There are numerous organizations and associations working towards democracy and fair elections in Delaware County. We are lucky in the expertise and involvement of our activists. One of the most interesting types of activities that has found renewed enthusiasm since the 2016 election are neighborhood discussion groups. These are gatherings that provide opportunities for people to vent and discuss options on moving forward with positive democratic values and progressive, thoughtful ideas.
One such group originated at the home of Sally and Don Van Meter. Some of you who live or canvassed in Powell may know this special couple who opened up their home as a staging location for GOTV during the 2016 Hillary Campaign. They were relentless and presented a non-stop threat to Trump and the Republicans in the Greater Powell, Shawnee Hills and Dublin areas in Delaware County.
The group began when a few people came to the Van Meter’s after the election, despondent and just wanting to sit down and talk.
Then more friends came to add their voices to these discussions, and it grew from there. Soon the group decided to meet every other week to discuss what was happening in our political scene and importantly what could be done about it. The Van Meter group has covered many issues, held letter-writing events, wrote Letters to the Editor, hosted fundraisers for Danny O’Connor, Senator Sherrod Brown, and others, helped recruit Central Committee and Party members for the DCDP, and even protested, attended rallies together.
Don Van Meter was a political consultant who worked at the highest levels of state government. He held a PhD in Public Affairs and taught Political Science at Ohio State. Sally used to be a lobbyist at the Statehouse and their political insights always enhance these bi-weekly get-togethers which often turn into strategy sessions. Sadly, Don passed away recently after a long illness, but Sally continues to have a strong interest in creating an environment where friends, activists, and fellow patriots can thrive and continue to address and cover the important issues of the day.
One of the most recent topics was the Convention of States Project. The Convention of States is a conservative, national effort to call a new constitutional convention under Article V of the United States Constitution. For those not aware, our constitution gives us the right to completely amend it, in its entirety, if 34 states vote to hold a Convention of States. An alternative process, which is being used by the Convention of States Project, and has largely flown under the public radar, rests on a clause in Article V of the Constitution that allows the states to sidestep Congress and draft their own constitutional amendments whenever two-thirds of their own legislatures demand it. This may turn out to be one of the scariest things the conservative, far right, has ever attempted to pull.
The Convention of States effort has major resources behind it, including large contributions from wealthy right wing and conservative donors such as the Mercer family and others networked into the Koch-connected Donors Trust. The well-funded Convention of States campaign is led by Tea Party Patriots co-founder Mark Meckler and former U.S. Senators Tom Coburn, R-OK, and Jim DeMint, R-SC. The campaign has garnered major endorsements from other well-known conservative media personalities, special interest groups, and politicians. Included in the list are Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio, Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), as well as comparative moderates like John Kasich and Jeb Bush, who have endorsed a state amendment convention.
As outlined in the Common Cause report, “The Dangerous Path: Big Money’s Plan to Shred the Constitution,” a constitutional convention is open to many problems, including:
THREAT OF A RUNAWAY CONVENTION: There is nothing in the Constitution to prevent a constitutional convention from being expanded in scope to issues not raised in convention calls passed by the state legislatures and therefore could lead to a runaway convention.
INFLUENCE OF SPECIAL INTERESTS: An Article V convention would open the Constitution to revisions at a time of extreme gerrymandering and polarization amid unlimited political spending. It could allow special interests and the wealthiest to re-write the rules governing our system of government.
UNCERTAIN RATIFICATION PROCESS: A convention could try to re-define the ratification process (which currently requires 38 states to approve any new amendments) to make it easier to pass new amendments, including those considered at the convention. This happened in 1787, when the convention changed the threshold necessary for ratification.
There’s more, but simply put, an Article V constitutional convention is a dangerous and uncontrollable process that would put the constitutional rights of Americans up for grabs.
Common Cause and other organizations are “strongly urging state legislatures to oppose efforts to pass a resolution to call for a constitutional convention and urging state legislatures to rescind any application for an Article V constitutional convention in order to protect all Americans’ constitutional rights and privileges from being put at risk and up for grabs.”
Ohio State Senator David Leland is opposed to the Convention and is beginning to take action to oppose Ohio’s efforts to re-join the Convention of States. Ohio joined by representative vote, but rescinded the vote because the convention increased its scope. It will be re-introduced during this session. If anyone is interested in helping the Van Meter group with this effort (a rally is being planned to help educate Delaware and Franklin County residents), please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Also, consider starting a group of your own. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org as we can help facilitate by connecting you with other DelaDems in your area. Or contact Sally at email@example.com if you are interested in joining her group or getting an idea of how these groups operate.
–Marian Jacques, Mindy Hedges