Not a Good Idea - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Not a Good Idea

Marco Rubio . is one of the more articulate and consistent conservatives in American public life today. He’s shown a deep understanding of the security threats facing America and our options for dealing with them. He understands how wealth is created and what the government should be doing, and more importantly, not doing, to make the economy vigorous again. He is a friend of personal and economic freedom, and understands the connection between the two. He sees through the climate change humbug, and similar left political hustles.

OK, he fell off the wagon in 2013 when he supported Jeff and the other seven flakes who cooked up a truly awful “comprehensive immigration reform” bill. Fortunately, neither the U.S. House nor the American people went along with the gag, and that execrable bill has been buried in the back yard where it belongs. Rubio recognizes his mistake, both politically and substantively, and his approach to immigration now is far more sound, though it probably will never satisfy the devoted Trumpkin. (It specifically does not include a wall across the southern border to be billed to Mexico. I’m sure Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto laughed up a lung over that campaign promise.)

So you can see how I and other conservatives hate to see Marco losing the thread again. This time with an even more daft and dangerous idea than the immigration hair-ball the Gang of Eight coughed up with his help a couple of years back.

Just because the idea of a constitutional convention to give America a “new and improved” Constitution has been the periodic dream of various conservatives over the decades doesn’t make it a good idea. In fact, it’s a terrible idea. The U.S. Constitution, as it stands, is not our problem. Just take a look at the op-ed Rubio wrote for USA Today and you’ll immediately spot the flaw in his reasoning and wonder, as I did, how he doesn’t see it.

Rubio starts out: “America was built on the revolutionary idea that our rights come from God, not from government [verdad, Señor]. To protect those rights, our founders created a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. But today, that government has been hijacked by politicians and bureaucrats who disregard the will of the people, rack up millions in debt, and expand the federal bureaucracy into more and more aspects of our lives. As president, I will promote a convention of states to amend the Constitution and restore limited government.” 

After correctly pointing out that the U.S. Constitution is designed to protect us from overreaching government, and it has done so marvelously through the two centuries of our history when it was largely upheld, and pointing out that too many contemporary politicians abuse and/or ignore our basic document, he goes on to say that we must now change the Constitution.


No, no, no, Marco. By your own parsing you state the obvious, which is that our problem is not the Constitution, but elected officials who defy it for political gain. We don’t need to change the Constitution. We need to change politicians.

If the U.S. Constitution is on life-support now, thanks both to cynical politicians and to judges who’ve graduated from law schools that have morphed into centers of left advocacy, then the most perilous threat to its continuing relevance in American life is to throw it open to revision. That way madness lies.

No one knows what would come out of a constitutional convention, but there is every reason for dreadful surmise. Considering the temper of the times, the Bill of Rights would likely take a severe beating. Specifically, I doubt the First Amendment would survive, and we would become like other Western democracies that are cutting back on freedom of expression. It is particularly sad to see countries like Canada and the UK undergoing a kind of reverse Magna Carta. Centuries of slow accretions of freedom are being canceled in the name of political correctness (aka left cultural tyranny) by the elite lefties who punch way above their weight in Western politics and who would doubtless have a lot to say about what came out of any constitutional convention.

Rubio anticipates this by saying in his op-ed that “the agenda should be limited to ideas that reduce the size and scope of the federal government, such as imposing term limits on Congress and the Supreme Court and forcing fiscal responsibility through a balanced budget requirement. Limiting the agenda will prevent the convention from being overtaken by special interests.”

So let’s give Marco an A for recognizing that some limit would have to be placed on any constitutional agenda to prevent wholesale abominations. But he gets and F for thinking that “special interests” could be kept on the sidelines, allowing folks who think like he does to direct the convention. “Our republic is under siege by the Washington establishment in both parties,” Rubio says. Exactly so. And these people are going to roll over and not try to crash the convention? Not likely.

Rubio says the framers allowed for a constitutional convention “because they knew our citizens were the ultimate defense against an overbearing government.” Well, it would be nice to think so, wouldn’t it? But American voters have hardly been a bulwark when it comes to demanding government boodle in return for votes. (See above re trillions in debt.) Marco is smart enough to know this. But I don’t suppose we should expect a candidate’s election cycle op-eds to be totally free of pandering.

Rubio also invokes the notion that a constitutional convention of the states would act to throttle Washington excesses because state politicians are more sensible, more conservative, and less over-reaching than federal ones. Sadly, this is less true today than it has been in the past. Too many state capitols across the land are as infested with left humbugs as Washington is. (See Sacramento.) And we sure all hell don’t want to give these villains a crack at the U.S. Constitution.

So, Marco, keep whooping up the conservative principle that I have some reason to think you actually believe in. And leave the Constitution alone. It’s just fine. We need to live by it, not change it.

Larry Thornberry
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Larry Thornberry is a writer in Tampa.
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