Radical Turnabout

In the French Revolution the ancient Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris was given over to pagan rites for years. But eventually French Catholics were able to re-sanctify the Cathedral — with unlikely help from Napoleon Bonaparte. I cite this restoration as a hopeful symbol that when decadence afflicts a nation, and the country is given over to despoilers, still there remains the possibility of a radical, fundamental turnabout.

During the era that followed the assassination of JFK, the postmodernist revolution proceeded stealthily, gradually and inexorably to dominate the United States. Postmodernism uses government, the media and public education to promote paganism and atheism. It relegates Christian faith and morality to the political/cultural ghetto, and as a consequence this revolution has devastated the nation’s manners, finances, and public mores.

Tr eatise on Twelve Lights is a plan for counterrevolution, i.e. for setting the USA free from the tyranny and immorality which the postmodernist regime has imposed.

By way of basic strategy, the book looks to the nation’s founding document: the Declaration of Independence . The Declaration sought to restore what its chief author, Thomas Jefferson, called the most valuable of all freedoms: the right of self-government. Today, however, consent of the governed, or rule by the people, is giving way to usurpation of power, a crime cited three times in the Declaration as among the casus belli leading to the radical break with Britain in 1776.

During the 2003 dispute over Judge Roy Moore’s Ten Commandments monument, Ambassador Alan Keyes echoed Jefferson. Keyes warned that we were losing “the freedom to live in communities that are governed by laws that reflect our beliefs.” Instead, edicts issued by the politburo of nine (the unelected, life-tenured U.S. Supreme Court) form what Pat Buchanan calls “the battering ram of the cultural revolution.” We are plagued with numerous other usurpations of power, including Presidential wars undeclared by Congress and a bloated federal bureaucracy ruling us by “administrative law.”

Having lived longer than most of my fellow Americans, I have known an America vastly different than today’s. The restoration of “America the Beautiful” seems quite possible in light of my experience. My confidence derives from having lived in a country that was neither loathsome culturally nor odious politically– the USA until 1963. For some years I was “able to love my country and still love justice,” as Bobby Kennedy used to quote Albert Camus.

My optimism is based also on my longtime profession as a history teacher (now retired). Historical precedents reassure me that the despoiled condition of the country and of its Constitution is not irreversible. (On the fatalistic fallacy, “you can’t turn back the clock,” see 42 historical examples of documented counterrevolution).

Another reason citizens can be optimistic about restoring a country that has been sullied by postmodernism is that America’s illustrious legacy offers hope. The more glorious a country’s past, the more advantage accrues to reformers when they call their country back to its roots. In the 19th century the U.S. Navy made unsightly alterations to the glorious ship, USS Constitution, rendering “the eagle of the sea” unrecognizable. Yet patriotic inspiration overcame the claims of so called realism; and since the restoration of 1927-31, Old Ironsides looks like herself again.

What Treatise on Twelve Lights proposes to restore in America is the standing of the written Constitution. Reinstated in its former status of lex rex (king law), the Constitution would wield the scepter once again over a Republic of laws, rather than under an oligarchy governed by lawyers attired in black robes, or within a polity whose “public servants” are beholden to corporate plutocrats. To restore the country to a condition that engenders genuine patriotism and civic virtue, we will have to deprive government of power to mortgage our children and grandchildren to transnational corporations. Prayer, not pornography, must once again have free exercise under the First Amendment.

To overcome the corruption we see inside the D.C. beltway, and in the country at large; reforms will have to be at least as radical as our problems. Nothing less will suffice: a constitutional dry-dock, an overhaul of the engine. And Article V of the Constitution provides the means: a constitutional convention.

Such a convention would be a unicameral, temporary body, without homesteading incumbents ­­­– i.e. no politicians preoccupied with reelection. An Article V convention would lack obstructive procedures: no filibuster, no autonomous standing committees. The Constitution authorizes the people, the citizenry in convention assembled, to circumvent the postmodernist power structure, bypass federal officialdom, and address directly the fundamental problems in our polity, economy and culture.

