When a bully’s bluff is called, maybe, just maybe, doing so works in favor of the one being bullied. Democrats, independents and progressives might be able to take the bully by the horn and turn the constitutional convention Republicans clamor for so to their advantage. Wouldn’t that be special!
Former Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn appeared in Columbus on Tuesday to push for the standard set of proposals Republicans want to include in a convention to adjust the U.S. Constitution. A state’s right guy, through and through, Mr. Coburn wants to shrink the federal government down so far that, as Grover Norquist has become famous for saying, “we can drown it in the bathtub.” The federal government is never going to fix its problems on its own, Mr. Coburn said, citing the GOP’s top two favorite fantasies: term limits for federal officials and a forced balanced federal budget.
For fans of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the governor would be on-board this train in a Columbus minute. Mr. Kasich has gained wealth and fame from defaming the federal government over his nearly 40 years in professional politics. Like others of his political ilk, Mr. Kasich ran for president last year carrying a debt-clock as a prop at his town hall meetings, pointing to it and whining about how high it is. And he should know how budgets can create deficits since he voted for each of President Reagan’s budget busting bills that put his exorbitant build up in defense spending in the 1980s on the national credit cards.
In a fever to reach the magic number of 34 states needed to call for a Convention of States under Article V of the Constitution, Coburn and Kasich see the time as right, now that Republicans control 33 legislatures, including Ohio’s. Mr. Coburn noted that Arizona, a reliably Republican state, became the ninth and most-recent state to pass the resolution this week.
“Our founders intended the federal government to be small and limited, and they intended the states to be big and determine everything else,” Coburn, who may not know who Alexander Hamilton was and why he fought for a central federal government, said. “You in Ohio don’t have the power to control your future, because it’s in the hands of the federal government,” the former senator said. It’s quite possible that he doesn’t understand that it’s the quality of the person sent to Washington, not clauses in the constitution, that can do the right thing for the nation.
Republicans believe that only issues they want changed in the constitution will be addressed at the convention they are pushing for. They would be wrong – very wrong to think that. Should a convention be called, any and all issues could be brought up, and the final result might be very different than they expected.
Maybe, just maybe, such a convention would eliminate the no-longer relevant Electoral College since it’s an idea from a bygone age that has no relevance today; maybe the popular vote becomes the standard to win the White House.
Maybe health care becomes a right and not a privilege, as Republicans today think of it.
Maybe federal voting laws for federal offices becomes the standard, so some states that pass voting laws designed to suppress or discriminate against certain populations won’t affect elections for officials going to Washington.
Maybe the president’s power to go to war is limited by a majority vote in congress.
Maybe unions and workers are protected from unfair labor practices, or minimum and maximum wage limits, or even income tax rates, are set.
Maybe political parties are banned from running elections as they do now, in favor of a neutral, independent, trained elections workforce
Maybe national elections are held over two special federal holidays for this purpose, instead of one day, the first Tuesday in November.
Maybe for-profit charter schools are outlawed.
And the list of changes Republicans might recoil at goes on.
Some say the system today allows for elected officials to voted out of office if they don’t do what their constituents want. Others say it’s up to states to cage Washington so it can be tamed. The federal government can’t fix itself, is a popular platitude for anti-government Republicans, including the new breed of Trump Republicans. Then again, states can’t seem to fix themselves, either.
Could a constitutional convention that makes radical changes be just what the doctor ordered?
Democrats, independents and progressives should organize and arm themselves for the Armageddon that would follow, were such a meeting ever to occur. Doing so, just might call the bullies bluff. And we all know how bullies hate to have their bluff called.