Tolleson, DL. “The Power of the States—Part III.”
Tolleson, DL. “The Power of the States—Part III.”
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Commentary: This is a revision and update of an article originally appearing as a December 13, 2013 entry in The Great American Novel Blog on this web site. The original entry remains available in the 2013 Archive of this site via the Compendium.
THE POWER Of The STATES—PART III
Too numerous to list are the reasons the United States has massively expanded government, went into debt by trillions of dollars, offers unrestrained welfare and imposes soft tyranny while limiting freedom. But whatever the reasons, the typical suggested solution to this situation—throwing the elected bums out and voting-in conservative candidates—is at best a momentary slowing of the deterioration (and an insult to bums).
The best solution is to control our government by bypassing the federal government altogether. Even better still, this solution is provided to us in the Constitution of the United States of America. And best of all, that solution is being pursued.
Yes, you read that correctly. We could literally save our country and the means by which to make it happen is the law upon which the entire country.
The framers of our Constitution foresaw a tyrannical congress. In fact, George Mason wouldn’t even sign on to a ratification of the Constitution so long as it was only the federal government empowered to amend the Constitution. He is recorded as having made note that a tyrannical Congress would never vote itself a limit of power.
And so Article 5 of the Constitution provides for the legislatures of the States to call for a convention to propose amendments to the Constitution on which the states would later vote: Other than providing a “secretarial” role (so to speak), the federal government has NO authority, input or regulation in this process.
The actual Constitutional text reads as follows…
The key points are rendered in italic.
This Article 5 Amendment process first came to my attention when National Radio Host, Mark Levin (a former Regan administration insider and a Constitutional lawyer who has successfully taken on EPA with his LandMark Legal Foundation1 wrote of it in his book, The Liberty Amendments2. Whether it was his prompting or that the time had come, I cannot say. But what I can say is that the process is moving forward after a recent meeting of representatives from various states was successful as an impetus for further action.
On Mark Levin's show3 of December 10, 2013, the person spearheading this process was invited to report on the progress. What follows is a transcript of that appearance that I have made. You can go to the Levin Web site for the audio itself.4
And now, the transcript...
Mark Levin: You know, it’s a pleasure to have State Senator—Indiana Senate President with me right now—David Long—how are you, sir?
David Long: I’m fine, Mark. How are you?
M. Levin: Very-very good. You know, this is perfect timing. We had Chairman Ryan on, whose a very good guy—very nice guy—trying to do the best he can, quite frankly under impossible circumstances. The federal government is busted; the fiscal situation is a disaster. They make these deals; it has almost zero impact on the debt—long-term—on unfunded liabilities and so forth.
You have been a leading voice and have help collect a number of State Reps and State Senators. And this past Saturday, December 7th, you held the first Mount Vernon Assembly. And I wanted you, if you can, to report back and tell us what happened.
D. Long: Well, it was successful. You know, it was a voluntary thing. We all paid our on way out there.
There were 97 State Legislators from 32 different states that showed up. We met for four hours. And uh, we were credentialed. We met at the Fred W. Smith Library, which is on the side of Mount Vernon. It’s a brand new facility. And we were, uh—we essentially put together the start of this process. And agreed to meet again in June in Indianapolis for stage two where we will start the process of putting rules together for a convention of the states.
So, we—as much as anything—found common ground, established some basic agreements and are now going to go to a more formal process of asking Senate Presidents and (House) Speakers around the country—in all fifty states—to appoint two people from each chamber, a Republican and a Democrat—we’re going to try to do this in a bipartisan way—and uh, to meet in Indianapolis for the process to get started. And from there we see another meeting in December which we are going to call the—uh—a—well, I don’t have the exact verbiage in front of me. I think we are going to call it the U.S. Rules Drafting Conference. And from that Conference we hope to establish the bones of the uh—a structure for a Convention of the States.
So, it’s an exciting time. We have to do this, because as you know, there is no specific blueprint in the Constitution for how you put this together. And so we have to go into this being totally prepared and thoroughly ready to push back against anyone who tries to undermine this by saying—for instance Congress saying, they are going to put this—the rules together; They’re going to tell us how to do it. We want to make sure we’re united in saying, We’ve got the process; we’re agreed on how we are going to go about doing this. We know the subject matter we want to discuss and we’re going forward.