Treatise on Twelve Lights includes extensive commentaries on the proposed agenda for a convention – i.e. a draft for one arch-amendment to the Constitution. The book’s last chapter sets forth this single overarching amendment in detail. The constellation amendment would consist of a series of interlocking reforms organized into twelve sections. Its political, economic and cultural reforms are set forth in outline form , and also in prototype text .

The twelvefold constellation amendment would serve as a standard under which “we the people” might rise up to undo the evils of the postmodernist revolution. Basically, the call is to restore America the Beautiful under God and the written Constitution.

By

writer, retired history teacher, practicing cradle Catholic, lecturer for Knights of Columbus, council 1379. Knight of the Month, October 2008, February 2009.

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  • SeanReynoldsNZ

    To a lot of readers, this would sound like an absolute heresy, but here I would propose a significant amendment to one aspect of the Constitution and I would ask you to seriously debate the idea. I have nothing to lose or gain by whatever way this one would go because I am yet to set foot in your country.

    Surely, someone who bleeds for your country would love your country more than someone who happened to have the good fortune to be born there. Yet your country’s constitution regards those who are citizens by merely by being born in the USA to have greater rights when it comes to political office than someone who was a non US Citizen by birth, but migrated to the USA and serves in your country’s armed forces, receiving the right to Citizenship by bleeding on the battlefield. And yet, someone who became a citizen by serving in your armed forces would be barred by accident of birth from running for the Presidency, yet a womanising hippy can sit in that office. I would suggest that US Citizens of whatever origin of birth who have served in the armed forces, especially if they have served in combat, should be treated by your laws as though they were born in your country. It ought to be clear from the fact that they put their life on the line where such a persons loyalties lie.

    Besides, my experience has often been that immigrants tend to appreciate the new place that they call home more than someone who had the good fortune to grow up there. I have seen that with many of my friends who migrated to New Zealand from South Africa.

  • SeanReynoldsNZ

    Perhaps another way that I could phrase the above question would be as follows: Suppose you have a guy who was born in Mexico, and his family legally migrated to the United States in the 1950s / early 1960s. Perhaps he even becomes a citizen, but he definitely has a green card. He gets drafted into the Army and serves in Vietnam. Leaves the army after doing his time, and lives life. Now, would you rather have that guy, or Bill Clinton as President? Remember that Bill Clinton was a draft dodger. Of course, the Mexican is disqualified from running because of his place of birth. Bill Clinton was born in the right place.

  • Warren Jewell

    SeanR, I presume of New Zealand, you hit a wide-ranging truism: “my experience has often been that immigrants tend to appreciate the new place that they call home more than someone who had the good fortune to grow up there. I have seen that with many of my friends who migrated to New Zealand from South Africa.”

    On CE alone, we have editors who are converts to Catholicism, who literally burn as compelling beacons of the Holy Spirit. I have only but rarely found such abiding light and energy among those – US – born-to-the-pew. And, one need only look back on the likes of Britain’s eloquent Msgr. Ronald Knox and the ever wisely brilliant G.K.Chesterton to note that converts bring especial glory to God in His Church. I have to believe that one humbling aspect of a good cleric serving as a bishop is he constantly finds himself nearly converting over and over again, maybe even daily as he picks up his cross to follow our beloved Masterr, Jesus Christ, to God’s needs for His children and His Church. Thus, the apostolic fire from the Holy Spirit has been, is and will be re-kindled and fueled over all these centuries.

    What a nearly glorious way to recognize ‘converts’ to the American Experience, by front-loading our military vets for (if they so desire) naturalized citizenship after four years of honorable military service (and, that they may choose to make it a longer career). Plus, perhaps, giving all honorably discharged vets an edge at seeking higher non-military offices.

