Convention of States Simulation and Virginia Ratification

article-vOver the course of my three years in support of an Article V State Convention to propose amendments, a regular fear expressed by Article V opponents is that the convention will conduct itself in the same Animal House atmosphere of our sorry US Congress. While no one can predict the future of such things with certainty, recent experience points to a different place, one where ladies and gentlemen firmly, yet decorously, stood to express the will of the state legislatures that commissioned them to restore the American republic.

I wouldn’t have bothered with this post had not 137 commissioners from fifty states convened this past September at Williamsburg in a simulated convention of the states. The great and feared red, blue, and purple divide that threatens to tear our nation asunder was . . . gone! Where was the runaway convention so feared by the John Birch Society and Eagle Forum? State commissioners rose to the occasion and conducted themselves as if the eye of history was actually upon them.

At the risk of being admonished here for posting excerpts from a ratifying convention and drawing comparisons from it to a still-to-happen state convention to propose amendments, I think the analogy is legitimate. Passions run high in any gathering of strong willed people; they must be restrained and directed toward productive work. That is the essence of the often demanding job description of those who lead conventions, their presidents.

Every organization takes on the character and demeanor of its leaders. From the parents of a family, to the CEO of a corporation, to the President of the United States, they all, for better or for worse, have great influence over their institutions. Here, I wish to highlight the psychological environments set up by convention presidents Edmund Pendleton at Richmond in 1788, and Utah state representative Ken Ivory at Williamsburg in 2016.

Richmond 1788. Sixty-seven-year-old Edmund Pendleton thanked the convention for electing him, despite his known physical infirmities and decline in mental powers. He assured the delegates he would execute his duties to the best of his ability, so as to prevent any dishonor or inconvenience to the convention.

Edmund Pendleton:

“Order and decorum in the deliberations of all public bodies is absolutely necessary, not only to preserve their dignity, but that reason and argument may have their proper effect in decision, and not be lost in confusion and disorder. You have made it my duty to be the centinel over order, and endeavors to preserve it shall not be wanting. But those will be wholly ineffectual, unless assisted by your example and support, which I shall therefore confidently hope for.”

He reminded the delegates that they were trustees for the citizens of Virginia, which required their most serious attention. Since they all had the same end in view, they should calmly reason with one another as friends. Strive to avoid all heats, intemperance, and personal altercations, which always impede and never assist fair investigation.

As the signers to the Declaration of Independence appealed to the “Supreme Judge of the World for the rectitude of (their) Intentions,” Edmund Pendleton hoped the Virginia Ratifying Convention may reasonably “stand justified in (its) decision, whatever it may be, to those we act for, God and The World.”

Williamsburg 2016. Convention president Ken Ivory of Utah thanked the assembled commissioners for the honor of electing him. Prior to the convention, he visited Monticello and Montpelier. Along with a few other commissioners, they sat in the room where James Madison drafted the Virginia Plan of Government, and took in the enormity of what took place there.

He compared our governing form to a near broken-down bicycle. In previous times, when it was maintained, it operated as designed. Today, the federal tire is so bloated that it may explode at any time, while the state tire is so flat that it’s about the chew the tire from the rim.

He invoked The Federalist #51, in which James Madison stressed separation of powers, structural checks and balances. In the machinery of the Framers’ system, the power of the sovereign people was divided into two spheres, like a bicycle’s two tires. When the machinery of a bicycle or government is near collapse, changing the rider or president is not a solution to the problem.

Representative Ivory said, “I would submit to you that the Founders, knowing like every good bicyclist that goes out for a long ride, you’re going to need a repair kit. You’re going to need tools and patch kits and pumps and a multi-tool, because they knew that there would need to be repair and maintenance on that system the more it was used. George Washington said, ‘We left the door open, we left the constitutional door open.’ And the constitutional tool they left is Article V. Article V of the Constitution is the multi-tool to repair and amend and maintain the system. Not personality, not policy. We have a system problem.”

Citing W. Edwards Deming, Rep Ivory said, “Every system is perfectly designed to achieve the results it gets.” Our system in disrepair is designed to achieve trillion-dollar a year deficits, $20 trillion in debt, 90,000 pages of regulation, 5,000 federal felonies. We also have a system designed to achieve the necessary repairs, and you all swore an oath, as you were intended to be constitutional officers, to work on the system. That’s you. That’s the people you represent. As I was walking from here to grab my binder after breakfast, someone that’s just staying in the hotel said, “What are you all doing here?” I said, “We’re Commissioners from every one of the states, here to exercise our oath to repair and maintain the system.” He said, “I’m so glad. I’m so glad. Please, do that job. We need it so badly.”

