Sorry, But American Democracy Is Still Edging Closer to Disaster

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Sorry, But American Democracy Is Still Edging Closer to Disaster

Wisconsin became the 28th state to back a constitutional convention.

The movement for this convention was born in the dark-money plutocracy of the current American political system.

"The movement for this convention was born in the dark-money plutocracy of the current American political system." (Photo: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Are you ready to have your mellow harshed just a little?

On Tuesday, when nobody was looking, the state of Wisconsin brought the country a step closer to a constitutional bloodbath unseen since 1789. The Wisconsin state senate voted, 19-14, to join the call for an Article V convention of the states to propose amendments to the federal Constitution, and what should make you feel very secure about trading James Madison for, say, Mark Levin, is that the Republicans who voted for this monstrosity basically knew fck-all about the issue. From The Wisconsin State Journal:

Earlier this year, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald initially resisted Assembly Speaker Robin Vos’ push to fast-track the convention resolution. Fitzgerald said in March that he had questions about the scope of such a convention. Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, who voted for the resolution, acknowledged after Tuesday’s vote that he’s not convinced restrictions on the scope of a convention could be enforced once it’s underway. “It depends on who you talk to,” Fitzgerald said. “It always should be a concern when you have something that could be wide open.”

Well, hell, then, let’s just take a big old shot in the dark.

The movement for this convention was born in the dark-money plutocracy of the current American political system. It aims to fasten an oligarchy to what still would be the shell of a self-governing republic. The tell is in the issues. They are a wish list of conservative policies that were shredded under the existing Constitution. Among them are The Worst Idea In American Politics, the Balanced Budget Amendment, which never was going to get the votes to pass on its own, either in the Congress or in the states; and an amendment that would establish term limits for members of the national legislature, which the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional 22 years ago in U.S. Term Limits v. Thornton.

Supporters of the convention are also pretty high on Tentherism, as former senator Tom Coburn, one of the convention’s main shills, has been quite clear about.

I have traveled the nation these past two years to encourage state legislators to trigger an Article V convention for proposing constitutional amendments to impose fiscal restraints on Washington, to restore the original meaning of constitutional limits on federal power, and to discuss the possibility of term limits for federal judges and other federal officials. In other words, I’m telling state legislators that America is desperate for them to use this one constitutional tool for re-balancing the power between the states, the national government, and the people.

This wouldn’t possibly have anything to do with getting the jackboots of the EPA off the necks of people like the Kochs, would it? Why would I think this? Coburn’s only in it for The People.

The Article V movement is that most remarkable of things: a completely transparent Trojan horse. Its proponents have turned pitching a colossal bait-and-switch into an art form. Take Fitzgerald’s concern for a runaway convention. In fact, the only precedent we have, when the Constitutional Convention ditched the Articles of Confederation entirely, indicates that Fitzgerald was right to be concerned.

At first, the proponents of this disaster argued that a convention could be limited—to, say, passing The Worst Idea In American Politics—and, when constitutional scholars laughed that off, the proponents switched to the argument that we shouldn’t worry about the convention’s running wild because…wait for it… the state legislatures will refuse to approve really crazy amendments. (The Balanced Budget Amendment is a really crazy amendment, but never mind.) Regardless of Tuesday night’s results in Virginia, I’m not sanguine about handing the basic structure of the American government over to the caretakers of our current laboratories of democracy.

There are now 28 states on board this death train. They are six states away. This is a clear and present danger.

Charles P. Pierce

Charles P. Pierce

Charles P. Pierce is a writer-at-large for Esquire and his work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the LA Times Magazine, the Nation, the Atlantic, Sports Illustrated and The Chicago Tribune, among others.

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