Friday, January 13, 2012

McKibben calls for constitutional amendment: details TBA?

Bill McKibben is a regular visitor to Unity College, and seems to enjoy our students down-to-earth attitude. Many are members of his campaign.

I had been wondering what his response would be to the continued pipeline fiasco, which is starting to have some of the makings of another Teapot Dome scandal.

I got a partial answer today from an article in my Guardian: McKibben seems to be announcing a bid for a constitutional amendment for public financing of political campaigns.

I say seems: no details are given, only a pointer to another event later this year: the second anniversary of the Citizens United decision, which McKibben says will be a good opportunity for organizing.

This is also one area on which Occupy Wall Street and the grassroots base of the Tea Party would agree. Of course, the various financiers of the Tea Party would not. Indeed, it would be very ironic if any combination of this sort were to occur.

There are two pathways to a Constitutional amendment. One takes you through Congress, whereby Congress proposes and the various state legislatures dispose, requiring a two-thirds vote. All amendments so far have followed this line. I doubt McKibben or any grass-roots movement can succeed in this, but the attempt, if even moderately noticeable within the political "echo chamber," would necessarily separate the actual libertarians from the various corporate hacks in Congress, and split the Tea Party down the middle.

The other pathway, never yet used successfully, is for two thirds of the state legislatures to propose an amendment to Congress. At this point in time, I would think there aren't that many state legislatures that could whether a concerted campaign to force them to back an amendment, if such a campaign were to gather both steam and cross-party support.

All depends on the intent and wording of the amendment. I think "public financing" is not a tenable phrase on which to base this effort at this point in time. Too many people will confuse it with other public programs and the opposition will label it as "socialism.

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