the first time in our history, we face the real threat of losing the very thing that has for so long set America apart from every country that ever existed: a government built to serve the people.

Before the founding of this great experiment no such government ever existed. Governments of every nation before had kept citizens in servitude and sought to suppress and control them. The 2020 pandemic and ensuing government overreach, have moved our own government irrevocably toward tyranny.

On Wednesday February 16, 2022, the South Carolina state Senate Judiciary Subcommittee held a hearing on the Convention of States (COS) resolution H3205. The resolution allows for South Carolina to appeal to Congress to call a Convention of States per Article V of the constitution in which the Convention would impose fiscal restrictions on Congress, enact term limits on those serving in Congress, and limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government. Read the entire bill here.

I attended the hearing as a member of the South Carolina Libertarian Party. At our State Convention last November, I was a delegate for Kershaw County when we voted unanimously to support COS. While I initially did not plan on speaking at the judicial committee hearing, I found it imperative to contradict some of the nonsense claimed by opponents. Conspiracy theorists like Evan Mulch of the John Birch Society employed fear mongering to cast aspersions on the resolution.

Opponents argued that a Convention of States is a dangerous thing. Fears of a possible runaway convention were often attempted to be substantiated with a paltering narration of the 1786 convention. Of course (as I made sure to point out), even within the questionable narrative presented by the opponents of COS, every single one appears to be happy with the results of the 1786 convention. After all, their claims are that they fear that our current constitution will be replaced or inextricably altered. This same constitution is the result of that “runaway” convention of 1786.

Another point raised regarded the logic of a Convention of States. To say that an article V convention is a danger to the constitution is to say that the constitution is a danger to itself. The argument is uncompelling; states acting upon their constitutional authority is not a danger to the constitution, but in fact within the state’s mandate to check the growth and sprawl of the federal government. With this argument, opponents suggest that somehow the founders made a fatal mistake in including the convention of states in article V. But if opponents don’t believe that article V of the constitution is a necessary control mechanism, then are you not also claiming that the constitution is flawed? If the constitutions if flaws, then it should be changed, correct? The only way to enact such changes lies within article V itself.

Any fears of this “runaway” convention are illogical. With the elected legislative bodies of each state choosing and instructing their perspectives delegates, the chances of those delegates showing up to convention and unifying to pass some extreme measures are as unrealistic as Congress agreeing on abortion or gun control. The fear of such rogue behavior is why COS advocates for specific amendments to be made: 1) restrict federal authority, 2) restrict federal spending, and 3) enact term limits. These specific items transcend our current political divides in a way that will unite Republicans with Democrats, Democrats with Libertarians, and (tongue in cheek) Libertarians with each other.

To be an American means to be free. Yet today, we stand at a crossroads between the America of yesterday and the America of tomorrow. Driven by culture and social conventions, each generation finds a unique way to define and express itself, contrasted against the backdrop of its predecessor. This has occurred since the founding of this nation and will continue so long as America exists. That is why Article V exists: so that we have recourse to constrain federal tyranny.

America has long been a beacon of what the world could be should the people unite against their oppressors. Despite our faults, we have done more for humanity than all other nations and empires throughout the entire history of human civilization combined. We have been effective as a free people willing and able to enact change and discipline an unwieldy authority. Preserving this legacy is why I chose initially to get involved with politics and eventually to speak up.

The Convention of States resolution received three reads in the South Carolina Senate. On March 10th it was returned to the House with amendments. Keep up with progress here.

Ready to get involved? Click here to find the next meeting for your local SCLP group.

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