LEWISTON — Michael Farris doesn’t mince words on the matter: The United States is on the road to tyranny and there are few options left to rein it in.
The federal government is out of control, Farris said, spending with abandon, regulating us into oblivion and generally trampling the U.S. Constitution by knowingly misinterpreting the document as it was laid out by the Founding Fathers.
“They don’t ignore the Constitution,” said Farris, head of the Convention of States Project. “They abuse the Constitution with these false interpretations from the Supreme Court.”
Farris, founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association and chancellor of Patrick Henry College, has plenty to say about the consequences of runaway government — and plenty of people were willing to listen.
At the Franco Center on Wednesday night, more than five dozen people braved rain and slushy sidewalks to listen to what Farris had to say.
What he had to tell them was essentially a horror story.
“There’s not a nickel in the Social Security trust fund,” Farris said. “There’s a stack of IOUs.”
The national debt?
Due to the unrestrained taxing and spending of congress, Farris said, the debt might be $100 trillion. It might be double that, too, because the government doesn’t do math in ways that are easy to understand.
“Nobody really knows, but it is a big, big number that’s going to crush our children and our grandchildren,” Farris said. “It’s not a matter of if — it’s a matter of when.”
The audience, an almost even split of men and women, middle-aged or older, hung on his every word, often breaking into applause as he described the way unconstitutional laws are passed and how bureaucracies regulate areas of our lives they are not lawfully entitled to.
“We are headed for a fiscal cliff,” Farris warned. “All federal spending is based on one premise: How many votes can I buy?”
He blames Democrats and Republicans alike. He blames the U.S. Supreme Court and he blames the population for allowing these abuses to the Constitution.
So, what is to be done?
“Congress is not going to fix our problems,” said Ken Quinn, state director of the Convention of States Project. “Elections are not going to solve this. … It’s a very dire time for our nations.”
Farris, a constitutional scholar who has argued for the rights of homeschooling, religious freedom and state sovereignty, believes that aside from a violent uprising, the only hope is to shift power from the federal government back to the states.
There is Article V, for example, which allows for proposed amendments to the Constitution. It’s a system that’s been around since the late 1700s.
“So, why haven’t we done this?” Farris asked. “Fear.”
The idea of amending the sacred document might be frightful, Farris said, but the alternative should be even more so.
“They are changing the structure of government on a daily basis,” he told the audience. “Not a single thing that makes the Constitution great is actually in practice now. We have been overthrown.”
Grim words — but not a single person left the hall during Farris’ hourlong presentation.
While some regard the Convention of States as radical, Farris strongly suggested that now is the time to act.
“Why would we wait until they declare martial law and then come to get us?” he asked. “And come to get our guns?”
When the talk was over, Farris remained onstage as a dozen audience members lined up to ask questions. They had come from as far south as Kittery and as far north as Aroostook County. They wanted to know how the Convention of States would work. They wanted to know how it could be done without the sinister influence of Washington, D.C.
Farris stayed an extra hour to answer those questions and what followed was sometimes feisty debate. The bottom line, he told them, is that the U.S. is supposed to be the land of the free and the home of the brave.
“It’s time to be brave,” Farris said. “It’s time to stand up. It’s time to get this done.”
Article V: What sorts of amendments could be passed by a Convention of States?
* A balanced budget amendment.
* A redefinition of the General Welfare Clause (the original view was the federal government could not spend money on any topic within the jurisdiction of the states).
* A redefinition of the Commerce Clause (the original view was that Congress was granted a narrow and exclusive power to regulate shipments across state lines, not all of the economic activity of the nation).
* A prohibition of using international treaties and law to govern the domestic law of the United States.
* A limitation on using executive orders and federal regulations to enact laws (Congress is supposed to be the exclusive agency to enact laws).
* Impose term limits on Congress and the Supreme Court.
* Place an upper limit on federal taxation.
* Require the sunset of all existing federal taxes and a super-majority vote to replace them with new, fairer taxes.