During a PBS interview Gore Vidal proclaimed, "It was Jefferson who said, 'I think that once a generation, every 30 years, we should hold a new Constitutional Convention and work out the things that do not function properly in our political arrangements.'" Vidal himself, a man very much in the mold of the Founding Fathers, has long suggested that the states should hold another constitutional convention to remedy what many perceive as a broken federal government.
It's time to add one more patriot to the list.
In a press release sent out last week, S.C. Sen. Glenn McConnell announced that he "is calling for a national constitutional convention that would give states the right to deny benefits to illegal immigrants and have them forced out of the country."
Some have accused McConnell of having an overactive imagination, when in reality the senator's idea is pure political brilliance, and such a proposal is long overdue.
Once upon a time, when we actually had a U.S. Constitution that was still obeyed, honored, and followed by men sworn to uphold it, we had a pretty good system of government. The people of the states, acting through their elected representatives in Congress, could keep tabs on their elected leaders, making sure they didn't overstep their governmental boundaries and actually did their jobs as defined clearly in the Constitution.
This is not the system we live under today. Today, presidents can fight endless wars without any official declaration by Congress, and our federal government can declare de facto war on the country it is supposed to serve, simply by not doing its Constitutional duty of protecting America's borders.
As bad as the problem of illegal immigration is, one recent study suggests it could be even worse than we thought. The study, released by Californians for Population Stabilization, claims there are at least 20 million illegal immigrants and as many as 38 million or more living in the U.S., a number that is higher than the federal government's figure of 12 million. Based on these numbers, roughly 10 percent of the U.S. population is here illegally.
As Washington, D.C., continues to ignore this problem, the states can no longer afford to. The P&C notes that about 1,500 bills have been introduced by municipalities and state legislatures this year alone to rectify the situation. President George W. Bush, Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, and other federal officials continue to insist that states that pass such legislation have no authority to do so, and federal courts have even stopped states and cities from enforcing what the court considers "illegal" local ordinances designed to combat illegal immigration.
Which brings us back to McConnell and his fantastic idea. Through a constitutional convention, the people of the states could once again reclaim control of America's borders by empowering themselves to do the job the federal government won't do. Two-thirds of the states, or 33 states, would be required to approve a constitutional amendment that would make it clear that the states have the right to enforce immigration law.
Some might call this lunacy. It used to be called democracy.
As a man who truly understands what the phrase "states' rights" means, McConnell is right to revisit America's political foundations in order to find an answer to the severe problem of illegal immigration. Even to a cynic, his idea should at least be more plausible than some of the other actions our government has taken with reckless abandon. No doubt, organizing a new constitutional convention would be more doable than say, oh, I don't know ... trying to establish democracy in Iraq?
Most polls show that Americans believe mass illegal immigration from Mexico and other Latin American countries has become a major burden on multiple levels. Whether or not the safety, economy, culture, and identity of the United States are being compromised by illegal immigration is something Americans can continue to debate. That this problem has been imposed on us by our derelict federal government is not.
Far from being overly drastic, McConnell's proposed convention is perhaps one of the best ideas I've heard on how we might reintroduce political sanity into an insane situation. And as this demographic revolution known as illegal immigration— the largest human migration in the shortest amount of time in history — continues to transform the nation without the people's consent a counterrevolution by the people, through their state governments, may indeed be the best way to fight back.
Catch Southern Avenger commentaries every Tuesday and Friday at 7:50 a.m. on the "Morning Buzz with Richard Todd" on 1250 AM WTMA.