I want you to hold onto that number as you read this, since this is, in fact, the most important thing you will read as an American Citizen at this point in time. I write this on January 25, 2017, the same day that the current President of these United States, Donald Trump, stated that 5 million people voted illegally and declared visa restrictions on certain countries. Sadly, these all will wind up relating to my main point.
At this point in time, the Republican Party controls the following:
- The Executive Branch (The President)
- The Legislative Branch (The U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate [aka, the full Congress]
- 241 Members in the U.S. House
- 52 Members in the Senate
- 34 Governors
- 32 of 50 State Legislatures
- 6 States Legislatures are “split”
At this point, the Republicans will also control the Supreme Court once Trump makes his nominee for the position.
The following are the numbers related to getting a Constitutional Amendment:
- 290 – Members of the House of Representatives for a Supermajority (2/3rds)
- 67 – Senators for a Supermajorty (2/3rds)
- 34 – The number of states that equals 2/3rds
- 38 – The number of states that equals 3/4ths
Article V of the United States Constitution:
“The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress.”
Of the “split” legislatures, here are the differences:
Democrats control the House 79–72, Senate is split 18-18
Democrats control the house 77–72, Republicans control the Senate 18–17
Democrats control the House 50–48, Republicans control the Senate 24–24
Democrats control the House 37–28, Republicans control the Senate 18–17
Democrats control the House 17–3, Republicans control the Senate 14–6
- New York:
Democrats control the House 106–43, Republicans control the Senate 31–24
The Democrats control the House and the Republicans the Senate in all 6 “split” states. Most of these states, save Maine and Alaska, have Democratic Governors. Connecticut has 2 Democratic seats open in 2017, 10 in 2018. Maine has 6 Democratic seats open in 2018.
Of the data I have Connecticut and Maine can both turn red in the next 2 years. Those two states alone would make the total number of states with Republican legislatures 34. After that, the state house most likely to switch to Republican is Washington, followed by Colorado. Alaska is possible based on the election results (Trump won with 52%), but New York shifting would be nearly impossible.
So what does all of this data mean?
How we Normally Create and Pass a Constitutional Amendment
In order to pass a Constitutional Amendment, you need a Supermajority of both the House and Senate. While the Republicans don’t have that, they have proven that they can get enough Democrats to vote on certain things, even un-liberal things, like repealing the Affordable Care Act and banning federal funding for abortion. The U.S. Senate, though, is not as willing, but they also haven’t had much problem getting Democrats to vote for things like amendments that would lower drug costs and approving a man for the Department of Homeland Security who said “Muslims are dangerous.” For all 27 Amendments to the U.S. Constitution that has been how its done.
That may not be how its done this time.
The second way to pass a Constitutional Amendment is with a Constitutional Convention, which requires 2/3rds of the states, or 34 states. With 32 states under their belts, the Republicans just need to take over 2 more states. That’s it. They could be Connecticut, Maine, and who knows, maybe Washington will turn over, too. At that point they hit the magic number of 34, giving them the 2/3rd states they need in order to declare a Constitutional Convention.
A Constitutional Convention has never been held, at least not since 1787. Frankly, no one has any idea how it would work. Actually, literally no one knows how that would work since its never been done. To further complicate matters, states have different rules and laws related to what would happen if there is one, and also of note is the number of states who want rescissions as well. Rescissions, if you’re like me and have no clue what that means, is basically their ability to change their minds after they approve it.
The most important thing about a Constitutional Convention is that they can, at that point, come up with as many amendments that they want. Ban abortion? Ban same-sex marriage? Legalize torture? Make it legal to hurt, or even kill, protestors? Yes, all these amendments, and more, could come our of a convention. They would need 3/4ths of the states to approve, or 38 states.
You may think that since they’re currently six states short that this isn’t something that’s possible, but it is.
Within the last week, the President has had at least 3 massive stories a day. The thing that’s maddening about that is that you don’t really know where to attack, which is actually brilliant. You want to foucs on the fact that they’re shutting down the EPA and the USDA Twitter accounts? Too bad because he just approved the Keystone Pipeline, but he also just said he’s going to start banning visas from Muslim countries like Iraq and Syria while approving a wall with Mexico. I wish I was kidding, but all of that, ALL of it, was within only 72 hours. You can’t focus on any single one issue.