President Ivory closed with, “Commissioners, the winds of change are about to blow. You swore an oath, and as James Madison said in introducing the Bill of Rights, ‘The state legislatures will be the sure guardians of the people’s liberty. They will be able to resist the federal encroachments with more effect than any other power on earth can do, because they are the sure guardians of the people’s liberty.’ Today, as we work, please, let’s work diligently, because we are the sure guardians of the people’s liberty. Thank you very much, thank you for being here. I’m honored that there are so many people willing to stand up for the liberty of my children. I know that the nation has its eyes on you. Thank you for being here. Let’s get to work.”

Upon the close of the simulated convention, New Mexico State Representative Yvette Herrell reported, “What I found amazing about the simulated convention was the commissioner’s dedication to the process. It was remarkable to witness the level of participation and the various conversations happening throughout the convention floor. We took our responsibilities as commissioners seriously, as if to collectively exhibit to the nation that Liberty is alive and well, that through the Article V process, state legislators can succeed in amending the Constitution in a way that is safe and meaningful. Above all else, we exemplified that fears of a runaway convention can finally be abandoned.”

We are the many; our oppressors are the few. Be proactive. Be a Re-Founder. Join Convention of States. Sign our COS Petition.

Reference: The State Historical Society of Wisconsin. (1990). The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution, Volume IX Virginia. Madison: The State Historical Society of Wisconsin.

23 thoughts on “Convention of States Simulation and Virginia Ratification

  1. Gerald F.

    Great theoretical excersise but in reality the Feds will never surrender their power. The leftist courts will rule against any attempt to invoke article five. The constitution is ignored in nearly all aspects now. It is not realistic to think that our rulers will acquiesce to article 5 especially if it degrades their status

    1. Rosario H

      We need to continue the fight and push for more states to join in. It will be a long one but worth it to fight. I don’t see any other tool to rein in this power!

    2. MJ Alexander

      Gerald… although it sounds good to say that our government does not follow the Constitution, whether it seems like it or not, even our current “lawless” government adheres to virtually every AMENDMENT to the Constitution. Note that I said AMENDMENT, and that’s what makes the difference here.

      Historically on average, amendments to the Constitution have been followed very closely for about 100 years after they are ratified by the states and made part of the Supreme Law of the Land. That’s why we don’t have slavery, why presidents don’t run for third terms and why women voters now outnumber men in many elections. Some amendments have endured even longer.

      When an amendment has been debated, drafted, proposed and ratified by BOTH CHAMBERS of THIRTY EIGHT state legislatures, the federal government has little choice but to sit up, take notice and obey the law.

      Freedom of expression, religious liberty, the right to bear arms, the right to a jury trial, the right to privacy, freedom of association… all of these liberties we have enjoyed for almost 2¼ centuries, and all were achieved by AMENDING the Constitution!

      Please… check our history… examine the facts for yourself. The best way to protect the Constitution is to amend it! Although our Constitution has stood the test of time, the Framers knew that it wasn’t perfect… that’s why they wrote Article V, the amendment process, into the original draft. They had the foresight and the wisdom to provide us a remedy… now all we need is the will, the faith, and the courage to use it.

      Be informed. Sign the petition. Get involved.

    3. Brandon James Benson

      So you would just have us give up before even trying? Makes no sense. If we wait too long we won’t have the opportunity to try. Seems like a self fulfilling prophesy to just stand down and be resolves to letting the status quo of the political elites and ruling class to keep imposing their will over us. Article V provides a bypass to address issues with the government through the Constitution. Several amendments would go a long way in reigning in this runaway government. It’s long overdo that we try this. Learn more!

  2. LetJusticePrevail2014

    I have seen many comments on various websites (from opponents to, or doubters of, the Convention of the States Movement) that have centered around fears of a “Runaway Convention” that could somehow usurp its mandate and either scrap the Constitution entirely, or alter it to such a degree that it (and America) is unrecognizable and irrevocably damaged.


    The mechanics of an Article V Convention process (to amend the Constitution) parallel the Congressional process so closely as to be indistinguishable, except for the actual butts in the seats of the decision makers, and the location of the seats, themselves. And, in either case, the process for ratification by the various states is IDENTICAL, rendering those aforementioned “Concerns” (with a capital “C” as in “Concern Trolls”) MOOT, since (if anyone intended to subvert the Constitution by amending it) it would be simpler to do it through an already established Congress than to construct and subvert an entirely new Convention. And, judging from rhetoric heard various left-leaning academics and politicos, it’s fairly certain that such a process is ALREADY in play in Washington DC.

