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Article V: Cause For Fear, Or Call To Courage?

It’s amazing how many lies prevail today. After all, as humans, here we sit, on the brink of great mind bending technological advancements with nearly unbound access to information, and still… lies prevail. Lies like, our Constitution is helplessly outdated, patriotism is hopelessly old fashioned, and because of the current political landscape, there are some who insist that there is nothing left to do, but to fear.

Here at Compact For America, we prefer courage over fear. After all, fear isn’t an American trait.

A recent lie levied against America’s Compact states that Compact For America is an “Ultra-Conservative” initiative to help give conservatives their much coveted “gold standard” in the form of a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Seems harmless, right? Not really, because in today’s ultra-partisan political climate, the term conservative is a derogatory term used to label, divide, and marginalize political opponents (people who think differently than you).

But for those who are familiar with the objective at hand, they understand that Compact for America is a bi-partisan initiative (on the part of American citizens) to use a Compact between the United States of America to implement a process outlined IN the United States Constitution (Article V) to restrain OUR federal government’s power to rack up unsustainable public debt by ratifying a balanced budget amendment.


So, regardless of race, sexual orientation/preference, religion, socio-economic status, or (dare I say) political affiliation, America can restore fiscal sanity, save the republic, and prevent our national posterity from being over-burdened with the current “kick the can” approach to our national debt.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but this doesn’t sound like a conservative, liberal, left, right, democrat, or republican issue. If anything, it’s an American issue; and so much more than being just another partisan political initiative, for the sake of our national posterity… it’s a moral imperative!

In truth, nowhere in the Compact for America mission statement, will you find a devious plan to implement a Compact for “Conservatives” to ratify an “ultra-conservative” budget amendment to the “United Conservatives” of America’s Constitution. No, but what you will find is a non-partisan effort to carry out the will of 88% of the American people who regardless of a left, right, or center, political affiliation desire to see courageous action rather than fearful inaction.

Still, in light of the proven safety, security, and speed by which America’s Compact can accomplish the non-partisan will of the American people, there still exist some who would rather play partisan politics and remain fearfully unengaged rather than face the task of the day.

The sad part is that, many who still fail within this “fearful” camp are veterans (like me), who consider themselves oath keepers and constitutionalists.

Some oath keepers and constitutionalists oppose using Article V via their state legislatures to originate proposed amendments. Article V, of course, is in the Constitution. Therefore, it is a bit curious to be a constitutionalist and yet oppose the use of Article V.

Obviously, Article V was put in the Constitution for a reason—in fact the Founders told the states when they ratified the Constitution to use it. And they never said the states would cause constitutional “Armageddon” by using Article V. In fact, the Founders said over and over again that the Article V convention process would be targeted to one or more specific amendments desired by the States which would be specified in their Article V application.  

Here’s the proof (let’s call them “Exhibits A through F”):

  • Exhibit A: read Tench Coxe’s representations during the time of the ratification debates. He said, “If two thirds of those legislatures require it, Congress must call a general convention, even though they dislike the proposed amendments, and if three fourths of the state legislatures or conventions approve such proposed amendments, they become an actual and binding part of the constitution, without any possible interference of Congress.” Coxe further explained, "[t]hree fourths of the states concurring will ensure any amendments, after the adoption of nine or more." Notice that these statements clearly indicate that two-thirds of the states would specify the desired amendments in their Article V application and the convention would simply propose them.

  • Exhibit B: read Federalist No. 43, notice how James Madison says the power of the states to originate amendments is equal to that of Congress. This could only be true if the Article V Application specified amendments and if the Article V convention were an instrumentality of the states in proposing the specified amendments.

  • Exhibit C: read Federalist No. 85. Notice also that Hamilton emphasizes how two-thirds of the states (then “nine”) would seek “alterations” and “set on foot the measure” and that we can rely on state “legislatures” to erect barriers. Obviously, an amendment is the “alteration” or “measure” of which Hamilton writes. This confirms the amendment-specifying power of an Article V application, which alone is entirely controlled by two-thirds of the states through their legislatures. It also implies the convention would simply propose the specified amendments.

  • Exhibit D: read George Washington’s 1788 letter to John Armstrong, notice how he says “nine states” can get the amendments they desire, yet again in reference to the two-thirds threshold for calling an Article V convention. This implies yet again that the convention is directed by the Article V application.

  • Exhibit E: Read Federalist George Nicholas’ June 6, 1788 statement at the Virginia convention that state legislatures would apply for an Article V convention confined to a “few points;” and that “it is natural to conclude that those States who will apply for calling the Convention, will concur in the ratification of the proposed amendments.” Notice how Nicholas’ conclusion is only “natural” on the assumption that the states would typically organize a convention after first agreeing on the amendments, presumably specified in their Article V application. It is also only “natural” if the convention were necessarily directed to proposing the amendments specified in the application.

  • Exhibit F: on February 7, 1799, James Madison’s Report on the Virginia Resolutions observed that the states could organize an Article V convention for the “object” of declaring the Alien and Sedition Acts unconstitutional. Specifically, after highlighting that “Legislatures of the States have a right also to originate amendments to the Constitution, by a concurrence of two-thirds of the whole number, in applications to Congress for the purpose,” Madison wrote both that the states could ask their senators to propose an “explanatory amendment” clarifying that the Alien and Sedition Acts were unconstitutional, and also that two-thirds of the Legislatures of the states “might, by an application to Congress, have obtained a Convention for the same object.” Again, the Application is the stated source of the desired amendment and the convention would simply be instrumental in proposing the desired amendment.

The bottom line is that every significant historical figure who addressed the Article V convention process assumed or specifically represented that the Article V convention would propose the amendments specified in the states’ Article V “Application.”

Both historically, and Constitutionally, Article V is not a cause for fear, but a call for Americans to be courageous enough to refuse to resort to fearful inaction any longer. Not only is it time that we harness Article V to restore fiscal sanity in Washington, but to reestablish fear as an unAmerican trait.

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