In fact, look at his cabinet nominees. Nearly all of them are bad, from the head of ExxonMobil as Secretary of State, a woman who opposes public education taking over the Department of Education, a brain surgeon taking over the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Yet, because nearly all his nominees are terrible, the Democrats and just citiizens who oppose nearly all of them are stuck having to pick their battles because they know they can’t stop all of them. So while one person might get stopped, another one will get through.
So if there’s a Constitutional Convention, do you really think they would all fail?
How Did we Get Here?
The Republicans have been playing 3-D Chess while the Democrats and liberals have been playing checkers. While liberals have gone out and protested things like abortion rights, civil rights, the NSA, income inequality, and more, the Republicans just ignored them and focused on grabbing more and more power in the states. While Democrats were protesting the President or Senators, they just kept taking more and more state seats.
In fact even now, even with liberals and Democrats protesting their U.S. Congressperson or Senator in person, even now taking their cue from “Indivisible” and the Tea Party to try and get change… they’re still wasting some of their time if they’re in Connecticut, Maine, or Washington State. The Republicans in those states are focusing on finding a way to get control of the state houses.
What’s the Reason for the Paranoia? What are the warning signs?
Right before Trump was inaugurated, I started getting some notices in my feed. Two bills of note:
- A bill to have the United States withdrawal from the United Nations
- A bill stating “Life Begins at Conception”
These are fairly normal bills for Republican’s in Congress to propose at least once or twice, but with the new majorities it was concerning.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a Conservative group that uses states as an incubator for policies they try to pass on a national level. Knowing this, I found this alarming:
- Indiana SB 285, which would allow cops to use “any means necessary” to remove protestors
- North Dakota HB 1203, which would legalize running over a protestor if its an “accident”
- Minnesota HF 55, which wants to make blocking a highway a $3000 fine and a year in jail
- Iowa Senate File 111, which would make people who intentionally block traffic on Iowa highways charged with a felony punishable by up to five years in prison
- Michigan introduced a bill that would shut down “mass picketing” demonstrations and fine protesters who block entrances to businesses, private residences or roadways
- Virginia SB1055, which wanted to increase penalties for people at a “riot” who didn’t leave, failed
Within 2 months, 6 states passed laws trying to ban or increase penalties for protesting. Of them, about 5 of them are still on the table (Michigan is undetermined as I write this.
Also of note is ALEC’s record on bills:
- 30 states have “Stand your Ground” bills
- 34 states introduced Voter ID bills, with 6 of them with them on the books
One more note: Republicans nationally would be fine with leaving NATO as well, with more and more feeling there is a need for “America First” policies.
What would the Republicans REALLY try to do?
Based on everything I’ve researched, based on everything I’ve heard and learned, and based on the history of the party in the last 30 years and the party platfom, this is what we could be looking at Amendments that do ban abortion and ban same-sex marriage, but we could also see amendments limiting the right to protest. We could see amendments barring the United States from entering into things like the United Nations or NATO, or something permanently banning “Sanctuary Cities.” We could see amendments about Climate Change… heck, they may abolish the IRS just to do it. Why not ban Transgender bathrooms?
The smartest thing that the Republicans would do is toss out as many amendments as possible at once knowing that most, if not all, of them would get approved.
Remember what I said about Trump throwing out so many nominees at once or how insane the 3 days I mentioned were? That would be the ideal strategy, and in a Constitutional Convention you could see that happen.
What can we do?
First, let me say this: I’m not against Republicans. I actually am a Republican. The problem is the national party and many state parties are just so far removed from the main stream and the majority of what people in this country want that its maddening to see this happen. All the things I mentioned them trying to do are things I am firmly against, but I’ve seen a ton of my Republican and Conservative friends actually applaud ALL of the anti-protesting bills I’ve mentioned. It doesn’t make sense. The same party that wants more “State Rights” opposes states that allow for “Sanctuary Cities” for breaking Federal Law, they want personal freedom but will ban a woman’s choice and same-sex marriage, they want America to be a world leader and a protector of Democracy but oppose us being in the United Nations and NATO… it’s maddening.
The thing you can do is fight for what you think is right.
I’m not going to tell you to just vote for the Democrats because it really does come down to 3 states. No, the tactics of putting pressure on your local officials has to get LOCAL. HYPER-LOCAL! Find out what you State Representative and State Senator is doing, and tell them what you think! That’s really it.
Do it now, let them know you won’t take it NOW, so that way if they happen to start trying they know it won’t be easy.