Similar to Patrick Buchanan’s campaigns, Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America,” the Tea Party, and to some extent Donald Trump’s presidency, the Convention of States Project* will not solve the crises that America faces. It will, undoubtedly, like most of the previous reform and populist movements be sabotaged by the ruling class if it ever gets close to accomplishing its goals.
The Project’s rhetoric is “old-style” conservative/populist-speak which seeks to “[propose] amendments that impose fiscal restraint on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress.”** Some of the proposed amendments include:
- Congressional term limits
- Requiring a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate to increase the public debt
- Restoring the Commerce Clause to its original intent and scope
- Repeal of the 16th Amendment, which gave us the income tax
- Giving states, by a three-fifths vote, the power to negate any federal law, regulation or executive order giving Congress an easy means of overriding regulation
So far, 19 state legislatures have called for a constitutional convention, 34 states are needed for a convention to be called and, for an amendment to be passed, it must be approved by three quarters of state legislatures.
The state legislatures who have signed on have realized that the federal government has become omnipotent and the individual states are now merely appendages to Washington. “The states,” said South Carolina state representative Bill Taylor, “have sort of lost their voice, and all we can do now is beg from the cheap seats and say, ‘Hey, don’t do that.’”***
After the totalitarian and draconian efforts of the U.S. government and those around the world the past two years in response to the “pandemic,” Mr. Taylor’s sentiment is, to say the least, an understatement!
The fundamental problem with efforts such as the Convention of States Project is that they do not understand the nature of the crises that both America and most of the world face. For America, its current malaise can be traced shortly after its independence with the adoption of the Constitution itself.
While it has long been touted as a great document of freedom and liberty, it is anything but. The “founding fathers” knowingly created a powerful central government and decreased the sovereignty of the individual state governments which had existed under the Articles of Confederation.
In the words of Murry Rothbard, the Constitution was a coup that, for the most part, was the antithesis of the spirit and drive of the American Revolution which was a movement against political centralization and empire:
It was a bloodless coup d’etat against an unresisting
Confederation Congress. . . . . The Federalists, by use
of propaganda, chicanery, fraud, malapportionment of
delegates, blackmail threats of secession and even
coercive laws, had managed to sustain enough delegates
to defy the wishes of the majority of the American people
and create a new Constitution.****
Worse than the power grab was the establishment of an omnipotent state as Rothbard incisively continues:
The drive [for ratification] was managed by a
corps of brilliant members and representatives
of the financial and landed oligarchy. These
wealthy merchants and large landowners were
joined by the urban artisans of the large cities in
their drive to create a strong overriding central
government – a supreme government with its
own absolute power to tax, regulate commerce,
and raise armies.*****
The celebrated “separation of powers,” and “checks and balances” within the federal system and even the Bill of Rights, so often lauded by conservative and populist commentators, have proven from the very start to be ineffectual in stopping the expansion of state power.
The Constitution itself declares that it is the ultimate authority as Article VI states:
This Constitution and the laws of the United States which
shall be made in pursuance thereof, and all treaties made,
or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States,
shall be the supreme law of the land. . . . [Italics mine.]
The massive and now unresolvable social, economic and political troubles both in the U.S. and around the world stems from a concentration of political power that is inherent in the nature of constitutional government. This power is augmented and sustained by a system of central banking which provides the nation state with seemingly unlimited financial power to implement its various social engineering schemes, conduct continuous warfare, and has the ability to crush any opposition to its hegemony.
The solution, which is all too obvious, but not attainable in the current ideological atmosphere dominated by statist thinking, is political decentralization.
The smaller political alignments under decentralization would probably coalesce around peoples with similar economic, social and religious affiliations and status and those with similar ethnic and racial backgrounds. Such a system would be truly diverse and undoubtedly lower social tensions which derive from the central state’s forced integration polices.
Once political decentralization became a reality, the natural and mutually beneficial relationships and interactions between peoples would emerge. The immense advantage of free trade – the widening of the division of labor and specialization – would be the norm between societies since smaller countries could not afford to restrict trade since doing so would lead to autarky and the resultant fall in standards of living to primitive levels.
Likewise, a universal monetary standard, most likely based on gold and silver, would arise among differing communities since a multitude of currencies would lead to monetary chaos and render economic calculation an impossibility. Since no central state could impose its currency, the only honest and sound money – gold/silver – would be quickly adopted by all.
The mass invasion of the U.S. taking place under the negligence and encouragement of the Biden Administration could also be thwarted through political decentralization. Areas where the lives and property of people are threatened by invaders have more of an incentive to effectively deal with unwanted groups than bureaucrats living often times thousands of miles away.
Each jurisdiction would make its own policies on who or how many it wanted in its territory. Moreover, each community could expel undesirables without interference from those who are not property owners or members of such communities.
While those behind the Convention of States Project and the state legislatures which have called for a constitutional convention may be well meaning, they will ultimately fail. Such efforts are a wrongheaded approach to address the myriad of problems that plague the U.S. and, for that matter, the entire world.
Instead of attempts to amend the Constitution or though the electoral process by finding the “right candidate,” the very viable and historically proven alternative of de-centralization through secession is the only pathway to ultimate success. Until the break-up of the nation state is accomplished, America and the world’s future will be considerably bleak.
**** Murray N. Rothbard, Conceived in Liberty. Vol. 5, The New Republic, 1784-1791, ed., Patrick Newman. Auburn, AL.: Mises Institute, 2019, p. 306.