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Should We Have A Constitutional Convention or Not?

Should We Have A Constitutional Convention or Not?

November 18th, 2014 // 9:49 am @

(The Only Way We’ll Ever Get America Back on Track)

Months ago I wrote an article about competing views on holding a Constitutional Convention to help get America back on track. I listed some of the pros and cons of both views, and asked readers for their thoughts.

Two Surprises

I was surprised by two things: 1) the huge number of responses to my article, and 2) the extremely strong emotions people shared about how we must avoid a Convention at all costs, and, alternatively, how without a Convention America is truly doomed.

I knew people felt strongly about both sides of this issue, but I didn’t realize just how passionately many people feel it.

I got hardly any responses that were lukewarm. Everything was ice-cold hatred of the very topic of a Convention, or boiling-hot support of its absolute necessity. The most interesting thing about this is that pretty much everyone who responded—from both sides—is deeply committed to freedom, to the principles of the Constitution, and to the vital importance of America’s future freedom.

I mentioned in my original article on this topic that I had my own opinion. I read each response carefully and with an open mind to see if anything swayed my views. After reading them all, I remain committed to my original viewpoint. And I’m ready to share it.

The Reality

For those who are adamantly supportive of either side, my thoughts are likely to be frustrating. I see the value of both views. I think a Convention is either a wonderful idea or a terrible idea, and we won’t truly know which until after it is held (if it ever happens, that is). Thus, we should either not hold it at all, or we should hold it but be sure there is a real chance of it doing the right things.

This view isn’t very helpful if your focus is on whether or not to have a Convention. But there is a method to my viewpoint. There is a bigger reality at play here, and too often the people supporting or opposing a Convention don’t realize just how important it is. Let me explain.

One respondent wrote: “Our form of government was made for a moral people…. We need the people to change, not the Constitution!”

Powerful words. I would add two words to make this even more poignant: “Our form of government was made for a moral and wise people…. We need the people to change, not the Constitution!”

This is dead right. Those who oppose a Convention use this to make the case that “Since many of our people and leaders lack morality and wisdom, a Convention will simply throw away the best thing we have going for us—the Constitution.”

In contrast, supporters of a Convention use this same idea to argue: “Our lack of moral and wise people and leaders is causing us to reject more and more of the Constitution with each passing year. If current trends continue, we won’t even be following the Constitution within a few years—not even the little bit we are following now. A Convention is the only chance of fixing this.

“Yes, it might backfire and we’ll lose our freedoms, but without a Convention we’re definitely losing them—and nobody realizes it enough to stop it. At least with a Convention we have a chance to turn things around, and if we don’t, if it makes things worse, at least everyone will know it—openly and immediately.”

Both views have real merit.

But there is a solution. It will work if we have a Convention, and it will work if we don’t have a Convention.

It isn’t easy, but it is possible. It can happen. It will be difficult, but without it we will lose our freedoms—regardless of whether or not we have a Convention.

What is the solution? We need at least 3% of the populace to really understand the Constitution. That’s approximately the percentage of people who actively participated in the American founding. Today we need at least 3% to deeply, truly understand the Constitution and the principles of freedom—at the level Madison and Jefferson and the Americans of their generation understood them.

If that doesn’t happen, a Convention won’t help. Likewise, if it doesn’t happen, avoiding a Convention won’t help either.

We are losing our freedoms. Quickly. Consistently. And much of it is happening in secret, in policies, laws, and programs the public doesn’t bother to read and understand.

But How?

How can we get 3% of the populace to understand the Constitution? Honestly, this is really very simple. There are five books I know of that teach what is needed. A person who reads, studies, and really understands any of the five will know enough to be part of the 3%. The five are:

Of course, reading more than one of them, or even all of them, is better. But really knowing the principles taught in any one of them will make a person part of the 3%. And when 3% or more of the people really know the Constitution, we’ll have enough critical mass to truly influence a return to its principles.

Of course, there are many other good books on freedom. What these five books have in common is that each one provides a comprehensive overview of the freedom principles needed to get our nation back on the right path. And after you read 1-5 of these, read LeaderShift by Orrin Woodward and myself. This book specifically outlines what we need to do to change our governmental structure right now—either through a Convention if one is ever held, or without a Convention by influencing elections and policy.