M. Levin: Well, we do know Congress has no substantive role whatsoever. That much we do know. Now, Senator, let me ask you this: I don’t mind bipartisan or—or—or what-have-you—but it is important to me, and I think millions of other people, that the objective be to re-establish our Constitutional system whether you’re focused on one area or two areas or twenty areas or whatever. So I don’t mind it being bipartisan, but if, but if—of course… But, party or no party, I’m just hoping that these are individuals who are eventually selected—I know you can’t control this altogether—who have the same overall mission in mind. Do you think that'll be accomplished?
D. Long: That’s the hope, obviously. I mean, you’re right: Once you take this next step and you’re asking—but you have to have delegates appointed and it has to be under authority of the States. And clearly the leaders of the State Legislatures are the ones, I think, to do it. Um, we’re taking this approach right now, Mark. We believe that fiscal responsibility and States’ rights are not partisan issues. And that they are fundamental to some of the problems we see today both from the States’ rights being trampled and the fact there is no accountably in Washington.
And so the goal—the underlying goal for me and I think for many who attended, if not most who attended the Mount Vernon conference—was to try to deal with this ruinous amount of debt that is being accumulated in Washington and try to put some reins on the whole thing and reel this back in. And I take that, knowing other Presidents around the county of different Senates—including some Democrats—they all chafe at the fact that Washington does not have to balance its budget and the States do. And so whether you’re a Republican or Democrat you’ve got to do it in your state. And we’re used to that. And no one that I know who is a leader in this country in the State level believes that—can really stomach what is going on in Washington right now as far as the fiscal responsibility. So on that premise, we feel like we could find bipartisan consent. We’ll see.
M. Levin: Yeah, you know, because if you guys don’t do it, it’s not going to get done. That’s quite obvious to me. I mean we have an entrenched mentality in Washington DC, and they’re not going to stop. And, uh, I know you know this or you wouldn’t be involved in this. So tell me this: You had 97 individuals there; 32 states. Can you give us an example of some of the states? I mean Idaho, Indiana, Arizona—what else, who else did you have?
D. Long: All three were there, absolutely. Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Tennessee, Kentucky, Florida… Uh, you know, all the way up into Rhode Island. We had, uh, let’s see, Missouri. You name it, I think there—most of—
M. Levin: Texas...
D. Long: I don’t think we had anybody from New England, save Rhode Island. And that was a bit of a disappointment, but that is, you know, a different mindset up there. Hopefully we can change that. But we did have a very diverse group—as far west as Idaho and Arizona. It was a great group of people. It was exciting just to know that something like this hasn’t happen in a couple of hundred years. And that people from around the country—legislators—were sharing ideas and formulating with some very good ideas and comments how we need to take the next step. And we made some changes in what we thought we would be doing as far as our Resolution, based upon some of that input.
So it was an exciting moment. It was historic. And we think it is going to lead to something big. Obviously it’s not an easy path and it will take some time. But we are focused on this and we’re going to go forward and we’re getting momentum. And I think this can lead to something very-very big if—if we can bring in 34 states. And that’s going to be the trick, as you know. We need two-thirds of the states to petition to have this convention. And that’s where we’re aiming right now.
M. Levin: Well it is very exciting. And the truth is it may take a little while. I mean, it may not happen in six months. Everybody thinks things are going to happen in two seconds and they’re just not. But building the momentum, trying to satisfy some of the concerns… And, of course, at some point, you’re going to get the attention of the politicians and bureaucrats and media in Washington DC and then it will get even more interesting, won’t it?
D. Long: Well, they’re taking notice now so… We’re hearing from a variety of people on it. And those on the left are beginning to send out warning bells, you know—of course, demonizing the whole process, already. We’ve heard from some prominent leaders in Washington who are excited about it and want to know if they can take part. And we politely tell them—
M. Levin: —No—
D. Long: —thanks for your interest, but no. You know, this is going to be a state-driven process. And we have to maintain control of it at the state level for it to be successful. So…
M. Levin: You know, I—there’s some commentators out there saying, Well this will be run-away, run-away. You know, they don’t even read the bills you passed in Indiana. How it could be run-away, if uh—if you have a set of rules, you have the ability to appoint and pull-back delegates and ultimately 38 states have to ratified? I mean, what we have running away right now, as you well know, Senator, is the federal government. They’re running away. They’re running away from their responsibilities under the Constitution.
D. Long: Well, they are. And, you know, I mean, it’s not just Congress. I mean, obviously, you know, as you’ve written in your book—and I think a lot of us notice—the, you know, the basic loss of balance out there right now in Washington… I mean, the Executive branch has (is) really beginning to take over at an alarming level. And, you know, you can argue all you want about Congress doing this or doing that, but the fact of the matter is they’ve abdicated so much of their power to the Executive branch right now—which is totally unaccountable—it’s frightening. And that just goes with all the regulations that are being generated out of the various departments right now—
M. Levin: That’s why I don’t want you to overlook that three-fifths vote I argue for—I mean, obviously you’ll do what you want—with the state legislatures when it comes to these federal statutes and regulations because you are exactly right. And if the state legislatures, acting together, can’t control what an out-of-control Executive does, or Congress or so forth and so on—it’s not going to be controlled.
