POLLS: Article Five'ing the Bioregional State? Demographics of Political Upset in U.S. Approaching Constitutional Convention Support Levels
Unlike any other government that I am aware of, the U.S. Constitution allows for non-governmental changes to the Constitution when three-fourths of the populace agree (i.e, in three-fourths of all States). It is an intentional and perfectly legal escape route against federal forms of corruption, grandstanding, and gatekeeping that the Founding Father's expected to happen or they would have hardly put this process into effect.
Given the poll numbers relayed below, are we entering an "Article Five" situation? A three-fourths majority for systemic change? It seems we have the demographics for it actually.
Would tabling the bioregional state principles via Article Five work, presently? Before I address that, I will clarify a few points about the bioregional state--if they are hardly clear yet.
1. The Bioregional State Is Hardly an Argument Limited to the United States: It Is an Argument Applicable to Any Government
On the one hand, stepping back from mere U.S. politics, one point about the bioregional state is that it is the first attempt at general "green constitutional engineering" as a solution to both democratic corruption as well as a route toward sustainability, instead of merely about the United States. Full democracy and sustainability are one in the same, just as gatekept democracy and unsustainability are the same. Therefore, the bioregional state argument is bigger than mere U.S. politics: it is about how systematic state corruption in general is involved in perpetuating and protecting unsustainability and its externalities in health        , ecology    , and self-destructive economies (meaning crony uses of technology and materials       to stop or hamper consumer choices moving toward sustainability  ). So its principles can be adopted anywhere, hardly limited to U.S. politics. From the book:
First, in terms of what Enlightenment theorists neglected, different formal institutions of democracy always are involved in different informal political and environmental contexts which have been left under-theorized as to their interactions with the formal institutional frameworks. These three factors of formal institutions, informal politics, and environmental contexts should instead be considered holistically as one piece in the bioregional state, instead of simply concentrating on a biased approach that only analyzes formal institutions by themselves. Otherwise, only formally degradation states which facilitate and underwrite informal politics of environmental degradation can result because existing formal institutions are based on ignoring and denying these innate interconnections. Second, following from this, I would argue that on these informal political and environmental factors that influence all formal states, existing democracies are innately biased on levels of formal design by informal political interests toward expanding environmental degradation and ignoring citizen input from particular geographic areas that aim to re-prioritize state politics toward more sustainable developmental paths. Formal institutional biases are what are maintaining an informal politics of environmental degradation. It is a gatekept arrangement of informal frameworks of power that receive little formal feedback as to their degradation organization itself. Instead, at present, formal institutions are seen only as something by informal groups to enhance environmental degradation instead of provide a feedback against such depredations. This “appropriation” of formal institutional frameworks--whether state, science, finance, or consumption--to organize only environmental degradation will keep occurring unless additional formal checks and balances are introduced to check and balance on the level of informal politics in the name of geo-specific localities....[U]nless additional checks and balances are added that address from the beginning these biased interactive effects, nothing called democracy can ever be achieved or sustainable—socially or environmentally. Without the bioregional state, all that democracy will ever become is a repetition of aristocratic-royalty states under different symbolic legitimations and under an ecological tyranny. Environmental degradation as a process of informal corruption expansion is innately wound around expanding ecological and social tyranny in informal and formal politics as much as in economics. The issue becomes the formal illegitimacy of existing democratic institutions when it comes to sustainability because they are the facilitators for, instead of the feedback mechanisms against, this ecological tyranny (Whitaker 2005, xi, xviii).So, unsustainability and broken democracies are of one piece--and of one solution. Removing this ecological tyranny of unsustainable developmentalism in pre-existing formal democracies is to move toward the “Ecological Contract” of the bioregional state, an update of Rousseau’s humanocentrist Social Contract, “for understanding how both citizenship is changed and for understanding how the responsibilities of the democratic state are changed in an era of sustainability.” (Whitaker 2005, xviii) It is being more widely recognized worldwide that the state’s Social Contract implies an Ecological Contract. The bioregional state continues this interest in facilitating competitive party democracy as much as human health, ecological, and economic security. The common thread through all the additional checks and balances coalesce around the demotion of a single factor working against competitive democracy and environmental amelioration: this ‘gatekeeping issue.’
