As the controversy continues regarding a Con-Con or Article V Convention of States, Michael Farris, the head of the Convention of States effort with Mark Meckler, lashed out this past week at the conservative "conspiracy theorists" who were questioning him and the effort itself. His piece can be viewed here.

You may recall that Cass Sunstein had some ideas on how to handle conspiracy theorists:

"We can readily imagine a series of possible responses. (1) Government might ban conspiracy theorizing. (2) Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories."

Sunstein allowed that "some conspiracy theories, under our definition, have turned out to be true."

Fortunately, Mr. Farris is not calling for government action against those who disagree with him, but some of his arguments bring to mind a technique of "isolating" and "ridiculing" your opponents that seems disturbing. In all fairness, he is justified in fighting back when he feels he is being dishonestly portrayed, although he did not supply any links in his piece to give us examples of where that was happening. On the other hand, writers do have every right to question his associations when they might have an effect on the outcome of the issue at hand.

In his piece, Mr. Farris uses the term "conspiracy theorists" throughout, in a way that would be interchangeable with "people who disagree with me." The term is pounded into the reader's head over and over. However, many points he argues are not conspiracy at all, but simply a different point of view on the approach he and others have taken in promoting their Convention of States movement.

It has been shown that the Convention of States is in coalition with groups that include Lawrence Lessig, Occupy and Sanford Levinson. There are overwhelming reasons to question many of the people involved, which have been exposed in depth here and here. The reason those associations are thought to be problematic are explained as well. Although one could agree with the fact that people of various ideologies can come together and work on an issue, how far do we take that? You have to trust your coalition and you have to be clear on the fruits of their past work.

In response to working in coalition in this way, Mr. Farris uses Phyllis Schlafly and others to justify it:

I would like to point out that I am not the only one to have done this. In the past, Phyllis Schlafly and the John Birch Society worked on the same side as the Unions to defeat calls for an Article V convention to balance the federal budget.  I do not view Phyllis as a unionist or a fellow traveler with them in some grand conspiracy.  They just agreed on that specific issue.

It appears that Phyllis Schlafly is being volleyed back and forth like a ping pong ball with these people. One minute Meckler is ravaging her and the next minute she is being used as justification for their methods. It really proves nothing, anyway. Even if Schlafly has used a similar approach, is everyone supposed to accept it and shut up? It seems Mr. Farris believes his critics to be Schlafly sheep rather than individual thinkers. Whether or not we would agree with her handling of past issues, it is irrelevant to this specific movement and the people involved in this case. Agreeing on an issue with the ACLU is not the same as meeting and working with Occupy.

He says:

The scorched earth character assassination tactics leveled against me are irrational and irresponsible.  If you want to be successful in political life, you must stick to your principles.  But you must also work with whomever agrees with you on the issue set before you.

No, you don't have to work with anyone and everyone who agrees with you on an issue. There have been monsters throughout history with whom Mr. Farris may have agreed on one issue. Is he saying he would have worked with them anyway? We would surely hope not. It certainly seems that could be a problem and a huge compromise of principles.

To further his argument, Mr. Farris states:

People who are successful in political life learn how to build coalitions.  You work together when you agree. You oppose each other when you disagree.

Yes, this can be done with certain people under certain circumstances, but to what degree and with whom are we willing to join forces? "The enemy of my enemy is my friend"? Again, your coalition has to be a trusted group of good character or there would be little point in working together.

Success in politics is not the goal of most Americans. A successful nation is our concern, and coalitions with extreme radicals is not how we need to do business. In fact, this is the kind of political business-as-usual that has helped land us where we are today.

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