The Real Races to Watch

This November there will be another federal election. As always in a mid-term election all of the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate will be up for grabs. This election is a bit more exciting than usual due to the prospect of significant gains by the Republicans at the expense of the Democrats.

Big whoop.
In my opinion, the real action may be at the state level. Unlike Virginia, most states hold elections on the same even-numbered years as the federal election cycle. Which means that many statehouses are in contention this November. A recent Rasmussen poll predicts that the final governor count will be GOP – 28, Dems – 15 with 7 “too close to call”. You can see more details here.
Who cares and so what? The number “33” has a certain mystical meaning. For starters, it is emblazoned on each and every bottle of Rolling Rock beer. Perhaps more importantly, from a political perspective, it represents 2/3 of the 50 states. Article V of the US Constitution defines the two ways that the constitution can be amended. The first approach involves the Congress proposing amendments which are then ratified (or not) by the states. The second approach allows the states to demand that Congress call a constitutional convention. Both approaches require a 3/4 vote by the states to ratify the amendment(s).
The Republicans are within earshot of 33.
Governors are not state legislatures and it’s unlikely that the Republicans will win enough of the “too close to call” elections to get 33+ governorships. However, I sense a trend among Republicans at the state level. Fed up with the federal government and convinced that special interests have a death lock on Capitol Hill, more and more Republican state legislators are talking about the 10th Amendment. Are we getting to a point where Republicans control enough state houses to start threatening the federal politicians with a demand for a constitutional convention? Bet on it. As the Bush meltdown becomes the Obama long recession, the flames of resentment against the federal government grow among the voters – especially the Republican voters. And nothing warms the cockles of Republican hearts like a promise to “do something” about “Washington”. What could be a better way of “doing something” than forcing a constitutional convention on the federal establishment – whether they like it or not?
How long will it take for some Republican to start talking about a constitutional convention mandated by the state legislatures? I’d guess Nov. 3.
Will it happen? Will there really be a state mandated convention? Will the US Constitution be rewritten? Of course not. Remember, we’re talking about politicians here … not real people. However, the talk will happen and sometimes talk is enough to make a slight difference. Perhaps the federal “ruling class” will back down a bit when faced by even the threat of a non-violent rebellion by the states. Then again, perhaps pigs will sprout wings and start mating with sparrows.

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16 responses to “The Real Races to Watch”

  1. Larry G Avatar

    I'm going to give high marks for an excellent analysis though Groveton has almost caveatted it to death.

    I'd just like to point out that we're talking about part time State legislators and if Virginia is any example – big time special interest money flows like beer at a frat party.

    But I do agree that Washington has run amok.

    I hear today that our esteemed COC accepts money from overseas and spend money on attack ads.

    Of course the claim is they keep the money "separate" (like it's not fungible)….

    so it looks like "free speech" in the US includes those who like to receive outsourced jobs from us.


    but I digress…

    Groveton think our General Assembly, AKA the "clown show" in Richmond that created the 3202 abortion and has been unable for a decade to do something about transportation and now are about to embark on the redistricting cage fight…

    THAT General Assembly is going to contemplate serious changes to the U.S. Constitution doubt with Cooch's help?

    I'm not sure the guys in Richmond are to be trusted very far off the farm to be honest.

    but I do give Groveton credit – he's a big idea guy!

  2. James A. Bacon Avatar
    James A. Bacon

    How would a constitutional convention work? Who would run the show? Who would participate? Could anyone just show up and submit amendments? What would keep the darn thing from running totally out of control, like… The people agitating for a convention are motivated by the goal of limiting government spending but single-issue groups submit amendments to ban abortion or pass the Equal Rights Amendment.

    I suspect there are good reasons why the U.S. has never had a second constitutional convention.

  3. Larry G Avatar

    Groveton has caught the "fever".

    He wants to shake up govt and dump the status quo…

    so the exact details of the kerfuffle …are not important…

    as long as the kerfuffle "happens".

    I suspect that's the motivation of more than a few now days.

    They are so frustrated with the current system and so convinced that our elected own us – literally – that it's time for an old fashioned "revolution".

    Obama will be the first casualty but not the last.

  4. Larry G Avatar

    I've come to the conclusion that what the Tea Party is really about is …. breaking the machine… on purpose.

    Because the machine is owned and operated by elected who have no intention to change it so that it works in ways that people are happy with.

