September 19, 2020 at 12:40 pm #1351yooper1951Keymaster
Our story starts with the principles laid out in the Declaration of Independence; ‘consent of the governed’ and our right to change our government. The Constitution lays out our framework of laws and sets out Article V as the instrument with which our government can be changed. George Washington’s Farewell Address provides practical guidance. He emphasizes ‘checks and balances’ and ‘separation of powers’ to prevent despotism and urges restraint of political parties.
Alexander Hamilton (writing in The Federalist #85) argued that the second part of Article V would enable state legislatures to “erect barriers against the encroachments of the national authority”
An Article V convention is effectively a standing committee in the legislative branch of our government. It has never been called to order for two reasons. First is the spread of misleading information about the true purpose of the committee. Second is the lack of existing structure of the committee. The committee’s broadly defined function is to propose amendments to the Constitution. Its real function may be, by default, oversight that creates an additional check on our government.
Article I of the Constitution gives Congress extensive power to adopt legislation. It deals with most issues but fall short on one issue. It cannot effectively oversee itself. The Constitution, by default gives that oversight to the States. Since Congress also has the ultimate power over the Supreme Court and the Executive branch of government, general oversight of government also defaults to the States.
The Articles of confederation were more about maintaining the status quo that creating a new government. But they did not create a national leader or a standing army. At the time of the Constitutional convention, our leaders knew major changes were needed to the structure of our government. Major changes were made, changes not well outlined in the Articles of Confederation, and for this reason, it could be said that it was a ‘runaway convention’.
For over 230 years our government operated with the help and oversight of the better angels of our human nature. Current hyper-polarization tests the effectiveness of the oversight of those better angels.
Over time, Congress has strayed from the principle of ‘consent of the governed’. And Article I is the most powerful article. If it is true that only a handful of actors are controlling the agenda of the Senate, then this is leads us in the direction of a less democratic nation. The lowering on the democracy index is new. That has not happened before. This justifies new oversight to fully embody ‘consent of the governed’. Opening an Article V convention is that opportunity. And government oversight is its true function.
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