It will convene in the elegant chambers of the host, the Tennessee House of Representatives. It will be gavelled in by Speaker Beth Harwell, seated high above the floor on her podium. Hers will be the face of the Convention, and she could not be more perfect. She’s an attractive and gracious Southern lady, well spoken, and accustomed to the requirements of presiding over the 99 member House.
After she calls the Convention to order she will call the roll, alphabetically. The head of the Alabama delegation will identify himself as a delegate chosen by the Alabama Legislature to represent it at the Convention. He may want to say a few words, explaining why Alabama chose to attend the Convention. Then Alaska, and through the 50 States. Some States may have chosen not to send a delegation. The TV audience in that State will wonder why.
On the display screen which normally displays the names of the 99 member House, and how they are voting, the names of the States will be listed instead. When Alabama identifies itself, a green light will appear after its name, the same for Alaska, and on through the roll. The light next to the names of States not attending will remain dark.
All of this will be observed by people across the country. No one has ever heard of a Convention of States, and people will be curious. This is an historic meeting, with serious business to attend to. Its success will be, above all, in how it is perceived by the public. It must all be scripted in advance, to maintain order and decorum. In one sense, it is political theater. How does it all look?
The audience, for the very first time, will see how the Framers envisioned the country. It was a union of the sovereign States, and when assembled they have a higher authority than Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court put together. This Convention is for the purpose of agreeing on the forms and procedures to be used in exercising that authority. It will set the rules, and agree on the procedures for the Article V Balanced Budget Amendment Convention, which is expected to be held later in the year. It will also recommend to Congress where that Amendment Convention should be.
The first piece of business is the election of a Speaker of the Convention. Another delegate from Tennessee, probably from the Senate, will call for nominations. If someone, for some megalomaniacal reason, wants to replace Speaker Harwell in the Chair, they’ll have to explain why. It’s her chamber, she belongs in the Chair. She’s perfectly competent to do the job. She’s presided over the Tennessee House for six years. She can handle it, and she’ll be fair. So what’s the problem?
A floor leader, probably a Tennessee Senator, will then make a motion that a Committee on Committees be appointed. Or all this may have been agreed on beforehand. As long as 26 States can agree in advance on something, it will happen. I don’t see any reason why Tennessee should not lead this Convention Majority. All the western and southern States would support it, and that’s almost 26 right there. If this ad hoc coalition can be formed, it can decide on everything in advance, and the Convention itself will be largely ceremonial..That’s the way it should work. There’s really not much to disagree on.
And when it adjourns it will have accomplished its purpose if it has conducted itself in an orderly and polite manner. This will be the first of many such meetings, and we want the audience coming back.
They will be seeing the Constitution in action.