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Tuesday, August 14th, 2018Last Update: Tuesday, July 31st, 2018 11:05:57 AM

Oklahoma and The Last American President

By: Richard Engle

In France it was called the "Estates General," in Czarist Russia it was the soviets. At a time of revolution or national government dissolution people often resort to a familiar, if underutilized, form of government.

In colonial America people resisted the overreach of the King and Parliament calling for the historic self government they previously had among the various colonies. At the conclusion of the Soviet Union the various member "Republics" became the government structure to which the people turned as they saw their empire crumble around them.

In conjunction with the release of my novel, The Last American President, I have been traveling about this state speaking on the subject, "Can the American Empire Survive?" In doing so, various questions come up regarding how I see an ultimate demise of the United States of America impacting the state of Oklahoma.

First, let me assure you that I do not relish the premise of an international border running down the Mississippi River or fifty such borders all across the land. Indeed, we all find it most convenient to travel and trade from sea to shining sea without government hindrance. This union of states under the Constitution is something worth preserving, if it can be preserved.

However, we have a general (federal) government that has accustomed itself to acting far outside the parameters the Constitution has placed upon it.

I would suggest that the states are the safety net of our republic. It is the states that become the heirs of national sovereignty in my book. However, an eventual dissolution of the United States is not an immediate concern for most of us. My novel was written as a cautionary tale intended to aid in avoiding the very premise it stands on. Regardless, the various states serve as such a safety net not only in the case of dissolution, but in every scenario of an overreaching general government.

The daily excess of the general government has reached the point that resistance to it has become mainstream in America today. Former state Senator Randy Brogdon was (formerly) counted among the extreme as he (and others) advocated for 10th Amendment solutions to government overreach. Now his ideas and leadership are well accepted as he has taken the lead among Republicans in the state even as the GOP has taken the lead among registered voters. Gov. Mary Fallin, Attorney General Scott Pruitt and many other political leaders of renown speak regularly of their efforts to use state government to reign in the District of Columbia. A significant majority of the states have flatly refused to enact Health Care Exchanges despite the Obamacare act that called for them and the flood of dollars promised to accompany the creation of the state based entities. The best chance of overturning the cornerstone act of the current administration may be this very rebellion by the states.

Now comes an effort to create a convention of the states to amend the Constitution. Putting aside the foolishness of trying to amend a perfectly good constitution in a way that limits government officials who feel no compunction to obey the Constitution we have, we move instead to a weightier matter in my humble opinion. If such a convention proposes an amendment in the whole, giving us an entirely new constitution by effect if not design, then only a super-majority would need to pass it to go into effect.

We all find some comfort in knowing that a super-majority will be reluctant to enact matters that are egregious to themselves. However, if we are among the small minority who are negatively impacted by such a new document what recourse do we have? None!

The current Constitution went into effect when 9 of 13 states ratified it, but only for those 9. The remaining 4 states became free to follow their own course among the nations of the world or to ratify as they saw fit. The framers of the Constitution were very aware of this and thus carefully designed a document that they were confident would be acceptable to every single state.

A new constitutional convention would be under no obligation to cater to every single state as they need only a super-majority to grant themselves tyrannical authority over the others. Oklahoma could become the proverbial "District 13" of Hunger Games fame.

Perhaps the new constitution would empower a division of government that would dramatically diminish the ability of the energy sector of our economy to be profitable. Such a provision would be antagonistic to our state and a handful of others, yet we would have no choice as it could be imposed upon us without any option to depart the union. A threat to not ratify a new constitution (or amendment of the whole) would be meaningless. The new document would be forced down our very unwilling throats.

Again, I don't want Oklahoma (along with other energy producing states) out of the union, but I do want a union that is best designed to the benefit of every state and every citizen. There is no mechanism to secure that a new constitutional convention would be so very beneficent if it is lacking a specific clause permitting secession of any state not ratifying the document. I am confident that no such clause will be included, thus I find a convention of the states to be a very dangerous concept.

About Richard Engle

Richard Engle is President of BellWest America. He has long been a fixture in conservative Republican politics in Oklahoma. He was twice elected to the Bethany City Council, served two terms as President of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies, and over a decade as Vice President of the Oklahoma Conservative PAC. He is married to Denise Engle, Commissioner for the Oklahoma Workers Compensation Commission and they live in Oklahoma City. He may be reached by email at: engle@flash.net

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