Ralph Benko

On December 7th, nearly 100 state legislators, many distinguished, representing 32 states, assembled at Mount Vernon.

They gathered at the homestead of George Washington, 15 miles from the capital city named for him. The purpose? To discuss how, safely, to revive an overlooked, but invaluable, provision in the United States Constitution to allow a supermajority of states to rein in a power-drunk federal government.

According to a press release issued after the Assembly’s adjournment, “They emphasized the importance of any convention being done in a way that accomplishes the will of the people while protecting the sanctity of the Constitution, as this action could ultimately lead to proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution, as authorized under Article V. The subject matter of what those amendments would be was not discussed.”

In other words, first things first. First priority is to establish how this amendment process safely can be conducted. Only when prudent ground rules are established will it be timely to consider substantive proposals.

The venue, Mount Vernon, was as apt as iconic. George Washington, the father of our country, of course served as our first president. Of perhaps equal importance Washington also presided over the original Constitutional Convention. Now, lawmakers from a majority of states assembled at his estate to address the issue of how, safely, to bring Washington (DC) back into alignment with, well, the vision of (George) Washington.

The Mount Vernon Assembly is a noble exercise in federalism.

Not for nothing is our fair nation named the United States of America.

Is the federal government out of control? You, Dear Reader, must decide. As this columnist wrote at CNBC.com:

The federal government spent $15 billion from 1789 – 1900. Not $15 billion a year. $15 billion cumulatively. Uncle Sam will spend $10 billion a day in 2011. The federal government spends more every two days than it did altogether for more than America’s first century. Although these sums are not adjusted for inflation [or population growth] they give a correct impression of the magnitude of the change from what our Founders set forth and our early statesmen delivered.

Thoughtful Republicans and Democrats, Progressives and Conservatives, as well as Tea Partiers and Independents … find this profligacy sobering, perhaps sickening. Even after adjustment for inflation and population, it is impossible to argue that the federal government has not ballooned by orders of magnitude beyond that contemplated by the founders.

What is to be done?


Ralph Benko

Ralph Benko, author of The Websters’ Dictionary: How to use the Web to transform the world. He serves as an advisor to and editor of the Lehrman Institute's thegoldstandardnow.org and senior advisor to the American Principles Project.