A People’s Convention is an Opportunity for the Ocean State
What is a ConCon?
A ConCon, short for a constitutional convention, is a once in a decade opportunity for the people of the Ocean State. Unlike the annual legislative process where voters elect legislators, approval of a constitutional convention would give citizens four additional events to become engaged in the democratic process: in deciding to hold a convention, in running as delegates to the convention, in electing the full slate of delegates, and in ratifying any recommendations from the ConCon.
In short, a constitutional convention is a rare, but coequal and constitutionally authorized mechanism additional to the traditional legislative process. Given our state’s many failed national rankings and the inaction of our political class in addressing obvious reforms, the Ocean State is at that place in history where the people should step in and exercise their constitutionally provided right. This choice can be a big event in 2014.
Are there common sense protections for Rhode Islanders?
Yes, by taking common sense actions, Rhode Islanders can prevent the people’s convention from devolving into politics as usual. First, all elections should be nonpartisan. The Ocean State has a history of this in past conventions. New technology, like social media and improved Capitol TV, can ensure that all meetings for a people’s convention can actually be viewed by the people with 100% transparency. Sitting elected officials should be barred from running as delegates to prevent legal challenges. Now is the time for business and community leaders to step forward as potential delegates. With these recommendations in place, we can ensure that every Rhode Islander has a voice in the people’s convention.
What reforms can be made in a constitutional convention?
In a ConCon, there will be no secret, backroom deals (like 38 Studios), no master lever, and there will be no future reelection campaign that power brokers can use as a threat to coerce delegates to vote their way. The people of Rhode Island can make significant reforms in spending and taxation, education and health, ethics requirements, labor, and elections. The special interest groups desperately want to protect their turf, and they see a ConCon as a major threat to their favored status. They see “we the people” as their enemy, and they want to shut our voices down.
Still not sure if a constitutional convention is the right opportunity for Rhode Island?
Read more about how opinions are changing about the need for a people’s convention on The Ocean State Current. The Current is the journalism and commentary wing for the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity. Research Director Justin Katz writes on how his own personal opinion of the people’s convention has changed by taking an in-depth look at the constitutional convention:
The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, a non-partisan public policy think tank, is the state’s leading free-enterprise advocacy organization. With a credo that freedom is indispensable to citizens’ well-being and prosperity, the Center’s mission is to stimulate a rigorous exchange of ideas with the goal of restoring competitiveness to Rhode Island through the advancement of market-based reform solutions.