Roger Marsh: You are tuned to Family Talk, the radio broadcasting division of the James Dobson Family Institute. I'm Roger Marsh, with your host, psychologist and bestselling author, Dr. James Dobson. Today, we're concluding Dr. Dobson's informative conversation with the Honorable Tom Coburn from the Convention of States Project. He'll continue to unpack the origin of this movement, and he'll also address the sharp criticism it has received.
Roger Marsh: Dr. Coburn also identifies the rise of socialism and it's potential impact on future American generations. The Honorable Tom Coburn has served both as a Congressman and a Senator from the state of Oklahoma. For 15 years, his primary focus was fiscal responsibility, which included balancing budgets and fighting wasteful spending.
Roger Marsh: Dr. Coburn received his MD from the University of Oklahoma's Medical School in 1983. With that degree, he also practiced family medicine for many years before entering politics. He and Dr. Dobson will cover a lot of ground today, so let's get started. Here is the remainder now of their conversation on this edition of Family Talk.
Dr. Dobson: All right, the proper title for this is a Convention of States.
Hon. Tom Coburn: That's correct.
Dr. Dobson: It's not a constitutional convention.
Hon. Tom Coburn: No.
Dr. Dobson: It's purpose is not to rewrite the Constitution.
Hon. Tom Coburn: That's correct.
Dr. Dobson: It is to amend three prescribed elements to it.
Hon. Tom Coburn: Right.
Dr. Dobson: And you have enumerated them.
Hon. Tom Coburn: Right. Remember, the only thing that comes out of an amendments convention is recommendations to the states. So everybody-
Dr. Dobson: And 34 of them have to ratify it.
Hon. Tom Coburn: No, 38 have to ratify.
Dr. Dobson: 38 have to-
Hon. Tom Coburn: Which means-
Dr. Dobson: So it is tough to change this.
Hon. Tom Coburn: That's right. Which means, 13 states can stop anything. So all the people that say, "My hair's on fire. You're going to lose our rights for guns," there isn't going to be 38 states that say, "We want to give up gun rights." Oh, you're going to lose religious liberty. There's no way there's going to be 38 states that say, "We want to give up our religious liberty." So everybody that says what's wrong with this, hadn't even actually thought about the fact that all it takes is 13 judiciary chairmen in either the House or the Senate in the whole United States of these state legislatures to say we're not taking it up. And it's dead.
Hon. Tom Coburn: So, there is no downside risk. The risk is-
Dr. Dobson: There's no risk of a runaway convention.
Hon. Tom Coburn: No, and there never has been a runaway, but let's talk about what's runaway. What has runaway is the US federal government from the core principles that our founders wanted it to have, and the limited powers it was supposed to have. That's what's a runaway. So here's the question to your listeners that are doubters, do you think we're in trouble as a country?
Dr. Dobson: Oh, there's no doubt about that.
Hon. Tom Coburn: So what's their solution? Do you have a solution to fix our country? The next election cycle isn't going to fix our country, and the next one after that isn't going to fix our country. What's going to fix our country is restoring the balance of power between the branches of the federal government and the states. That's what's going to fix our country.
Dr. Dobson: I tell you what people are worried about. You know it far better than me. People like George Sorros and Tim Gill, and others who are billionaires will pour massive amounts of money into propaganda, advertising, buying off politicians- those that will speak against this idea, and will overwhelm it because nobody in power is going to like it.
Hon. Tom Coburn: Well, they've been doing that already, Dr. Dobson. A year ago, this Mother's Day, George Soros and 233 liberal left wing progressive organizations put out an ad- they all signed up. You can name them from Planned Parenthood to federal employees unions. You just name it. All came out and said, "We're against this." When they were asked why they were against it, it was because you're going to roll back all the socialism we've put into the country and that we can't afford.
Hon. Tom Coburn: Well that's right. Let's actually return to the roots of our country that says, "Let's be responsible. Let's help our neighbor. Let's have government programs that work, that aren't filled with fraud. Let's don't duplicate programs just because somebody else wants to look good at home i.e. the job training programs that I mentioned, and 400 other examples of it.
Hon. Tom Coburn: But let me tell you the good news. There are now four million volunteers in this country supporting this movement. Do you know any other organization that has four million volunteers? No, it doesn't exist. There is a district captain in every legislative district in the United States supporting this, with other individuals in that district.
Dr. Dobson: So Senator, this is not a hair-brained idea that you and four or five of your buddies have come up with. This is a movement that has far more roots than people realize.
