The People’s Constitutional Solution to Fixing Washington

Published July 24, 2017

The election of Donald Trump is the product of America’s discontent with an ineffectual and dysfunctional federal government. Key voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, among many others, chose a candidate they believed would shake up Washington, D.C. rather than one they viewed as part of its establishment. Thus, they handed the White House to the current administration in the Electoral College, notwithstanding a contrary popular vote.

Both national parties may assume equal credit for the “embarrassment,” to quote Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, that is Washington. Our federal government is completely broken. Congress has only managed to pass a true federal budget on four occasions in the past 40 years, and contrary to what you are told, none of those were actually balanced. Pork-filled continuing resolutions are the order of the day. Each presidential administration increasingly uses executive orders, federal regulation, and the power of agencies such as the IRS and FBI to further extend its influence and control over the everyday lives of Americans.

Our Supreme and lower federal courts have become the political arm of whichever party is able to stack those courts with judges who share their views, and many judges are now unable to separate their partisan political bent from their constitutional duties. Notable commentators such as former Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and freshman Colorado Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) have published books this year informing us Washington, D.C. corruption is even worse than we thought!

In the absence of structural changes, there is no solution to the problem. Washington is driven by power and control, and both parties have been incredibly successful in securing their fiefdoms. Although Congress’ approval rating is at 20 percent, the re-elect rate averages more than 90 percent!

Uncontrolled Washington spending is driving the federal government off the Thelma-and-Louise cliff. Our entrenched partisan government no longer cares about or shares the concerns of the voting public.

So, what kind of structural change can fix Washington? We have already recognized three key areas, but unfortunately, Supreme Court edict has gutted legislative efforts at reforming each. We are thus left with the only remedy available under the Constitution: the amendment process. The solution starts with proposing three key amendments: a balanced budget amendment, term limits, and campaign finance reform. Each would have to be carefully drafted to be effective. They must not be harmful to the economy and must ensure essential safety nets, bureaucratic balance, and freedom of speech are maintained.

Multiple working groups have proven effective, working amendments are possible, but we know Congress is too partisan to propose such limiting amendments with the two-thirds constitutional majority required. Congress has had numerous opportunities to propose a balanced budget amendment — an amendment supported by a majority of voters in both political parties and 70 percent of the public overall — but it has never succeeded in doing so.

To propose these amendments, we have no choice except to use the Article V convention of states process, a completely safe mechanism intended by the Founding Fathers to be used in precisely the circumstances we now find ourselves. Article V allows 34 states to call a convention of delegates from all 50 states to meet and draft a proposed amendment. That proposal must thereafter be ratified by 38 states to become law. Although many a Chicken Little has decried this mechanism as too risky, those fears have no basis in fact, law, or political reality.

In September, the State of Arizona will host a non-Article V convention of states to establish rules and plan for a future Article V balanced budget amendment convention, which 27 states have already called for. It will be the first national convention of states since 1861. The Arizona Planning Convention will put to rest the negative fallacies surrounding this constitutional process, a process endorsed by George Washington, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Dwight Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan, to name only a few notable American patriots.

All 50 states need to send delegations to the Arizona convention. The time for partisan politics is behind us. Let not the plague of corrupt Washington spread to the last bastion of hope left in our country: the states and the people.

[Originally Published at American Spectator]