Sunday, December 8, 2013

Iceland Can Teach the US About Our Own Constitution

It received very little press in the US, but in response to their involvement in the '08 economic crash, the people of Iceland took to the streets with pots and pans and overthrew their government.
Can you imagine participating in a protest outside the White House and forcing the entire U.S. government to resign? Can you imagine a group of randomly chosen private citizens rewriting the U.S. constitution to include measures banning corporate fraud? It seems incomprehensible in the U.S., but Icelanders did just that.  Icelanders forced their entire government to resign after a banking fraud scandal, overthrowing the ruling party and creating a citizen’s group tasked with writing a new constitution that offered a solution to prevent corporate greed from destroying the country. The constitution of Iceland was scrapped and is being rewritten by private citizens; using a crowd-sourcing technique via social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter. 
Randomly chosen citizens rewriting the constitution?  There's a quote from William F. Buckley that goes, "I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University."  Iceland is doing it.
(Image source) In Iceland, the protesters look like Gandalf.

The time could be coming.  I don't know if you've seen the story, but South Carolina and Virginia have formally called for an Article V Convention of State (COS), and Florida is expected to lend its support to the cause. Article V, of course, is "a mechanism put in place by the founders to enforce a checks-and-balances system for the federal and state governments. While amendments to the Constitution can be proposed and passed in Congress, Article V also allows for the states themselves to propose amendments. If two-thirds of the states submit an application to Congress, Congress must then call a Convention of States to propose amendments to the Constitution."

I've always been afraid of an article V convention, thinking it was going to be a Constitutional Convention or Con Con.  Matt Bracken paints the Con Con in the way I always feared it would go in his EFAD series: just who's going to show up at this sort of convention?  The professional astroturf protesters from SEIU, Occupy Whatever, Organizing for America, and every other leftist or communist group you can shake a stick at.  Right wing people work for a living and can't take off six months to be there  But a convention of the states is not a Constitutional Convention and it doesn't have to go there.  Quoting from the Aiken (SC) Standard:
“Washington will never limit its own power,” Taylor said. “They'll never pass amendments to balance the budget, put term limits on themselves or give the states their rightful Constitutional authority.”

Bob Menges, a Constitutional law professor, is also the state director for the COS Project in South Carolina. Like Taylor, he also feels the convention is necessary.

“When the framers agreed on Sept. 15, 1787, to add a provision in Article V for the states to amend the Constitution, they in effect were telegraphing a message to us in 2013, a message to us showing us the way back inside the fence of the Constitution,” Menges said.
And switching to Glenn Beck's take:
“Constitutional Convention scares the crap out of me because it opens everything else up, however, that’s only if the states are out-of-control. And there are a lot of people now fighting it on the conservative side… I believe this is the only way back. There’s a massive reset coming, and the Constitutional Convention is the way [the founders imagined] it.”


  1. I would fear the result of such a political experiment like that in the U.S. I sometimes get an email suggesting that a constitutional convention would be the fix for all our problems. Usually the sender is conservative and has bought the line that we could make our rights stornger or fix some discrete problem this way. But in fact a constitutional convention could do whatever they wanted to and as a nation we would be stuck with whatever they gave us. Considering the kinds of people our state and federal governments would nominate to a constitutional convention I'm pretty sure the first thing to go would be the 2nd amendment. We have a perfectly good constitution, it has often been misinterpreted by our own Supreme Court but that is the fault of our politicians and our voters not the fault of the constitution. We need to push harder for politicians who will defend and support our constitution not push to change it.

  2. Because the way to fix the fact that your government is ignoring the Constitution is to let the government rewrite the Constitution.

  3. As much as I would love to see the States reclaim their powers and authority from the Fed gov, consider how many states wouod otherwise be conservative, but get over-ruled by the liberals in the big cities. Even here in Montana, where many of us are quite conservative, Baucus and Tester - two extremely liberal senators - have been re-elected year after year.

    So even State conventions might well be controlled by the liberal/"progressive" scum who think individuals don't have any rights, that only the "collective" has rights. There needs to be a mechanism put in place - or re-established, at least - that absolutely prevents the rights of the individual from being ignored/infringed/over-run.

  4. Well, the crux of the argument, to paraphrase it, is since the government doesn't follow the laws now, why should we think they'll follow anything we'd want?

    I personally don't think it could work, as I alluded to, but there's a movement getting started and I wanted to make sure everyone knows about it. The only chance we could possibly have is if a lot of libertarian people are there if it really starts to go down. Retirees could be the key.