Powering up the states

Frustrated with government inaction, citizens turn to grassroots means to change policy

You could say that Rob Nordan and Dora Bush are do-it-yourselfers.


They don’t know each other. Mr. Nordan lives in Appling, and Mrs. Bush lives in Aiken, S.C. But they’re both pitching in on an enormous do-it-yourself project.

They want to fix the government.

They are just two area participants in a growing movement to stop what more people see in crystal clarity as the runaway power of the federal government.

The project is called the Convention of States, and its goal is to harness power at the grassroots level to urge enough states to call a convention to propose amendments to the Constitution.

Article V of the Constitution spells out two ways you can propose a constitutional amendment – a two-thirds majority of Congress can call for it, or a two-thirds majority of all state legislatures can call for a convention. If either method settles on an amendment, three-fourths of the states have to ratify it for it to become law.

You think Congress could pull that off right now? Fat chance. The House and Senate are just days away from a recess to wrap up a year in which, at this writing, they have passed a paltry 55 laws. To put that into perspective, the 1948 Congress that President Truman dubbed the “Do-Nothing Congress” passed 511 laws.

The 2013 Congress apparently passed a law naming the Interstate 70 bridge in St. Louis for baseball legend Stan Musial. It passed a law approving extra parking at the South Dakota Minuteman Missile National Historic Site. But it has neither the inclination nor the ability to act to change the federal government’s increasingly wasteful, overreaching habits.

“From my standpoint, it doesn’t have anything to do with political parties,” Mr. Nordan explained. “It has more to do with what I feel like has become a real departure of our country from our beginnings. I was a little bit frustrated with Republicans and Democrats about all the messes and problems we find ourselves in now.”

Mr. Nordan aired his frustrations through social media, on a Facebook post, asking if an organization existed that could get elected officials’ attention about the direction in which our country is headed. A respondent recommended the Convention of States.

Mrs. Bush first learned of the convention after watching an interview with Michael Farris, the head of the project, on the cable-TV news and events show hosted by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. “And I got so excited because I thought, ‘That is something that I, an average citizen, can work with my state legislature to do,’ ” she said.

That was earlier this year, and the work seems to be paying off. South Carolina state Rep. Bill Taylor, an Aiken Republican, pre-filed a bill in the legislature Dec. 3 calling for a convention of states. Similar paperwork has been filed in Virginia.

“Washington will never limit its own power,” Taylor said. “They’ll never pass amendments to balance the budget, put term limits on themselves or give the states their rightful constitutional authority.”

The organization’s goal is to
introduce “a package of amendments” to address the problems that Washington, D.C., won’t. High on the group’s agenda is a balanced budget amendment.

Americans are starving for solutions to their nation’s problems. But since dysfunctional leadership is one of the problems, citizen-driven efforts may well offer the best hope of empowerment to people who don’t want to see the America they remember slip away.

“We’ve got some serious problems right now in our country, and if they’re not addressed soon, we’ll be talking about our country as past history, not as living history,” Mr. Nordan said. “I think its time for the regular folks to send a strong message. Yes, we can be involved in elections and yes, we can vote, but I see this as a much larger thing. I see this as a way to perhaps preserve the republic. And I don’t see that coming from any other direction.”

No. But it’s coming from where it needs to come from.

We the people.


(The organization’s website is www.conventionofstates.com.)



Tue, 11/21/2017 - 23:52

Rick McKee Editorial Cartoon