    Oddly, for me as it might be for Mr. Struble, it is being a student of history, of both American and Indo-European persons and eras, that makes me a smart Church citizen who seeks Confession and Communion as I do freedom. I consider a good confession a pre-requisite to my voting. The great and good Lord knows I have to pave the way for His enlightenment for me about political choices.

    To Mr. Struble’s call for a new Constitutional convention, I only request
    1) a limit-of-terms by elections and years for any who holds national office, including every judge;
    2) also, return selection of national Senators to the state legislative representatives for the constituencies whom they will represent. It would return a strong level of federalism to our national ways.

  • Mary Kochan

    Please Warren and all, use the links toward the end of this article to visit the proposed constitutional revisions and comment on them here. You might even paste pieces of it in your comments to get the discussion going on specific items. There is a lot of food for discussion here!

  • http://catholichawk.com PrairieHawk

    I once proposed a Constitutional Convention in this space but the concern was that it would be much too risky, and the concern I think is valid. What’s to stop the process from being hijacked by the Left? Once a Convention is convened, *anything* could happen, up to and including throwing out the entire Constitution and replacing it with a left-wing manifesto.

    There is another way. We as Catholics have the right to create a subsidiary society, organized around Jesus who is the Truth, that will be so compelling that people will be drawn to it out of desire for its obvious goodness. These would be Eucharistic communities, with elements drawn from the Monastery, the Catholic Worker Movement, and today’s parish life. I envision whole communities with the Risen Lord in the Eucharist as the “source and summit” of community life; people come in freedom, offer what they have to offer, and get back what they need to live. There is precedent–I’m no Church historian, but I believe the early Apostolic communities were much the same way. These new communities would be ordered with modern concerns in mind; but at their heart would beat the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

    We would be Americans, because what could be more American under the Constitution than living freely while seeking God? And we would be distinctly Catholic, with concern for justice, and living with great charity for all. I think it’s possible. We don’t need to turn our backs on modern society; rather, we issue an invitation, to “come and see” and try life our way. The Faith used to be called The Way, remember? We could show the world The Way to God. It’s the Christian vocation, writ large. And I think it could be done.

  • Mary Kochan

    Hear! Hear! Anthony, you need to move on my block. You and Warren. Goral, you need to move here too!

    I’m still just as leery of a constitutional convention as ever. But his proposals are very interesting and worthy of discussion.

  • kent4jmj

    The article reminds of a book Dr. A. Schreck on Vatican II in some ways. In it Dr. Schreck gives a very good analysis of those who critique the council. It was not liberal enough, it was not conservative enough, the particiants were well meaning but uninformed and therefore opened the door to abuses, the participants were informed and opened the door to abuses.

    In all of these positions one thing is lacking. That a true understanding of the Council documents must first be had before they can be implemented. The Council is not the problem! Its misuse and misapplication are.

    I would submit that the Constitution as written is the solution. A thorough understanding of it and adherence to it is what we need. Accomplishing that would be a miracle in itself. If calling for a Constitutional convention were part of that miracle I would be all for it. Still without an informed and engaged citizenry I suspect it will come to nothing. And there is the crux of the matter isn’t it. Without the people of U.S. there can be no reform. There are some signs of hope in some pretty energetic grass roots movements but they have not caught on to the point of turning the ship at this point.

    As a Catholic I think that being engaged as a citizen is very important. Much more important than I had realized up until recently. I have written my Representatives, called them, written to newspaper, tried to join associations that push for the values and ideals I hold dear and have networked as much as posible in my community and parish. Its a lot of effort without much payback. So I have come back to a more spiritual outlook while not abandoning involvement. Prayer. Prayer. Prayer. God can and does intervene at times. Our Lady messages of different apparition, approved and still under investigation, tell us that prayer is the ultimate source of power for change. In ourselves and in the world.

    So work hard and pray hard!

  • http://www.tell-usa.org Robert Struble, Jr.

