A conference of 2,000 conservative and libertarian leaders earlier this year led to a great deal of discussion about using a Convention of the States to amend the Constitution and limit federal power. It’s a herculean task — two-thirds of the states would have to call for the convention, and then three-quarters would have to vote to ratify any amendments the convention submitted. But many called the War of Independence equally impossible — and that turned out pretty well.
Those amendments written by the convention could conceivably include almost anything, but some of the leading ideas included tax reform, a balanced budget and, yes, term limits for senators and representatives.
The conference was organized by John Aglialoro, the man who funded the “Atlas Shrugged” film trilogy and a long-time supporter of the free market. “We can never count on Congress to reform itself or limit its power,” Aglialoro told National Review. “We need to go around Congress to get this done.”
But even if the amendments are never ratified by three-quarters of the states, there could be two excellent reasons to push for a Convention of the States. First, the process itself could be very educational for the American people, reminding them of the debates in which the Founders worked over two hundred years ago to protect individual liberty — and how far the nation has strayed from those values. In doing so, it would also provide a forum for commonsense proposals endorsed by the majority of American voters — like term limits. Second, the mere threat of such a convention could serve as an impetus to Congress to enact some of these changes on their own, something they are highly unlikely to do without strong external motivation.
There are, of course, risks. Sending politicians to such a conference may generate the same sort of lack of reform that we see from Congress. Delegates from liberal states could attempt to add socialist programs to the Constitutions. But there’s risk in doing nothing, too.
And with approval levels for both the president and the Congress in the cellar, now might be the best time to push for solutions that don’t involve the federal government at all.