Wednesday, August 23, 2017

America's Backroom Revolution or Constitutional Coup?

It may be the ultimate expression of neoliberalism - revolution.  Only don't think of George Washington and his Continental Army. The generals in the neoliberal revolution will be billionaires and CEOs and their foot soldiers will be senators and congressmen and state legislators.

The neoliberal revolution is being fomented by ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, where political hacks go to receive their marching orders from their corporate masters.

ALEC is now working to get the necessary number of states onside to trigger a Constitutional Convention. The last - and only - convention was held in 1787 with George Washington presiding.

Republicans control 32 state legislatures. 34 would be needed to trigger a second Constitutional Convention to amend the U.S. Constitution in more corporate-friendly ways.

Under Article V of the Constitution, there are two processes for amending it: amendments may be proposed by Congress, or two-thirds of state legislatures (currently 34 states) may call for a convention for proposing amendments. Using either avenue, any proposed amendments must then be ratified by the legislatures of 3/4 of the states (currently 38 states) before they take effect. Because extreme Republican fiscal austerity advocates have not been able to get a “balanced budget” amendment through Congress, they have been pursuing the state-based avenue for several decades, with little success.

Right-wing convention backers mounted a strong push in this year’s legislative season, but came up empty-handed in several of their target states and lost momentum when three states (Maryland, New Mexico, and Nevada) voted to rescind their balanced budget amendment convention calls.

Even Republican legislators are having doubts about the wisdom of launching another Constitutional Convention. Although there have been various proposals considered by states attempting to control the agenda, rules, and participants of any convention, there is nothing in the Constitution that limits what delegates can do once a convention has been called. The danger of a “runaway convention” has prompted right-wing groups and icons, like the John Birch Society and the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia, to denounce the idea. Idaho Republicans voted down a Constitutional Convention resolution this year and a convention bill was tabled in Kentucky as well.

But this hasn’t dampened ALEC’s support for the notion. ALEC is continuing to pursue a highly partisan, highly political agenda to rewrite the Constitution primarily for pursuing a fiscal austerity amendment that would effectuate steep cuts in popular programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. ALEC has three model proposals and has held workshops at almost every meeting including its most recent meeting in Denver as Rep. Chris Taylor reported.

At the top of the agenda is a balanced budget amendment that would be aimed at slashing spending rather than raising taxes on the now largely tax exempt elite.  Another proposed initiative would empower states to ignore federal laws and supreme court rulings not to their liking. There are certainly more that haven't surfaced yet.

The overall effort being pushed by the hyper-partisan ALEC and its allies left law school professor David Super of Georgetown University shaking his head. “When you are pushing a narrow, partisan agenda for constitutional change, planning amendments when you can have the most partisan advantage, you do a lot of damage to the Constitution as a unifying force,” said Super. “Everyone has things they don’t like in the Constitution, but we should all agree that the Constitution is for all of us, bigger than any one political party.”


Anonymous said...

Oh yes a new US constitution, just the ticket.

Entrenching oligarch's rights to mimimal taxation, eliminating the social safety net for 99% of the people, what forward thinking! Someone has to pay for the military after all, and who needs citizens standing up for their rights anyway? They should be happy they're allowed to work at all for minimum wage!

Nothing like the modern right wing on a charge based on no economic analysis whatsoever, just voices in their heads and dog-eared copies of Ayn Rand's silliness in their back pockets. Why everyone knows that the "free" market solves everything, and forced austerity works so well - just ask Greece. Quit yer complaining, proles!

Anonymous said...

Well, I hope ALEC's backers get what the want, good and hard. Austerity's been shown time and again to kill demand and with it corporate profits. It also exacerbates social inequality, which may ultimately set the stage for the sort of revolution that once featured those with money and power facing the guillotine.


Unknown said...

How else are you going to implement a full neoliberal fascist government if your constitution does not have laws and amendments to support this goal. Legalized austerity via constitutional change, a perfect vehicle for the elites to take complete control, after all it will be in the constitution.

It will be the corporate/financial/military elites most important target,by issuing the final blow to American democracy. Destroy the very legal foundation that U.S. democracy rests on, the constitution.

The Mound of Sound said...

What the corporate sector and their political minions have in mind seems to be the sort of thing that could spark unrest, a counter-revolution. The future seems so murky.

Trailblazer said...

Why does the USA have such a fetish for men in white wigs?
The same could be said for men in three cornered hats ; not to mention those in long white robes and funny white hats!
The USA has a leaning towards symbolism rather than achievement or fact.

On the other hand it is perhaps that the men in wigs have historically had most of the wealth and the USA is such a greedy country?