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- 1 Timothy 4:7
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Mark Meckler is the President of Convention of States Foundation & Convention of States Action (COSA). COSA has 3.9 million supporters and volunteers, representing every state legislative district in the nation. Mark appears regularly on television, radio and online discussing the conservative grassroots perspective on political issues.
Before COSA, Mark was the Co-Founder of Tea Party Patriots. He left the organization in 2012 to implement this constitutional solution to take power from DC and return it to the sovereign citizens of the states. Mark has a B.A. from San Diego State University, and a law degree from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. He practiced law for two decades.
Mark and Patty have been married 26 years, with one son who just completed 4 years in the Marine Corps, and is in his first year at Scalia Law at George Mason, and a daughter who is a Senior at Hillsdale College. Mark and Patty now spend their free time with their Great Danes – Gideon & Levi, at their Leander, Texas homestead.
Hey everybody, this is Heidi St John. Welcome to the podcast. Today is Friday, November 29th. This is episode number 851. It’s Meet my Friend Friday and, as you guys know, I love to have people on the show who are passionate about the gospel and changing the world for the better. Today’s podcast is no is not an exception to that rule. I’ve got a guest on that’s never been here before. Mark Meckler is on the show with me today. He is the president of Convention of States of Foundation and the Convention of States Action Coalition. He’s got 3.9 million supporters and volunteers and represents every state legislative district in the nation. We’re going to have a great conversation today about convention of States.
Stick around, I think you’re going to be encouraged.
Thanks for tuning in today. I hope you guys had a great Thanksgiving. It is now officially time for you to turn on your Christmas music. I know some of you guys have been arguing about that, so now you can lay it down and just turn on the Christmas music. I’ve got a lot of stuff coming up on my schedule. I will be at Godspeed Calvary chapel in California this Friday on the 6th of December. If you want more information about that, you can go to heidistjohn.com/events.
All right, without further ado, I want to introduce Mark to you. I’m excited to have him on the show. Just really thrilling to see all the things he’s been doing. Before Convention of States, Mark was the cofounder of Tea Party Patriots and he left that organization in 2012 to implement this constitutional solution to take power from DC and return it to the sovereign citizens of the States. I’ve talked about this on the show before, but I haven’t had a virtuoso in this department on the show with me today so I’m excited to have Mark. Mark and his wife Patty have been married for 26 years. Mark, welcome to the show.
[Mark] It’s so great to be here. I’ve heard so much about you. We have so many mutual friends. I’ve got to say, there’s no place I feel more at home in America as I travel than in the homeschool community.
[Heidi] You know what, you’re in good company in the homeschool community because a lot of us are very active politically and we’re definitely getting out there voting right. You have actually founded this convention in States with my friend Mike Ferris, right?
[Mark] Yeah. Mike’s one of my, literally one of my best friends. I refer to him as my brother. When the phone rings, and it’s Mike on, maybe Patty gets priority, maybe my mom, But other than that, Mike’s at the very top of the list.
[Heidi] Wow. You and I were talking about this before we started recording, neither of us really thinks he ever sleeps. You think that’s probably true?
[Mark] You know, it is true. When you think about the history of the man, so here’s a guy that literally founded the homeschool movement. I think sometimes we take that for granted, so set a time in American history when there are no cell phones and there is no internet, and we talked about organizing a national movement without cell phones or the internet. Fax machine was high tech at the time. We take for granted…
[Heidi] Glad that’s over.
[Mark] Yeah. We take for granted that we can homeschool our kids now, but that was something he and his contemporaries couldn’t take for granted. He does that and, at a time when most people would then probably retire and rest on their laurels, he founded Patrick Henry College, a great place for homeschool kids, a great place for young people in general. Then he decides that’s not enough, he needs to do more…
[Heidi] He had his Napoleon moment, and now he’s in something different.
[Mark] It’s always how can he do something bigger, how can he respond to God’s calling in a new and bigger and different way? That’s one of the most impressive things about Mike Ferris.
[Heidi] Yeah, I certainly agree. I know that’s something that we share. Mike and I have had long conversations on the road because we see each other often at conventions where I’m speaking and he is speaking. One of the things that we talk about a lot is the state of our nation, and really we’re in trouble. We’re in trouble on just about every front right now. We’re in trouble morally, for sure, spiritually, the churches. We’re having all kinds of issues.