    Mary Kochan,
    Thanks for your comment. I would argue that fears of what an Article V convention might do are disproportionate to the real and ongoing danger of usurpatious Federal courts. The politburo of nine amends the “living, breathing Constitution” at will, and without any of the checks and balances which the Framers built into Article V. It amounts to a standing constitution convention, unelected and irremovable, without the safeguards inherent in a ratification process.

    Anything a “convention for proposing Amendments” might do under Article V is subject to ratification by 3/4 of the States. But we the people have no way of appealing edicts issued by the Supreme Court.

    Our black robed dictatorship constitutes a clear and present danger to democracy within the framework of a republic. In a convention, we the people have a way to address this and other perils — like plutocracy and the “dictatorship of relativism” in the public square.

    Beware lest we “strain out the gnat and swallow the camel,” thereby closing the door on our last legal hope of effecting a radical turnabout.

  • Warren Jewell

    First, I commend Mr. Struble’s apparent and general acumen and acuity in forming this proposition in all its splendor. But, that splendor is part of the problem, for me. For, I tried to simply read, let alone give high-level ‘digestion’, to the linked documents. My head is still swimming.

    I get the sense that at the level of decentralization, or inherent federalism, it seems too little. At the level at which we are centralized, or nationalized, it seems too much. To my reading and thinking, nationalization has overcome federalism over the time since the War Between the States, and that is large part of why our Constitution, and our freedom and economy, has been more and more undermined.

    Remember, now, our current Constitution required what was a comparative handful of men who were canny enough to have been the heart of a successful revolution long weeks to hammer out that comparatively less weighty document. Despite their competence, though, in fact, they still might be meeting in Philadelphia had they not wisely made George Washington the convention head. Yet, delightfully, thus, we vicariously achieved ‘a republic, if we can keep it’. How in the world do you anticipate our current leadership cadre, who by comparison to our founders are at once more self-seeking and less of a class of the order of Cincinnatus, and tied to such dumbed-down constituencies as to add boggle to my swimming head, delivering such a new Constitution? Frankly, of that dumbed-down U.S.-wide constituency, they – WE – are likely to be needed to be ‘sold’ first on the array of changed details of any new Constitution before we anticipate the fortitude among the leadership to give it due diligence in convention to complete it. Then, on into states for ratification . . . – - – ? ? ? (How long, O Lord – how many years and meetings and ballots and what-have-we?)

    I would seek but absorption of existing amendments into a more ‘revised’ “Constitution 1.1” rather than attempt “Constitution 2.0”. Give us term limits in every elective office, and elections, plus better recall methods, for every office. Return us to state-chosen Senators to balance national effects with federal leveling. Write in the life-and liberty-protecting words of the Declaration of Independence. Some few provisions of articles and sections could be changed to tighten things up for the better. The “2.0” being offered looks like some re-organized if not re-invented wheel of a Constitution.

    And, I just cannot hope to presume that the states with some three hundred million citizens will submit to ‘take it or leave it’. I fear such dramatic re-detailing will find us bogged-down in re-re-detailing in every state. We will stagger on to where we begin to accept changes and modifications and ‘enhancements’ that few of us want but such as patient alleged ‘progressives’ will seek, influence constituents via pet media and get through. And, the ongoing drama will have our churches offering prayer intentions for the convolutions toward the new Constitution for two decades!

    Then after the fifty states, in effective ‘committees’, have thrashed (and, lest we forget, added) what they will accept from the pile, who puts it all together to mean much of anything? (That the ‘progressives’ would again demonstrate untoward patience toward getting their ways would haunt my hopes as well as my thoughts.) And, who indeed would recognize the national outcome of all the hammering, tonging, re-molding, refining, etc., ad nauseam?

    To play upon the words of Patrick Henry for allusion: “Some dare call for a new Constitution. But I say, give me simple, straightforward, needed revision, and before my death.”

    I almost reverted to chewing my nails, and in descent into thumb-sucking.