Hon. Tom Coburn: Absolutely, and in a year from now we'll be saying we have seven million. Three years from now we'll have 12 million. And we're on our way to 20 million volunteers, because that's how we're going to get this done, is grassroots movement that says, "We want our freedom back. We want the federal government to decrease in size. We want the liberties protected that the federal government has done like discrimination and things."
Hon. Tom Coburn: We're not talking about going after those. We're talking about restoring decision making. How about if a city council can't make a decision because some federal judge has said something about some little small order somewhere that isn't really on the risk list? Let's let people live free. Do you realize our country, for 200 years, was number one in economic freedom?
Hon. Tom Coburn: Do you know where we are today?
Dr. Dobson: Where?
Hon. Tom Coburn: 19. We dropped two places this year, even with all the Trump reversal of all the stuff. Why do you think we only grew 2%? Because to do anything in terms of economics in our country today, you have to go through bureaucracy after bureaucracy to be able to start something. The federal government's loaded with things you can't do, not what you can do. That's totally opposite of how our country was founded.
Hon. Tom Coburn: The average millennial right now is on the hook for $30,000.00 a year in debt service for the federal government. Now, the median family comes to about $66,000.00 in our country, so if one millennial marries another millennial, they're on the hook eventually for $60,000.00. So they have $6,000.00 net left. That's not a possible life, and that's what's coming.
Hon. Tom Coburn: The question is, is do we-
Dr. Dobson: So far, they don't believe it's coming.
Hon. Tom Coburn: No, they don't believe it because they haven't experienced it. No wonder they want the fall for socialism.
Dr. Dobson: Yeah, you mentioned socialism before. Is that where we're headed if we're on the same path that we now seem-
Hon. Tom Coburn: Yes.
Dr. Dobson: To be trodding?
Hon. Tom Coburn: Yeah, except the question is, is that at some point in time the world will not loan us money. That's when the party's over.
Dr. Dobson: And you see that coming?
Hon. Tom Coburn: I do. Now, the new economists, the modern monetary theory, says you can borrow as much money as you want as long as inflation's low. Well that's true, but eventually inflation isn't going to be low. So what happens when you get inflation? They've rationalized we can spend all this money without any consequence, until you have inflation.
Hon. Tom Coburn: Well, most of those people writing those papers weren't here in the 80s.
Dr. Dobson: You know, the election that's coming up has a whole lot of reference to socialism. This giveaway and another, and another, and another. I mean, are we going crazy? 20 years ago we wouldn't have thought of talking about guaranteed income for everybody whether they work or not. And free education. And free healthcare for everybody in the country, including immigrants. The crazy kind of things, and then the green agenda that you can't have airplanes and you can't have the combustion engine in cars, how in the world is society going function under that kind of regime?
Hon. Tom Coburn: They're not thinking about that. The reason people can be sole socialism, is ignorant. I mean just think about it, tell me where socialism has worked. You now, one place... Can you name me one place in history where socialism has worked? Where has it worked?
Dr. Dobson: Yeah, they will say it's never had a chance.
Hon. Tom Coburn: The problem with it is like Margaret Thatcher said, "Socialism works until you run out of other people's money." What are we hearing? We're hearing that you shouldn't get to keep what you worked hard for. The government should take that and give that to other people who didn't work. So the great example on that, is let's do that with college grades and high school grades.
Hon. Tom Coburn: If you work hard and get an A, and somebody gets an F, everybody gets a C because we're going to average the grades. That's socialism. When everybody figures out what socialism is, and that it's not all that it's cracked up to be, they revolt and it changes. I mean, it's never worked. It's not going to work.
Dr. Dobson: How about the education has not taught these principles we're talking about now?
Hon. Tom Coburn: Well, we lost control of public education when the government started running it in 1968. Here's what Thomas Jefferson said about the federal government in education, "For the federal government to be involved in education any way, shape or form, would require a constitutional amendment." Thomas Jefferson.
Hon. Tom Coburn: So what do we got? No constitutional amendment, and them controlling education. So the fact is, people fall for things that look too good. We see that in all types of things in life, but that's what socialism is, and there's not one place in the world where it's worked. What it has done is caused the death of 120 million people over the last 100 years.
Dr. Dobson: You said that to me when we talked last. Say it again, and how do you explain it?
Hon. Tom Coburn: Well you explain it by the what the consequences of socialism and the collapse of governments out of socialism. If you add up all the countries that tried socialism, and all the deaths associated with the failures, and the Civil Wars, and everything that came about after it-
Dr. Dobson: The tyranny.