One of the things I love about you guys is that you’re not just standing around talking about the problems that we’re having. You’re coming up with solutions, and really that’s what the Convention of States project is. I would love for listeners today, because there’s a lot of people listening to this, about a hundred thousand people going to listen to this show, and a lot of them are just on the fence thinking about homeschooling.
Almost everybody that listens to this show is very passionate about what’s happening in the culture. I’m really interested in your story and how you cofounded Convention of States along with Mike Ferris and why you guys did that and what do you think you can accomplish in restoring the nation? First of all, let’s start with what is the Convention of States project?
[Mark] The project comes out of the United States Constitution. I know your listeners are very familiar with that. Article five of the constitution contains two clauses. It’s very simple. The first is how Congress can propose amendments to the constitution. The second is how we, the people acting through our state legislatures can call a convention of States and propose amendments.
If we look at the 27 amendments to the United States constitution, they’re generally not designed to limit the power or the scope or the jurisdiction of the federal government. Most of us are very frustrated with the overreach of the federal government with how long people serve in Congress, with how much money they spend and all the power they’ve grabbed from us as parents, as individuals, and even just our States. The question is, what can we do about it?
In the second clause of article five, the founders actually answered that question. In convention, September 15th, 1787 Colonel George Mason stands and he addresses the assembly. It’s two days before the end of the constitutional convention. He says, “We have a fundamental problem with the document we’ve drafted. We’ve given the power to Congress to propose amendments, but we failed to give that same power to the people acting through their States.”
Then he asks a question that I think resonates across the ages. He says, “Are we so naive that we believe that a federal government that becomes a tyranny will ever propose amendments to restrain its own tyranny?” Now, I actually think, Heidi, that they laughed, and I’m pretty sure I know this because Madison’s notes are very clear.
What they say at that point is nin com . In Latin, that’s short for no comment. Basically, nobody objected. Nobody argued with him. These men argued about everything, but not this. They unanimously adopted the second clause that gives you and I and everybody listening the power to petition our state legislatures to call a convention of States specifically to restrain federal tyranny, and that’s what we’re doing today.
[Heidi] It was Mike that introduced me to this idea several years back. I’d never heard of it before. I was thinking, “How can I have grown up in the United States of America, gone to a private college, and never heard of convention of States.” Why do you think that is?
[Mark] I went all the way through law school, I didn’t learn it in law school, and I think the reason is here we are, so we’re 243 years into this constitution and we’ve never done this before. I think a lot of people just sort of brushed over it as this arcane thing that had never been used and probably never would be used, so why spend much time studying? In fact, very few legal scholars have ever even looked into it until really the last 10 years.
[Heidi] Wow. For people, ordinary citizens who really feel frustrated, I travel the nation as you do, and the thing I hear more than anything else is people just sort of put their hands up, and go, “I give up.” This is how people feel with regard to fighting what’s happening in the public schools. It’s how we feel about our Congress, because they get there on all these promises, “Oh, we’re going to do this and this,” and then they get there for… They’re there for 40 years and we don’t see the changes that we want to see, so we feel overwhelmed.
My understanding of convention of states is that what it’s allowing us to do as citizens is it returns the power. It takes the power from Congress and actually gets it back to the States, but I’m a little confused as to how that works. How would that work?
[Mark] Sure, and it’s a pretty simple process. What the constitution specifies is that when two-thirds of States make application for a convention of States that Congress has an obligation just to name the time and place for that convention. The States set the grounds for the convention. In our case, the application that’s now been passed by 15 of the requisite 34 States, it asks for a discussion on three things. One is anything that would limit the scope, the power of jurisdiction of the federal government. That would be things like saying the federal government can’t be involved in education, can’t be involved in energy, can’t be involved in healthcare. These are things they were never intended to be involved in and the courts have given them authority to do so, not the constitution, so the first is limiting the scope and the jurisdiction of the federal government.
The second is imposing term limits on the federal government. About 85% of Americans think that there should be term limits on Congress. I happen to also think it should be on the bureaucrats and the staffers and the federal courts.