Whether readers agree or disagree with the principles in these books isn’t the point. What we need is 3% of the people who are seriously thinking and talking about how to apply these principles of freedom in our time. Right now. So, agree or disagree, but get focused on the principles of freedom!

The Only Way We’ll Ever Get America Back on Track

Freedom matters. We are losing it. The loss is rapid and the pace of our national decline is increasing. And there is really only one solution. In the whole history of the world, the regular people have only been free when they have demanded it. Governments don’t just hand it out. Elite classes don’t just gift it to the masses.

In all of history, the only times the people have been free are when they simply insisted on it. And this has only happened—only happened!—when at least 3% of the population really understood the principles of freedom.

That’s it. Period.

If 3% doesn’t understand, we’ll lose our freedoms.

Can a Convention help? Only if at least 3% of the people truly understand the principles of freedom. Can opposing a Convention help? Only if at least 3% truly understand the principles of freedom.

This is true.

This is real.

This is incredibly urgent.

One final thought. A lot more than 3% of the people deeply love freedom. We all need to do whatever we can to help more of them truly understand the principles of freedom. Whether or not we succeed in this endeavor will determine whether our children and grandchildren are free…or not.

*******************

odemille Education Exposed Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah

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12 Comments → “Should We Have A Constitutional Convention or Not?”


  1. Carol Frazier

    2 years ago

    Brilliant.


  2. Randy Stufflebeam

    2 years ago

    Mr. DeMille,

    There are two things that I believe MUST be considered in this discussion. The first has already been touched upon and the second is something that I am honestly a little surprised by your lack of inclusion into this most important of discussions for this country.

    First, the quote about the moral people is an incomplete quote and misses a few VERY important principles, which was included by the person making the original quote. As I know you know, the original statement came from John Adams, the second president of these United States of America.

    “…Because we have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other…”

    There’s also another statement made by John Adams that I believe is equally important (and maybe even more so) than the one mentioned about and that is:

    “Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free Constitution is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People in a greater Measure than they have it now, they may change their rulers and the forms of government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty. They will only exchange Tyrants and Tyrannies.”

    Given this country’s current state of morality and religious propensity, if what Adams has stated is true (and I personal ascribe to the position that he is), the answer is VERY CLEAR about whether we would get a better Constitution or not. IMHO, IT WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE.

    As a part of this discussion, in order to cause people to consider the tenuous position of morality and religion in this country and the connection to our Constitution, on numerous occasions, I have asked this question:

    “If John Adams is right about our Constitution being made for a “moral and religious people, WHOLLY INADEQUATE for the government of any other; and given the current religious condition and mores of the people of these United States of America; is it now time to can the Constitution and come up with something else??” (THE ANSWER TO WHICH OUGHT TO CURDLE YOUR BLOOD!!) Of Course, without exception, so far, everyone has responded with a resounding, NO!!

    To state the issue of religion and morality another way, “It is NOT that the Constitution is in anyway inadequate to deal with governing these United States of America, it is the inadequacy of Americans to be governed by the Constitution because of their irreligious and immoral condition.” In other words, I agree that it is NOT the Constitution that needs to change, but the people.

    Second:

    As if the first point wasn’t bad enough, I believe there is another that is far more important and frightening and that is the point of who is in control.

    If the first point was all we had to contend with, I’d have some hope that a maybe sweeping revival might be enough to keep back the tidal wave of tyranny that we are seeing wash over us. But you and I both know that isn’t the case.

    Given the fact that you wrote the book 1913 (and others), I know that you know that 1913 was the year that tyranny got its foothold in America. I’m also certain that you are also aware that the events that happened in 1913 were well planned out in that secret meeting on Jekyll Island in 1910. I also know that you are aware that the federal reserve that came out of the 1913 passing of the Federal Reserve Act is neither federal nor has a reserve AND that only three of the controlling banks are U.S. banks and the remaining are foreign banks.

    The fact is that even if there was a moral and religious revival to occur (which there absolutely needs to be), THE TYRANNY that got its foothold on America over a hundred years ago, WOULD CONTROL THE OUTCOME OF A CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION.

    For one, consider what happened during the ratification process between 1787 and 1789. The federalists were far more methodical in their approach to win support over to ratifying the Constitution. What would have happened if the Anti-Federalists had been more influential? Certainly, they were able to be enough of an influence that we got the Bill of Rights (THANK GOD!!). It is in my opinion, we’d have a lot more solid Constitution if they had been able to be more influential. I’ve often said it that it appears that the Anti-Federalists were the prophets of their day.

