You probably already know that President Ronald Reagan supported the state-proposed amending process outlined in Article V of the Constitution--what we know today as a "Convention of States." We've highlighted his comments about the Article V process in the past, but we've recently uncovered an audio recording of the Gipper discussing the Convention of States option, and it's worth a listen.
This comes from a series of recordings Reagan did in the period between his governorship of California and his presidential candidacy in 1980. They were called "Viewpoint with Ronald Reagan" and "Ronald Reagan Radio Commentary," and this excerpt was provided to us by the National Archives.
As Reagan explains, Americans in the 1970s were extremely concerned about government spending. Vast majorities of Americans supported ratifying a balanced budget amendment that would require Congress to be fiscally responsible.
"My own belief is, cutting taxes will have the effect of cutting spending if government can no longer run a deficit, and that will end inflation," Reagan says in support of a balanced budget amendment.
Reagan outlines the efforts to impose fiscal restraints on Congress via the amendment process, including one proposal by another Article V supporter, Milton Freidman.
Then, he answers the age-old "runaway convention" objection. Though he incorrectly calls an Article V Convention of States a "constitutional convention," Reagan deftly responds to the long-debunked runaway convention theory.
"In my view, those who warn of this show little faith in our democratic procedures. The Constitution provides for both methods, and the Convention is a safety valve giving the people a chance to act if Congress refuses to," he says.
Reagan admits that he would rather Congress propose amendments, but he points out, as George Mason did, that Congress has been unwilling to propose the amendments required by We the People. When that happens, the Convention of States option is the solution to legislative inaction.
No one can question Ronald Reagan's commitment to freedom or his love for his country. He spent his life implementing limited-government reforms, but he knew that the federal government would only go so far to limits its own power. The Founders included the Convention of States option in Article V to allow the states and the people to propose constitutional amendments if Congress won't.
Since Reagan spoke these words, Congress has grown even more unwilling to limit its power or control its spending. If the Gipper believed a Convention of States was necessary in the 1970's, how much more so is it needed today to rein in federal power, limit federal spending, and reduce the terms of career politicians.
To join Reagan and a host of other freedom-loving thinkers and leaders, sign the petition below!
HUGE thanks to Gary Brenner of Convention of States New Jersey for finding this audio!