Observations on the Constitution from a West Virginia Gun Show.
Observations on the Constitution from a West Virginia Gun Show.
I recently attended a West Virginia Gun Show, with my lovely Wife and lovely daughter in tow. Going to gun shows in different areas is interesting. If you attend enough local shows, you will start to see a certain amount of unsalable guns over and over and over and over. Going to shows in different areas give you a different flavor. I had attended the same show last year, and enjoyed it. I enjoyed it this year, too.
This wasn't the largest show I've ever been to, but it wasn't the smallest, either. I saw a rare single shot rifle from the 1870s last year, and the same family had it for sale this year. I pointed out that they still hadn't sold it but they raised the price from last year. The elder frowned, the son and grandson laughed and slapped their knees, yucking it up at grandpa's expense. This year I got their contact info, if they still have it and I sell enough of my “picker items”...
And in the midst of all this was a booth from a group promoting an Article V Convention of States.
An Article V Convention of States is a conundrum – very difficult to make happen, but the only way to straighten out the congealed mess that is the national government of The United States of America.
The Text of Article V, Constitution for these United States:
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.
Three fourths of the states would need to agree to a convention, which would be like herding cats. The only time in “recent” history that the states were so inclined was to negate the 18th amendment. Congress heeded calls from the public and states and the 21st amendment was ratified.
Getting 38 states to act together (I'll ignore the caveat correctly) is a difficult thing to do.
I came to another realization that a lot of people don't have a clue about the constitution. The ignorance of the constitution is bipartisan and cuts across all lines. But ignorance of the Constitution from people advocating for an Article V Convention of the States is a bit dangerous.
I asked if there were any amendments to the Constitution that they wanted to be rid of.
“No, we want to preserve the constitution,” was the reply.
“What if certain amendments are doing harm to the concept of a republican form of government, and prevent a return to smaller localized government,” I asked. I threw out a few amendments, just to see what they knew and if they were paying attention. “If we could eliminate the 14th, 16th, 17th, and 19th amendments then it's possible to undo over a century of big government, and judicial abuse”.
“No, we don't want to take away from the Constitution,” one of the ladies replied.
This is the problem with the Constitution For These United States, as it was originally called. People don't read it, don't read it in context of the understanding of the time in which it (and the first 11 amendments) was ratified, and have turned it into a civil religion.
The Constitution as written has a lot of things that were left open to interpretation. Even though it's the charter for the general/federal government it is maddeningly imprecise. It's my firm belief that much of that is due to the fact that people didn't think it would last as long as it has. By the 1820s, a time in which many of the men who ratified it were dead or dying off, the remaining majority thought the new union had already jumped the shark. By 1861 it had no remaining meaning and was just left to interpretation.
While this push for an Article V Convention of the States is well intentioned, it is incumbent for people advancing this idea to become much more knowledgeable.
Stop thinking of the Constitution as a civil religion.
Stop thinking of it as the law of the land. It was meant to be a charter of a general or “federal” government. There is very little in the Constitution that is “Law”, treason being an exception. Laws governing behavior were initially, and properly left to the states.
I'm all for an Article V Convention of States.
My proposed amendments:
Eliminate the 14th amendment. Or use an amendment to clarify it. It was not meant to eliminate the 10th amendment, as the 21st was ratified to nullify the 18th. The first 10 amendments were chains on the powers of the Federal Government.
If we really want states rights, and want to shrink the federal government we will have to shrink the standing army, eliminate the National Guard (notice they aren't States Guard units) and return to local and state militias.
The current system of revenue generation has a lot of problems. A plan to streamline the the tax code and also a means to not operate in a deficit mode should be implemented.
Eliminate agencies created by executive order, and stop agencies from being able to create laws/regulations, whether civil or criminal.
Return selection of Federal Legislatures to the State legislatures.
Clarify Article III, and limit the scope and power of the federal courts. Including the supreme court.
I hate to amend the constitution to create term limits for the House of Representatives, but voters are lazy and incumbency has it's own power, so an amendment to limit people serving in the house to 8 years would need to be implemented.
After watching things degenerate, I will agree with Patrick Henry - the Constitution needs a dose of subsidiarity. And a declared, not implied freedom of association.
The Constitution was a compact between states. Several states included in their ratification statements that they could and would dissolve the compact if things done by the whole had more harm than good. This needs to be enforced. And yes, this is a recognition of the right of secession. If you counter with the herp a derp argument that “that means you're in favor of slavery”, then you have bought into a certain intellectual nihilism and are not smart or informed enough to have this discussion with me . The end.
If you surrender a civilization to avoid social disapproval, you should know that all of history will curse you for your cowardliness - Alice Teller
If John of Patmos would browse the internet today for half an hour, I don't know if the Book of Revelations would be entirely different or entirely the same.