    Even that, though, is secondary to the EASE with which the left has damaged Liberty by the various left-leaning SCOTUS members who have, over the last 2 centuries, effectively rewritten large swaths of the Constitution through intentional misinterpretations of the framers’ own words. This is a far subtler (yet equally effective and pernicious) way that various “Bad Actors” have worked in plain sight to erode Freedom and eradicate Liberty. What better way to fool “The People” than to use the very last line of defense for the Constitution (the SCOTUS) to destroy the document they pretend to defend, and to do so (supposedly) as part of that Constitutional process?

    So, with all the corruption ALREADY at work in DC, with a SCOTUS that is intentionally altering the Constitution, an Administration that currently refuses to enforce laws that are already on the books, and a Legislative branch that refuses to recoup the power that the POTUS has illegally usurped from it, I ASK:

    WHY NOT hold a Convention of the States? Why not, at the very least, make an ATTEMPT to rein in an out of control (and illegally operating) federal bureaucracy? Why not, since the process to do so has already been established by Article V, and entails no more risk than the Congressional process, and could not have any result more dire than the one already occurring?

  3. Robyn Campbell

    NO ONE can stop a Convention of States. NO ONE. The federal government has grown beyond any control by the American people.
    The President and the Cabinet wield executive power far beyond the Founders’ intent.
    Without objection, Executive Branch agencies have usurped the authority of Congress. Members of Congress, with no term limits and near invincibility at the ballot box as incumbents, ignore the will of the citizens – concentrating on reelection and accumulation of personal power.
    The federal judiciary has lifetime tenure and final say on the interpretation of the Constitution and federal laws – giving control of the country to as few as five unelected Supreme Court Justices. The Founders recognized that there would be a need to amend the new Constitution, and wisely chose not to leave the matter solely to Congress. They added a second clause to Article V of the United States Constitution providing that:
    . . . on application by two-thirds of the state legislatures, Congress must call a convention of the states for the proposal of amendments, valid when ratified by the legislatures or by conventions in three-quarters of the states, as Congress chooses.

    Amendments that could be added: Establish 12-year term limits for members of Congress, applicable to members elected after ratification. Establish 12-year term limits for federal District Court Judges, Court of Appeals Judges and Supreme Court Justices. Fiscal Restraints – Balanced Budget. Limit the Commerce Clause to preventing states from impeding commerce between states. Plus many more.

    Thanks for another great article, Rodney.

  4. Carol Menges

    Now we at home need to do our part to bring the real meal deal to pass. Our constitutional government doesn’t have rights. It has authority granted unto it by the citizens who *do* have rights. Check out the website, sign the online petition that goes to your state legislators, and volunteer to help patriots throughout the nation. There are many legislative districts that still need District Captains within states. Take that on whether you live in a particular district or not. There are wonderful Tuesday evening online training calls (9:00 PM Eastern Time; they’re also recorded for watching at your convenience) that have been enormously helpful to me. They’re informative and inspirational. You’re needed on deck!

  5. Robert Weitman

    I like the bicycle metaphor for our federal government, the riders as the Representatives and the repair kit as Article V Convention of States (COS)! Critics of the repair kit have various claims as to its potential effectiveness, the absolute essential enduring indestructible quality of the bicycle itself, or the fantastic possibility that the repair kit is capable of producing a whole new bicycle without brakes! In this metaphor, We The People built the bicycle. We The People own the bicycle. Inaction of the rider(s) to make the needed repairs have left the bicycle ineffective and as its owners and builders we see it approaching dangerous curves downhill ahead! Will switching riders work? No. How about continuing to ignore the repair kit? No. You see the point? What does the Owner’s Manual (The Constitution) say to do? Stop, fix the bike, continue on the journey! We The People will issue a product “recall” (COS) forcing the bike back to the dealer (the states) to make the necessary repairs if the rider refuses to take action.

  6. TOBY L SHORT, (US ARMY, retired)

    I have read what everyone here has to say about the COS, both pro and con. To those who oppose an article V convention on whatever grounds, I offer this: we are left with three options.

    1. Do nothing and let the Federal Government continue on its current course.
    2. Commit to an armed insurrection, with a view to restoring the Republic; or,
    3. Use the constitutional means of an article 5 Convention of States with a view to restoring the Republic.

