Leigh Sloan: When it comes to constitutional convention, conservatives are more progressive than progressives



People like Thomas Sowell and Milton Friedman (the late Father of School Choice) are known as prominent conservative thinkers. However, both of them acknowledge that the word “conservative” is not the word they would choose to describe themselves. Milton Freidman classified himself as a liberal in the classic sense of the word.

A classical liberal is someone who wants to preserve the freedom of the individual as much as possible, regardless of whether or not the individual acts within societal norms. A conservative is someone who would like to conserve traditions and methods and norms of the past. In the purest sense, liberals focus on the future and conservatives’ focus is on the past. 

You can understand, then, why someone like Milton Friedman would balk against the conservative label. The majority of his ideas were not ideas that he retrieved from the past, but ones that envisioned a better future. He foresaw a better path toward educational liberty, where families could choose the educational services that worked best for them without unnecessary government interference. 

So whether you call yourself a conservative or liberal depends on your frame of reference. What from the past are you trying to conserve? Conversely, what are you trying to liberate people from?  

The United States of America began its history with visionaries who were desperately trying to break free from the chains of the past. They were breaking free from the chains of over-taxation, from England forcing them to do things against their will, from religious tyranny that was happening all over the world. Whether they’d choose to wear the conservative or liberal label, freedom lovers then and now choose We The People.

We no longer have a king from overseas dictating our every move, but in Alaska today we have found ourselves with big and powerful national organizations like the National Education Association dictating how and what our children will be taught and where our taxpayer dollars will go. We have deep pocketed individuals actively seeking to influence voters to maintain the status quo that will continue to feed the bureaucratic beast. 

At a time when just about everyone is running for public office and clamoring for your attention— the majority of Alaskans remain unaware of the opportunity we will have to vote for or against a Constitutional Convention on the November ballot. A Constitutional Convention is a safeguard put into place by the framers of our constitution. It is there to make sure that our state government remains firmly in the grasp of We The People. When legislators act as though they don’t have to follow the rules, when judges legislate from the bench, when the will of the people is ignored— such is the time for We The People to “hire ourselves” to rectify the situation. 

Much of what you may have heard about the Constitutional Convention has likely been from deep-pocketed power brokers who know that if we vote to “hire ourselves,” their power will be jeopardized. Attempting to appeal to conservatives, they claim that a convention will take gun rights away, impose taxes, limit subsistance fishing, and more.

Alaskans are independent people. We are reasonable, and as a whole, moderate. By and large, we want our gun rights, we want our PFDs, and we want the ability to decide for ourselves how to live and how to educate our children. We are independent and we are tolerant of others to live life the way they see fit as long as they are not hurting anyone else. 

If we pass a Constitutional Convention, it will give us the opportunity to elect our own delegates to fix what our legislators have not been able to fix. After these delegates deliberate, they will submit suggested constitutional changes to the public. The decision will then be returned once again to The People for a vote, making doubly sure that The People’s will is accomplished.

We have the choice to grant ourselves the opportunity to cast a vision a brighter future, perhaps to open up new innovative strategies for solving our educational crisis, to enumerate for ourselves freedoms in the constitution that have been misinterpreted and commandeered by our judges. 

This November, 2022 election is perhaps the most important election we will have in a very long time. The Constitutional Convention, while it is perhaps the least understood and discussed, is the possibly the most important issue of all.

It’s time for We the People to step up to the plate and trust our own ability to lead ourselves. It is time for us to have the bravery to engage in the tough conversations and trust ourselves to make the right choices for our own future.

The next time you hear an ad, pay attention to one thing: who is backing the message and whether or not they speak for you. Don’t let fear guide your decisions. We are living in a time when inaction may be the greatest risk of all. A YES vote on the Constitutional Convention is a YES to the voice of The Alaskan People. 

Leigh Sloan is producer of Brave Conversations podcast.


  1. Thanks for a well-written editorial. We need to set more limits on our government, as well as on other controlling entities. As an aside, it would be nice if we could reclaim the true meanings of “liberal” and “conservative”, but the public is notoriously reluctant to correct false stereotypes.

