By Nathan Ham
For a lot of people that never cared about politics before, some of them are finding a voice in a world of gridlock between the two main political parties in the United States. Local business owner Pete Catoe is one of those voters who have decided that enough is enough.
Catoe founded ECR Software Corporation (ECRS) in 1989. The company makes software and systems for grocery stores nationwide, in Canada and in other international countries as well. ECRS operates three locations in Boone and Catoe has been at the forefront of the company’s success since its early days getting off the ground. He’ll be the first to tell you that he has never been a political junkie.
“I’m not political by any stretch of the imagination, I don’t really enjoy politics, I only got involved because I don’t feel like things are getting better. I saw this as a means to possibly make things better. I have a grandson now and a granddaughter on the way, it just makes you reassess everything,” Catoe said. “I am the District 93 Captain for the Convention of States Action and basically we are trying to bring power back to the states and bring people closer to the government. It’s a bipartisan effort, currently, we have 622 people in the district who signed our petition, and that number is growing.”
The Convention of States project was initially founded in 2014 and is seeking to get enough state houses and state senates to call for a convention of states as is described in the United States Constitution. This would allow for states to amend the Constitution and bypass the President and both houses of Congress. The late Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma was one of the most vocal supporters of the project. He joined the Citizens for Self-Governance as a senior advisor and went on to write a book titled Smashing the DC Monopoly: Using Article V to Restore Freedom and Stop Runaway Government.
Mark Meckler is the President of Convention of States Foundation & Convention of States Action (COSA). Meckler also served as the interim CEO of social media website Parler in February of this year. The organization says that they have a grassroots network of over 5 million supporters and volunteers, representing every state legislative district in the nation. Its mission is to restore a culture of self-governance in America and to curtail federal overreach.
“When I talk to folks, a lot of people complain, a lot of people have been complaining for many years. They vote and nothing seems to happen the way they want it and this is a method that the founders put in the Constitution that allows states to bypass Congress to call for a convention where specific amendments can be made. It’s a way to actually affect change,” Catoe said. “It was designed for the very purpose we are in now where the federal government has become too powerful, too much debt, and too overbearing.”
There has never been a successful convention of states due to the effort it takes to get the number of states needed to come together.
“It’s probably one of the most difficult things you can do. It will take 34 states, both the state house and the state senate, to approve it. That just calls for the convention, and then each state would send a commission(each state will have a single vote during the convention) where the convention would formalize the amendments that then need to come back and be ratified by 38 states before they would become amendments. It’s a daunting marathon, but it’s a means to an end,” Catoe explained.
House Resolution 233 is the resolution within the North Carolina House of Representatives that will be coming up for a vote that would call for a convention of states. According to Catoe, 15 states have passed similar resolutions. Last weekend, about 300 people, including Catoe, rallied at the NC House in support of the resolution.
The main goal of the convention would be to make amendments that would limit federal spending, overreach and institute term limits for federal elected officials, including federal judges.
“The people at the statehouse were really nice, all of the workers there were really accommodating,” Catoe said. “We heard two speakers, someone from Cuba and someone from Venezuela, who shared their stories and talked about the problems of centralization and then we all went and tried to meet with our representatives. Some were able to find their representatives and some were not.”
Having a balanced budget and coming up with legislative action that helps citizens become closer to their government are the main reasons that folks like Catoe have gotten involved in this push for a convention of states.
“When they first started this project in 2014, the debt was 17 trillion, 102 percent of our GDP, and since then it is now over 27 trillion, which is 129 percent of our GDP. To me, it’s just a tax on seniors for sure because of the inflation that it’s causing, and it’s also going to be a tax on our grandkids. It’s either going to be paid back or we will have to inflate our way out of the debt. Frankly, I’m not sure you can pay $27 trillion back,” Catoe said. “That’s one of the reasons that people like myself are involved, we don’t know what the answers are. You see politicians that are focused on staying elected, but will not stand up to what they know will eventually destroy a great nation.. In other words, I see both Republican and Democratic politicians that want to be someone of importance but are not really interested in doing something to solve our very real structural problems. I think people are just tired of it. People like me who are not political who vote, but have never thought about speaking up, are just to the point where somebody has to do something. Like me, many see the Convention of States as a possibility to reset things and get back to true representative government.”
As of today, 622 people in the 93rd district representing Ashe and Watauga counties have signed the petition. The current goal is to get 1,000 signatures and continue to see the movement grow. N.C. House Resolution 233 can be viewed here.
At the nationwide level, numerous politicians and public policy experts have endorsed the Convention of States Action. The full list can be found here. If you would like to sign the petition online, click here.
Photos from last weekend’s rally at the North Carolina House of Representatives.