  • Warren Jewell

    Mr. Struble responded to Madame Kochan before my last dramatic and of course wind-baggy response.

    The ‘politburo of nine’ (and appellate auxiliaries) need only be crossed by our legislature following the Constitution to be put in their place. “You will NOT take our job. Your imperious finding on Moe v Schmoe is moot for enforcement. Next such attempt to usurp our job will find you held to impeachment considerations.” The two other branches need only invoke their positions from the current ‘unrevised’ Constitution to pinion the judiciary. They simply have chosen not to; yet, it is with, from and of such leadership that we would be trying to reform our governance. A revised Constitution will not guarantee legislative action over inertia.

    I am currently anchoring, lest my sails fill again and I set off on my own wind.

  • http://www.tell-usa.org Robert Struble, Jr.

    Warren,
    You’ve raised a number of points that are too complex to address here. Feel free to email me here: headquarters@tell-usa.org. I bet we could have an interesting and useful exchange of views.

    Meanwhile, let me respond briefly to two of your points. First, I am opposed to any movement for a new Constitution. Instead, I propose one arch-amendment to the existing document, which would approximately double its length. The written Constitution as revised would be exponentially shorter than the accumulation of judicially imposed components in the so called “living, breathing constitution.”

    Second, I agree that no revised Constitution per se can guarantee, as you put it, “action over inertia” by the Legislative Branch. But, a reformed Congress, as per sections 1-5 of the constellation amendment, promises to reinvigorate the House and Senate — especially the House as the engine of democracy within the Federal system. Would not a revitalized Congress, armed with new tools of oversight over the judiciary and the bureaucracy, be the sort of solution you seek?

  • Mary Kochan

    Robert, I think that a lot of us simply don’t understand enough about the entire process of a constitutional convention. My impression has been that it would put everything on the table and that we could lose the constitution as it exists now. You seem to be suggesting that the convention’s agenda could be narrowed considerably.

    Not sure if you want to answer here or if that should be the subject of another article.

    We will be transferring this article to the politics section on Monday and running it there Monday and Wednesday and hopefully get more people to join the discussion. But maybe from this you get an idea of what level of understanding about the process most of us are at and what we need to understand in order to see the possibilities in your idea.

  • http://www.tell-usa.org Robert Struble, Jr.

    Mary Kochan,
    The fourth chapter in Treatise on Twelve Lights contains lots of information about an Article V Convention. See, especially, the subsection entitled “Seven Safeguards” at
    http://www.tell-usa.org/totl/04-Insurrection%20of%20Suede.htm#Seven_safeguards

    Here let me briefly refer to Article V itself which describes “a convention for proposing Amendments.” It authorizes the convention to PROPOSE, not enact or decree as the Courts do. Three-fourths of the States (38) would be free to ratify or refuse what the con-con proposes.

    Second, only “Amendments” are authorized, not a new Constitution. An Article V Convention is different in this respect than the Convention of 1787. That assembly was called for by the Continental Congress; but it was not mentioned, nor delineated, in the national constitution of that day, the Articles of Confederation.

    Thus you have a narrowing of the agenda to Amendments, and practically speaking to Amendments which the delegates are hopeful about submitting to the States for ratification. For other political factors that would help in narrowing the focus of the Convention, click on the indicated link:
    http://www.tell-usa.org/totl/04-Insurrection%20of%20Suede.htm#Seven_safeguards

  • billwalker

    For more information about an Article V Convention, you can go to http://www.foavc.org. The 750 applications for an convention from all 50 states can be read there. The Constitution mandates a convention be called if 34 applications from 34 states are submitted.

    Many of the issues discussed have been already proposed by the states as amendment issues in these texts.

