Originally posted on July 10, 2016, at Oklahomans For Constitutional Government
By Steve Montgomery, of the Convention Of States - Oklahoma
This year, the Oklahoma Legislature passed a resolution that calls for an Article 5 Convention of States to propose amendments to the US Constitution to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government (e.g. a balanced budget amendment), limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and impose term limits on elected and appointed officials of the federal government.
Every single one of these goals is consistent with conservative principles.
But while the goals of this call for an Article 5 Convention are consistent with Conservative principles, the act of calling for the convention is not necessarily “conservative”; it is actually quite bi-partisan. Many Democrats are also frustrated with federal overreach and want to see limitations and restrictions placed on the federal government as well. They might want to fix different things, but they agree that it is constitutional to use an Article 5 convention to push for those changes.
I was actually very involved in the Article 5 effort here in Oklahoma and so I was there for the entire, bloody 2-year battle.
When we started working toward the resolution, I expected the bulk of our opposition to come from the democratic side of the aisle because I could not see how any conservative could possibly oppose States using a Constitutional power to reign in an out of control federal government, given the potential amendments we were proposing.
Boy was I wrong?! To my surprise, and disappointment, our strongest opposition actually came from some very conservative groups: OCPAC, John Birch Society, Eagle Forum, and more.
Using what I consider to be flawed history and flawed logic, these groups mounted an active campaign to defeat the resolution. Fortunately, although their efforts were effective, the resolution did not die in 2015. That give us time to educate the citizens and lawmakers. As we did, lawmakers started to understand what we were trying to do. Ultimately, we were successful this year and Oklahoma passed a resolution calling for an Article 5 convention.
During the fight over this resolution, I was so frustrated with the behavior and tactics of our opposition that I found myself questioning whether they could really be called conservatives.
But as time went on, and as we worked side by side with these same people on other issues, I realized that I was not being fair. Overall, these people are very conservative on most things, it’s just that some of their tactics are very divisive.
This is a multi-part series and I will get into some details about what went on during the fight over this resolution, but for this first installment, I wanted to focus on the recently released Conservative Index which is published by the Oklahoma Constitution Newspaper and created in conjunction with OCPAC. Specifically, I want to talk about the fact that they included this Article 5 vote in the index, why it is wrong, and how it hurts the conservative movement.
Every year, the Oklahoma Constitution Newspaper and OCPAC publish this index to rate lawmakers according to conservative values. They pick a number of bills tied to conservative issues and then use lawmaker’s votes to determine how conservative they are, scoring them from 0 to 100.
Unfortunately, OCPAC and the newspaper chose to include the Article 5 vote in this year’s Conservative Index and what is baffling to me is that the index considered a “no” vote to be a conservative vote, meaning of course that a “yes” vote is not conservative.
That simply makes no sense. OCPAC claims to want limited Constitutional government AND they claim to want a return to the original intent of the Constitution. They also claim to support the rights of States to govern themselves in all areas that are not covered in Article I section 8 of the Constitution.
By voting to call for an Article 5 Convention, our State legislator worked toward accomplishing all of those goals.
So how, then, does a “yes” vote mean a lawmaker is not conservative?
There is just no intellectually honest way to both include that vote and then require a “no” if this index is a true measure of conservatism.
You might ask, then, why they included that vote on the index? I don’t know for sure, but some history might explain it.
When this fight started, many OCPAC members (along with the organization itself) took a strong position against the resolution. They used fear, false history, and faulty logic to try to defeat the resolution and almost succeeded in 2015. They fought hard and some of them fought dirty (more on that in the next article). In many cases, outright lies were being told. They were in it to win and they were going to try to win at all costs.
Fortunately, this year, the John Burch Society, Eagle Forum and OCPAC lost the battle over Article 5. Our State Legislature didn’t have a great year in 2016, but they got the Article 5 vote right and I take my hat off to them for it.
You would think that after a hard two-year fight, OCPAC would have accepted the defeat and chosen to move on. After all, there are so many things we need to be working on. The budget is a disaster (I notice that the budget vote didn’t end up on the index by the way), education is a mess, bathroom policy in public schools is perverted, and we have a governor that veto’d an abortion bill that could have protected thousands of unborn babies. How in the world are we still fighting over Article 5 when we should have never been fighting over it in the first place?
To a lot of people, even people who might have agreed with them on Article 5, this looks petty and vindictive. What is worse, many lawmakers are furious with OCPAC; how do you think that is going to affect OCPAC’s credibility and influence at the capital?
What I find very hard to understand is how OCPAC can include the Article 5 vote on the Conservative Index and leave out the vote over the budget. This year, our legislature voted on a budget that for all intents and purposes violates our balanced budget amendment. The legislature did not cut spending to correspond to the reduced tax revenue received by the state and borrowed money to cover the extra spending. That is contrary to conservative principles. If groups like OCPAC are going to punish lawmakers for voting with the Constitution and give them a pass for liberal fiscal policy, how can they expect to be taken seriously?
Right now, our federal government is out of control and our State government is not doing a whole lot better. Conservatives should be pulling on the same end of the rope to fix our governments but we have some in our ranks that would rather stir up dissension than move forward. I personally love the idea of groups like OCPAC and OCN and I very much want them to be successful because we would all benefit from their stated goals, but they are killing themselves, and us, right now.
When I hear fellow conservatives complain about how President Obama is destroying this nation, it makes me want to cry because while I do believe he has been a terrible President, I lay the problems of this country squarely at the feet of the conservatives.
If we had been working together toward the goals we all claim to support, we might have never seen Obama become president in the first place. But we have not worked together and the liberals have taken advantage, to the sorrow of our children’s future.
There are many in the conservative movement who are perfectly willing to stop all progress unless things are done exactly the way those individuals think they need to be done. They are willing to use their influence to bully lawmakers and to get revenge against those that dare to disagree. They are even willing to let the country burn down around them if they don’t get their way.
If you don’t believe me, just look at the history of the Tea Party in Oklahoma.
The most dangerous enemy we face today is not the enemy on the outside, it is the enemy within.
The enemy within keeps us divided. The enemy within makes us ineffective. The enemy within opens the gates and gives the keys to the enemy on the outside.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Mathew 7-3:5
Steve Montgomery is a Christian Conservative Activist working to restore the limited Constitution government our founders intended. He is actively involved parental rights, education and Constitutional issues and is focused on educating and recruiting new citizen activists. Steve was the State Director for the Convention of States project and worked tirelessly inside and outside the State Capitol to pass a resolution calling for an Article 5 convention. He also worked on a number of other issues including the Parents Bill of Rights, Common Core, and mandatory vaccinations. Steve is the founder of Digital Six Laboratories (www.d6labs.com), an Oklahoma technology start-up company. He and his wife Tracey live in Mustang with their three boys, who they educate at home.