Hon. Tom Coburn: And the tyranny, and everything. Think Paul Pott. That was socialism. Pure communism. There's not a whole lot of difference. Socialism, they say you get to control it, but it's really communism with the leads controlling it. So our young people have no idea of what the consequences of socialism are, what history says they are. That's where we lost.
Hon. Tom Coburn: Only 4% of the universities in the country, Dr. Dobson, require Western Civilization to graduate.
Dr. Dobson: Yeah, I know that.
Hon. Tom Coburn: They have no knowledge of world history or American history that would guide their decision making, and say, "That doesn't work. We know that because X, X, X, and X happened."
Dr. Dobson: And some of the worst tyrannies in the history of the world, including Stalin, and Hitler and-
Hon. Tom Coburn: Sure.
Dr. Dobson: Others have come out of it.
Hon. Tom Coburn: Sure.
Dr. Dobson: And we're going to do it again?
Hon. Tom Coburn: Yeah.
Dr. Dobson: It's breathtaking to see how many people are falling for this.
Hon. Tom Coburn: Well, I'd let your listeners hear one thing. Young people are going to fall for it because they don't know anything. There's exceptions to that, but they don't know history. So they're going to fall for it because they're not in great shape. They're still living with their parents at 30 years of age, but they're having traveled in 42 states in the last four years.
Hon. Tom Coburn: What I can tell you is there's a lot of Americans that love this country, that want to see us get back on the right foot, that want freedom and independence restored, want a strong central government that does what it's supposed to do, and let decision making be made at home. If we get there, what we will do is restore our republic. We'll guarantee a future of prosperity for our kids and grandkids, and we will cheat history out of another republic collapse.
Dr. Dobson: Okay, then. Next step then is to get two thirds of the state legislatures to agree to a convention of the states.
Hon. Tom Coburn: Right.
Dr. Dobson: And you have 15 now.
Hon. Tom Coburn: We have 15 states. I think we'll get three more this year. That'll put us well over halfway, and then it'll be as we go, three or four a year, maybe five or six a year, depending. Again, it depends on how strong our grassroots are. You'll remember, local legislators listen to their communities. When we have this kind of power and this kind of number of people, they're going to come around.
Dr. Dobson: What does national polling tell you?
Hon. Tom Coburn: National polling tells us that over 70% of Americans agree with this. 65%
Dr. Dobson: I'm surprised that that many even know what it is.
Hon. Tom Coburn: Well they do.
Dr. Dobson: There hasn't been a lot of publicity about it.
Hon. Tom Coburn: Well, we're trying to change that as we're on your show today. And over 80% of republicans agree with it. So you're somewhere in the mid-70s for people, and that varies by state. The far northeastern states, it's still surprising the vast majority of the people in the state agree with it. It's just not as strong.
Hon. Tom Coburn: So, it's a matter of getting it effected through the state legislature, through what's called Joint Resolutions. We still have some states like Nebraska. We have a couple of guys up there are blocking us, because it's a unicameral. Iowa, same thing, but we got a good shot in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and Michigan.
Dr. Dobson: What does that resolution look like?
Hon. Tom Coburn: Yeah, it says we as both the House and the Senate of the state of Michigan concur that we want to file this joint resolution saying we want to call for a Convention of States under these three topics- limited to these three topics. And then what they can add after that is, "Here's the consequences if you don't do what we say, if you're sitting up there by us."
Hon. Tom Coburn: For example, in Indiana it's a felony fined by 10 years in jail if you don't follow what Indiana told you to do if you went to that convention. So there's some teeth to make sure this isn't going to run away. A lot of states have gotten those extra things put after they've filed the regulation, the application.
Dr. Dobson: So there can be no runaway convention?
Hon. Tom Coburn: There is no runaway. Here's the last thing for your listeners to consider, anything that can come of this convention can come of the Senate and House right now.
Dr. Dobson: And I bet it will never happen.
Hon. Tom Coburn: I know, so liberty's precious. It's worth fighting for. If you're afraid of what we're doing, then you need to go to conventionofstates.com, look at the frequently asked questions, and then write us a letter, email us. We'll answer every question you have.
Dr. Dobson: Well, you've been there, Senator. And you know that the Congress is not going to change. It's driven by power. It's driven by influence. It'd driven by money. And it is not going to change. People go there with these lofty ideas, and they get what's called Potomac Fever, and the next thing you know, they sound like everybody else. We've watched that now. I've watched it for many, many years. I think that here's a candidate that you can count on to go there and say what he means, and deliver on his promises. It doesn't happen. There are very few people that deliver on those promises.
Dr. Dobson: I think that's one of the reasons people are shocked by Donald Trump, is that he made specific promises and whether you like them or not, he has tried to keep them. The only thing is, he's got both democrats and republicans fighting him over them.
Hon. Tom Coburn: You know, I have several staffers that have worked for him. Here's the question he asked them every morning when he sees them, "Don't tell me what you did yesterday. Don't tell me what you're going to do tomorrow. Tell me what you're doing today to keep the promises I made to the American public."
Dr. Dobson: Does he say that?
Hon. Tom Coburn: He says that every day to every one of them. There's power in that.
Dr. Dobson: As a way to end these two programs, Dr. Coburn, go back to this place where we started, Article V. It came from primarily George Mason, who said that the constitution has an oversight here. What are we going to do if the Congress gets out of control, and there's nothing in here to tell the citizens how they can override or deal with Congress? That was the original thought.
Hon. Tom Coburn: Right, and so he put in Article V, the second part, when two thirds of the states call for specific measures in a Convention of States, then the Congress has to call a Convention of States. The Congress only has two things to do- they to call the time and place, and then once it's through they get to say you can either approve it by convention, or you can prove it by your legislature. That's all Congress has to do with it.
Dr. Dobson: Who chooses the delegates
Hon. Tom Coburn: The state legislatures do.
Dr. Dobson: Well that looks like a chink in the armor there, because-
Hon. Tom Coburn: No, because we have-
Dr. Dobson: I mean New Jersey's going to choose people very different-
Hon. Tom Coburn: Well sure they are.
Dr. Dobson: Than Oklahoma.
Hon. Tom Coburn: Sure they are, but again, you think we're going to get Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Vermont, Washington, Oregon and California? No. So what? We're going to win this. We get to convention, the average American wins. And we no longer have the elitists on the NBC, CBS, ABC News, and everywhere else telling us what we have to think.
Hon. Tom Coburn: All of a sudden it'll be back, "Well we have the power now vested within the states," that we'll actually make decisions that are best for our citizens.
Dr. Dobson: So you hold a convention and there, as you envisioned it, three amendments to the Constitution-
Hon. Tom Coburn: Right.
Dr. Dobson: That you're proposing. And that comes back to the states-
Hon. Tom Coburn: Right.
Dr. Dobson: To the state legislatures, and 38 of them have to approve it.
Hon. Tom Coburn: Right. And they get six years to do that.
Dr. Dobson: And that becomes the law of the land, and if Congress doesn't like it that's too bad.
Hon. Tom Coburn: Too bad.
Dr. Dobson: If the Supreme Court doesn't like it-
Hon. Tom Coburn: If the Supreme Court doesn't like, it's too bad. If the Supreme Court doesn't like, it's too bad.
Dr. Dobson: That kind of sounds good.
Hon. Tom Coburn: It does.
Dr. Dobson: I like the ring of that.
Hon. Tom Coburn: Yeah. Yeah, it's actually self governance. Citizens for self governance.
Dr. Dobson: Abraham Lincoln referred at Gettysburg to government all the people, by the people and for the people. This is a big step back in the direction of putting the power in the hands of the people.
Hon. Tom Coburn: That's right.
Dr. Dobson: And there's no other way they can get it.
Hon. Tom Coburn: You know, I get asked all the time by young people, "I think I want to be a US Senator. What should I do?" I said, go get a job for 35 years. Learn everything about life you can. And then run for an office. Don't run for an office now, because you really don't know anything about life. I can say that as a 71 year old man, because as a 35 year old I would have taken offense to that, but that's actually true.
Hon. Tom Coburn: We actually learn a whole lot through our life, life experiences: our gray hair, our failures, our conflicts. We need that as a frame of reference for people who are representing our values in Washington.
Dr. Dobson: We're talking to former Senator Tom Coburn about the Convention of States, and what it would do this country. There is no other answer that we know of. There is no way to keep Congress from spending money. We've tried it all ways from Sunday. There's not a lot of support for that idea because people love to spend money, especially somebody else's money. They're not going to pass a term limits provision, because it won't stay in power. So does the Supreme Court, and so all the federal judges.
Dr. Dobson: As of right now, it's a lifetime appointment. You want to change that. What's the third-
Hon. Tom Coburn: Limit the scope and jurisdiction of the federal government back to what it was intended to be. The enumerated powers as outlined by our founders.
Dr. Dobson: So if it's not written in the Constitution, the federal government can't deal with it.
Hon. Tom Coburn: If they're not going to follow the enumerated powers, then we have to fix it. And that's what this is doing, fixing it.
Dr. Dobson: Okay.
Hon. Tom Coburn: One of the big questions that I see that people ask me about, is they're worried. Our country is worried today. I mean-
Dr. Dobson: They are, aren't they?
