If President Trump is thoroughly disgusted with Congress now, how’s he going to feel with the Democrats in charge? The news from Pennsylvania on redistricting is grim, and there are enough vulnerable Republicans in blue states to get the Democrats to 218. Come November, if Democrats are in charge, we can expect two years of gridlock and political trench warfare, even worse than we have today. What weapons will the President have in this war, beyond the veto?
Congress can impeach a President and the Supreme Court, and in Article V the Constitution establishes a procedure for Congress itself to be disciplined. But the 50 State Legislatures who hold this power have ever been able to unify sufficiently in order to exercise it. No one has been able to lead the 7,383 individuals who control our state legislatures.
There is only one person in the country who can provide this leadership, the President. While he is not mentioned in Article V, the President has political powers which are needed in order for Article V to finally be put to use.
Like legislative bodies big and small, across the country and around the world, every year Congress is obligated to pass one, and only one, bill — a budget. As we’re watching this week, the process which Congress now uses to pass a budget is the worst of all possible worlds. Four people – McConnell, Schumer, Ryan and Pelosi – write the budget in secret, and the members are forced to accept it or be blamed for shutting down the government. It’s a form of legislative dictatorship. That’s why McConnell, in particular, likes doing business this way.
What can Trump, or anybody else, do about this? Pass a Balanced Budget Amendment which contains reforms of the internal workings of Congress itself. In order to balance, the process by which a budget passes must be overhauled.
Congress is incapable of healing itself. With Article V and a Balanced Budget Amendment, the states and the people, with Presidential leadership, can get the job done.
This could be the defining issue of the 2020 Presidential campaign. Trump can run against Congress, like Harry Truman in 1948.
If he succeeds, and Article V is used, Trump will have been the first President to use this feature of the Constitution to control Congress. The balance of power in our constitutional system will have changed. This would be a constitutional development more significant than Marbury vs. Madison. In a fight with Congress, every future President will know he can call on the states, and the people, to help him prevail.
And the states, and the people, will have finally asserted their ultimate sovereignty.