Guest Commentary: The Tree of Liberty solution

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, September 22, 2021

By Wayne Goodnature

The atmosphere both in Congress and throughout the country is one of extreme division. Blood has already been shed more than once, and most certainly we have not seen the end. The Jan. 6 assault on the capital seemed without purpose or design with no end game or even the suggestion of what to do next, just destruction and anger! Some of our citizens explode with anger often over seemingly minor provocations. Is our collective anger reaching the point of some kind of major public rebellion and why?

The public exasperation with the government that plagues us seems to originate over the dysfunction of all portions of our government. The lack of fiscal restraint. The Congress being unable or unwilling to conduct the people’s business for one reason or the other. The president executing powers that he does not have. Supreme Court and federal court nominations, often to lifetime appointments, due largely to their political leanings. Flaws in how we elect our congressional representatives. The courts make laws rather than interpreting them. Legislation being favored or unfavored based on who contributes the most money. The promise that “all of us are created equal” and the failure of that promise.

A constitutional convention could address many of the issues that are currently jeopardizing our republic. Article 5 of the constitution was designed to help change the constitution if need be. The process of changing the constitution is very daunting. There are a few methods for amending our constitution. The first requires that 2/3 of the Congress has to vote for it. The amendments they propose would then have to be ratified by ¾ of the states. All 27 of our current amendments were passed in this fashion. The second method requires 2/3 of states to call for a constitutional convention, essentially bypassing Congress. They can propose amendments whether the Congress agrees with them or not. It takes ¾ of the states to then ratify the amendments. All amendments in effect thus far were passed by the first method; however, expecting 2/3 of our current congress to agree on anything would be unrealistic, thus the states calling for a constitutional convention seems more practical. It seems there is only hope.

There is considerable support for changing the constitution. Currently, 28 states have signed on to a “balance the budget” amendment. Twelve states are calling for a convention that would address multiple issues mainly limiting the federal government powers, fiscal restraint, and term limits. A third effort signed onto by five states wants to affect campaign financing and overturn the Citizen United (campaign financing) case. It is somewhat hopeful that states are attempting to find solutions because our Congress is not.

The call for a constitutional convention will be opposed by many, but my support lies with the hope that like the first one, it will succeed. We are currently racing down the road of insurrection, potential anarchy, or civil war with far greater loss of life than the north against the south. This time it will be neighbor against neighbor, father against son, city against city, state against state, with an untold amount of injury and loss of life. We will not be fighting with muskets and swords, but with modern weapons that are capable of enormous injury or death. It is impossible to believe that our country could survive such an ugly war. No matter the risks, a constitutional convention should be given a chance to succeed.

If any of you believe the original constitutional convention was easy, you would be sadly mistaken. The country at the time was nearly as divided as we are now. Our founding fathers felt the new country might be on the verge of collapse. The constitutional delegates were originally charged with the task of strengthening the “Articles of Confederation.” They created an entire new country, a constitution that has been the document that has helped us survive as a free people. It gave us a set of rules we could enforce with the rule of law and guarantee freedoms that very few people worldwide enjoy. It divided the government into three branches with checks and balances that were to be implemented to ensure that no one branch could overpower the others. As our forefathers insisted, the constitution left considerable power to the states.

The most important part is the Preamble, “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our prosperity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Those words have always been goals as Americans. Before you decide on the legitimacy of this essay, ask yourself first: Do you agree with the goals of the preamble? Second, do you think we are getting closer to accomplishing those goals or further away? What should be the course of action?