    As to a new Constitution. The Constitution provides at least three different means whereby this cannot happen. First Article V mandates an amendment made must be part of the present Constitution that no matter what is submitted it must become part of our already existing Constitution. Second, the Congress could pass a law making it a criminal offense specifically for any delegate to a convention to act in such a manner; meanwhile current federal criminal law clearly could be applied if need to address the matter. Third, the president is authorized by the Constitution already to “preserve” the Constitution. He could, under that authority, as has been done in the past, simply order out federal troops and shoot the delegates should they attempt such an action. See actions of Washington, Jackson, Lincoln for any questions regarding the president cannot do so in face of acts of rebellion.

    As to the left high jacking the convention. Very unlikely unless those on the right simply sit on their hands during election of delegates as well as during any ratification action in the states. As with all American politics the victory will belong to those who go out and fight for what they believe.

  • Warren Jewell

    Oh, great! JUST PEACHY!

    The mandatory call by the unanimous-super-majority all fifty states for a Constitutional convention meant to adhere to Article V for tendering amendments is ignored by our oh-too-well ensconced (‘settled in and hiding securely’) representatives.

    And, we can expect if a convention is finally called, these folks won’t be the dead-weight dead-wood that they are, elected by a dead-weight, sleepy-headed electorate? Can you see the progresso-pet MSM awakening the heads of said electorate? Can anyone else envision that these self-assigned elitist ‘aristocrats’ would seek to make their incumbency more a Constitutional fact than anything else? Increasing their own power, prerogatives, ‘entitlements’, etc.?

    As usual, a fact or three leads to at least as many questions. (And, I’m gettin’ too old for this stuff! The good Madame Kochan would have me reside on her block; where her brood in casual lesson would define ‘inertia’ as ‘Mr. Jewell!’ ([Gales of laughter!] ‘Inertia’ comes from the Latin for ‘lack of skill, slothfulness’, I might add.) She’d have to leave the room to L-A-U-G-H over the truth in that answer.)

    1, How do we wake up our electorate to facts about freedom and priority of virtue?
    2. How do we get our wake-up call broadcast?
    For example, how many others at CE here ever heard of 750 initiatives from all 50 states for convention? Or, in singular, ANY such initiative?
    3. How long ago was the simple-majority 34-state-applications demand reached?
    Did the fine Mr. Struble himself even know of it?
    How did billwalker learn of it? Or, at least, of foavc.org?
    Plus, is there anyone in our national capital – indeed, in the capitol building itself – pushing it along?
    4. How do we constrain the ‘victims’ in the various branches of government of the self-aggrandizing miasma of Wash.D.C.?

  • DWC

    My first inclination is to say “careful what you wish for”. If the intent is to re-apply a modified constitution … that’s a tall order to improve upon. We risk screwing it up (sorry) given the state of all. The three branches of govenment have the necessary checks & balances in place … in each generation, one or more tends to push harder. Utilize the tools the founders provided … before builing new tools.
    Sean: as we all know, non-US born citizens are only excluded from the position of the presendency. Yes, we can and should argue its merits. But so many more opportunities to serve make this limitation rather minimal.

  • http://www.tell-usa.org Robert Struble, Jr.

    DWC thinks we should “utilize the tools the founders provided….” Well, the Article V Convention is one of those tools.

    The Framers of the Constitution foresaw that one day we might reach the point in our Republic where the government was so corrupt as to make fundamental reform politically impossible through normal channels. To circumvent such a system, “we the people” could then elect a “convention for proposing amendments.”

    Which do you fear most, DWC? Addressing dangers like same sex marriage through a democratic process, subject to ratification in the States? Or deciding such issues in a de facto permanent convention consisting of nine unelected, irremovable, life-tenured oligarchs?

    Which is safer? The closest thing to a national referendum that we possess? Or a usurpatious politburo who can issue Constitutional decrees without regard for the consent of the governed?

  • Pingback: Insurrection by Convention | Catholic Exchange

  • http://www.tell-usa.org Robert Struble, Jr.

    The next article in this series, “Insurrection by Convention,” is in at
    http://catholicexchange.com/2009/08/29/121298/

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