Benjamin Franklin famously told a Philadelphia woman after the passage of the U.S. Constitution in 1787 that our founders had established "a republic ... if you can keep it."
Many conservatives are wringing their hands in 2013, fearing we have not. We see the separation of powers nullified, with the legislative, executive, and judicial branches becoming more and more blurred, acting in concert to nullify the founders wisdom and the will of the people.
We vote, pen our letters to our elected representatives, and try to organize to reclaim our constitutional heritage. Many of the conservative base simply no longer turn out, find form letters in response to our pleas, and see government agents monitor, short-circuit, and harass our attempts at representation.
Many have given up, seeing the ship of state lurch faster and faster to the left cliff of command-and-control tyranny, regardless of the party, president, or judge.
But buried within Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution, the convention included a firewall to keep the spirit of self-governance, a "last call" if you will, to hold the line against tyranny throughout the ages.
Talk radio personality and former Reagan administration official Mark Levin lays out that road map in his latest book "The Liberty Amendments, Restoring the American Republic."
Levin makes the case the founders, encouraged by George Mason during the last days of the convention, gave a remedy should our government become oppressive.
He argues, as do many others, the time of oppression has come and that we now live in a "post constitutional" era. Examples of oppression are many, ranging from unconstitutional overreach in health care (Obamacare), unrestrained spending and taxation, an unaccountable regulation state in the IRS, EPA, (and hundreds of other alphabet agencies) and the existence of an elite class of politicians and jurists who act with impunity in ignoring the will of the American people.
Levin points out that, under Article 5, amendments may be proposed by either:
n Two-thirds (super majority) of both houses (i.e. the Senate and the House) of the United States Congress; or
n By a national convention assembled at the request of the legislatures of at least two-thirds (i.e. at least 34) of the states.
Congress has used the first method 27 times. The second option, says Levin, "has remained dormant," but now is the time to consider it.
Levin, an attorney, says: "The framers anticipated this day might arrive, for they knew republics deteriorate at first from within. They provided a lawful and civil way to repair what has transpired. We, the people, thorough our state legislatures - and the state legislatures, acting collectively - have enormous power to constrain the federal government, reestablish self-government, and secure individual sovereignty."
Throughout the book, Levin quotes heavily from arguments made by the founders during the Philadelphia Convention, the Federalist papers, and personal writings and reflections on the subject made by the founders.
He proposes 10 amendments, ranging from establishing term limits and dealing with taxing and spending issues, to having a super-majority override of federal regulations and supreme court rulings. Such amendments, he says, would allow our nation to return to the path our founders envisioned.
Levin has hit the broadcast and print circuit arguing his case and says the success or failure of any such undertaking will not occur overnight, nor be easy and ultimately will boil down to whether the American people truly support the concept of our Founding principles and are willing to overcome the current top-down governance from Washington.
Levin says we must arm ourselves with knowledge and pass that knowledge on. Only then can we reclaim our heritage as citizens of a nation that has established the freest, most productive, and most equitable form of governance in history.
America is, after all, " - a republic - if we can keep it."
Mike Chambers is a former Chattanooga broadcast journalist and Tennessee Valley native. He lives on Lookout Mt. and pursues free-lance writing and photography.