    So… we break the machine… and it really don't matter how it gets broke…

    there need not be a particular strategy – just do the deed.

    and of course – "un-elect" those who own and operate the machine so that a new machine with new operators is the result.

    so it really doesn't matter who particular players are nor how extreme their views are – much the way that any revolution might operate.

    so .. we're still in the "tear up the machine" mode right now.

    and it probably will continue on for 2 more years.

    Another indicator of this – is that, for the most part, the Tea Party and supporters really do not have a specific person in mind to replace Obama….

    whoever it will be … will become a place-holder if by that time there is no consensus leader "in house" … we'll wait.. until the right guy or gal comes along.. with appropriate Reaganesque characteristics.

    right now.. the machine is not running right and Obama is viewed as just another jalopy wannabe who wants to operate the machine but has not taken sufficient notice of the gathering crowd bearing pitchforks and torches….

  5. "When disgruntled workers damage or destroy equipment or interfere with the smooth running of a workplace, it is called workplace sabotage. This can be as part of an organized group activity, or the action of one or a few workers in response to personal grievances. In general, workplace sabotage takes the form of deliberate and prolonged inefficiency by the saboteurs. Alternatively there may be repeated "accidents" which cause damage/delays to equipment, supplies or processes. Whether it is hand-tools or documents which go missing, the intended effect is the same. The only real limit to workplace sabotage is the imagination of the saboteurs.

    Luddites and Radical labor unions such as the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) have advocated sabotage as a means of self-defense and direct action against unfair working conditions.

    The IWW was shaped in part by the industrial unionism philosophy of Big Bill Haywood, and in 1910 Haywood was exposed to sabotage while touring Europe:

    The experience that had the most lasting impact on Haywood was witnessing a general strike on the French railroads. Tired of waiting for parliament to act on their demands, railroad workers walked off their jobs all across the country. The French government responded by drafting the strikers into the army and then ordering them back to work. Undaunted, the workers carried their strike to the job. Suddenly, they could not seem to do anything right. Perishables sat for weeks, sidetracked and forgotten. Freight bound for Paris was misdirected to Lyon or Marseille instead. This tactic — the French called it "sabotage" — won the strikers their demands and impressed Bill Haywood"


    The tea party has roots in liberal trade unions, and follows her tactics?

  6. Groveton Avatar

    I think Larry is right. People do want to break the machine. Because the machine doesn't work. And the machine is perceived as being corrupt. And the machine is too big. And the machine has mutated into a thing that was never envisioned by the constitution.

    For all those reasons.

    "No society can make a perpetual constitution or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always to the living generation…"

    Thomas Jefferson in a letter to James Madison

    "It would give me singular pleasure to see first announced in the proceedings of the US States, and always kept in their view, as a salutary curb on the living generation from imposing unjust or unnecessary burdens on their successors.".

    James Madison in a reply to Thomas Jefferson's letter

    "The warmest friends and best supporters the Constitution has, do not contend that it is free from imperfections…".

    George Washington

    "…whenever any government shall be found inadequate or contrary to these purposes, a majority of the community hath an indubitable, inalienable and indefeasible right to reform, alter or abolish it, in such a manner as shall be judged to be most conductive to the public weal.".

    George Mason

    The US Constitution (along with the willful misrepresentations and misinterpretations of that Constitution) is broken. Contrary to the conservative crack-pots the Constitution was never worshiped or revered by the founding fathers. They expected it to be changed. Contrary to the liberal crackpots, it is not a general guideline for the "ruling class" to use and abuse in order to keep themselves in power.

    For example, if term limits really constitute a violation of the freedom of speech then the First Amendment should be re-written to specifically allow term limits.

    It's time for fundamental change. That change will require a re-writing of the Constitution and the federal "ruling class" will never agree. Fortunately, we have an alternative which empowers the states to take control and shove the change down the "ruling class'" throats.

  7. Bill Walker Avatar
    Bill Walker

    The author fails to take into account the fact the states have already applied in sufficient number to cause a convention call. He bases his premise on the assumption the states have yet to apply. His use of the incorrect term constitutional convention proves his lack of knowledge even though he obviously supports a convention but only to the extent of using it as a threat.

    One commenter incorrectly says the United States has never had a second constitutional convention. He is incorrect. The United States has never had even one convention. The convention he refers to was held under the Articles of Confederation not the constitution.