    I find the only responsible course to be a Convention of States. It will certainly not be easy, but neither was the Revolutionary War, or going from the Articles of Confederation to the US Constitution. Is the current generation any less capable than the men who drafted our constitution?? I THINK NOT!! We are just as capable, and we have the legacy of their wisdom to guide the convention. I fear if we fail to act we doom our grandchildren to servitude.

    1. Rodney Dodsworth Post author

      “. . . we have the legacy of their wisdom to guide the convention.” So true. They had to create a new form of republican government; we need only follow their example.

  7. cliff wilkin

    Another great post Rodney. Look forward to your future historical accounts. I very much enjoy being a part of the growing Freedom movement and community at convention of states.

    1. Rodney Dodsworth Post author

      Thank you for promoting this at COS Patriot Games. I also appreciate being part of a grass-roots movement to restore free government.

  8. Paul Reveered

    I don’t see what could go wrong that wouldn’t go wrong if we did nothing. We can always revolt if the convention runs away, which seems unlikely that it will run away. Besides, I DO have a plan to take down the guys in our way. Granted, it won’t be easy, but I’ve put forth a lot of thought and research on it to find the enemy’s weakpoints.

  9. Clayton Bink

    This is an excellent article. I watched the opening statement of Utah State Representative Ken Ivory and was very impressed with the solemnity of his remarks. His bicycle analogy was spot on. We need to reign in the out-of-control federal government, using the Article V amendment process!!

    I am in favor of the Article V Convention of States Project. Here is why it will work, and why it is safe. One of the few proposed amendments is for term limits. This alone puts We-the-People back in the driver’s seat. It also sends the message that, what we accomplish once we can do again. This is an exercise in citizenship. The big government people have been active at it for quite some time. Now it is time for the limited government people to step up and use social media to exert our authority.

    As to why it is safe; the Founders were brilliant when they inserted Article V. It requires a supermajority to propose and ratify new amendments. It only takes half of the legislatures in 13 states to deny ratification. We limited government folks have enough influence, in enough states, to stop any pro government amendments from passing. This is a long game strategy. It is also the only way that we can reign in these out of control faceless bureaucrats. We can put enough pressure on our State legislatures to get this done!
    If not me, who? If not now, when?

    Check it out here:

    Look here to volunteer:

  10. Roger Teaters

    A great post Rodney. Folks, the Convention of States, Article V of this wonderful Constitution of ours in the ONLY Solution Big Enough for the Problem we Face in this country. Please get informed and get involved in this awesome Grassroots Movement and let’s take this Country back!!! Sign the petition and get involved here:

  11. TOBY L SHORT, (US ARMY, retired)

    Totally agree that only COS offers a remedy. Only a structural solution can repair a structural problem. The modern constitution went off the rails during Woodrow Wilson with the 16th and 17th Amendments. Those amendments eviscerated the Federal System of the Republic.

  12. Sharon Correll

    If we assume that We the People do not have the ability to conduct a legal and controlled Convention of States and effectively amend the Constitution, we may as well conclude that the great American Experiment in self-governance has already failed. In that case, what are we so fearful of protecting? Government of, by and for the people is already lost to us.

    And history may show that that’s indeed the case. But I’m not willing to assume that’s true until it’s proved beyond question. Until then, I choose to believe what while our 21st century revolution, just like that of the Founders, may have its risks, they are risks well worth taking in the cause of true liberty.

    1. Rodney Dodsworth Post author

      There really is no alternative to Article V. While I will vote for Trump, we should all be concerned that so much hope is put in the election of a man, rather than the rule of law.

  13. Gary Rosenbaum

    Doesn’t matter if you are a Republican or a Democrat. nothing funny about the condition of our country!!! Our Federal government is out of control!!! Its not just time, its “past” time for a Convention of States…One by one our rights are being taken away by executive order, administrative acts & judicial overreach. The States created the Federal government and its now time to take the power back. Its time for an Article V Convention… it may be a long shot, but it also is our only shot to peaceably & constitutionally restore our Constitution. The COS Project application has already been passed by 8 states and 20 or more state houses. This application is limited to 3 areas:
    (a) Impose fiscal restraints on the Federal Government. (Including campaign finances)
    (b) Limit the power and jurisdiction of the Federal Government.
    (c) Limit the terms of office for federal officials and members of Congress.
    Visit here to learn more, sign the petition, and sign up to volunteer:

  14. TOBY L SHORT, US ARMY (ret)

    WELL SAID!! Until recently, and for several years, I had been entirely pessimistic about saving our Republic. COS HAS GIVEN ME NEW HOPE AND PURPOSE.

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