Dear Virginia Star,
On 15 September 1787, the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia was just two days from adjourning after nearly four months of painstaking negotiations.
Yet Col. George Mason of Virginia remained fearful the proposed federal government could one day go rogue. In the waning hours of deliberation, he set out to persuade fellow delegates they were on the verge of codifying a fatal flaw.
On that day, with extraordinary foresight, Mason championed a ‘Break In Case of Emergency’ tool which 233 years later is being used to stop out-of-control federal bureaucrats and career politicians.
Col. Mason called for a change to Article V, which defines the two-step process for constitutional amendments: first they are proposed, then separately ratified.
The ratification step is more widely known: three-fourths of state legislatures (38 in all) must affirm proposed amendments before they are incorporated to our constitution.
For the preceding step, Mason pointed out, the draft constitution empowered only the U.S. Congress to propose amendments.
The flaw was easily grasped by his fellow Framers as all had experienced firsthand British royal tyranny.
Those with power – especially those abusing it – never reform themselves. If only the federal Congress can craft amendments, how will federal abuse of power be constitutionally thwarted?
The record shows unanimous assent to George Mason’s motion. Article V was quickly changed so that the republic’s sovereign citizens – acting through their state legislature – also can propose constitutional amendments.
This is done by convening a so-called convention of states (COS), also called an Article V convention. A COS is mandated whenever two-thirds of state legislatures (34) articulate their common purpose in like-worded resolutions. This mirrors Article V’s requirement of a two-thirds vote in both chambers for Congress to propose amendments.
Since 2014, at the urging of Convention of States Action (www.cosaction.com), fifteen states have adopted a COS resolution for amendments that achieve one of three urgent goals:
– Placing fiscal restraints on the federal government, such as limiting deficit spending.
– Curtailing abuse of federal authority, such as spying on citizens, crony-capitalism, and regulatory overreach.
– Imposing term limits on federal officials and members of Congress.
These three goals are intertwined: careerist politicians implementing unconstrained federal power are highly motivated by electoral self-interest to spend borrowed money.
Federal borrowing shifts the cost of current outlays to the far-off future. For careerist politicians this means shifting costs away from those who will vote for or against their reelection.
Today’s voters might object to paying for their careerist politicians’ costly giveaways to special interests. They can deny careerists the easy, endless reelections they crave. Future voters get the bill (plus accrued interest owed to the lenders) but can hold no one accountable.
In effect, career politicians enjoy the fruits of others’ future labor. We have a word for this: slavery. Federal politicians have an unlimited ability to enslave future taxpayers—your children, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren.
We call Washington’s accumulated IOUs the national debt. It is more accurately called generational theft, a heist that currently exceeds $26.7 trillion.
Today’s debt is more than 370 percent higher than the $5.67 trillion of debt the DC swamp had accumulated at the dawn of the new century.
What great national goal was achieved by Washington with the $21 trillion its swamp rats borrowed over the past 20 years? Is there any problem the careerists have solved with all those IOUs?
No, not a one.
Is anyone naïve enough to believe Washington’s careerists will fix anything by borrowing another $21 trillion, which surely they will do (and more quickly this time) if we do not stop them?
Our national debt is the greatest economic crime in human history, and a moral disgrace that unfolds daily, in plain sight by known perpetrators. There is zero individual accountability for the debt these careerists pile up daily. Washington’s elites believe no one can or will stop them. Ever.
George Mason ensured we have a constitutional tool to eliminate the loathsome den of federal thieves in Washington.
Virginia’s General Assembly should join their counterparts in 15 states who already are committed to ending the DC swamp’s thievery. They can do this by passing HJ 5013, recently introduced by Delegate Ronnie Campbell (District 24/Lexington).
This will happen only if Virginia voters like you make it happen. Support Convention of States Action by adding your name to those of more than 51,000 other Virginians who have signed our petition (go to www.cosaction.com). When you sign it, your state legislators will be advised of yet another constituent that wants him or her to step-up and take hold of their duties under Article V.
How fitting it would be if you were to do this today, while tipping your hat to Col. George Mason.
Photo “George Mason” by Dominic W. Boudet CC1.0