Since the States formed the federal government in 1787 there has been one national Convention of States, the Washington Peace Conference of 1861. The Conventions held in Hartford in 1814 and Nashville in 1850 were sectional, not national meetings. Hartford was about New England’s opposition to the War of 1812. Nashville was about Southern efforts to head off the secessionists in South Carolina and elsewhere.
All that’s necessary for a successful national Convention of States is a call to Convention by one State, which is then answered positively by a quorum of the States in the union, 26 of 50. With 32 States under complete Republican control, we’re assured of a quorum, but we want 50 out of 50.
My theory on why there hasn’t been a Convention in 156 years is complicated, but one element is partisanship. If a Convention is called by Democrats to promote a Democratic solution to a problem the Republicans won’t come, and vice versa.
This partisanship almost prevented the first national Convention of States, called by Democratic Virginia. The northern Republican States had just won the Presidential election, and didn’t feel inclined toward participating in a Democratic led effort to deal with the issue of slavery. But, in the end, most of them came. They wanted to make sure nothing was done to continue slavery.
Politically, a Democratic boycott of a Convention addressing the issue of a balanced budget amendment is foolish. 65% of Democratic voters support a BBA. One of the most active Article V movements in the country, Wolf-PAC, is led by progressive Democrats. Any sensible person, right or left, knows that the fear of a runaway Convention is moonshine.
We may see a replay of 1861, with the parties reversed. The Democrats may decide to send Commissioners at the last minute. We will do everything we can to encourage them to come.
The Arizona Legislature’s Convention planning committee is up and running, and no one from the Task Force will be participating. These are formal interim legislative committee meetings and are subject to Arizona’s sunshine law, and will be conducted just like any other legislative committee. The subject matter will be SHR 1. The first full meeting will be Tuesday, June 27th at 2:00 Arizona time. Listen in through this link.
All indications point to a very successful Convention. So successful that more such Conventions of States are probably going to be called. My hunch is that a western State like Utah calls a national Convention of States on the subject of the Transfer of Public Lands. The twelve western States who would be directly affected would send Commissioners. The other western states from North Dakota down to Texas would also attend. If they can convince enough States in the eastern half of the country to come, they could hammer out a proposed solution and send it to Congress. If Congress ignores them they can start a TPL Article V campaign.
There will be other Conventions, on other subjects, which may be called from time to time. With modern communications technology, all of these meetings need not be in person. It all may develop into a new American tradition.
The States, acting together, can save their country.