The Trump Republican coalition is shaky, full of contradictions, with much of its success due to Hillary Clinton’s shortcomings. Republican strength in State Legislatures is at a high water mark not seen since Calvin Coolidge, and the normal midterm swing against the President’s party means further gains in 2018 are doubtful. It’s possible that full Republican control of the Maine and Washington Legislatures could come in 2018, but it’s probably more likely that we suffer losses, as happened last year in Nevada and New Mexico. It may be now or never for Article V.
California Democrats are rediscovering the merits of federalism, but it’s a passing fancy. The Progressive movement is wedded to a strong federal government, and is intolerant of political diversity. Conservatives are, or should be, willing to let California have its abortion on demand, gay and LGBT rights, and relaxed attitude toward immigration. But today’s left has a strong authoritarian streak, and allowing pro-life South Dakota to restrict abortions is intolerable. Since Article V’s appeal is all about federalism, it doesn’t really work for the left. We really can’t count on any legislative chamber controlled by Democrats, now or in the future.
So it’s no coincidence that the next three months, from now until May Day, are critical for both the Trump administration and the Article V movement. If Trump is going to be a success, he’s got to deliver the goods. And if the BBA Task Force is ever going to get to 34, it may have to happen this year, or next at the latest. For some State Legislators, such as in Idaho, voting for an Article V Resolution carries political risk. The threat of being primaried by a Bircher is real. It will be easier to get these votes in 2017 than it will be in 2018, when elections loom.
Minnesota and Virginia, on the other hand, may be easier in 2018, if they’re needed. Without them, we need to run the table in Wyoming, Idaho, Wisconsin, Arizona, Kentucky and South Carolina. If that fails, and we go into 2018 needing another State, it may get down to one of them.
Rep. Jerry Hertaus is leading our campaign in Minnesota, and is doing everything right. He’s arranged with House and Senate leadership for a light floor schedule on Feb. 6th, and expects a very strong turnout for a seminar that will include presentations by our Bill Fruth and Dave Guldenschuh. Many of these legislators are unfamiliar with Article V and the BBA, and all their questions can be addressed. But we’ve learned through bitter experience that the learning curve on Article V can be lengthy. We only have a one vote margin in the State Senate, and there are a few who may require another year of education on the subject. And if Minnesota is going to be number 34, putting the spotlight on it in 2018 may be needed to go over the top.
The Virginia Senate, unlike the House of Delegates and the Governor, is not up for election in 2017. We have a 21-19 split, and it will be the same next year. Speaker of the House Bill Howell is a strong Article V man, but he has no influence in the Senate, which seems, to an outsider, almost as bizarre as the South Carolina Senate. But we may get a Republican Governor in the November 7th election, and if he’s willing to push the issue, he should be able to command the attention of the Senate. Nothing else seems to interest them.
You never, ever, give up, but if we don’t get a Balanced Budget Amendment with the current political alignment, we may not get it done at all. Even then, all the progress which has been made would not go to waste. Unlike the BBA, which should be bipartisan but isn’t, the term limits movement has a lot of Democratic as well as Republican support. With the boogie man of a runaway convention pretty well disposed of by the BBA Task Force, it could be the limitation of Congressional terms which breaks the wall of Article V.
The better bet is on the BBA. We started the year off strong in the Wyoming House, and everyone involved is ready to go all out in 2017. While the rest of the country watches the progress of the Trump administration, a separate, and equally important political drama will be played out from Boise to Madison, Phoenix to Cheyenne, and Frankfort to Columbia. If you’re a constitutional conservative, it’s more significant, in the long run, than anything Donald Trump has planned.