How to Make Mark Levin's Vision of Constitutional Reform a Reality
Mark Levin, the well-known constitutionalist talk show commentator, has written still another very good book. This book, called the Liberty Amendments, is essentially an operator's manual on how constitutionalists in America might restore constitutional government while bypassing the entrenched federal interests in Washington DC.
Levin's strategy lies in taking advantage of Article 5 of the US Constitution that gives the power to the states to call a convention, propose amendments, send the amendments out to the state legislatures for passage and all the while, the states can completely ignore the powers in Washington DC. (See Thomas Lifson's book review.) Levin provides a list of suggested amendments which, if passed, would force the federal government to reverse its century old expansion of federal power and gradually restore a more balanced form of constitutionalist government that the Founders originally intended.
But there is a serious risk in Levin's strategy that lies in the phrase "Article 5 convention." Never in American history have the states invoked their Article 5 powers --and for good reason. State legislators have always been afraid that such a national convention might slip from their control and become a "rogue convention." Constitutionalists in particular conjure up the nightmare image of statist progressive convention delegates pushing through an agenda that would shred what is left of the protections of the original Constitution. If you bring up the subject of an Article 5 convention to most state officials, you can see their minds close faster than they can blink. If you don't believe me try it yourself on your own state assemblyman and witness for yourself the reflexive pavlovian reaction.
In the real world of flesh and blood humans, I fear that Levin will not gather enough support even from his own constitutionalist allies who admire him greatly. Levin himself should understand this, for he also once opposed an Article 5 convention, and I suspect the only reason he has changed his mind is that he is desperate for a solution that is not dependent on the cooperation of the status quo contented Republicans residing in their plush neighborhoods in Washington DC.
But fortunately for Levin (and us all), there is a solution to the runaway convention problem, and his "natural allies" could find reason to hop on his Article 5 bandwagon. There is a group based in Washington DC of highly influential constitutionalists who call themselves the Madison Coalition and who have found a workable solution to afford states the right to propose single Constitutional amendments while avoiding the dangers of a runaway convention. The first article in the nation to report on the Madison Coalition was published on these pages. Very briefly, the Coalition's strategy is to first have the states draft carefully crafted legislation that would eliminate the possibility of the delegates in an Article 5 convention from "going rogue."
Levin's hopes and dreams expressed in his latest book fit seamlessly with the Coalition's objectives. With the publication of the book and the description of the book on his radio show, Levin has provoked constitutionalist activists across the country to consider turning their firepower away from the national Congress and onto the state legislatures.
The Coalition provides the structure to direct those energies. Since the publication of the original article in the American Thinker, the state of Indiana has enshrined the Coalition's plan of action into state law. Other states are in the pipeline and are sure to follow. The Coalition is now in a phase where it is ready to ramp up its efforts with the help of grassroots activist support. The Coalition can identify the key legislators in the key committees in the most promising states across the country. Madison Laws like the legislation passed in Indiana have already been written and proposed in many state assemblies and require concentrated activist support to force them out of committee and through their respective legislatures.
In short, Mark Levin with his massive reach to the activist community could not have written a more timely book. Levin's brilliant strategy of using Article 5 of the Constitution combined with the Coalition's strategy to neutralize the fear of a runaway convention is, perhaps, America's best hope of inching back toward the kind of constitutional government that once was the hallmark of that country's greatness.
Jeffrey W. Barrett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org