Hon. Tom Coburn: They're worried.
Dr. Dobson: Very anxious.
Hon. Tom Coburn: And when they see this, the first thing that comes to mind is fear. "What if this isn't what you're saying it is, Dr. Coburn. What if it gets out of control?" I wouldn't be proposing this if I thought there was any chance of getting out of control. I don't think anybody loves freedom more than I do in this country, other than the people that have sacrificed their lives to save us. So fear is a natural consequence of lack knowledge, and lack of situational awareness.
Dr. Dobson: Well that's also realistic. I worry about my grandkids. What is the world going to be like in a socialistic society if we go in that direction?
Hon. Tom Coburn: Well, it's good to be concerned. It's not good to be anxious. We're told to be anxious for nothing, but through prayer and supplication let every request be made known to God. The peace that passeth all understanding will guard our heart and mind in Christ Jesus. So, anxiety is a part of our society today. Worry is a part of it. Fear is a part of it. We're seeing that. We see that manifested in a lot of different ways, and we're seeing it with this because people, they don't know about this.
Hon. Tom Coburn: How could this work? Surely, there's a downside to it. The only downside is not doing it.
Dr. Dobson: You want to bring a sense of hope back to America.
Hon. Tom Coburn: When I get on an airplane, Dr. Dobson, I'm sitting next to somebody and they don't know anything about this, I say, "What do you think about our government today?" They go, "Ugh, I don't even want to talk about it." I said, "Did you know there's a way to fix it?" They brighten their eyes. They say, "What? Tell me how." And so I explain Convention of States, and Article V, and what our founders gave us, and how we can actually restore the balances of power. They say, "I never knew." I said, "Well go to our website, conventionofstates.com, and look it up. We're going to fix our country."
Dr. Dobson: And people can find out how to volunteer through the website?
Hon. Tom Coburn: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Dr. Dobson: Tell us what it is again.
Hon. Tom Coburn: Conventionofstates.com.
Dr. Dobson: And it explains who to contact and how to sign up?
Hon. Tom Coburn: Everything. And it is-
Dr. Dobson: Do you believe it's going to happen?
Hon. Tom Coburn: Yeah, our founders made it difficult. They didn't want this to happen often. They wanted this to be a self correcting mechanism, and they wanted things to be bad enough that people would say, "We got to do this," and that's where we are. We're way past bad enough. I'm 71 years old. I remember the 50s.
Dr. Dobson: So do I.
Hon. Tom Coburn: I remember when everybody didn't have to have two members of the family working to just get ahead.
Dr. Dobson: My father was an evangelist, and he received very little money. The notion that evangelists are rolling in cash is crazy. There just wasn't a lot of money, and yet my mother stayed home with me. The reason is because they didn't pay much taxes.
Hon. Tom Coburn: Yeah.
Dr. Dobson: The government didn't force her-
Hon. Tom Coburn: To go to work.
Dr. Dobson: To do something she didn't want to do.
Hon. Tom Coburn: Yeah. Yeah. We can save our country. We can fix what's wrong. And we can create a great future for our kids and grandkids. But not if we don't act. Not if we don't participate. And so your listeners need to go conventionofstates.com, sign up, become a volunteer. We'll get you trained. We'll teach you what to do. We'll keep in communication with you on how things are going in every state including yours. So, it's a highly effective digital platform that keeps you involved.
Dr. Dobson: I stand with you on that, and it's a pleasure to do so.
Hon. Tom Coburn: Thank you, Dr. Dobson.
Dr. Dobson: Thanks for being our guest.
Hon. Tom Coburn: You bet.
Roger Marsh: I'm Roger Marsh, and you have been listening to Family Talk. Dr. James Dobson's guest today has been the Honorable Tom Coburn. Go to our broadcast page at drjamesdobson.org, and learn more about Dr. Coburn and the Convention of States Project. While you're there, you can also request a copy of this two day conversation as well. Find all this information and more at drjamesdobson.org, and tap onto the broadcast icon at the top of the page.
Roger Marsh: Thanks so much for joining us today. Be sure to tune in again tomorrow for a classic presentation from Dr. David Jeremiah, focusing on the topic of infidelity. You will not want to miss what he has to share, coming up next time right here on Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk.
Announcer: This has been a presentation of the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute.
Dr. Dobson: This is James Dobson again. Before we go, I'd like to remind you that Family Talk is a listener-supported program. If you've enjoyed this broadcast, we'd appreciate your helping to keep us on the air. Thank you so much for listening, and for being part of this ministry. For more information, go to drjamesdobson.org.