    The point is regardless of what came out of a Constitutional Convention today, who would be the winners of influence?? Based upon what I see with my very eyes, AND THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT POINT. It would NOT be those of the more conservative (and I use this term somewhat loosely) persuasion. I am absolutely certain, that billions upon billions upon billions of dollars would be spent to change the outcome of a Constitutional Convention. Just imagine if those foreigners who already control the lion’s share of the economy in the U.S. had an opportunity to influence the outcome of a Constitutional Convention!!

    If all we had to contend with and concern ourselves with were men and women of these United States of America who not only had great moral and religious principles, but were also men and women of high character value as well, I would still have some concerns about “improving” our Constitution. Of course if America was made up of a majority of those types of people, there would be no need of changing the Constitution. Still, the fact is that the moral and religious condition of our country isn’t the only thing that we would have to contend with in a Constitution Convention, it would be the overwhelming influence of corrupt and foreign influences that are indeed in a major control of U.S. domestic and foreign policy.

    Therefore, I sincerely do NOT see the possibility of being able to reign in the tyranny that is washing over this country by holding a Constitutional Convention. I believe it is only a fantasy fueled by forgetting who is actually in control of this nation, that would lend any belief whatsoever that there could be the possibility of a positive outcome of a Constitutional Convention.

    It is my belief that it is the Constitution that is the dam that keeps back the flood from being able to accomplish its final goal.

    I have one last statement to make and it is my belief that the political answer will never come from the two-party-duopoly that is in control of our country. I believe that if we are going to save our nation, in addition to a sweeping revival, we need to have a MULTI-PARTY-SYSTEM, which would be far more difficult for the powers that be to control.

    As I also know you to believe in the power of entrepreneurialism, I know that you understand that competition is an important principle. Why do we get the best product for the best price?? COMPETITION!! It is the lack of competition in the political arena that allows corruption to prevail and I believe that a multi-party-system would bring back the spirit of competition.

    As you stated about the additional word “wise” to the issue of moral and religious, I would also add the word KNOWLEDGE. The Bible says in Hosea 4:6; “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.” You and I are dedicated to educating people. People must become knowledgeable, before they can become wise. I pray that you and I are successful in our endeavors.

    In any case, I am committed to putting my finger in the hole of the dam, long enough for a sweeping revival to take place and to stand against anything that would allow for the continued proliferation of corruption and for tyranny to prevail.

    Yours in Liberty
    Randy Stufflebeam


  3. John Eberhard

    2 years ago

    I have read two of those books already. One point I didn’t see mentioned clearly in the article which I think is important, is that an important issue today is that some of our leaders are actively working to move away from or destroy the Constitution – to disregard it, interpret it as to change it, to issue judicial rulings that move away from it. There are moves afoot to limit our freedom of speech in various ways, to take away our right to bear arms, limit our freedom of religion, and so on. I think that probably most of the people who fear a convention, fear those people getting control of it.


  4. Camille Dille

    2 years ago

    Awesome! This is why I have started a book club for those I introduce to a COS. Today our nation is enjoying the freedom of the prodigal son. And unfortunately, it is our children who will end up eating from the pig trough. I believe a COS may be sparked by fewer than 3% (Michael Farris is looking for 1/10th of 1%) but once the fire is lit, I believe it will spark the desire for the knowledge of freedom in many others and then we will stand together to ensure that a COS gives us all the freedom we can get! Thank you Oliver, for sparking it in me.