D. Long: Yeah… It’s—it’s—it’s, this—this—the time for this idea has come, I guess is what I’m trying to say. I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like this and I hope that the alarm bells are going off for an awful lot of people around the country. I think they are. I think the more they learn about this the more excited people get. I heard an awful lot of people—you know, from emails or just people in my hometown here in Fort Wayne Indiana—telling me they’ve listened to your show, they’ve read articles… They’ve heard about it and they’re excited about it because they finally think something might be able to be done about this mountain of debt. It scares them.
And it should. And frankly, I think this is the only way we’re going to be able to get anything done. And that’s why we’re determined to see this thing through. But, as you said, it’s a path. It’s going to take some time. We have to get it right. We have to structure this correctly. And I think the right people are pushing this forward. So I’m very optimistic right now.
M. Levin: And I’m very pleased because you’re obviously a man of great integrity. You’re strategic. You’re thoughtful. And really, I can think of any one better to be, uh, really, pressing this among other State reps and State Senators. So I want to thank you on behalf of my audience and we’re going to keep checking in with you if that’s okay.
D. Long: Absolutely. Love to talk about it. And, again, my friends, Representative (Chris) Kapenga from Wisconsin, (Matt) Huffman from Ohio, Bans from Oklahoma and Senator (Caryn) Tyson from Kansas where the other four—five people that were involved in this and they are terrific, also. And they are very much involved on a day-to-day basis—deserve a ton of credit for this.
M. Levin: Well, we’ll keep an eye on them, too.
D. Long: Okay. Thank you.
M. Levin: Alright Senator. God bless you, my friend.
M. Levin (To Radio Audience): Isn’t that great? And I hope other state Senators and state representatives listening—including in these states that didn’t attend, I don’t think anyone from my home state of Pennsylvania, which is annoying as hell. But some of the other states, too. You need to go. Even if your state is a blue state or purple state or whatever color it is. This is important and ideas matter. And this idea is getting legs. How far it’ll go, I don’t know. But it’s gone further than I thought already, hasn’t it, Mr. Producer?
Yeah, ‘cause people are worried. They’re looking at the federal government—the bloat, the coerciveness, the Obama Care, the Presidency, the court, the commu—it’s a mess! And there is recourse under the Constitution.
I do not speak lightly in saying that this monumental, historic and Constitutional process could well be long-remembered as the salvation of the United States of America. There’s a ways to go yet, but I have great hopes for this.
So, now it’s your turn. Go spread the good news. Help in motivating your fellow-citizens—and by default, your state—to join in our setting aright our federal government. Your voice does matter. You are not powerless. Through the power of Federalism—the power of our several States—you and I can make a difference.
Sources, Notes and Recommended Reading
Sources 5 through 7 refer to other articles in The Power of the States series.
2 Levin, Mark R. The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic, 7/14/13 ed., Threshold Editions, 2014, https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=1451606273, (Retrieved 2013).
3 “The Mark Levin Show.” http://www.marklevinshow.com/, (Retrieved 2013).
4 “The Mark Levin Show.” Mark Interviews Indiana Senate President David Long, 13 Nov. 2013, http://www.marklevinshow.com/2013/11/14/mark-interviews-indiana-senate-president-david-long, (Retrieved 2019).
5 “The Power of the States—Part I.” DLTolleson.com, 12 Jul. 2013, http://www.dltolleson.com/commentary/powerofstates01.php, (Retrieved 2013). http://www.thelighthousepress.com/dltolleson.com/commentary/powerofstates01.php, (Retrieved 2016).
6 “The Power of the States—Part II.” DLTolleson.com, 6 Oct. 2013, http://www.dltolleson.com/commentary/powerofstates02.php, (Retrieved 2014). http://www.thelighthousepress.com/dltolleson.com/commentary/powerofstates02.php, (Retrieved 2016).
7 “The Power of the States—Part IV.” DLTolleson.com, 29 Dec. 2014, http://www.dltolleson.com/commentary/powerofstates04.php, (Retrieved 2014). http://www.thelighthousepress.com/dltolleson.com/commentary/powerofstates04.php, (Retrieved 2016).