In other words, the bioregional state demotes the informal clientelism issue of power that destroys both competitive democracy as well destroys citizenship developmental feedback toward ecological security. That same issue of informal gatekeeping in formal democracy takes the blame for supporting and expanding ecological and human health damage as well as holding back the widespread public outcry against it. Thus, in the bioregional state, the issue of competitive political party democratic facilitation and ecological security circle back on each other as one in the same. The bioregional state argues sustainability is a completed democracy, and argues unsustainability is an institutionalized, gatekept, crony, informal corruption in developmentalism which innately creates an ecological tyranny over people’s health, ecological soundness, and economic sustainability--and destroys the state’s own capacity to survive.
2. Yes, Formal Institutional Changes Can Start at the Top, Though they Can Start at the Grass Roots, right now; Top Down Formal Institutional Change is Hardly Enough
Another point is that, yes, formal institutional changes are required because of systematic forms of corruption have become the basis for operative democracies wherever they exist worldwide. However, top down approach is unlikely to be completely satisfying without some form of basis of local organizing capacities as well--and likely occurring first or at least coordinated with top town approaches. I talk about that here in a previous post.
3. Regardless of Top Down Bioregional State Approaches Stalled or Working, Grass Roots Institutional Watershed Approaches Can Start Right Now
The points at that above link note regardless of the contexts in the larger corrupt state--Article V or otherwise--those grassroots and watershed-based institutions are issues that can be done right now. Moreover, they would be facilitative later of such "Article V" style solutions. So, on the one hand it's hardly enough to work only the grass roots--since much of developmental unsustainability is hardly grass roots. It comes from a corrupt state apparatus that requires other ecological checks and balances. However, without these watershed based institutions, I would argue, a mere top down framework of additional ecological checks and balances however required would only be a piecemeal move toward sustainability, as equally piecemeal as if only the grass roots attempts were achieved.
With those three points said, let's talk more about the implications of the U.S.'s Article Five.
The United States Constitution describes the process whereby the Constitution may be altered--by private citizens acting collectively. Amendments may be proposed in two separate ways:
1. by the United States Congress or
2. by a national convention assembled at the request of the legislatures of at least two-thirds of the several states.
Either way, route #1 or #2, three-fourths of the states require approval to make official Constitutional change. A grass roots version of #2, followed by three-fourths state legislature approval, was actually the manner in which the heavily federally corrupt Prohibition Amendment outlawing various drugs, was repealed, I think--even though it was only a Federal Prohibition that was repealed, since it was left to the many states to maintain various different prohibition standards instead, many still in force.
The demographic political upset on the whole easily tops two-thirds of the citizenry on many hot button issues of health, ecology, and economics. However, there is that (more than) slight difficulty of corrupt collusive Democratic and Republican parties gatekeeping against the citizenry. This is mostly because of gerrymandered districts that keep the Democrats and Republicans in place as one-party states generally, in a 'voters-eye-view' of U.S. politics. So given this type of gerrymandered corruption, the path of #2, a 'request from current two-thirds of (gerrymandered) state legislatures' seems to be a stlllborn and gatekept option to address corruption, at least with the gerrymandered districts in place and a lack of competitive parties or competitive district representation in most U.S. legislative districts, State or Federal, currently.
So, to become valid for route #2 in Article V, amendments so tabled at such a two-thirds state legislature approved national convention would then ratified by either three-fourths of the state legislatures--or since those are currently unrepresentative, corrupt, and gerrymandered--by a separate state level ratifying conventions in three-fourths of the several states. What would this separate ratifying convention entail? It's hard to say, though it is clear that it only comes with federal gatekeeping approval--instead of simply citizen desire.
Here's the actual text from Article V:
"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;...."
The phrase "as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress" implies however that any alternative grass roots 'outside the State legislatures' ratification framework comes only with approval of the Federal Congress in the beginning, set out as such. Thus the Framers only considered that the check and balance against a corrupt State legislature blocking (which the federal Congress was seen as checking against, in giving it the power to authorize state conventions to change the Constitution) or route #1 was seen against a corrupt Federal Congress (from two-thirds independent State legislatures agreeing, then three-fourths of them agreeing to ratify). However, WHAT THE U.S. has right now is corruption in both the State and Federal Legislatures. On the whole then, both legal routes of Constitutional change through Article Five seem completely halted, currently.
