Article V and Rational Revolution

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Must revolution be violent? Must revolution upend an older society and replace it with a new one? Wouldn’t a 21st century restoration of free American government without resort to violence be revolutionary?

Pennsylvania’s Framer James Wilson thought so:

This revolution principle–that, the sovereign power residing in the people, they may change their constitution and government whenever they please–is not a principle of discord, rancor, or war: it is a principle of melioration, contentment, and peace. It is a principle not recommended merely by a flattering theory: it is a principle recommended by happy experience. To the testimony of Pennsylvania–to the testimony of the United States I appeal for the truth of what I say.

Sovereignty in the people was not a novel concept; the hundred years since the Glorious Revolution and eleven years since the Declaration of Independence reinforced in English minds the people’s natural right to govern themselves as they please. This is all well and good in Wilson’s “flattering theory,” but what, despite written Constitutional precautions, if the people’s government goes awry or governing forms ill-serve society? What was novel was that revolution need not instill “discord, rancor or war.”

Revolution need not be violent.

Man is fatally incapable of forming any enduring system free from corruption. The idea of incorporating a plan of reformation in the Constitution, which formalized peaceful means to return to first principles in a rational revolution, was a new contribution to political science. Our Framers discovered a constitutional cure wholly popular, and strictly republican for the ancient diseases of a republican polity. In rational revolution the people do not burn down cities or decapitate high government criminals in fits of rage. Well before society explodes, they act within the supreme law of the land to avoid destruction. Thanks to the Framers’ structure of government and especially Article V, the decay and death of the new American republic seemed far less likely.

Article V institutionalized and legitimized peaceful, ongoing, rational revolution. It tempered the historically and infrequently exercised natural right to violent revolution into, when needed, a non-violent amendment convention in which state delegates coolly and rationally consider antidotes to the fever of unconstitutional rule or simply wish to improve their governing forms. Within the American system of government are the means to eternal improvements without bloodshed.

People are not free under a Constitution closed to amendments. A frozen Constitution negates rational revolution and guarantees the opposite of our Framers’ gift; instead of “melioration, contentment, and peace,” a frozen Constitution invites “discord, rancor, and war.”

Contrary to the fear-mongering from Article V opponents, our Framers did not plant a bomb in the Constitution. No Constitution provides for its own destruction, and no people or their delegates ever gathered to enslave themselves.

The contest between Article V proponents and opponents revolves around their perceptions of the solution to the problem of un-free government. To opponents, all that need be done is to expel the corruptors of our existing system. Despite the lessons of history, they believe electing “better” men and women can restore free government. Without saying, they endorse a frozen Constitution and deny the benefits of rational revolution.

Article V supporters agree the self-serving politicians, rogues, and high criminals that infest Washington must go, but they also reason this is an insufficient and impossible remedy. It is a societal placebo in that voters feel good about themselves if they vote for the better of two candidates. Even if one of the candidates is “good,” experience teaches when we send such people to corrupt institutions, the good men and women do not reform the institutions; corrupt institutions corrupt the men and women.

To abandon the gift of Article V’s rational revolution is to abandon sovereignty. The evidence is all around. Consider the long train of abuses from a corrupt Supreme Court that amends the Constitution at-will.

Constitutions change, and they change through:

1.) Corruption.
2.) Article V rational revolution.
3.) Violent revolution.

The question is WHO, the people or those entrusted with political, not sovereign power, will make the changes. Sovereignty abandoned is sovereignty surrendered to others. We are the many; our oppressors are the few. Government is the playground of politicians, but the Constitution is ours. Be proactive. Restore the American Tradition. Join Convention of States.