  5. Seth Thompson

    2 years ago

    —Oliver, I couldn’t agree more. I realized this when I heard your speech “Freedom Matters”. It was re kindled when I was present at the follow up speech a year or so later entitled “Ditch Rider”. People do need to know the constitution, and the policies that are enacted in their name. I find that many of the freedom loving people do understand the foundation of the constitution, but that most of them are working so hard just keeping food on the table that they feel that they don’t have the time to really dig into the “fine print”. As I have heard you say before, they also need to become entrepreneurs. We need more “mini-factories”. This is the only way that we are going to get this elusive 3%. We need more people who understand the constitution, and love it, to stand up and purchase their own freedom (financial freedom) {from a job} and by so doing have the time and the resources necessary to actually effect change. Most are willing to complain, but very few have the courage to put their actions where their mouth is. Very few are willing to shake of the shackles of a “secure” job, for the “animated contest of freedom” Most don’t even realize that our entire culture is one of “tranquility of servitude”. It has happened so slowly, and over several generations. And as a result, they are “hardly to be perceived by the less watchful”.
    —The following quotes sum up my feelings well, and though bold and to some degree harsh, the times necessitate that we see things as they are, and stop living in wonderland.
    “…encroachments on the peoples’ liberties are not generally made all at once, but so gradually as hardly to be perceived by the less watchful; and all plaistered over, it may be, with such plausible pretenses, that before they are aware of the snare, they are taken and cannot disentangle themselves.” -Samuel Adams-
    (and)
    “If you love wealth more than liberty, the tranquility of servitude, better than the animating contest of freedom, depart from us in peace. We ask not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains rest lightly upon you and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.” -Samuel Adams-
    —As a result of my feelings on the subject, I suggest one more book to read, and that is “The Leadership Train” by Orrin Woodward.


  6. Alan and Betty Ludlow

    2 years ago

    Keep up the good work!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  7. Chilton miller

    2 years ago

    I dearly love the constitution. Though maybe not enough? It seems to me that the very founding of this nation at the time was a very liberal idea. And the liberal idea won. It also seems through out our nations history liberal ideas have won against the older conservative views. And when most look back they consider the liberal ideas, the better ideas. Those of us who wish to preserve, conserve, and have more freedom are looking back to much when maybe we should look forward. Maybe we should try and be like the founders and create our own style of freedom.


  8. Oliver DeMille

    2 years ago

    Chilton, Good thinking. There are two meanings of “liberal.” One is the classical liberal, meaning “looking for the positive change toward the ideal.” The second is the modern liberal, meaning “change is good.” Big difference. The founders changed, yes, but toward better application of the ideal outlined by all the great freedom thinkers through history. We don’t want to try *anything* new – we want to try a new level of application of the great principles of freedom! ~Oliver


  9. Oliver DeMille

    2 years ago

    Randy, I agree with both points. The first one was made so frequently in the comments by people that I saw no need to address it again. It is vital, but it seems to be well understood – not by society but by the readers of this blog. As for the second item, I totally agree! That’s why the focus must be on the people, not a convention. ~Oliver


  10. Oliver DeMille

    2 years ago

    John, I agree. But when we act out of fear, we will surely lose. That said, we need the people to change; only then should we debate the pros and cons of a convention. ~Oliver


  11. Oliver DeMille

    2 years ago

    Seth, I totally agree!


  12. John Dickinson

    3 months ago

    This is how I understand it:

    Congress (House of Representative and Senate) can propose amendments when 2/3 of both houses agree to the amendment. The congress then proposes the mode of ratification by either the state legislatures or state conventions. If 3/4 of the state legislatures or 3/4 of the state conventions ratify it, then the constitution is amended. The federal government proposes the amendment and the states ratify it. This gives the power to the states to approve or disapprove an amendment proposed by the federal government.

    When 2/3 of the state legislatures apply to Congress to call a convention to propose amendments, Congress will call a national convention. The national convention would consist of representatives selected by the state legislatures. The congress then proposes the mode of ratification by either the state legislatures or state conventions. If 3/4 of the state legislatures or 3/4 of the state conventions ratify it, then the constitution is amended. The states propose the amendment and the states ratify it. This gives the power to the states to approve or disapprove an amendment proposed by the states.

    The state convention delegates would be selected by the state legislatures in both scenarios.

    To me, it seems like too many people are concerned with the letter of the law versus the spirit of the law. One method for proposing amendments involves the federal government proposing the changes. The other method involves the states proposing the changes. No matter which method is used, the states have to approve the changes. This is a check and balance on the powers of the federal government versus the states. We haven’t had an amendment in 45 years (not counting #27 which took 202 years to be ratified in 1992)

    Regardless if we should have a state proposed convention or not, the ability to do so is in the constitution. If people are against the methods in Article V, then they should get Congress to propose a new amendment to change Article V.

    If all else fails, I have guns, ammo, gold, silver, food, water, a sailboat, and I know who wins everything in the end!


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