An additional formal check and balance point integrated into the bioregional state is thus that another third Article V type of route of Constitutional Change shall be possible as a check and balance against this situation of dual State and Federal legislative corruption that the Framers overlooked. This third route is something that Jefferson seemed to have a mind for--with his Jeffersonian Rules for the Congress, which allows just such a 'people's referendum' through a Single State Legislature to be tabled and 'expedited' into the Federal Legislature, when passed as such by State legislatures. Thus, there is actually a "third route Article V" through Jefferson's Rules of the Congress. For example, a State Legislature could table a motion to be sent to the Federal Congress that would force the second route of Article V into effect. A single State can thus table a motion for unlocking route #1 or route #2 Constitutional changes (i.e., Congress voting on it right then and there; or Congress so authorizing right then and there the three-fourths version of state convention ratification). However, that implies a non-corrupt Federal Congress as well as a hurdle to get over to pass anything by this potential "third route", which seems out of context, currently.
It seems that current grass roots frameworks are the only way, however enticing 'quick fix' Article V may sound on the surface.
Here's some updated demographics (like previous poll posts   ) mentioned by Joel S. Hirschhorn that show there are such "Article V" levels of desire for change in the United States, right now.
Hirschhorn argues for the Article V's 'outside' capacity to call and formulate a Constitutional Convention. However, quite silly (and even suspect) he is, because first this would require two-thirds of the State Legislatures agreeing on it beforehand, which is highly unlikely with Democratic and Republican collusion across the board. The second silly (and even suspect) issue is that Hirschhorn fails to actually reveal what people or he would like to do with an Article V Convention, once he gets it!
Instead, I know what I would like to see. I would definitely table the ideas of the bioregional state as an important rectification for more ecological checks and balances. However, as noted above current Article V pathways are entirely blocked, so Hirschhorn seems like a loose cannon or a pointless endeavor in implying that it is currently possible--given gatekeeping Democratic and Republican political parties 'occupying' the U.S. legislatures.
Other Routes Besides Article V Romanticism
Three routes currently possible are the watershed level institutions mentioned above.
Another route would be toward dismantling gerrymandered districts in states via referendums--in the states that have it.
A third route would be toward state referendums that could institute proportional representation in that State's Electoral College vote, which can be done state by state to generate a more competitive party framework and a more accurate reflection of the demographics of a State's Presidential Vote. See the book for more elaboration on those other routes.
Either way, if a truly competitive party framework and working democracy had this level of political upset, it would be translated into something like an Article V Constitutional Convention. However, what people are upset about is the Democratic Party and Republican Party intransigences and destruction of their U.S. Constitution.
Earth to Hirschhorn: when you are upset with the gatekeepers, the gatekeepers are hardly going to call a Constitutional Convention to remove themselves--they would only call one currently to further solidify their gatekeeping and their further destruction of the U.S. Constitution, so beware.
Here's Hirshhorn's view, mentioning those polls showing "Article V" upset levels.
newswire article reposts united states 14.Jun.2007 11:00
economic justice | government
Americans Unready to Revolt, Despite Revolting Conditions
author: Joel S. Hirschhorn
New poll data show how little confidence Americans have in their government. So why are they incapable of rebellion?
Americans Unready to Revolt, Despite Revolting Conditions
Joel S. Hirschhorn
The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal national poll results vividly show a population incredibly dissatisfied with their nation's political system. In other countries in other times such a depressing level of confidence in government would send a signal to those running the government that a major upheaval is imminent. But not here in the USA. Why?
First, here are the highlights of the poll that surveyed 1,008 adults from June 8-11, with a margin of error of plus-minus 3.1 percentage points.
A whopping 68 percent think the country is on the wrong track.
Just 19 percent believe the country is headed in the right direction - the lowest number on that question in nearly 15 years.
And most of those with the positive view are probably in the Upper Class.
Bush's approval rating is at just 29 percent, his lowest mark ever in the survey. Only 62 percent of Republicans approve, versus 32 percent who disapprove.
Take Republicans out of the picture and a fifth or less of Americans have a positive view of Bush.
Even worse [than Bush's numbers], only 23 percent approve of the job that Congress is doing. So much for that wonderful new Democratic control of Congress.
Bipartisan incompetence [and intentional Republican-Democrat collusion against the voters] is alive and well.
On the economic front, nearly twice as many people think the U.S. is more hurt than helped by the global economy (48 to 25 percent).
Globalization does not spread wealth; it channels it to the wealthy, making billionaires out of millionaires.
