Hillary’s Comments on Convention of States Show She Still Doesn’t Understand Conservatives
Update: Conservative activist Ben Shapiro has added his name to the growing list of COS endorsements.
In a recent interview, Hillary Clinton told Vox’s Ezra Klein that conservatives want to use the Convention of States Project (COS) to “to rewrite our Constitution” with amendments like a balanced federal budget. Such a move “would be disastrous for our country,” she said:
They want radical, pull-‘em-up-by-the-roots change, they want to have a constitutional convention to rewrite our Constitution to make it friendlier to business, to inject religious and ideological elements. So talk about radical change—they are pursuing it, they are funding it, and they are electing people who are either true believers or willing vehicles for it.
Hillary’s basic misunderstanding of American conservativism is characteristic of the rhetoric used by left-wing fundraisers to scare donors with the threat of a right-wing apocalypse. This is deliberately disingenuous, however. The Convention of States Project proposes free market amendments like a balanced federal budget, congressional term limits, and limits on the federal government’s ability to tax and regulate using this mechanism—not injecting “religious and ideological elements” into the U.S. Constitution. And if by “radical change” Clinton means blocking the federal government from adding another $20 trillion to the national debt, perhaps that’s the kind of “radical” change the country needs.
Although there have been 27 amendments added to the document since its ratification in 1789, all have used the same Congress-initiated procedure. Article V of the U.S. Constitution, however, prescribes a second path to a constitutional amendment convention if two-thirds of state legislatures call on Congress. This option has never been used before.
COS was formed in 2013 by conservatives eager to push back against the growth of Big Government with a state-led convention able to create lasting reforms in Washington, D.C.
CRC’s Matthew Vadum has written on the Convention of States Project, covering the project’s goals and explaining how the COS has gained a considerable amount of support from political and scholarly sources despite efforts to paint it as a fringe movement. Among the movement’s more notable supporters are Texas Governor Greg Abbott, syndicated talk show host and Landmark Legal Foundation president Mark Levin, former governor and 2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and former Liberty University Law School Dean Mat Staver. So far, 12 states have adopted a COS resolution. That number would have to reach 34 states before a constitutional convention can be held, and any amendments to the Constitution would require three-fourths, or 38, state legislatures to pass them into law.
COS Project Missouri state director Keith Carmichael told Conservative Review:
Neither party represents the people, but rather outside influences that help them get re-elected, so by calling a Convention of States under Article V, the states can recalibrate the balance between the federal government and return power back to the people—not to mention that a convention of this magnitude would be the biggest civics lesson of our lifetime.
Not every conservative supports this method. The John Birch Society and the late Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum see a convention as unnecessary for reining in Big Government, and fear leftists would coopt it. Schlafly wrote that unlike the original constitutional convention, conservatives today would not be able to keep the proceedings secret from the media, and it would be a “prescription for political chaos, controversy, confrontation, litigation, and judicial activism.”
Opposition on the Left is predictably full of mischaracterizations and fearmongering.
Jacob Sugarman asks in Salon, “Convention of the States: Is a billionaire-funded coup to rewrite the Constitution on the verge of happening?” Sugarman quotes a warning by Wisconsin Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, a Democrat, that “a constitutional convention could put citizens’ very rights ‘up for grabs.’” Scot Ross, executive director of liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now, claims the
balanced budget talk is a fig leaf to let [conservatives] change America into a right-wing alternative universe.
As Vadum shows, leftist hysteria over the proposal of a state-led constitutional convention prompted more than 230 left-leaning groups—many of them labor unions, and led by Common Cause—to sign a letter in opposition to the effort. Karen Hobert Flynn, Common Cause’s president warns in the letter that “there are no rules to limit [conservatives’] influence on what could be brought up once a convention is convened” by the “the wealthy special interests who are funding this push.”
The COS aims to help states take advantage of their constitutional right to bypass Congress when it is too enthralled by political power and spending to limit the growth of federal power. But leftists like Hillary Clinton show they still think that anyone who believes in limited government are part of “a vast right-wing conspiracy.”
Read Capital Research Center’s full report on the Convention of States Project here.
Watch our video on the Convention of States Project here: