After thinking about it for 37 years, I’ve finally figured it out. All of my political involvement on behalf of Article V has been misguided. I have now seen the light.
First and foremost, any Article V amendment must be bipartisan. Back in 2013 I saw a red wave coming, a wave so big that it would make it possible to get 34 Republican legislatures to call for an Article V Balanced Budget Amendment Convention. I was right about the size of the wave. From 2014 to 2018 it could have been done without one Democratic vote. But it was a hill too high, and Republican holdouts, many of them associated with the John Birch Society, stopped our efforts.
Second, it can’t be accomplished by outsiders. It can only happen when state legislators themselves take the lead. That’s how the BBA got up to 32 states in eight years. At that point, in 1983, it stopped being bipartisan. The national Democratic Party killed it, and it hasn’t ever recovered.
Third, my attraction to Article V is one which is not shared by Democrats. I’m a libertarian, and I want to restrain, reduce, and control the federal government. Democrats aren’t really interested in any of that. They want the government to work. They want to reform it.
So there are a substantial number of Democratic state legislators who have embraced Article V as a means to get campaign finance reform. Republicans are leery, afraid that their principal source of campaign funds will be eliminated.
What all state legislators who support Article V have in common is their desire to reform Washington, to drain the swamp, a swamp awash in massive corruption, much of it financed by corporate America.
So the key to Article V is to identify and organize Reform Democrats and Reform Republicans. Once they have organized they can decide among themselves on a constitutional amendment they can both agree to. At that point these Reform state legislators can pass the necessary Article V resolutions in their respective capitols, have an Article V Convention, and amend the Constitution.
But only if 38 of the 50 states agree. So nothing can be ratified if it can’t get to 3/4, and if something can’t be ratified it won’t be proposed. This guarantees the highest level of bipartisanship. I know how hard it is to get a 3/4 vote. In 1988 some Alaska state legislators wanted to set up a Constitutional Budget Reserve, a rainy day fund. I would only agree to go along if it required a 3/4 vote to get into. To this day, Alaska state legislators refer to this as the Pettyjohn Rule
And it worked. They weren’t able to get their grubby hands on that money for 30 years. It took them that long to get the 3/4 majority needed.
So the new American constitutional entity which will emerge from a successful Article V movement, the Convention of States, will only be able to function with the highest degree of bipartisanship. It will be a model of decorum and legislative courtesy. It will put Congress to shame.
So this new branch of the federal government, the Convention of States, will be respected by the people, and assume its rightful role as the ultimate guardian of American liberty.