I recently visited my state capitol to discuss the Article V convention with several legislators. I received three very distinct impressions. First, from each one of them there was the sense they were being overwhelmed by legislative work. Second, from the majority of them was a sense of panic about the state of our federal government. Third, they had been exposed, directly or indirectly, to the propaganda of the Promoters of the Article V (PAV).
From those that were panicked I heard the sound bites from the PAVs such as "We can't be afraid to do something", "we've got to do something", "we can't just sit by and do nothing". Some have flown (been flown) distances to hear the propaganda of the PAV. They had consciously or subconsciously taken the bait from the PAV including accepting that we who urge our legislators to do their due diligence on this issue are fear mongering.
Fear is an unpleasant feeling of anxiety or apprehension caused by the presence or anticipation of danger including from the unknown. Fear is the emotional cousin to physical pain. It is a bio-chemical warning mechanism.
Fear heightens our awareness and makes us more cautious and more deliberate. Fear can be an effective motivator. Its byproducts often are prudence, discretion and diligence. Often times, preparation is in direct proportion to fear. Controlled fear is a good thing.
Yes, we do encourage all to learn the fifty year old history of the Article V movement and the actual motives of those who initiated it and those that have keep it alive.ii We encourage all to look at the possible unintended consequences of undertaking this process and try to put it in a historical perspective.
Involving matters of life and liberty, a fair dose of fear is a very good thing. Amending our Constitution will end up affecting both our life and our Liberty, for better or worse.
These promoters are not seeking to change the Constitution in order to maintain the status quo. They are hoping for change. We have heard the call for "hope and change" before. They are telling us "If you like your Liberty, you can keep it, period. We are just going to change your Constitution."
Why has this effort to call an Article V convention failed four times over the last fifty years in spite of the fact its proponents have spent tens of millions of dollars, if not hundreds of millions of dollars, to support it? The promoters would say because of a few fraidy cats expressing baseless fears. Does that really sound plausible?
I recently had a public debate with the State Director of the "Convention of States" project (COS). Several times he indicated we that oppose an Article V “Convention” are fear mongering. He said the same thing a few days later at a GOP meeting (where the opposing view was not presented). I just heard Robert Natelson and Mike Farris, two of the major faces for the PAVs, speaking. Natelson is now saying the unfounded "fear" of the Article V was initiated in the 1970s and 1980's by "liberal" professors and academics.
I suppose he was referring to such well known liberals as Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum and persons associated with the ultra liberal organization, The John Birch Society, which led the fight against the Article V in it earliest years.
Mr. Natelson's Delphi message is: "Conservatives don't fear the Article V “Convention”; those that are trying to cause concerns are pawns of the liberals that do not want or understand an Article V!"
We have heard this message before. "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!"
What a coincidence the Proponents of Article V are using the same message to push our legislators forward on an Article V today that the socialist FDR used to calm Americans as he and Rex Tugwell set out to enact the greatest round of socialist legislation ever known to this country! And, what a coincidence that the socialist professor from Columbia, Rex Tugwell, who had written the "New Deal" for FDR, was also involved in the origins of this movement to hold an Article V convention.iii
You might recall it was this "don't fear" [surrender to panic] attitude that lead to the internment of over 110,000 of our fellow citizens, in the 1940’s, because they were of Japanese ancestry, at the hands of FDR himself.
Panic is a bad thing.
The situation I saw at the Capitol was a very dangerous combination: being short on time and overwhelmed with work, while facing a perceived threat looming. This is the perfect storm to bring on panic. And, panic is what I could sense on several of the legislators.
Panic is uncontrolled fear. It is defined as "overpowering" fear or anxiety. Panic is a bad thing. It is the loss of self-control. As most who have been in or trained for emergency situations know, including boy scouts, fear is not a problem, but often a life saver. Panic, on the other hand, is most often the beginning of the end.
As every little boy and girl learns in their first swimming lesson, if you get in trouble don't panic, you can do nothing and merely float. Most people who drown do so because they panic.
If you catch on fire you can panic and run, which will fan the fire making it ever hotter and spreading it ever more quickly, or you can contain your fear and drop and roll.
Most Medal of Honor winners will tell you they felt fear during their heroic deeds, while many of those around them succumbed to panic.
Some of our legislators had time to fly to Mount Vernoniv to hear the slanted propaganda of legislative members of American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a captive lobbying organization, on how liberating an Article V convention would be and how the legislators would become historical figures.
I personally know that the courting of our legislators began in 2010 or shortly before on this round of the PAVs Article V effort. But, now these same legislators do not have the time to read a two page letter from Phyllis Schlafly to her "Kansas friends" (the great liberal from the 1970s), or a 15 page paper on the history of this Article V movementv.
This issue is too important to let oneself succumb to panic and thereby act out of ignorance. The Article V promoters are counting on this response. All the while they attack those of us who advocate for due diligence, calling us "fear mongers" while they fan the fire of panic.
To promote an amendment of our Constitution, which is not the problem, bespeaks of panic. If the Constitution is not the problem, how can amending it be the solution?
Our elected officials no longer fear God and they no longer fear the people. I do not know how to get them to fear God, but I do know how to get them to fear the people. The name of the solution is to empower the people to hold their politicians accountable through the power of recall, initiative and referendum.
Any politician who stands in the way of the people's power of recall, initiative and referendum does not truly believe that all power resides in the people and such politicians need to be replaced.
As I have said before, we need faith and courage. Courage is acting under controlled fear. Legislators do not panic, hold the line, do not surrender the Constitution!
For the sake of Liberty, Defend not Amend,
Richard D. Fry
Co-Founder, Defend not Amend
General Counsel, Patriot Coalition