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A Constitutional Convention Is a Dangerous Idea

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
The left's assault on liberty never rests, so don't ever be sucked into supporting the dangerous idea of a new constitutional convention, even if its stated purposes purport to be limited.

Recently, CNN's Fareed Zakaria spoke admiringly of how "Iceland is actually junking its own constitution and starting anew and ... soliciting ideas from all of Iceland's 320,000 citizens, with the help of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube."

Zakaria beamed as he ticked off some of the wonderful ideas proposed by Icelanders, such as "guaranteed good health care" and "campaign finance systems that make corporate donations illegal."

Putting aside the obvious question of how Barack Obama, Russ Feingold and John McCain managed to get on Iceland's social networks, I hope idealistic Americans don't get any ideas from this tiny nation's dubious project.

Oh, wait. Our geniuses are already well ahead of Iceland's. A friend called me in February to tell me of a proposed resolution circulating in the Missouri House in support of a national convention to consider amendments to the U.S. Constitution. She asked me to help discourage the Republican leadership from pursuing this ill-considered idea. She didn't have to convince me.

I could have understood if just Democrats were behind it, but I was surprised that Republicans were also involved. Another highway to hell paved with good intentions, I assumed. I'm thankful that the initiative lost steam.

I understand the frustration conservatives feel about the federal government's virtually unchecked growth over the past 75 years and how this is destroying our liberties and bankrupting our nation. But the Constitution isn't the problem. Rewriting it isn't the solution.


Proponents of a constitutional convention might protest that their goals are far more modest than a new constitution. Well, so were the Framers' plans when they met in Philadelphia to (SET ITAL) amend (END ITAL) the Articles of Confederation. Fortunately, they drafted an entirely new constitution instead, which would be, in the words of former British Prime Minister William Gladstone, "the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man."

Don't ever make the mistake of believing that such a miracle of constitutional craftsmanship will ever occur again in this nation, especially considering the social, cultural, demographic, political and, yes, spiritual changes that have since occurred.

We can certainly support tweaking the Constitution through limited amendments, but a convention would open the floodgates to the nefarious devices of what Ann Coulter -- in her new book, "Demonic" -- describes as "the mob."

There is no surer way to turn over the fate of our structure of government to the left's formidable forces of populism and demagoguery. Just think of the groups that would descend on such a convention, along with the pointy-headed professors dedicated to indoctrinating our kids on the "evils" of America: the Service Employees International Union, Rainbow/PUSH, the armies of militant homosexual and feminist activists, environmentalist loons, Soros socialists dressed as free market champions, the Shariah lobby, Code Pink and Greenpeace. This would be their chance to work their revolutionary magic in one fell swoop. You couldn't give them a better gift.


Consider the untold damage the enemies of liberty have visited on our Constitution despite its formidable institutional safeguards against such assaults. Imagine what mischief they would concoct if they were allowed to directly reframe the entire system.

The Constitution, as written, is nothing if not a document designed to maximize liberty and prevent tyranny by limiting the unrestrained powers of government. The disparate leftist groups doubtlessly salivating at the prospect of a new constitutional convention are united in their contempt for the founding concept of limited government and the constitutional scheme of checks and balances designed to ensure it. If you think you've seen community organizing and activist thuggery -- just you wait.

Leftists, from the netroots to the radical activist groups to government officials, have all shown their willingness to twist the Constitution and thwart its provisions to achieve their policy ends. Indeed, those in the ruling class have demonstrated their disrespect for constitutional limitations on their power in their actions and in their shocking statements in which they expressed incredulity that they should be asked to justify their legislation on constitutional grounds. Leftists in the judiciary are just as bad.

If the mobs had their way, health care as a "right" and the suppression of speech dressed up as campaign finance reform would only be the beginning. I shudder to think of the panoply of other ingenious ideas leftists would seek to impose were they to sit down at such an anarchists feast.


The remedy to the generations-long encroachments on the integrity of the Constitution is to throw out the bums who insist on destroying our form of government and replace them with those who respect the concept of limited government and cherish our liberties.

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