  2. I would like to see how state Supreme Court justices are picked, giving the people the majority of the decision making instead liberal lawyers. Then who picks the delegates to the convention is another concern. We could end up with socialists like the Anchorage assembly.

  3. It would be nice to know exactly what language is being proposed for the proposed constitutional convention delegates to review. Its not hard, and it doesn’t cost anything.
    Anyone with an idea can submit it to their legislator and have it drafted into constitutional language by the Legislatures Legal Services. Leg Legal are the professionals who will draft each proposed change to the AK Constitution, they are there to ensure the words and phrases convey your idea in a manner consistent throughout the constitution.
    It is very important not just to share your proposed ideas with others, but to allow us to read your proposals in constitutional language. In my experience, working with the very best drafter, what you think is a “wonderful idea” may benefit greatly from review by others.
    As my old boss, the late Lt Gov Jack Coghill, Ak Constitutional Convention Delegate, explained: constitutional language is permissive – defining areas of governmental authority. In contrast, Statutory language is generally prohibitive, setting the rules we live by. And regulatory language makes specific these rules in areas authorized by statute, and permitted by the Constitution.
    So what, exactly, is the language being proposed? It’s not to much to ask.

    • Bruce,

      Article XIII section 4 says “Constitutional conventions shall have plenary power to amend or revise the constitution, subject only to ratification by the people. No call for a constitutional convention shall limit these powers of the convention.” There is no actual proposed language nor can there be until a convention has been voted for. Once a convention is voted for and delegates chosen then actual proposals can be made.

      • Steve-O
        I assume you are attempting humor? There is absolutely no prohibition in the language you quoted. Numerous changes to the constitution have been drafted, many advanced to voters, and quite a few have been voted on, some have been adopted.
        All were drafted ahead of time. Any idea can be drafted ahead of time. The failure to do so, the failure to tell us exactly what they want to change, implies those advocating for a Convention are hiding their intent.
        “Vote yes,” they claim, we’ll tell you why later.
        For example, the most amended portion of the Constitution includes the PFD. Some claim the language has to be rewritten to “guarantee” a pfd (I’m paraphrasing). But they don’t say how, don’t explain in exact language what they intend to change, and don’t give anyone a chance to see if it would actually work. My best guess is they don’t even know themselves.
        Pardon my brutal interpretation, but writing Constitutional language is not a grammar school task. Been there, have the T-shirt.

        • Bruce,

          There is absolutely prohibition in the language quoted, it says there shall be no limit. That is, there is a prohibition against any limits of any kind whatsoever. Any language or proposals put forth before a convention mean absolutely nothing if a convention is called, they are ideas but have no bearing on what or where a convention could do. Point being, if the yes voters put forth a proposal it doesn’t mean anything in the context of what could happen at a convention. So you are correct that the vote yes folks will have to tell you later because that’s how the process works.

          No doubt all kinds of people have all kinds of ideas, some on paper some not. I’d be willing to bet that some of the more radical no voters might even have more locked and loaded than the yes voters, just in case the yes voters get their way. During the recent debate “Shall there be a constitutional convention?” ‘https://youtu.be/wjQ7Ksu-s1g’ Bob Bird was asked about some of the language he’s worked on over the years.

          • Steve,
            “No limit” means all areas of the Constitution are up for changes in a Convention. One cannot propose a Call for the Convention for only a select few Sections or limited portions.
            It does not prohibit the advancement of ideas suitable for inclusion in the Constitution. Not only should you draft your ideas, you will find it greatly helps explain why someone should vote for it.
            Even more important, advancing your ideas may attract others to join you in running to be a delegate. Increasing the possibility that your ideas are included likely with amendment, into a new Constitution.
            While I can’t predict all the parameters our Legislature will define for such a Convention, the Legislature is guided by the original Convention, its delegate selection and rules. Best I can tell from reading the hand typed Committee notes reports to the main body, and changes that took place upon hearing various debates, the process worked fine.
            The US Constitution was not created “Tabula Rosa” (on a blank slate). The delegates had experience writing the Constitutions of the various States, and their debates on broad philosophical concepts led then to the radical approach for the relationship of people to their government. To my knowledge, the only constraint on Alaska”s Delegation is that it can’t violate the US Constitution. With that as the limit, what are you proposing? Do you know? Can you write it out in Constitutional language?
            It’s not easy, I know. I maintain, however, it is necessary for anyone else to fairly determine if they do or do not agree with you. Pixie Dust and platitudes do not a campaign make!

