L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 134, August 13, 2001
Call to Action!
Take Back Your Country: A Manifesto in Three parts
by Chris Goodwin
Special to TLE
Part I: Why
"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 posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." -- the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America
The Constitution is the basis for our system of government. It is an agreement, or a contract, among we the people. It is the supreme law of the land (according to Article VI). Its terms are absolute and not subject to negotiation.
But something has happened. Our government, which is supposed to act in accordance with the Constitution, has become corrupt. Absolute prohibitions are seen as mere guidelines, and are ignored whenconvenient, or when to do so is seen as a good idea, or when to do so feels good.
This is wrong. The purpose of the Constitution is not to make us feel good, or to be convenient. The purpose of the Constitution is to "secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity". The blessings of liberty. The ability to think, and do, and speak, and read, as one pleases, without harming others.
According to another manifesto of freedom, our rights are inherent in us, granted to us by the Creator (or if, as I don't, you don't hold with religion, our rights are inherent in us by our nature as human beings). "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness".
Our rights are unalienable. God Himself has granted us our rights, and man may not take them away. They may not be taken away, only violated.
And man has violated them, in spades. "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." Infringed it has been, 20,000 times at last count. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." Congress has made many such laws.
There have been many petitions for redress of grievances. Many of these go unanswered or unaddressed. Congress has become unresponsive to the needs and the will of we the people. Most of its energy goes toward catering to special interests or toward becoming re-elected.
We the people bear some of the responsibility for the current situation. It is our right and duty to take the government to task when it acts in such a manner. Yet we have been silent. Many ask for legislation that sounds like a good idea, or feels good, but the law of unintended consequences ensures that any such laws are destructive of our liberty.
This situation is intolerable and must change.
The framers of the Constitution knew something that we have forgotten: the greatest liberty yields the greatest good. You can do more for people by getting out of their way and guaranteeing them the freedoms granted them by nature and nature's God than by passing feel good laws that address the short term at the expense of the long term, then passing more laws to solve the problems caused by the first ones, then repeating the process.
My friends, it is time for us to take back our government. It is our right and our sacred duty, left untended for far too long. We have the power to do it. The question is, do we have the will?
Part II: What
"But what can we do? Surely you're not suggesting revolution?"
No, I'm not suggesting revolution. I still feel that the Constitution can be saved, or I wouldn't be writing this. Like I said, we have the power to do so. I am suggesting a constitutional convention.
Yes, a constitutional convention. Hear me out.
Article V governs amending the Constitution. It states, in part, "The Congress, [...] 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 [...]" If the legislatures of two thirds of the states petition Congress for a constitutional convention, Congress shall call one.
The fear among many is that we could end up with a runaway constitution, with carte blanche to rewrite or even destroy those parts of the Constitution that guarantee our liberty. Not so. For starters, any changes must be ratified by the legislatures of, or conventions in, three fourths of the states; at current count that's 37.
37 states would be required to buy into any terrible infringement of our liberties that could come about as a result of a runaway convention. The likelihood of this happening is far less than that of our succeeding in our venture.
And let me reassure you further. If a convention could run away with the Constitution, then Congress could do so as well. Read Article V again: "The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution ..." Congress, if it had the support of two thirds of both houses, could go into "amendment mode" and propose as many amendments as it had the will to. Couldn't it? If it did, it would still need to get past 37 states.
(Yeah, I know. We need to get our changes past 37 states as well. That's where you come in. Keep reading.)
We can call a constitutional convention. As I have said, we have the power. I believe we have the will, or I wouldn't be writing this. It can be done. All we need to do is do it.
Part III: How
How can we do this? How can we take back a government that has been out of our hands for far too long?
Twenty-four states in the U.S. have in their constitutions a process known as the initiative. In the initiative process, citizens can submit a petition (on paper, not the Internet kind) to their state legislature proposing legislation. If enough signatures are collected, the proposed legislation goes directly to the voters to be voted on in the next general election. If more people vote yes than no, the legislation becomes law.
I am proposing a grassroots effort, in the states that have the initiative process, to collect signatures on petitions to pass the following:
When (not if) the petition is successful, the voters will vote. And when it passes, the state's legislature will apply to Congress to call a convention. And when 34 states in total call for a convention, one will happen.
Why did I choose the right to keep and bear arms? Besides the fact that the Second Amendment is my favorite of the Bill of Rights (except for the other nine), and besides the fact that I am one, gun owners are our natural constituency. Gun owners are the ones who will be best able to preserve our rights. If you are reading this, odds are you are a gun owner yourself. Once we are successful in this, we work on the others of the Bill of Rights in a similar fashion.
I mentioned above that twenty-four states have the initiative process. That leaves twenty-six that don't, and a requirement to get at minimum ten more states on our side. In the states that do not have the initiative process, our grassroots organizers will work to submit our above legislation directly to the legislative assemblies of those states. They will also ensure a steady barrage of letters, phone calls, faxes, and e-mails directly to our state legislators.
This is where you come in. We need your help. If you own a gun, we need you. It doesn't matter if you collect guns, target shoot, hunt, or own a gun to protect your family and yourself. We need you. This isn't something that "someone else" will do -- if you are reading this, you are "someone else". We need people who are willing to help us put together a nationwide organization. We need people who will help pound the pavement and get petition signatures. We need people who will write letters. We need people who can and will be part of an organization of this magnitude.
If you are reading this, we need you.