Mark Meckler Addresses Critics of Parler and Convention of States

Mark Meckler is interim CEO of Parler, a conservative alternative to Twitter that's been yanked from app stores run by Google and Apple and dropped by Amazon's web-hosting services, and in 2009 he founded the Tea Party Patriots, which, like Parler, is blamed for the January 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol, where supporters of Donald Trump protested his presidential defeat.

So it's no surprise the Texas resident is considered a primary target of the political left. But it's his other role, as co-founder of Convention of States Action that has Meckler also gathering enemies on the right, some of whom are calling him a tool of George Soros, perhaps the nation's most notorious—or heroic, depending on one's perspective—donor to liberal causes.

The purpose of Meckler's group is to lobby states to pass a Convention of States application in order to propose amendments to the Constitution via a two-thirds majority of state legislatures, a never-before-used method that the Founders hoped would be used often, according to Meckler and a variety of historians. Once proposed by 34 states, an amendment would be ratified with support from 38 states.

"We're not trying to change the Constitution, we're trying to restore it," Meckler tells Newsweek in a video interview.

So far, the application has been passed by 15 states, mostly red, but also swing states Florida and Georgia, a former Republican stronghold that recently went for President Joe Biden while narrowly electing two Democrats to represent it in the U.S. Senate. Meckler expects five to nine additional states by year's end.

The latest printed version of the Constitution, Meckler says, is more than 3,000 pages long when supplements are included, and this is a problem he hopes to address.

"It contains every Supreme Court case that purports to tell us what our little pocket Constitution needs," he says. "We're trying to strip that away and get back to what the Founders intended, where the majority of power is held by the people of the states."

Fighting against the effort are some of the more high-profile liberal groups, like La Raza, Planned Parenthood, Code Pink and the ACLU, all of which maintain that Meckler's idea is a threat to civil and voting rights. But joining those detractors is the conservative John Birch Society, which argues the plan would lead to endless changes to the Constitution and is thus an enemy of those who "choose freedom."

"These groups are in lockstep against us, using the same talking points about runaway conventions and losing the Constitution," says Meckler. "But to get 38 states to ratify an amendment, you need to appeal to the center. There's no threshold in American governance that is higher, which is as it should be."

The usual method for amending the Constitution is by two-thirds vote in the House and Senate, most recently used to ratify the 27th Amendment that delays congressional salary increases (or decreases) from taking effect until after the next election of representatives. That amendment was proposed in 1789 but ratified nearly 203 years later in 1992.

Meckler insists that the original colonies and eventual states had a deep mistrust of one another so looked for a way to amend the Constitution at the state level rather than submit entirely to the whims of the federal government. Thus, Article V allowing for a Convention of States was passed by the founders without debate or objection more than two centuries ago.

His theory is that Americans became more comfortable with a larger federal government beginning in the 1950s when television and national brands, fast-food chains, business franchises and easy travel between the states gave them more in common.

"We started believing we were all the same so we should be governed the same, but that's a fallacy," he says. "People in the South are nothing like people in New York; New Yorkers think people in Alabama are a bunch of rednecks who marry their cousins, while people in Alabama think New Yorkers are rude, nasty and unchristian."

While Meckler acknowledges the numerous groups mobilizing against him, he says his supporters are equally passionate. On March 24, for example, Wisconsin resident Tom Ward drove five hours to testify at the statehouse in favor of Meckler's plan, struggling through a speech impediment to be heard.

"I have no children who will inherit generations of debt bondage, and I can live the rest of my life in the woods when the unrestrained, growing tyranny takes firm control," Ward told the Wisconsin lawmakers. "But what about everyone else? Remember: a government big enough to supply everything you need, is big enough to take everything you have."

Meckler isn't pushing for any specific amendment, but he has a prediction on what might be popular should his group succeed.

At the top of the list is term limits, which he says is supported by about 80 percent of the population. Also, an amendment abolishing the Department of Education could pass, as could one that mandates single-subject bills because "Americans are frustrated with 5,000-word bills that nobody understands."

Along those lines, many conservatives complain that the recent 591-page, $1.9 trillion covid relief bill that provided $1,400 payments to most adults is laden with so-called pork, including money for museums, "family planning" and countries like Cambodia, Egypt and Burma, as well as $35 million for Howard University, the college Vice President Kamala Harris attended. Without such expenditures, conservatives argue, the checks to taxpayers would have been $2,400 or more rather than $1,400.

"Americans would like to stop these giant omnibus bills that nobody reads," says Meckler.

He also foresees some movement on what some consider a crisis at the southern border, where, in March, 92,607 immigrants entered the country illegally, were given court dates then released into the U.S. On Sunday, Sen. Ted Cruz claimed that members of drug cartels were "renting" South American children in order to pose as parents and get more favorable treatment at the U.S.-Mexico border.

"We want to rebalance authority, so it's possible that states want more control over immigration—such as an amendment saying that two-thirds of the states must agree to changes in immigration law," says Meckler.

Some detractors go so far as to accuse Meckler of positioning the country for a second Civil War, which he thinks is ridiculous.

"People who are secessionists aren't living in reality. How would you divide this country? How would you even divide Wisconsin when Madison is deep blue and the rest of the state is red?" he asks. "Whoever is in power in Washington, 50 percent of the country hates them. They can secede, which is bloody, violent and dangerous, or hold a Convention of States and take power from the federal government and give it back to the states, as was originally intended."

Convention of States Action boasts 5 million supporters and 160,000 volunteers and operates on an annual budget of about $8.5 million, mostly from small donors. "They tend to be more rebellious. They defy authority and the status quo and, traditionally, are not high profile."

One exception is Rebekah Mercer, an investor in Breitbart News who not only donated to Convention of States Action but also holds a large stake in Parler.

Despite Google, Apple and Amazon disallowing access, Parler has been back online since February 16 courtesy of "independent technology." Founding CEO John Matze, though, is suing Parler after he was fired "for cause," according the company, though his lawsuit claims he was ousted by Mercer because she wanted the platform to be "the tip of the spear for her brand of conservatism."

It's also constantly accused of inciting the Capitol riots, a notion Meckler says Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg has advanced, though he points to a study from the Program on Extremism at George Washington University that researched law enforcement's charging documents against 223 members of the mob that day. Those documents reference Facebook as an instrument the mob used to organize their efforts 73 times while Instagram, owned by Facebook was mentioned on 20 occasions and Parler only on eight.

"When I saw Parler under attack, I realized it was an existential crisis, so I reached out to the majority owners and offered my help," says Meckler, who took over as interim CEO on February 16. "Parler is about free speech and it is going to be a force for good, regardless of what the tech overlords try to do to us."

Mark Meckler
Mark Meckler is interim CEO of Parler, a founder of Tea Party Patriots and president of Convention of States Action. Courtesy of Convention of States Action