The Constitution's weapon of last resort
Reagan Democrats are with Trump today, driven to this extremity by Bush Republicans. These kinder and gentler, compassionate "conservatives" have not only refused to secure our border against millions of illegals, but conspired with Democrats to pass the so-called Civil Rights Act of 1991, which overturned a series of Supreme Court cases that had refused to recognize claims of racial discrimination based on nothing more than statistics. In passing this bill, Congress created the pernicious doctrine of "disparate impact," and for 25 years, non-discriminatory employment practices have been under legal attack if they result in a work force too white. A Republican president, named Bush, signed this concept into law. This treachery was never forgotten by working-class whites.
For a time, Bush 1 stood firm, threatening a veto. But in an incident reported only by National Review, Alaskan RINO Ted Stevens stormed into the White House, demanding that the veto threat be lifted. Bush caved, and the white working class was betrayed. When Clinton had his "Sister Souljah" moment the next year, they saw in him someone who at least had a minimal amount of courage when confronted by black racism, and the Republicans lost the presidency.
Stevens had failed in Alaska at enshrining racial discrimination in the Alaska Constitution in 1987, and Alaska has been a solid red state since. But he succeeded at the national level, and the seed of the Trump vote was planted. The rights of one group – whites – would have to be sacrificed to appeal to another group – blacks. The repudiation of the Reagan legacy party would continue with Bush 2, ruining the Republican brand by overseas adventurism, expansion of the welfare state, and a domestic spending binge.
Bush Republicans, along with Trump, are big-government conservatives, meaning they're not conservatives at all. They're the Fortune 500 Republicans, happy to use the powers of the federal Leviathan to feather their own nests. At least 80% of congressional Republicans are beholden to big business and are unwilling to stand with the working men and women of this country. They won't fight for much, although their corporate masters do oppose higher taxes on themselves. That's about all they're not willing to bend on.
The failure of the Cruz candidacy and the continuation of Boehnerism (a form of Bushism) in the person of Paul Ryan mean that the only politically practicable way of getting the federal government under control is from the ground up. Congress, regardless of which party is in the majority, is controlled by powerful special interests who profit from the system as it is. The Supreme Court, in upholding Obamacare, has demonstrated that it will not stand in the way of the expansion of federal power.
So we're down to Article V, our last resort, the emergency brake crafted by the Framers for precisely the situation we find ourselves in. Republican state legislators are the last bastion of Reagan conservatives, and they are slowly beginning to understand the role the Framers gave them in our federalist system. Texas governor Greg Abbott is prepared to help provide the leadership of an Article V movement with his Texas Plan, nine proposed constitutional amendments that, together, would restore limited and constitutional government. One of them, the Balanced Budget Amendment, has 28 of the required 34 state resolutions. If six more states are added, the first Amendment Convention in American history will convene to draft the language of a BBA.
Seven states whose legislatures are under complete Republican control have not passed the Article V BBA Resolution: Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Arizona, Wisconsin, Virginia, and South Carolina. Unless 2016 is a Democratic landslide, all should remain Republican in 2017, with the possible addition of Kentucky.
Because no Amendment Convention has been held in our history, some state legislators hesitate to support Article V, fearful of a runaway convention. The John Birch Society and, under Phyllis Schlafly, the Eagle Forum have led the resistance to Article V. In order to allay these concerns, the Assembly of State Legislatures was formed and will meet in Philadelphia on June 16 to adopt a set of proposed rules for the convention to operate under. Most important is the principle of one state, one vote, one amendment. Every state has an equal vote, and only the subject matter contained in the call for the convention can be considered.
Regardless of the outcome of the presidential election, Congress, under either party, will not make the reforms we so urgently need. These reforms will only come from the states, and the people, using the Constitution's last resort: Article V.
Fritz Pettyjohn was chairman of Reagan for President, Alaska 1979-80, and blogs daily at ReaganProject.com.