Share Tweet

David Swanson Gets It

One of the great American political thinkers and writers is David Swanson. He has written a number of first rate books. His new one is Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union. Swanson becomes one of the most prominent and highly respected political analysts to endorse and support what very few Americans have any awareness of. There is an important opportunity in the US Constitution that has never been used. It was put there because those who wrote the Constitution anticipated the day when Americans would lose confidence in their federal government.

That day surely has arrived, especially when it comes to Congress that deserves little respect by Americans. Money and corruption rules Congress. It no longer serves public interests because members of Congress are routinely bought by moneyed special interests, especially all sorts of corporate interests.

A kind of solution is offered in Article V of the US Constitution which presents a path to amending the Constitution by creating a convention of state delegates that would have the power to propose constitutional amendments. All current constitutional amendments originated by proposals made by Congress. It is now inconceivable that Congress would ever propose amendments that would deeply reform the nation's political and government system, such as by removing all forms of private spending that corrupts politicians. The answer is the Article V convention. But the men who wrote the Constitution made one mistake. They gave Congress the authority to convene a convention, which it has refused to do, even though the one and only requirement for a convention explicitly stated in Article V has long been satisfied. In fact, there have been over 750 state applications from all 50 states, far more than the two-thirds of states required.

Like me, Swanson has long made great cases for major, substantive reforms of 's political and government system. But exactly how can real reforms happen when the political system has been so corrupted by moneyed interests? Swanson has come to believe in the opportunity for reform offered by the Article V convention option. This is what he says in his new book:

"At this point of crisis, in the midst of economic and political turmoil, we are in need of serious change. I think we should seriously consider working to move two-thirds of the states, through their legislatures or through state conventions, to call a new constitutional convention as one of several approaches to reforming our government. It's about time we made the first use of a tool that has been sitting there gathering dust in Article V for over two centuries!

In fact, a group called Friends of the Article V Convention has documented at least 754 applications already filed with Congress by the states (at least one from each of the fifty states) calling for a convention. But only four states have taken this action since the year 2000. Some combination of the following may be required to make a convention actually happen: new applications must be grouped within a short period of time from two-thirds of the fifty states, public pressure must be placed on Congress, or lawsuits must be brought against Congress by the states. The states' applications need not be identical in language or raise the same topics or propose the same amendments. But our goal should be to propose and pass at the convention a group of amendments that accomplishes comprehensive reform."

To be honest, I am one of the co-founders of the Friends of the Article V Convention organization; the only national group with the sole mission of making Congress obey the Constitution and give Americans its first Article V convention. We are a nonpartisan membership group with a totally diverse group of members from all over the political spectrum and from all parts of the country. Our website presents many informative materials, including the only place where you can access all of the state applications for a convention, something Congress has never done.

1,636 - 6 - 0 - US
Joel S. Hirschhorn has succeeded as: a full professor, University of Wisconsin, Madison; a senior staffer, U.S. Congress (Office of Technology Assessment); head of an environmental consulting company; Director of Environment, Energy and Natural Resources, National Governors Association; now an author and consultant. Recent books are: Sprawl Kills - How Blandburbs Steal Your Time, Health and Money, and Delusional Democracy - Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government. He has published hundreds of articles in newspapers, magazines, journals and on many web magazine sites. He has given hundreds of talks at a wide range of conferences worldwide. He focuses on American culture, politics and government, and health issues.