Steve Corbin is emeritus professor of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa and a freelance writer who receives no remuneration, funding, or endorsement from any for-profit business, nonprofit organization, political action committee, or political party.
Now that the November 8 midterm election has passed, Republicans have maintained their trifectas in 22 states (losing only Arizona), and control one or both legislative chambers in at least half a dozen others. Don’t be surprised if the GOP’s next move in some state legislatures will be to call for a U.S. Constitutional Convention.
Permit me to explain.
Prior to the 2010 election, Republicans controlled both legislatures in fourteen states. The GOP’s Tea Party election sweep in 2010 was, some experts claim, the start of America turning into a conservative nation.
Prior to this year's election, Republicans controlled 30 state legislatures. Thirty-four is GOP’s magic number. Why 34? According to Article V of the America’s Constitution, state legislatures have the power to call a constitutional convention if two-thirds (66.6 percent) of the states agree. That's 34 out of 50 states.
Eric O'Keefe and Mark Meckler formed a group called the Convention of States Action in 2012. In summation, their goal is to persuade GOP-controlled state legislatures to call a constitution convention where far-right conservative values will become the law of the land.
How’s Convention of States Action doing? Besides raising more than $10 million in 2020 alone, the group has persuaded nineteen states to pass the constitutional convention resolution. Another six states have passed the resolution in one legislative chamber. The resolution has been introduced in twelve more states, including Iowa. That totals 37 states, three more than needed to call a constitutional convention (www.conventionofstates.com).
According to Ed Pilkington of The Guardian, the assembly would promote the following policies: “limit the size and scope of the federal government, set ceilings on or even abolish taxes, free corporations from regulations and impose restrictions on government action in areas such as abortion, guns and immigration.”
Pilkington notes Mark Meckler, who founded the Tea Party Patriots and leads Convention of the States Action, said as a guest speaker on Steven Bannon’s "War Room" show, “We need to say constitutionally, No [sic], the federal government cannot be involved in education or healthcare or energy or the environment.”
Pilkington also reports that Bannon told his viewers in September, “you now have a political movement that understands we need to go after the administrative state.” Bannon’s reference to `administrative state’ partially comes from his religious background of Traditionalism, an alternative far-right mystical spirituality that has extreme opposition to modern institutions.
To better understand Bannon and his influence on Republican and Donald Trump’s policies, read Benjamin Teitelbaum’s August 8 article in New Lines Magazine titled “Trump ally Steve Bannon wants to destroy U.S. society as we know it.”
Russ Feingold and Peter Prindiville’s book The Constitution in Jeopardy, released in August 2022, is also worthy of reading to understand GOP’s unprecedented effort to rewrite our constitution.
Who is on board with Convention of States Action? These names may ring a bell: Texas Governor Greg Abbott, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Dr. Ben Carson, Iowa conservative radio host Steve Deace, former U.S. Senator Jim DeMint, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, U.S. Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas, conservative personality Sean Hannity, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Donald Trump's former chief of staff Mark Meadows, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, and former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.
One of the group's legal advisers is John Eastman, a Trump-affiliated lawyer. The U.S. Supreme Court has been asked to suspend and disbar Eastman for his role in trying to subvert the peaceful transfer of power following the 2020 election, which fueled the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Need I say any more about Convention of States Action and their minions?
Contact any Republican who represents you and ask whether they support this group’s call for a Constitutional Convention. The answer received will let you know if our constitution, ratified in 1788, and its 27 ensuing amendments will prevail, or whether America could fall to GOP-controlled authoritarian rule.
Editor's note from Laura Belin: State Representative John Wills, the third-ranking Iowa House Republican, introduced legislation on calling an Article V convention in January 2021. Republican State Senators Zach Whiting, Dan Dawson, Mark Lofgren, Dennis Guth, Ken Rozenboom, Tom Shipley, Mike Klimesh, and Brad Zaun introduced a similar resolution in the Iowa Senate in January 2021. The legislation did not advance in either chamber.
Top image: Logo of Convention of States Action, originally published on the group's Facebook page.