[Mark] Yeah, so we can do that through a convention. The third is anything that would impose fiscal restraints. About 83% of the American public, give or take a few points, say that the federal government shouldn’t take or shouldn’t spend money than it brings in. We should have a balanced budget amendment of some kind. I also think we need to impose generally accepted accounting principles. Every family has to do this.
[Mark] We have to balance our budgets. We can’t spend more than we take in or we go bankrupt. We need to impose that same kind of fiscal responsibility on the federal government. Those are the three things that will be talked about at convention. Every state will send a slate of their own delegates or commissioners of their choosing to convention. They’ll be instructed by the States. When they get to convention, they’ll debate potential amendments in these three subject matter areas. When 26 States agree on an amendment or a set of amendments, they’ll then send those out to the States.
This is a really important part of this process. A lot of people are scared of convention: what if they do something crazy? The answer is, all they can do, they have no power, is to make suggestions, so then they send those suggestions out to the States for ratification and it takes a full three quarters of States or 38 States to ratify anything before it becomes part of the US constitution.
[Heidi] Wow. That seems just, little ole Heidi St. John here in Vancouver, Washington, that feels overwhelming to me. I’m wondering, talk to the person who’s listening to that, who feels a little bit like me, who says, “I don’t get it. Why can’t I just vote the right people in and then everything will be fine again?” Why is convention of state so important?
[Mark] First, I want to say it is kind of overwhelming. It has never been done before in American history and it takes literally tens of millions of people to get this done. That’s exactly how the founders wanted it to be. They didn’t want us to be able to easily amend our constitution. They believed fundamentally in the document they had written, and they will only wanted us to amend it if we all, a whole huge percentage of us, really agreed on that.
Believe me, when I took this project on, when Mike Ferris first brought it to me, it seemed overwhelming. It Had never been done. You could argue it was impossible, much like the task when he set out to make homeschooling legal.
[Mark] If people feel a little overwhelmed at first, I think it should be a little bit overwhelming at first. Here’s the real question, you set it up perfectly I think, Heidi, you said, “We elect people. They promise to do certain things that we wanted them to do. The tea party movement is a perfect example. They promised they were going to balance the budget. They promised they were going to practice fidelity of the constitution and respect free markets and then they go to Washington D C and they do completely different things.”
[Heidi] Yeah, like the swamp. The swamp is real.
[Mark] It really is real. We call it Potomac fever. They call it a swamp until they get there and they treat it like a jacuzzi. They never want to leave you.
[Heidi] It’s totally right.
[Mark] The real question, the more important question is, if not this, then what, because what we’re doing right now is we just say, “Let’s keep trying to elect better people.” You know the old adage, right? You keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. That’s kind of the definition of insanity.
[Heidi] You’re saying, “Listen, we’ve been doing this, trying to vote in the right people. They get up, they get there, the swamp becomes a spa, and nothing gets done,” so you’re saying this is actually a solution that if we commit to it, it has an actual real chance of seeing systemic change, not just a change for a particular season, which is really what voting is, right?
I’m kind of curious as to where… A citizen, if they are going, “You know, this is interesting to me. I want to find out more. I’d like to get involved.” You said this is in, you’ve got 15 of 34 past right now. Is that what you said?
[Mark] That’s correct.
[Heidi] That’s kind of amazing. You’re almost halfway there.
[Mark] That’s the impossible getting done. I think we’ll probably be halfway no later than January. I’ve got a whole bunch of States right now, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, all currently pending. These are year-round legislature. I expect we’re going to knock off a couple more here pretty quick.
[Heidi] That’s amazing. How does a citizen join the movement and get involved and really get… We need to be educated, I think, first before you can get involved. You really have to understand what we’re doing. I love Convention of States. I think it’s amazing. I’d love for our listeners to be able to feel like they can get on board with it and actually start to see the needle move in their area.
[Mark] They go to conventionofstates.com. There’s a tab at the top there which says resources. If you go there within about, I would say a half an hour, you can be as expert as you need to be. There are many, many more hours of education there if you really want to go deep, but it takes about a half hour and you’ll know everything you need to know.
[Heidi] All right, so they go to Convention of States and they can get plugged in. Is this in all 50 States already?
