One TBF member is a strong advocate for the growing movement to invoke a Constitutional Convention as provided in Article V of the U.S. Constitution. This allows 2/3 of the states to call a Convention for the purpose of amending the Constitution. Any amendments approved by the Convention would still need ratification by 3/4 of states, but it is a way to bypass Congress in making fundamental changes in our government that Congress would block.
The issues here are well described in the following article by Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig in The Nation online. The entire article is very well worth reading, and here are some excerpts: >http://www.thenation.com/doc/20100222/lessig< style="color: rgb(153, 0, 0);">
Yet a year into the presidency of Barack Obama, it is already clear that this administration is an opportunity missed. Not because it is too conservative. Not because it is too liberal. But because it is too conventional. . . .He goes on to say that the core problem is not the filibuster rules, or the excessive partisanship, or even the lobbying -- not lobbying per se. It is the role that lobbyists have come to play: a shift from being advocates and arguing their cause to actually buying the privilege to shape legislation: i.e., quoting John Edwards, "there's all the difference in the world between a lawyer making an argument to a jury and a lawyer handing out $100 bills to the jurors."
For Obama once spoke for the anger that has now boiled over in even the blue state Massachusetts--that our government is corrupt; that fundamental change is needed. . . . [But] This administration has not taken up that fight. Instead, . . . Obama has accepted the power of the "defenders of the status quo" and simply negotiated with them. . . .
That movement [for change] needs new leadership. On the right (the tea party) and the left (MoveOn and Bold Progressives), there is an unstoppable recognition that our government has failed. But both sides need to understand the source of its failure if either or, better, both together, are to respond.
At the center of our government lies a bankrupt institution: Congress. . . .But consistently and increasingly over the past decade, faith in Congress has collapsed--slowly, and then all at once. . . . just 25 percent approve of how Congress is handling its job. . . .
The source of America's cynicism is not hard to find. Americans despise the inauthentic. . . .the single attribute least attributed to Congress, at least in the minds of the vast majority of Americans, is just that: integrity. And this is because most believe our Congress is a simple pretense. That rather than being, as our framers promised, an institution "dependent on the People," the institution has developed a pathological dependence on campaign cash. The US Congress has become the Fundraising Congress. And it answers--as Republican and Democratic presidents alike have discovered--not to the People, and not even to the president, but increasingly to the relatively small mix of interests that fund the key races that determine which party will be in power.
This is corruption. Not the corruption of bribes, or of any other crime known to Title 18 of the US Code. Instead, it is a corruption of the faith Americans have in this core institution of our democracy. The vast majority of Americans believe money buys results in Congress (88 percent in a recent California poll). And whether that belief is true or not, the damage is the same. The democracy is feigned. A feigned democracy breeds cynicism. Cynicism leads to disengagement. Disengagement leaves the fox guarding the henhouse. . . .
Since the time of Rome, historians have taught that while corruption is a part of every society, the only truly dangerous corruption comes when the society has lost any sense of shame. Washington has lost its sense of shame.
As fundraising becomes the focus of Congress-- . . . And not surprisingly, as powerful interests from across the nation increasingly invest in purchasing public policy rather than inventing a better mousetrap, wealth and a certain class of people, shift to Washington. . . . In earlier generations enterprising young men came to Washington looking for power and political adventure, often with ambitions to save or reform the country or the world. In the last fourth of the twentieth century such aspirations were supplanted by another familiar American yearning: to get rich. Rich, indeed, they are, with the godfather of the lobbyist class, Gerald Cassidy, amassing more than $100 million from his lobbying business.
Members of Congress . . . insist, [money] doesn't change anyone's mind. . . . [But] whether or not this money has corrupted anyone's soul . . . it corrupts the institution--by weakening faith in it, and hence weakening the willingness of citizens to participate in their government. Why waste your time engaging politically when it is ultimately money that buys results, at least if you're not one of those few souls with vast sums of it? . . .
The point is simple, if extraordinarily difficult for those of us proud of our traditions to accept: this democracy no longer works. Its central player has been captured. Corrupted. Controlled by an economy of influence disconnected from the democracy. Congress has developed a dependency foreign to the framers' design. Corporate campaign spending, now liberated by the Supreme Court, will only make that dependency worse. "A dependence" not, as the Federalist Papers celebrated it, "on the People" but a dependency upon interests that have conspired to produce a world in which policy gets sold. . . .
In a single line: there will be no change until we change Congress.
He says that, even as difficult a year as 2009 was, Obama could have made it different if he had said this:
America has spoken. It has demanded a fundamental change in how Washington works, and in the government America delivers. I commit to America to work with Congress to produce that change. But if we fail, if Congress blocks the change that America has demanded--or more precisely, if Congress allows the special interests that control it to block the change that America has demanded--then it will be time to remake Congress. Not by throwing out the Democrats, or by throwing out the Republicans. But by throwing out both, to the extent that both continue to want to work in the old way. If this Congress fails to deliver change, then we will change Congress. . . .Acknowledging that it will not be easy, Lessig then defines the two changes: (1) citizen funded election, limited to small contributions, and (2) banning any member of Congress from working in any lobbying or consulting capacity in Washington for seven years. Now with the recent Supreme Court ruling that corporate campaign contributions are protected as free speech, Lessig says that it is also necessary to "change the Constitution to assure that reform can survive the Roberts Court, focuing on institutional independence.
[Then] The failure to deliver on the promises of the campaign would not be the failure of Obama to woo Republicans (the unwooable Victorians of our age). The failure would have been what America was already primed to believe: a failure of this corrupted institution to do its job. Once that failure was marked with a frame that Obama set, he would have been in the position to begin the extraordinarily difficult campaign to effect the real change that Congress needs. . . .What would the reform the Congress needs be? At its core, a change that restores institutional integrity. A change that rekindles a reason for America to believe in the central institution of its democracy by removing the dependency that now defines the Fundraising Congress.
Recognizing that no such amendment could survive in Congress and that conventional wisdom says this route to a constitutional amendment is nearly impossible, he says that conventional minds are always wrong about pivot moments in a nation's history: wrestling a republic from the grip of a monarchy, abolishing slavery.
For this, democracy pivots. It will either spin to restore integrity or it will spin further out of control. Whether it will is no longer a choice. Our only choice is how. . . . what both sides must come to see is that the reform of neither is possible until we solve our first problem first--the dependency of the Fundraising Congress.That's a huge challenge. He is not wrong. But can we do it? Lessig brings my argument (that the main fault lies with Congress) together with Richard's argument (that Obama has failed to provide leadership). My supply of hope is at a low ebb, and the route to change through this convention process seems too daunting to even try. If the first step is clearly defining the problem, however, I think Lessig has provided us with that.