Jim DeMint is like a lot of Americans. He doesn’t trust Washington. For years, he’s tried to change it, to control its uncontrolled spending and waste, to restore control to the people. In a very real way, that spirit was in large part responsible for Donald Trump’s upset election seven months ago.
DeMint tried in the House of Representatives. He tried in the Senate. He tried in the Tea Party. And he tried as president of the influential Heritage Foundation, which last month asked him to try not being president there anymore.
Now, even DeMint has given up.
“I tried to rein in Washington from inside the House and Senate, then by starting the Senate Conservatives Fund to elect good conservatives, and finally as President of the Heritage Foundation, creating and promoting good, conservative policy,” the 65-year-old staunch conservative said this week.
“But once I realized that Washington will never willingly return decision-making power back to the American people and the states, I began to search for another way to restrain the federal government.”
DeMint thinks he’s found that way.
He signed on this week as senior adviser to the Convention of the States Project. All that group wants to do is to get at least 38 states to rise up and amend the United States Constitution.
Now, before you say, yeh, right, like that’s ever gonna happen… Actually, go ahead, say it.
You’re right, it seems like a long-shot, a very looong-shot. But one of the unique strengths of the Founding Fathers’ government is its built-in ability to self-restore, especially if driven by popular movements.
There are two ways to achieve this. One, get two-thirds of both houses of Congress to approve constitutional amendments, then get three-quarters of the states to ratify them.
Clearly, that’s not going to happen, since voters have been sending messages to Congress of drastic change for many years. And how satisfied are you right now with the results?
The whole point of the amendments would be to force Congress to impose fiscal restraints and term limits on itself, restrict federal powers and send much of it back to the states. In other words, to reduce the importance of Congress.
The second Article 5 route is an end-around Congress, get two-thirds of the states to call for a Convention of the States to draft amendments and then get three-quarters of them (38) to ratify the results.
What the project wants, among other things, is “ironclad limitations on federal power that Congress doesn’t have the spine to pass,” stop federal government waste and return power to the states “where it rightfully belongs.”
It is, to be honest, a genuinely massive undertaking when, for instance, just Republicans have trouble getting their own congressional majorities to agree on measures.
But the current state of the nation’s capital and the widespread dissatisfaction in flyover country is also a massive reality. “I’ve finally realized,” DeMint adds, “the most important truth of our time. Washington, D.C. will never fix itself.”