          • Bruce,

            “One cannot propose a Call for the Convention for only a select few Sections or limited portions.” Exactly right, and yet you are demanding that people provide limited proposals on specific topics. Since we know there is no limiting the powers of the convention anyone who says they are going to guide where the potential convention could go with specific proposals is blowing smoke. Furthermore, there is currently no convention so there cannot be convention proposals for a nonexistent convention. Ideas, language for proposals, what someone wants to do or not due, they don’t need a convention for any of that.

            The US Constitution has just over 4,500 words. When you include the Bill of Rights and all the amendments there are just over 7,500 words. The US Constitution was written when the average person had little if any formal education, it was written so people could understand it.

            I’m not even sure I’m voting yes for the convention. When this conversation started this time I was leaning against it, now I am leaning towards it. The biggest problem I’ve seen from the pro convention side is the lack of answering the question thay myself and many others have regarding how in a supposedly red state where we’ve elected “Republican” majority legislatures but end up being ruled by Democrats and leftists, how it is thay are we going to elect actual conservatives to the convention? How are we going to keep the left from dominating the convention the way they do our legislature?

    • That is the purpose of the Convention itself. To work out various proposals. We can’t know what, exactly, proposals will be formulated until they are created and which will pass muster with delegates. I’m sure the deliberations will not be secret. And leg legal will be involved in helping to draft wording to get to the intent of delegates. But an intent not determined by leg legal or sitting legislators, rather the delegates themselves. Still, everyone in Alaska, will get the ultimate review of each proposal that gets passed by the Convention on the ballot. And you’ll get to vote for or against every single one.

    • First of all Bruce, I must amen the above commenters. Then I must say that the legislature has had ten years to correct through their processes the issues we wish addressed – by the will of the people, not the Bar Association, not the courts, not the lobbyists, not the labor unions. We the People must speak, or face increasing tyranny.

      • Rich,
        I’m trying to suggest that you must not only speak, you must also reach for the pen and write down your ideas. Once written other people can read your ideas and agree, suggest changes, or disagree. Please do so. I have. It is not easy.
        I’ve also read many of the hand typed original notes of the Constitutional Convention, preserved in the State library. They reveal not only the many changes in both language and intent as the committees worked in each of their assigned areas, but also the process of the Convention. It is informative.
        The Convention works much like the Legislature. Whether the Convention adopts Mason’s Rules or Robert’s, isn’t important. Understanding how it will work should make it clear to you the importance of having clear ideas written out in advance.
        Yes, there will be lawyers in the Convention. Yes there will be union members amongst the delegates. The full gamut of Alaskans will be there. Those with ideas in hand will have the advantage. Those able to convince others in adopting their ideas even more do.
        E.g.: Legislators run campaigns presenting various policies or topics. The clearest of these advance into Bill’s, work thru committees and may even be enacted, changing the relevant statutes. Legislators who run without ideas, or generally don’t enact legislation, are IMO, simply serving to protect the status quo.
        No Legislator, to my knowledge, has ever run a campaign promising to cut a precise portion of agency AXYZ’s budget. And change the underlying statue that requires the agency expend funds in such fashion. As a result, they get to Juneau without specific intent and we continue to have a huge spending problem.
        Status quo is not advancing Conservative ideas. Failing to define ideas in writing does not allow us to see if ideas are Conservative in principle, status quo, or worse than existing.
        Get to work, please.

  4. Ya know, as tempting as it is… not sure if it is a wise idea. What makes anyone think that the PFD will be addressed at all? What makes anyone think that our right to privacy will be strengthened, not eroded? What makes anyone think that our current gun rights will not be abridged?

    The main argument for voting YES is that liberal Outside groups are running ads encouraging a NO vote. But they also ran ads in favor of Republican candidates in primaries nationwide – the Republicans they thought would fare worst against their preferred Democratic candidates.

