2015 General Assembly Action on Democracy Amendment Resolution

SUMMARY: FROM GMOM PRESIDENT CHARLIE COOPER MAY 2015

THE GOOD: We came very, very close to an amazing victory April 13 before the gavel marked the end of the 2015 General Assembly. GMOM volunteers and supporters - including our legislator champions at right - had again made a heroic effort we should all be proud of, breaking our all-time phone banking, lobby visit, and attendance records. The Senate, which had passed our full Democracy Amendment Resolution as we intended 29-18 on April 8, stood firm in not accepting the House's version of SJ 2.

THE BAD: Opponents intervened 11th hour, leading the House to amend the bill April 11 so it merely duplicated the letter the General Assembly had already sent Congress in January 2013, that is, to ask Congress to propose such an Amendment, disregarding the state's own constitutional power to pursue the same. In the end, the House of Delegates did not appoint members of a conference committee to iron out differences with the Senate.

WHY & HOW:
April 9th we learned that seven Washington-based liberal groups had begun coordinated opposition to state-level, grass-roots efforts to call for an Article V convention: Common Cause, Public Citizen, People for the American Way, Democracy 21, Issue One, USAction and The Brennan Center. They expressed strong concern that any and every part of the Constitution might possibly be addressed at a convention (see their April 10th Statement and GMOM's rebuttal). Yet in all we've seen, they fail to explain what these bad provisions would be, nor how delegations democratically chosen to represent the states would ever agree to such amendments, nor how the required majorities of both houses of 38 state legislatures, could ever conceivably ratify damaging amendments.

Last fall Common Cause Maryland (CC) informed us its national board had changed its position and regrettably could no longer support our campaign as it did in 2014. But we had no idea CC would work actively against us until after our full Senate victory April 8. Nor could we imagine that our two-year ally, Progressive Maryland, under pressure from its national funder US Action would reverse its own Board's pro-GMOM stance, as it had signed onto the Joint Letter of Support of March 30 with NAACP and Working Families. Yet in two short days, PM's executive committee did so and submitted joint testimony April 10 with CC that induced the House to amend and thereby gut SJ 2 as described above.

These seven groups, with scores of others, have been working hard for decades to achieve reforms like public financing and transparency through Congress and the courts, with little of lasting significance to show for it. Over that same period our system's grown far less democratic and responsive, so much that 90% of Americans disapprove of Congress and see it as thoroughly corrupted by big money. We understand DC-based groups  prefer to focus work on Congress and the Courts, but GMOM doesn't believe they will be able to overturn Citizens United and end big money corruption that way. Recent heroic tries by Maryland Representatives Sarbanes, Edwards and others are just the latest casualties of Congress's abysmal record and prospects.

Their fearful warnings such as, "The convention is the worst idea in American politics," disregard the obvious facts that big money in politics and voter suppression are the worst ideas in American politics, and that our Article V convention strategy is precisely the remedy the Founders prescribed so the states could bypass Congress and the courts if and when they become so corrupt and dysfunctional as they clearly are now.

With just three days warning, we were unable to thwart this opposition. But our determined response demonstrated GMOM and our valued allies have the heart and capacity to inspire and mobilize impressive voter, legislator and volunteer support. As a new all-volunteer, growing grassroots campaign, GMOM has a clear, focused and achievable mission,and faith that an active citizenry is the only antidote to the onslaught of big money in politics that is undermining our representative democracy and driving our nation on its deepening descent to oligarchy. See more background source documents and videos on Article V.

Finally, we owe special thanks to our loyal legislative champions (photos at right), who shared in our initial wins, and later disappointment. Now we and they are regrouping and redoubling our efforts and preparations to win in 2016!

 

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Sen. Paul Pinsky, sponsor

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Sen. Joan Carter
Conway, EHE
Committee Chair

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Sen. Bryan
Simonaire


Sen. Raskin
Sen. Jamie Raskin,
2014 sponsor

Del. Hixson
Del. Sheila Hixson, sponsor

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See more background source documents and videos on Article V.

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