I have long asserted that Americans live in a delusional democracy with delusional prosperity and these and loads of other data support this view. There is a super wealthy and politically powerful Upper Class that is literally raping the nation. Meanwhile, the huge Lower Class continues to lose economic ground while their elected representatives sell them out to benefit the Upper Class. Yet no rational person thinks that a large fraction of the population is ready to rise up in revolt against the evil status quo political-economic system that so clearly is not serving the interests of the overwhelming majority of Americans. Why not?
For a nation that was built on a revolt against oppressive governance by the British, something has been lost from our political DNA. We apparently no longer have the gene for political rebellion. It has been bred out of most of us. And those of us that urge a Second American Revolution are seen as fringe, nutty subversives.
Part of the genius of our contemporary ruling class elites is that they have engineering a state of political and economic oppression that paradoxically is still embraced by the Lower Class. The rational way to understand this is that ordinary, oppressed Americans are in a deep psychological state of self-delusion. Despite all the empirical, objective evidence of a failed government, they fail to see rebellion opportunities. Many still believe they live in the world's best democracy. But across all elections considerably less than half the citizens even bother to vote anymore.
Yet, as the new NBC/Journal poll results show, people are cognitively aware of just how awful the political-economic system is.
Yet they are not feeling enough pain to seriously consider rebellion. And it is visceral pain that must drive people to the daring act of rebellion.
Why is there insufficient pain for revolution? This is a deadly serious issue. What is historically unique about America is that even the most oppressed and unfairly treated people are distracted by affordable materialism, entertainment, sports, gambling, and myriad other aspects of our frivolous, self-absorbed culture.
Even failed school and health care systems do not drive people, paying enormous sums to fill up their SUVs, to rebellion. So, Americans are aware of their oppression, but the power elites have successfully drugged them with a plethora of pleasure-producing distractions sufficient to keep them under control. We are free to bitch, but too weak to revolt. The Internet has provided a release valve for some pent up anger and frustration. But it too has mostly become another source of distraction, rather than an effective tool for rebellion.
Though these new poll statistics make news, those in control of the political-economic system are not afraid that the population is on the verge of retaking their constitutionally guaranteed sovereign power and take back their nation. Thousands of people like me keep writing books and articles and creating protest groups and events. Those in power just find new, ingenious ways to keep the population distracted - if not through pleasure, then certainly through fear of terrorism. Growing economic insecurity also contributes to self-paralysis, as do never-ending political lies.
What a system.
Even as the population has growing awareness of the dire condition of their nation, the move by the politically powerful on the right and left continues to seek a new immigration law that will solidify the selling out of America.
Business interests want more of those fleeing Mexico and other nations to keep wages low. Instead of Mexicans rising up in rebellion against their oppressive government and economic system they escape to the USA. But Americans have no such viable escape solution. Though global warming will certainly make Canada increasingly attractive.
So what do Americans have - other than a terribly bleak future? Where is hope in our dismal world?
In a bizarre twist of history that further illustrates just how impotent Americans have become, virtually all citizens are either unaware of or unreceptive to the ultimate escape route that the Framers of our Constitution gave us. They anticipated that Americans could become quite dissatisfied with the federal government. They feared that the political system could become incredibly corrupted by moneyed interests. They were right.
So here we sit over 200 years after our nation was created unwilling to use what is explicitly given to us in Article V of the Constitution - the option to have a convention outside the control of Congress, the President and the Supreme Court to make proposals for constitutional amendments. Do we really believe in the rule of law?
If so, then we should understand that the supreme law of the land - what is in our Constitution - is the ultimate way to obtain the deep political and government reforms to restore true democracy and economic fairness to our society.
Make no mistake: an Article V convention has been stubbornly opposed by virtually all groups with political and economic power. This is most evidenced by the blatant refusal of Congress to obey the Constitution and give us an Article V convention, even though the single explicit requirement for a convention has been met.
This fact alone should tell rational people that they are being screwed and oppressed. The rule of law is trumped by the rule of delusion. Our lawmakers are lawbreakers.
Come learn more about the effort to get an Article V convention at www.foavc.org and become a member. Do not keep witnessing the unraveling of American society, voting for lesser evil candidates, and believing the propaganda that putting different Democrats or Republicans in office will actually improve things for most of us.
Choose peaceful rebellion by using what our Constitution gives us. Fight self-delusion.
[Joel S. Hirschhorn is the author of Delusional Democracy (www.delusionaldemocracy.com); and a founder of Friends of the Article V Convention (www.foavc.org).]