Yes, the ends justify the means. Nothing but the ends can justify the means. Perhaps better put, the ends justify means proportioned to certain ends.
Being born in equality, we are all equally obliged to defend the rights given to us by God. It is for this purpose, the defense of rights, that men form government. Security in our rights is the end. Government is the means. Our Founders drew the following conclusion when government becomes disconnected from, or hostile to, its designed end.
“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of those ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it.”
The Founders found revolution to be a just means toward an all-important end. What of proportion? Is the taking of lives, the violent removal of those opposed to, and abusive of, free government justified? Yes. From Natural Law, which is the Law of Reason, when government usurps its powers it is in a State of War with the civil society that created the government in the first place.
Still, while it is the right of society to use force, it doesn’t have to. Perhaps non-violent means can serve the desired end.
That is what Article V provides. While some may feel that a convention of the sovereign people’s delegates is dangerous, it in no way can compare to the uncertain violent outcome of revolution. This principle cannot be better shown than in a comparison between the American and French Revolutions. Where ours culminated in 1788 with a civil, decent and noble Constitution, the French merely exchanged one set of monsters for another.
So let’s say the sovereign people decide to handle the problem peacefully and their delegates subsequently meet in convention. Now what? What exactly should they correct? What can specifically be done to restore free government?
As others have pointed out, it will be pointless to merely reassert Constitutional clauses that have been violated for decades. For instance, if the convention concludes and the states ratify an amendment that repeats to congress that it and it alone may write laws (Article I § 1), then the convention was a worthless exercise. Repetition of existing clauses that support existing means to the desired end (free government) will soon be ignored just like those in the original.
At this point, I suggest the reader take a stroll through the Constitution, or at least through the Bill of Rights. How many clauses, Articles, and Amendments are in force?
In broad terms, only two sorts are actually in effect.
First, the hard or structural aspects of our government remain for all to see. For instance, we still have a congress, executive and judiciary. Elections are held every two years. Every state has two senators.
Second are the rights and powers vociferously defended by narrowly focused interest groups. For instance, the NRA and similar organizations stand ready to visit electoral hell on politicians opposed to the right of self-defense. Until recently, a vast private media pounced on restrictions to free speech. The American Bar association has historically defended the myriad aspects of a citizen’s right to a fair trial.
In contrast, nearly every “soft” structure, right, power or privilege that is not supported and defended at all costs has been practically excised from the Constitution. Enumerated powers are but a memory. The president and judiciary make laws in violation of Article I § 1, etc.
So, let’s get back to the hypothetical state amendments convention of the sovereign people.
What is to be the purpose of this convention, its end?
Within their state commissions, I hope the delegates are instructed toward securing the ends set forth in general terms in the Declaration (that of unalienable rights) and itemized in the preamble of the Constitution, to wit:
(to) establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty . . .
Toward those ends, I trust the delegates will be authorized to address structural amendments, meaning those which redefine our governing institutions.
First and foremost must be repeal of the 17th Amendment. History has shown that our government remained fairly well within the limits of enumerated and divided powers prior to 1913. A senate of the states ensured that wild democracy would not get out of hand. Until then, prior to 1913, and thanks to a senate of the states, the government of the United States served its desired ends per the Constitution. As an institution derived from a different source than the House of Representatives, a much smaller senate well-served it designed ends. It checked popular passions of the House of Representatives, and provided wise counsel to the president regarding treaties and appointments to high office.
Today, the senate is an institution whose foundation cannot support its designed ends. Popularly derived bodies have never been known for temperate introspection. It no longer checks the majoritarian desires of the House, and has become something of rubber-stamp to an executive branch that recognizes few limits to its powers.
Here is what an ideal Article V state amendments convention would do:
- Reaffirm the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble of the Constitution as the goals, the desired ends of American government.
- Determine the shortcomings of institutions which do not support these ends.
- Redesign our governing institutions such that they serve to support the ends of government.
The American people are taxed an enormous amount for government at all levels without much thought as to just what government is supposed to do. Isn’t it time to step back and reestablish the basic, uniting principles of the American republic?
We are the many; our oppressors are the few. Be proactive. Be a Re-Founder. Join Convention of States.