Hal Shurtleff, the northeast regional field director for the John Birch Society, issued a warning at a Flag Day rally and Second Amendment celebration earlier this month that Cenk Uygur and other founders of the WolfPAC want to rewrite the Constitution.
“There’s a lot of well-intentioned folks that are frustrated, and they think this is the only solution,” Shurtleff said. “But if the current crop of politicians in Washington, D.C., don’t obey the Constitution now, why would they obey new amendments?”
He then warned his fellow conservatives that their boogieman, George Soros, was funding the progressive effort to alter the Constitution.
“I really can’t point to any one single thing in recent history that makes me proud of these people up there regulating us to death. I see them doing nothing but violating the Constitution we already have, yet they want to amend it, and all of a sudden they’re going to stick to it? When did these people all of a sudden get righteous?”
Later in his speech, Shurtleff warned about “big money” backing the convention. “They said they want to get big money out of politics, (but) I said, ‘Let’s get big money out of the Article V convention,’ like the Koch brothers that support ALEC on the right-wing side and George Soros that supports WolfPAC. Well, they didn’t like that.”
To Shurtleff, elections are better than rewriting the Constitution at a Constitutional Convention. Shurtleff said that every two years there’s a “nonviolent revolution at the ballot box” and that was “the way the founders intended.” He said that if we could get “constitutionalists elected,” we could hold them accountable.
Shurtleff pointed out that there are 24 states that have “active calls” for an Article V convention, some of which are resolutions that date back more than 50 years. He warned that advocates on both sides were looking to impose their extremist views through a revised Constitution, saying:
“They will rewrite our Constitution. Indeed, Mike Farris, who’s the head of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association – he’s done a lot of great work – he’s advocating a 50-member U.S. Supreme Court. That, to me, is not only unreasonable, it’s crazy.”
While progressives have only recently joined the calls for an Article V resolution to help combat the rising tide of corporate neo-feudalism, the mentally warped religious right, deep in the Bible Belt, has been calling for such a convention for some time.
If states did call for an Article V convention, by the rules laid out in the Constitution, each state would send one voting delegate, selected by the state legislators, to vote on amendments. These amendments would then go back to the states for ratification, and once 3/4ths of the states agreed, they would become amendments. Since the ratification process requires three-fourths of the states, radical changes are unlikely. Still, Shurtleff doesn’t seem think these safeguards are enough.
“It still takes 38 states to ratify, and states would never do anything unreasonable,” Shurtleff said, sarcasm lacing his voice. Some audience members chuckled. “There should be laughter, because they do unreasonable things all the time. They don’t need a constitutional convention to do unreasonable things.”
The scary thing here is that Shurtleff is making a degree of sense. While radical changes are unlikely, they’re not highly unlikely. After all, ALEC and their criminal counterparts have arguably had more success at the state level than they have at the federal level; the odds of that cancerous, degenerate organization seeping into an Article V convention like the oil they routinely dump into our drinking water is very high.
Of course, Shurtleff can only make salient, logical points for so long before veering back into what is recognizably Birch Land: after quoting John Adams, he dismissed the claims by Article V proponents that they would simply draft amendments that “could not be misconstrued” by saying that the Second Amendment is abundantly clear.
“Congress shall not infringe. There’s a (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms) – that’s an infringement.”
Phew. Thank goodness; he was starting to make logical, sound points there for a minute and I was getting really worried.
Whether you agree with the Article V convention or not, some of Shurtleff’s worries and warnings are legitimate. Almost all the anti-abortion legislation has been at the state level. All of the minimum wage legislation – good or ill — is at the state level. ALEC has their wretched claws anchored in the flesh all across the American Landscape, influencing the states specifically. It’s naïve to think ALEC will just set back and not pull strings to get delegates of their choosing at the convention. How much pull do the have? Maybe a lot, or maybe none at all. We can’t know unless we try.
It’s a question of if we want to find out. Is stopping our march towards neo-feudalism worth opening the door for a rush on the amendment process by theocratic and corprocratic fascists?
Watch Hal Shurtleff’s rant.