When Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) retired, he joined the Convention of States Project as a senior adviser. If you want to know how serious an endeavor this is, Breitbart informs us that, “Additional high profile supporters of the effort include, Sarah Palin, national radio talk show host Mark Levin, former U. S. Ambassador to the European Union C. Boyden Gray, Col. Allen West, Mike Huckabee and Governor Bobby Jindal.”
So to put it bluntly, Coburn is walking hand in hand with such intellectual giants as Sarah Palin, who took to Facebook in February to support the movement, and the man who put stupid back into the Republican Party, Bobby Jindal, who offered his own endorsement back in November of 2014. You can add Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity to the list of supporters.
By now, you probably already realize nothing good can come out of this scheme, because there are no good intentions behind it. Republicans are supporting using Article V of the Constitution not to propose amendments to the Constitution, but to destroy the government.
On March 16, Coburn wrote at the project’s website that, “I have joined the Convention of States Project because I believe it is our last, best hope for restoring our republic. I cannot sit idly by as my grandchildren’s future is bankrupted by an irresponsible, unaccountable and unrestrained government that was originally — and brilliantly — designed to protect their liberty.”
Which is why the GOP wants to sell the federal government to the Koch brothers? We have yet to see any evidence at all that the GOP is concerned with anyone’s liberty unless that person is one of them. And we call that tyranny, in point of fact.
Calling it a “means to smite the federal Leviathan,” Tom Coburn penned an op-ed for The Washington Times on February 24, claiming that “Our national soul is being corrupted by Washington’s and unconstitutional overreach.” As a response to this overreach, Coburn wrote that,
Our Founders anticipated the federal government might get out of control at some point, and they gave us a constitutional mechanism to rein it in. It’s called a Convention of the States, outlined in Article V of the Constitution.
Article V reads,
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.
Coburn claimed that, “Although I am a proud conservative, this is not a partisan issue.” It is, however. The Founding Fathers distrusted government, but they came to realize that the absence of a strong central government was the greater threat to the new nation, and as a result, they gave us the United States Constitution.
And a strong central government. With the ability to tax. And to regulate. And to raise the standing army they had always feared. As Coburn said, the Founding Fathers were brilliant. They learned from their mistakes.
Coburn, being far less brilliant, seems to want to go back to the Articles of Confederation. These did not work in the immensely less complex 18th century. How they are expected to work better now amid the complexities of the modern, interconnected global marketplace, are anybody’s guess. Wishful thinking won’t get it done.
Though Coburn is no doubt right in saying that “Politicians and bureaucracies in Washington, D.C. will never voluntarily relinquish meaningful power — no matter who is elected,” that doesn’t mean a weak federal government is the answer. That fight ended in 1789 with the ratification of the Constitution.
Yet Coburn claimed in his op-ed that, “If there is one thing Americans have always agreed on it’s that government functions best when decisions are made closest to the people. Only through a Convention of States may the clear, unfettered voice of the people be heard and overreaching government be reined in.”
This is an interesting claim, given that what Republicans seem to want to offer us in place of a strong federal government that we control through elections, is a privatized corporate government that does not answer to us but to a board of electors we do not and cannot elect.
Even so, he wrote,
This is a movement whose time has come. In 26 states, citizens are working through their state legislatures to file applications to convene a Convention of States, and three others — Florida, Georgia and Alaska — have already passed the legislation necessary to move the process forward.
Coburn appeared as a guest on Focal Point yesterday and advanced the argument to the American Family Association’s official ambassador of hate, Bryan Fischer. After giving Coburn the opportunity to say nobody in Washington is interested in getting “serious about deficit reduction and control of the federal budget,” Fischer moved on to Coburn’s support for a Convention of States.
(You will have to watch the video (discussion of the Convention of States starts at the 5:09 mark) at https://vimeo.com/122672916 because its privacy settings do not allow us to embed it here)
Fischer: Let’s talk about what this convention of states would look like, what is it, what it would look like and how far along are we to seeing that happen?
Coburn: There is a constitutional way to fix our – Article V of the Constitution gives a way for the states to call a Convention of States. It’s in the constitutional convention. It’s not about a runway, its about what do you need to change to rebalance the liberty, freedom and authority the states were intended to have when the states created the federal government…They put in Article V that says 34 states or three-quarters…I mean two-thirds, decide they want to have a convention of states and they pass identical requests, then they can, nobody can stop that, and there will be a Convention of States with each state sending a delegation of whatever that state decides they want to send. And nothing comes out of that that that isn’t in the original request for the Convention of States. And the one that’s been filed in fourteen states says we request a convention of states to limit the scope, power and jurisdiction of the federal government, to create a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution and to put term limits on members of congress. And anything outside of that cannot be considered.
Fischer: So this specifically would be about a balanced budget and term limits and nobody would be able to introduce anything else into that convention. So you’re saying –
Coburn: It would introduce things that would limit the power of the federal government, which would mean, does the FDA and the EPA now have the ability to tell you how long of a shower you will take in a hotel. No. We all know that, but that’s what they’re getting ready to do with their proposed ruling that came out this week. So the whole idea is the limit the scope, limit the jurisdiction, and limit the sovereignty of the federal government and restore it to what it was.
So let’s put this in perspective: Coburn is saying it’s wrong to tell people how long a shower they can take, but it’s okay to take away their health insurance and let them die. It’s okay to poison their water, air, and food, but it’s not okay to limit showers.
Coburn ended his February op-ed with the cry that, “This battle is just beginning. It’s time to rein in Washington and return power to where it rightfully belongs — with the people,” but there is no evidence that it is to the people the GOP wants to return power. They can’t, when they’ve sold their souls to the Kochs.
Rather, they want to give the power currently held by the federal government to corporations, over which, as I have pointed out, the people have no control. The people do have some control over the federal government through elections, but no American outside of a member of a board of directors, has any control over a corporation. Unless it’s the federal government through its power to regulate. A power the Convention of States Project wants to eliminate.
Then we can celebrate our new found freedom from our own power (now handed over to corporations) by drinking poisonous water, breathing poisonous air, eating contaminated food, and a complete lack of healthcare to keep us alive. Those lucky enough to die will have earned a well-deserved freedom of the grave. The survivors will be condemned to corporate serfdom under the not-so benign ownership of the Kochs and their minions.