In Federalist #45 of the Federalist Papers, James Madison, regarded as the Father of our Constitution, said, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.” To make sure it was clear to everyone, this same idea was clearly captured in the 10th Amendment to our United States Constitution which reads, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
Enumerated (Limited) Powers
Clearly, our nation was designed to be made up of powerful states who retained primary authority for their own governance. The only areas where the states ceded their sovereignty was in a short list of powers specifically delegated to the federal government in the Constitution (see article “What are enumerated powers?”). It was determined this list of enumerated powers would be better accomplished by a central, federal government on behalf of all the states together. As we have often said before, if it isn’t specifically listed in the Constitution, then it is unconstitutional and the Federal Government should not be doing it.
There are lots of people and lots of organizations out there pointing out areas where the federal government is overstepping its bounds… and that is great! We need to call out what we see happening. However, as we continue to consider the question, “What can I do?” in this series, there is one organization I want to talk about that not only calls out what they see, but also has built an incredible network of volunteers (with a spot for each of us!) and an invaluable communications infrastructure for doing something about it. That organization is called Convention of States, or COS. If you want to be able to plug in and get busy working with great people for things that matter, toward making things better in this country, then COS has a volunteer spot for you!
With COS, we advocate using the Article 5 amendment process to limit federal power and reclaim areas where the federal government has wrongly taken power at the expense of the original design of our Constitution. In a previous article, Article 5- the Two Ways to Amend the Constitution, we looked at Article 5 of the Constitution and saw the two ways to amend the Constitution. The primary focus of COS is the second method of proposing amendments. This method is clearly listed in Article 5, which says, “…or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments…” – U.S. Constitution, Article 5. Of course, regardless of how a potential new amendment is proposed, it would afterward require ratification by three-fourths of the state legislatures in order to become part of the Constitution, which is intentionally a very high bar and offers a hedge of protection against radical proposals ever being ratified into the Constitution.
If you are looking for a place to plug in and do great things to restore our rightful form of limited, Constitutional government, then COS is an excellent choice. Step 1 is to sign the petition, which you can do at this link. In order to sign the petition, you simply need to fill out the boxes with your information. If you know you also want to fill a volunteer role, you can check the box for “Yes, I would like to volunteer for COS!”. Then click the red “send” button! Someone will be in contact with you to touch bases – they will be happy to discuss volunteer roles that need to be filled in your area, and that fit your skill set. Congratulations – you now have a mission in the fight to save this great nation!
The desire of COS to propose amendments is to return our nation back to its original design with Constitutional limits on its power. Signing the petition means that you support a convention being called by the states, as described in Article 5 of the Constitution. Potential amendments would be considered in only three possible areas, specifically listed in each state’s call for a convention:
- Impose fiscal restraints on the federal government
- Limit power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and
- Impose term limits on government officials and members of Congress
Working towards a goal and making a difference now
It is certainly true that getting a convention called for this purpose is the over-arching goal of COS, and the entire organization celebrates each state that passes the call for a convention (That is one of the really fun parts!). But, along the way, COS also uses its resources, volunteers, and database of petition signers to offer lots of opportunities to impact our society and accomplish great things. For example, in Texas’ last Legislative session, election integrity was a key focus area. So, COS was watching for important bills to support election integrity, and would let people know of opportunities to call their State Representative or Senator, or maybe show up in person at the State Capitol to show support, or even speak at a committee hearing (for those comfortable to do so). So, yes, the whole organization anxiously counts each state on our way to call a convention, but in the meantime, there is no shortage of areas where we can all plug in to make things better.
When I consider a candidate for a public office, I recognize they may have great ideas, but often I wonder whether they know how to actually get elected. Then if they get elected, do they have a strategy for accomplishing the plans they spoke about in the campaign? Sometimes I may even notice this about myself. I may have a great idea, but do I have a viable plan for a way to actually make it happen? No matter how great the quality of the idea, where will we get the structure to bring together people and/or organizations with diverse talents and focus areas to make a real difference? This is something I really love about COS. Once you sign the petition, click the tab at the top that says “Take Action”. You will be taken to a whole list of amazing volunteer opportunities where you can choose something you will be great at doing, while also filling a need and making the COS team more effective! If you are like me, you will be amazed at how COS has different ways to link together people working to make a difference, with those in the appropriate State House or Senate District to get our voices heard and make great things happen. If you are yearning to see an organization that has the structure that provides the real ability to get things done and make things better, then I urge you to get involved with COS. You will be glad you did!
Sign the petition today!
So, yes, Convention of States is a great idea! Let’s all get involved with COS. Let’s all jump into the fight to preserve our form of limited government, and let’s call a convention of states as described in our Constitution to once again limit the federal government to those area that James Madison said were “Few and defined”. When you sign the COS petition, leave a comment below to let us know you did so we can celebrate with you and make sure you get plugged into a great volunteer role!