    The applications can be read at and number over 700 from the states. When the states begin talking about a convention it will based on the requirement of Article V mandating a convention call.

  8. Groveton Avatar

    Mr. Walker:

    Thank you for the comment and the link. The Congressional record from 1929 is particularly interesting.

    As far your belief that there has never been a single constitutional convention …

    What would you call that meeting in Philadelphia held from May 25 – Sept 17, 1787? I've always heard it referred to as the constitutional convention but perhaps you have another name.

    For example:

    However, let's dispense with debates over terminology. I would most certainly support an Article V convention – whether it's newly demanded or "re-demanded".

    My questions about the possibility of a Title V convention revolve more around the nature of politicians than the need for such a change. I see state politicians as apprentice members of the "ruling class". They seem much more like their counterparts in Washington than they seem like the disaffected rank and file among the voter – taxpayers. While I believe some (many?) state politicians may talk about a Title V convention, I serious question whether they would ever have the gumption to act on that talk. The Congressional record from 1929 seems to bear out my belief.

  9. "No society can make a perpetual constitution or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always to the living generation…"

    Thomas Jefferson in a letter to James Madison


    Try telling that to the conservationists.

  10. Larry G Avatar

    I'm not going to get into the quote game but Jefferson has a wide array of quotes on a variety of subjects…

    almost like flipping through the Bible to find the quote that supports your view.

    i.e .."eye for an eye"…."thou shalt not kill"

    and all that ROT…..

    I became aware a few years ago when the PEW folks did some survey's asking people in plain English some of the stuff that is in our Constitution – and quite a few did not agree.

    I knew then – we were eventually headed for trouble because the American Public have a very different view of what the US is – than is actually described in the Constitution…

    and in a matter of a couple of years – the Conservatives have gone from "strictly" construing the Constitution and getting rid of "activist" judges…

    … to having Constitutional Conventions… repealing some of portions of the Constitution (like election of Senators) and adding in more explicit language about the role of the fed and states…..

    the world is changing…

  11. James A. Bacon Avatar
    James A. Bacon

    Larry, you make me laugh. You seem to find some hideous discrepancy with conservatives strictly interpreting the constitution and then going off to have constitutional conventions. What's inconsistent about that? Conservatives believe in amending the "living constitution" by going through the difficult and laborious amendment process — as described by the constitution itself — not amending it by means of activist judges who perceive "penumbras" and "auras" of meaning!

  12. Larry G Avatar

    Jim – it appears to me that we went from an environment where Conservatives considered the Constitution – sacrosanct… to an environment where the same Conservatives want it changed.

    For example – to do away with so-called "anchor babies".

    My view was that until recently, that Conservatives had a "strict constructionist" view of the document – i.e. to NOT CHANGE IT but to strictly interpret it.


    I don't suppose you remember the Equal Rights Amendment that made it's way through the states – and eventually fizzled.

    Is that the process we are talking about?

    I think the Conservatives are treading in dangerous territory myself.

    Ultimately the constituencies of Blacks, Hispanics, gays and lesbians, school teachers, scientists, etc are going to consistent a far larger majority than the right wing.. and if we establish that the Constitution is indeed a document to be changed..

    watch out!

  13. Larry G Avatar

    No one weighed in on the idea of the Chamber of Commerce exercising "free speech" courtesy of foreign money…


  14. It's OK.

    It is probably foreign money earned by US companies overseas, so it is really US money.

  15. Darrell Avatar

    Several years ago I read quite a few books, articles and other stuff about these convention ideas. Most were written by academics, lawyers, and former justices.

    The general consensus was that once a convention was called, the conventioneers were who controlled the process and it could not be limited to a single topic. Some said that Congress should have input, but that was refuted in the simple fact that the Constitution was the document that created the three branches of government, and a change in the document could directly impact the existence of those three branches.

    I've been against these pushes for changing the Constitution ever since then. Especially when I see 'grass roots' organizations calling for a convention, when in realty it's the moneyed interests behind them that really want it.

    You know as well as I do that the closest Joe America will ever get to the convention floor will be outside the security zone as his rights are written away.

  16. Larry G Avatar

    Darrell nailed it.

    we are fast descending into 3rd world governance.. where the chairs and other throwable items have to be nailed to the floor.

    "You Lie" will become polite conversation…..

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