[Mark] It is. It’s in all 50 States. We have volunteer leadership teams made up of state directors and media folks and legislative folks in all 50 States. We have district captains. Those people are the captain in every state legislative district around the country. Right now we have volunteers in 100% of all state legislative districts in the nation.
[Heidi] Wow, that’s amazing. I also think you’re not saying, I think it’s important to say what we are saying, but also what we’re not saying. We’re not saying don’t vote. We’re not saying disengaged from the process, right? That’s not what I’m hearing you say.
[Mark] No, look, I think being involved in the voting process, in the finding candidates process, if you’re so called actually running for office, I encourage you to do so and we should always support the best possible people we can find. That’s our very base level obligation as citizens of the Republic, but it’s not enough.
[Mark] The founders told us it wasn’t enough. They want us to be educated, engaged, involved. This is the next level of involvement, and I think it’s something we have to do. We have to be paying attention to the structural deficits in the system as well.
[Heidi] Yeah, I think it’s amazing. Having grown up in this country, I’m watching here in the Portland, Vancouver, we have a huge Slavic community that has come over, probably started really coming over in the late ’80s, and there are hundreds of thousands of them here and a lot of them don’t vote. I’ve been spending a little bit of time with the Slavic community. I went and spoke at the Slavic Action Summit and just trying to get the Slavic community really interested in the process.
When you talk to them and you realize what they came from, and then they came over here and thought, “Oh, it’s just going to work on its own because, hello, we have a constitution. It’s going to work on its own. We’re a free country,” but we’re seeing our freedoms erode right out from underneath us, because we haven’t been involved because we’ve left it up to other people. We think, “Oh, it’s just enough to get out there and to vote.” What we’re realizing is if we want to keep our nation free, if we want to give to our grandchildren what we got, we can’t just sit on the sidelines anymore. We got to get off the bench and get into the battle.
[Mark] Yeah, we have to. For me, I think it’s funny how people say politics and religion are separate. I consider them inseparable.
[Heidi] Me, too. We’re going to get along great.
[Mark] Yeah, and I just don’t understand it. It’s very interesting to me, if you look at the Greek root word for politics, the definition is essentially how we organize in groups to influence each other. If you look at the Greek root word for religion, it’s how we organize around a set of moral principles. If you say politics, we’re going to do politics without moral principles, that’s just immoral, right?
[Mark] The two have to be combined. In fact, for me, in everything I do politically, I consider there’s a theological framework. I’m a Christian in all areas of my life, not just when I go to church, right? Certainly it bleeds into my politics. It’s the foundation for my politics. I think we live in a historical time. I call it we’re in a 1 Samuel 8 moment, right? We’re at a time when a lot of people seem to be looking to the government as Messiah or the government has King.
[Mark] I think it’s really dangerous, and I think we as a nation have to make a choice. Who is the King? Is it the president? Is it Congress? Is it Washington, DC? Are we going to look to the one and only true King? I think that’s a decision that we’re making as a country right now. We should do that very consciously.
For me, the other book end for my political theology is really Romans 13. When I first started really studying the Bible and I read Romans 13 I didn’t like it very much. I know we’re not allowed to do that, right? We can’t pick and choose our scripture that we like or don’t like.
[Heidi] We’re doing it a lot now, but carry on.
[Mark] Yeah, we do, and I don’t like that. Romans 13 basically tells us that we should obey the governing authorities. I think you’re probably the same way. We’re both a bit of a rebel, so we like to stir it up. The idea that we just obey the governing authorities, it bothered me when I first read it. As I dug into it, and really went deeper and talked to people who had a better theological understanding than I did, here’s what I came away with: the governing authorities are very different in every time in human history. If you go back to, obviously, ancient Christian times, biblical times, you’ve got Caesar is really the ruling authority.
If you come all the way forward to modern history and through Western civilization to the United States of America, we could tell who the governing authorities are in America because it says it really big calligraphy right on the constitution. It starts with we the people. We are the governing authority, so the question is, is the government obeying the governing authorities? The answer is clearly no. You have all these people who want term limits, who want a smaller budget, who want government out of their lives and the government won’t do it.
When I first discovered that, I was pretty self-righteous about it. I thought, “Oh, okay, then all those bad people are going to be held to account.” One of my very good friends said, “You’ve got that backwards. If you’re the governing authority, that means you’ve been given the responsibility. If you don’t hold those people accountable, for example, by calling a convention and limiting their power then you’re really the ones who will be held accountable.”
I think we have this decision point about whether we’re going to look to the one true King or government is King and then we have to look at ourselves as the sovereign authority while we’re here in the government and it’s up to us to take control of that.
[Heidi] Yeah, that’s absolutely right. It’s really coming down to a core question for our listeners, which is, who do you think should decide what’s best for you? Who do we think should decide what’s best? Is it the federal government or is it the citizens? Is it us? I think we’re in agreement that it’s the American people who should decide. Clearly, we’ve got huge issues in the United States right now. You guys have made incredible progress in this since you launched it, what, in 2013, right, this launched in 2013?
[Mark] It hass been six and a half years. There were, I think, six of us when we started. My wife, Patty works with me. I know your husband works with you as well.
[Mark] It was us, and a couple of friends, and Mike Ferris and that was it. We hired a few employees who were young students out of Purcellville there at Patrick Henry College where Mike Ferris was chancellor and founder. Today there are 4.1 million people involved in the movement. We have 40 employees nationally and we have representatives in every single state legislative district, so the impossible is becoming reality as we speak.
[Heidi] Wow, that’s incredible. If people want to sign the petition to call for a convention of States, it’s really easy to do it. I was on your website the other day and checked it out. It’s conventionofstates.com and it’s very easy for people to get involved in this movement. What do you guys have on tap for 2020, because we’re coming into. I mean this is an election year, right? It’s a huge election coming up and you guys, I’m sure, continue to ramp up. What can we expect in 2020 from Convention of States?
[Mark] I mentioned four States, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin that are super hot right now, but I was just down in North Carolina, both North and South Carolina, really hot. West Virginia is really hot right now. Idaho is one of the hot States right now. I expect we’ll see another 15 to 18 States in very heated action in the legislatures in the 2020 legislative session.
[Heidi] Wow. I looked on your map, because I’m over here in the Western corner of the country in Washington. My state has no color on it, Mark. What’s going on?
[Mark] You live in a blue state, obviously.
[Mark] Yeah. I come from California, so equally, if not more blue, and was there my whole life. I recently escaped. I’m a refugee living in Texas now.
[Heidi] Yeah, right.
[Mark] Here’s the thing, and this is super important for people to understand, whatever the color of your state, whether you live in a red state or a purple state or a blue state, organizing for citizen activism is incredibly important. We’re going to get to a convention. We’re going to get the 34 States necessary. If you’re in a blue state, your state is still coming to convention and somebody in your state is going to influence what your state does in convention. It’s generally going to be the people who are most expert in the subject matter. That’s the way it works in the legislatures.
What you want to do is be the activists that have been there talking to the legislators, educating legislators, and then they’re going to say, “Well, we’re doing this article five convention thing. Who do we know that knows about that?” They’re going to say, “Well, we’ve been talking all these convention States people for the last couple of years. They’re the ones who are the experts on the subject and they’re going to call on you.”
There’s one more thing that I think is really important, Heidi. I know homeschool families are extraordinarily good at just being engaged generally.
[Mark] Convention and States activists are engaged in a way more than just convention of States. They sort of cut their teeth on convention of States, but now they know how to lobby like a lot of homeschool families do. They’ve been down to the legislature, they know who their representatives and their senators are, so they’re good at lobbying on all subject matters. I guarantee you they’re involved in a lot of school choice stuff. They’re involved in a lot of pro life staff. They’re involved in pro second amendment stuff. They’re pushing back against all this crazy sex education stuff, so we’re educating the largest self-governing grassroots army in history. That’s our plan.
[Heidi] That’s amazing. The only way that you guys can do this is if enough legislators hear from the citizens. They need to hear from their constituents. One of the things I’ve done here for many years at the podcast is to tell parents, “Listen, you guys can actually get off the bench and onto the battlefield. You need to be involved. Know who your representatives. Know who your Senator is. Go down there, talk to them, ask them to co-sponsor and vote for convention of States. It’s your right.” That’s up to citizens and anyone who’s listening to this can do that, right?
[Mark] They can. I’ll tell you if, if you’ve never been down to the legislature, especially with your kids, you should do it. When I first got involved in politics, that’s what I did. I brought my kids down to the state Capitol in Sacramento. I let them see how government actually works. We met with our representatives even though they weren’t people who necessarily, we felt, represented our interests. They were our representatives. I wanted kids to see what it was like in the legislature.
Beyond the fact this is important baseline job that we have to do as citizens is go down and talk to our representatives, write to them, call them, it’s an incredible education for our kids. If we don’t teach our kids how their government works, then they’re going to fail to run that government. I’m reading, Justice Gorsuch has a new book out, It’s a Republic If You Can Keep It. One of the baseline things he says is, “If you don’t teach your kids the civics, if you don’t show them how the government works, then we’re going to lose the country.”
[Heidi] Yeah, that’s absolutely right, and anyone can do it. I think we’ve gone on long enough feeling intimidated, feeling like we don’t know anything about government, whatever, and I think it is so empowering. We’ve done this with our own kids. It is so empowering to go down to your state Capitol and start meeting. They’re just people. They’re people just like you are, just like I am, and you can say, “This is what’s important to me. This is what’s important to our family,” and sit down and talk to them. The reality is most people won’t take the time to do that. You think so?
[Mark] Yeah, I agree with that. Most people will not. What that means, if you’re willing to do it, is you actually have outsized influence. Your influence is bigger than just you and your family because so few people are doing it. They know you. If you show up a few times, they know you well. They’re going to listen to you, they’re going to take your phone calls and they’re going to take you into consideration when they cast their votes.
[Heidi] That’s exactly right, so we’re just telling people, “Hey, get off the bench. Get onto the battlefield. This is something that we can actually do.” If you’re frustrated with what’s happening around you, and I can’t imagine that you wouldn’t be at this point, this is an actual opportunity for the American people to stand up and say, “No, enough is enough. We want the power that was supposed to be belonging to the people to come back to the people.”
You guys are close. I had no idea that you had 15 of 34 passed already and it looks like early in 2020 even more, so that’s encouraging. That’s encouraging for somebody like me just to say, “Hey, we’re actually making headway on this. You guys have been in this for a little while and you’re making headway.” I think it’s amazing.
[Mark] Yeah. Imagine starting when we had zero States, and it seemed like an impossible uphill climb. Look, I sometimes still get frustrated. I want it now, but the founders wanted it to be slow. Everything in God’s time, so we’re out there doing what we got to do. Again, this is every citizen’s obligation, not just convention of States, but being involved and engaged.
One of the things I’m seeing that’s most effective, which is incredible to me with all the technology we have, here we’re on a podcast, it’s all high tech, it’s the handwritten letter. You’re writing to your legislator, buying that little card, putting the stamp on it, figuring out the address, writing the note.
I was with the legislator last week in North Carolina. I was in a town hall about a hundred people there, and the legislators showed up, they do that sometimes, but he waited in line to speak to me, which rarely happens after an event. He came up to me, and he said, “I wasn’t in support before, but now I’m all in. You’ve got me.” I thought, man, I must’ve done a pretty good job, but that was not true.
He reached in his pocket and he pulled out a pile of letters that his constituents had hand handwritten to him, and he said, “This is what did it,” and he had about 15 letters in his pocket and he had a huge smile on his face. I got a picture of him. He said, “Do you want me to fan him out?” It was like Christmas for him having gotten all these letters because it just doesn’t happen. I think we take for granted, we think everybody’s contacting them. They don’t. It’s not like that.
[Heidi] That’s exactly right.
[Mark] When you take the time, especially if you hand write a letter or you visit face-to-face, you’re going to make a huge impact. You’re going to have an effect on the governance of your own state and of the nation. It’s incredibly empowering to do this.
[Heidi] Yeah, that’s exactly right. I know when I started going I started… I think when people go to their first meeting with your legislator, or whatever, I remember when I went the first time. My hands were shaking. I was nervous, and it took about 15 minutes for me not to be nervous. Then I realized they were actually glad I was there. They wanted to hear from their constituents. They’re supposed to be representing us.
The same thing is true in the school districts. I’m always telling parents run for school board for goodness sake. All these small committees and places where we could be involved, but we don’t because, Mark, you’re totally right. You hit the nail on the head. We grew up hearing that Christianity and politics don’t mix. I heard that all growing up. At the Thanksgiving table, what are the things you don’t talk about? You don’t talk about religion and you don’t talk about politics.
What’s happened in the last 40 years is we’ve lost our ability to talk about it at all, so we’ve disengaged. I love this because convention of States gives ordinary people like you and like me the opportunity to let our voices be heard and actually see systemic change in the nation. That’s a powerful thing.
[Mark] Yeah, we talk about it and it sounds so big and intimidating. You actually said something intuitively earlier, which I found really impressive, because I’ve never heard anybody just say this on their own. I usually have to say it myself first, which is you said, “Really what this is about is who decides.” I think that’s really the fundamental fight that we’re having in America today. If you watch TV or you listen to normal talk radio, and you listen to everybody sort of blahblahblah-ing at each other, they’re talking about fights that are taking place in Washington DC far away from you and I where we’re not actually going to make the decisions and where we actually have very little influence.
The real fight is not about those things. The real fight is about who gets to decide. If we set that up right and if we win that fight, which I think we can, because most Americans think that they should decide at home with their own families in their own communities. If you set it up like that and we win that fight, then most of the decisions are going to be okay. We’re actually not too bad at working this out with our neighbors close to home. It’s when it takes place in Washington DC, we have very little input, very little power, almost no control, that’s when things get so out of hand.
[Heidi] Yeah, that’s right. That really is the underlying issue. That’s the underlying issue locally, too. You and I were talking about before we went on the show, the fight that’s been happening over comprehensive sex education right here in my little neck of the woods, and that is the underlying issue. Who decides what we’re going to teach to our children? Will it be Planned Parenthood or will it be ordinary parents who were like, “No, no, I can do that without your help. Thank you so much.” The same thing…
[Mark] Yeah, and the answer is, if we don’t engage, then Planned Parenthood will decide.
[Heidi] That’s exactly right, and I think for so long we just trusted they’re not going to do that. No, they’re going to want my opinion on this because these are our kids. They’re going to want… As it turns out, they don’t want our opinion. I think the same thing is happening in Washington DC on a much grander scale and we’ve realized they don’t want my opinion. These guys went over there. They’re supposed to represent me, but they’re really not representing me.
I think these things have happened while we have seen a disengagement of just citizens at large, people who just… We’re lucky if they vote, right? What you’re doing is you’re saying, “Hey, get off the bench, get onto the battlefield, do more than vote.” For a long time we’ve been saying, “Vote, vote, vote,” and we’re still saying that, but we’re also saying, “There’s more that you can do. It’s not that hard and it will have an incredible impact if you’ll just engage.”
[Mark] Engagement is key. As an organization, one of the things we really focus on, and I think this makes us different than a lot of conservative organizations. It’s nice to have a big email list and everybody works to have a big email list. It’s nice to have a whole bunch of people on your Facebook page. That’s important. It’s good to have a podcast. You’ve got incredible numbers listening to this podcast. The biggest question for me and for our organization is how many people actually do something.
We actually measure that in our organization. That’s how we reward people in the organization. We call it social capital, and we’re tracking do you write letters, are you making phone calls, are you visiting your legislator, are you holding house parties where you’re educating other people, are you on our online webinars? What I’m looking for, these are people that I, this is a term that I coined recently, I’m looking for super voters. I think that probably, I have to guess, Heidi, that 99% of your listeners are going to vote if they are of voting age. Would you agree with that?
[Heidi] Oh, yeah. They better be or they’re going to hear from me.
[Mark] Look, they’re engaged people. That’s why they’re listening to your podcast. They’re paying attention. I know, literally, of our organization, 99 and nine-tenths percent of people are going to vote, unless they get called home to heaven before the election, they’re voting.
[Heidi] That’s right.
[Mark] I’m not worried about them voting. What I do want to make sure that they do, and what our folks are doing, is they’re what I call super voters. In other words, they are talking to their friends and family about voting and about the issues. They’re the people that people turn to, and say, “Hey, Heidi, what do you think about this thing? I know you pay attention to this stuff. What do you think about comprehensive sex education?” They’re having an influence in their churches, in their communities, in their workplace, in their families.
Hopefully, around election time, and I think this is a really important, if you care about voting then make a list of 10 of your closest friends, associates and family members and make sure they vote because you’re going to vote. The question is, are people who believe like you going to vote along with you?
[Heidi] Yeah, and you kind of alluded to this earlier. It’s not enough for Heidi St. John to talk about it on the podcast. It’s not enough for Mark Meckler to a head up Convention of States. We’ve got to get… If we can’t motivate people to actually get into this, then it’s really for nothing.
I was looking to see who you guys have behind you. You’ve got some pretty big names behind this: Mark Levin, Sean Hannity. I was looking at your endorsements: senator Rand Paul, Sarah Pailin, Ben Shapiro. I love Ben. I got to watch Ben every time he’s on. Dr. Dodson, who’s a friend of mine. These are people with incredible influence who are saying this is important. Get involved.
[Mark] Yeah, these are my heroes really, people that I’ve looked up to. Dr. Dobson is part of my personal path to Christ and a man I could never thank you enough.
[Mark] I think one of the greatest living Americans, Ben Shapiro, the youngest greatest living American, is just an incredibly wise man for such a young age. These are people who came on board Convention of States, and really it’s not that we went out and sought them out. They were just looking for a solution. They were frustrated just like you and me. They couldn’t figure out why just a voting wasn’t fixing things. They didn’t know what to do. When Mike Ferris presented them and me with a solution, it was sort of the collective forehead slap like, “Yeah, okay, now I get why things aren’t working,” so that’s how they came along.
Mark Levin, by the way, an incredible story. He wrote the book Liberty Amendments. If you really want to go deep and know what this is about, read Mark’s book Liberty Amendments. That book came out the same week that we launched the project. You would think that that’s because we planned it. He wrote a book about article five and the process, and we launched the project the same week.
[Heidi] Not bad timing.
[Mark] It didn’t happen that way. It was unbelievable timing. I would say providential timing, because we did not plan this. I actually knew Mark. I knew he was writing a book. I didn’t know what it was about. It turned out, I found out about four weeks accidentally, four weeks or six weeks before we launched the project that he was writing about article five. Actually, I found out accidentally. I sort of spilled the beans on the air with Mark accidentally.
He was really mad at me because he thought I knew somehow, which I didn’t. When we got off air, and he yelled at me about it and asked me about it….
[Heidi] That’s a voice you’ll never get out of your head.
[Mark] Yeah, he did the Mark Levin rant right into my ear. I explained to him I had no idea what he’s talking about. He’d never told me what his book was about. There was a long pause on the other end of the phone, and he said, “That’s not a coincidence. That’s Providence.”
[Mark] I just do, I feel God’s hand on this. I try to pay attention to what God’s telling me. I don’t always know, but in this case I know. It was unbelievable that Mark Levin writes a book about this. The week we launch the project, that book launches. We go from just a few people to literally tens of thousands of people overnight. What I would describe as probably 10, $15 million in unpaid advertising, what you call earned media, because Mark’s talking about convention and saying it every single day on the air. We couldn’t have afforded that advertising, and that’s how the organization gets started, so I don’t think any coincidence.
[Heidi] That’s amazing. I am fired up. This is right down my alley. I love this. I love because it gives ordinary citizens a chance to actually make a difference. If people are listening to this, they recognize the situation that we’re in and they want to take our country back then I hope you guys will join me in supporting the Convention of States project. I’m going to link back to it in the show notes today. Again, it’s conventionofstates.com. Mark Meckler, it has been a joy to have you. Thank you so much for coming on the show. I really appreciate it.
[Mark] It’s so great to spend time with you. Thank you very much.
[Heidi] You’re so welcome. For more information on Mark Meckler and Convention of States, visit me at heidistjohn.com/podcast. Thanks for listening today everybody, and I’ll see you back here on Monday.
Write to Heidi:
Heidi St. John
c/o Firmly Planted Family
11100 NE 34th Cir, Vancouver, WA 98682
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