DES MOINES, Iowa – Convention of the States (COS) hosted a rally at the Iowa State Capitol on Tuesday to encourage state legislators to “take back control” of a “runaway” federal government.
“There are people in Washington, DC, and they’ve been there for a very long time, probably at least 115 years, who think that you’re stupid, and you’re simple and that you can’t be trusted with your own lives,” Mark Meckler, President and CEO of Convention of the States, said during his remarks.
COS advocates for states to pass resolutions that call for an Article V convention of states to propose constitutional amendments.
Article V of the U.S. Constitution provides two ways to amend the Constitution; the first is for Congress to pass a constitutional amendment that would, the second is through two-thirds of state legislatures (34 states) petitioning for a convention to propose amendments. Whether by Congress or through a convention process, any amendments passed would require three-fourths of the states to ratify.
George Mason of Virginia proposed the Article V Convention at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, noting that the founders working on the Constitution only gave Congress, not the people, a way to propose amendments.
“He asked the question, are we so naive that we believe that a federal government that becomes a tyranny will ever propose amendments to restrain their own tyranny?” Meckler quoted.
“For a time such as this, he was talking about federal tyranny. And they gave the states they voted to give the states the power to call a convention to propose amendments, and they were talking about restraining federal tyranny,” he added.
Last year, the Iowa House of Representatives advanced two resolutions through their subcommittees that would petition for a convention of the states to propose amendments that imposed fiscal restraints, limited the federal government’s power and jurisdiction, and placed limitations on members of Congress. Both resolutions stalled in the Iowa House State Government Committee.
So far, 16 states – Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin – have had their state legislatures pass resolutions.
Nebraska is poised to become the 17th state to petition for an Article V convention.
Iowa House Speaker Pro Tem John Wills, R-Spirit Lake, a sponsor of last year’s resolutions, said that Washington, DC is worse than a swamp. It’s a cesspool.
“With your help with your assistance, we’re going to change that cesspool of Washington, DC, and we’re going to make it work again, because right now it is not working. It is broken,” he said during his remarks.
“We have to take back our country. And we have to have a balanced budget. We have to limit the power of the federal government. And we have to look at term limits as an option,” Wills added.
State Senator Jesse Green, R-Boone, was the only state senator to speak at the rally.
“The Article V Convention of the States is a paramount tool that our Congress gave us to maintain checks and balances in Washington. It is great because, really, it’s not a tool. It’s a movement that is driven purely by the people in the States when the federal government has become too irresponsible and cannot live within its means,” he stated.
State Rep. Shannon Lundgren, R-Peosta, who was a co-sponsor for one of last year’s resolutions, said in her remarks that the Article V convention “gives us the people the power to make a change with our federal government.”
“They are not in charge of us, we are in charge of them,” she said.
State Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, another co-sponsor of a resolution last year, said the founders gave the people an opportunity to push back on a runaway federal government through the Convention of the States. His speech ended on a colorful note claiming he did not need to be politically correct.
“When it comes to these gun-grabbing freedom-hating, over-regulating civil liberty violating tyrants. Here’s my message,” he said and then extended his middle fingers on both hands, signaling he was “flipping off” those people.
Former U.S. Senator and 2012 and 2016 presidential candidate Rick Santorum was one of the keynote speakers at the rally.
He said the problem in Washington isn’t just limited to one political party.
“My big concern is that it’s happening on both sides of both parties in Washington, too comfortable with all the power they have. And, in fact, like that power and aren’t really interested in giving it back to the people or to the states,” Santorum said.
He lamented the dysfunction of Congress that has led to the concentration of power in the executive branch of government.
“Both sides when their president gets in, they ask the President to use all his executive authority, real and not real, to do things unilaterally. That is a dangerous thing that’s happening in this country. More and more executive orders, more and more rulemaking, more and more standing up to the Congress and the courts, all that power,” Santorum stated.
He pointed to the decline of federalism evidenced by the pandemic.
“We see Washington doing something that historically has never really done, which is trying to make everybody like New York and California, trying to impose their values on every part of the country,” Santorum said. “And again, I’m okay if New York and California want to do that, but don’t impose it on Iowa.”
“The reason that happens, is because the courts, and the Congress and the President have all abdicated their checks and balances responsibility and allow that accumulation of power. If you look at the Constitution, and you look at the enumerated powers in Washington, they mean nothing to the federal government. Because the courts have stripped back all those limitations away. The only way to put that genie back in the bottle, Washington is not going to fix Washington, Iowa has to fix Washington,” he added.
Conservative talk personality Steve Deace was the last keynote speaker focusing his time primarily on criticizing the federal response to COVID-19 and the vaccine than on the Article V convention.
Meckler, in closing the rally, encouraged those attending to pledge their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor because “we know what is at stake.”
Watch video of the different speeches below: