If you didn’t see the video going around social media or missed Max’s post earlier this week, you missed some of the most important commentary of the year on the state of politics from Democratic Sens. Linda Chesterfield and Joyce Elliott during Tuesday’s debate on Senate Joint Resolution 3. The resolution calls for the United States Congress to convene a convention to amend the United States Constitution. Some supporters of the resolution hope to use the convention to pass a balanced budget amendment. Both Chesterfield and Elliott point out that, instead of a convention, we should use the electoral process to accomplish the same goal, and, more importantly, tinkering with the Constitution could be dangerous for some Americans.

In her remarks starting at 1:41, Chesterfield points out her concerns about having a constitutional convention instead of using the electoral process. She goes on to express concern that there could be changes that limit freedom of religion. Most importantly, she asks who will represent each of the states and will we again end up with a convention full of individuals who are “white, male and moneyed?”

Chesterfield mentions the attacks on the Fourteenth Amendment, including from President Trump and points out that the Fourteenth, along with the Thirteenth and Fifteenth Amendments are very near and dear to her. She fears “we are putting together Convention that may not look like me, may not care about me, may not recognize the diversity that is America.” She ends with the request to “leave things alone.”

Up next is Sen. Mark Johnson (R-Little Rock), who spends the first part of his speech describing how he was basically born into the Arkansas Senate as his dad (former state Sen. and state Supreme Court Justice Jim Johnson, an avowed segregationist) was a member, he served as a page at 10 years old and was a clerk at 18 years old. The rest is a word salad about James Madison, the pearly gates, Article V and how the founding fathers were doing “God’s work.”


Elliott is up next and cuts to the quick. She points out that Johnson was privileged to be able to run around the chamber as a kid and how that experience gave him a “faith and a comfort.” Elliott argues that the Constitution was written for “certain people” in this country and that the founders were “not doing God’s work for everybody.” Elliott warns of being lazy about our democracy and the importance of using elections for change instead of looking to “workarounds.”

I’m with Chesterfield and Elliott. Why in the world would we have a constitutional convention during one of the most politically divisive times in our nation? Why should anyone except privileged white men believe that a country that cannot ratify the Equal Rights Amendment would do right by women and people of color? Of course, the Arkansas Senate passed the resolution despite Chesterfield and Elliott’s warnings. Full speed ahead toward a runaway convention where the moneyed white men can strike the final blows against women’s rights, civil and voting rights and the requirement that individual states provide equal protection for everyone. As the saying goes, “elections matter.” They just seem to matter more for some of us.