    Could similar logic be at play here? If these groups ran ads in favor of a constitutional convention, that alone might prompt a majority of Alaskan voters to vote against one, but by running ads in opposition to one, maybe that might prompt a majority of Alaskan voters to vote in favor, which is what these groups truly might want…

    Personally, as a conservative voter, I fear that a constitutional convention might not address issues important to conservatives but instead lead to completely unpredictable and unwanted results. Opening Pandora’s Box, opening a can of worms… pick your metaphor. I plan on voting NO.

    • Kent, there is some danger… But more dangerous is allowing the tyranny we are suffering under to increase. The collective wisdom of the people is greater than the sum of its parts. Everything the CCon produces will be subject to the voted ratification of the people.

  5. We are now at the point in history where the only relevant labels are Citizen or slave. Make your choice, or it will be made for you.

  6. “……What from the past are you trying to conserve?……..”
    Sanity. We’ve been losing it since 1967, and it appears to be completely gone now, so I guess it’s too late to conserve it. It needs to b resurrected.

  7. “Everything the CCon produces will be subject to the voted ratification of the people.”
    Unfortunately….these are the same people that approved Ranked Choice Voting; that approved the marxist Anchorage Assembly; that elected multiple people that claim to be Republicans who then support the Democrats; and that blindly reject either Sarah Palin or Nick Begich and therefore let Ms. Peltola get elected.

    I’d prefer to have an imperfect Constitution as a backstop rather than hoping for incremental improvement and opening the document up for what could be an extensive rewrite.

  8. I’m inclined to vote for a constitutional convention for three reasons:

    The first is admittedly more politically reflexive than logical. During the presidency of the Glorious Orange Bastard I learned that the more cohesively the legacy media, Hollywood, and social media came together to speak against something Trump was either doing, or proposing to do, I knew instinctively that Trump was doing something that would benefit the American citizen. Look at who is funding ads against holding a constitutional convention – It’s not conservatives and Republicans, it’s the Left.

    Second, and as the author points out, a constitutional convention is literally democracy in action – We would get an opportunity to vote on stuff that we think is important and bypass the Legislature directly in the process. Sure, a constitutional convention could result in changes that I might not agree with, but I would also respect the will of my fellow citizens who voted in the majority.

    Third – and this is the most important reason I’m inclined to vote for a constitutional convention – On account of the Supremacy Clause and the doctrine of incorporation via the 14th Amendment, the Bill of Rights (as well as certain subsequent amendments to the US Constitution) create a baseline floor for protected civil liberties. In other words, a constitutional convention could not “take away yer gun rights” because any amendment to the Alaska Constitution which provided for less rights than provided for under Federal law would be deemed unconstitutional under Federal law.

    Since the Legislature won’t get rid of the Alaska Judicial Council, I’d like a have a vote on how judges are selected in Alaska. A constitutional convention might just afford me that possibility.

  9. Seems odd that few, if any, conservatives or liberals share the author’s confusion about basic differences between the two ideologies and the effects of each on our country.
    Author doesn’t say much that’s cheerful, optimistic, dare we say populist… why voters should be fired up about specific, really good things which can come out of a constitutional convention.
    Want to get peoples’ attention, Leigh, how about a podcast and a followup article on why Alaska voters should blindly trust the fate of their constitutional convention to a state election system which seems so easily compromised by mail-in voting, proprietary Dominion vote-tabulation gear, ballot harvesting, corrupted voter rolls, Zuckerbucks, ballot harvesting, and election “observers” who’ve no clue what they’re observing?
    Who knows, might be the stuff of a Podcast Pulitzer.

  10. I trust people. I don’t trust our election system. I truly don’t. This is the problem with the convention hitting us now.

    Right now I feel like anything close will go the democrats way because they know how to bump the jukebox just right because they have people on the inside. And they are much more “the ends justifies the means” type people. They have proven that time and time again. Hypocrisy and deception and lies are ok in the “vote no” campaign. They will obviously cheat if they think they can get away with it. I have zero doubts and this state has way too many open doors for cheating: ballot harvesting, all voter records are accessible by everyone with an internet connection, pfd auto registration with little purging, weak requirements for auditing and verifying of electronics and their firmware and logs before, during, and after every election, super slow counting leaves more time with more opportunities, and I can go on and on.

    I will vote yes because I want the pfd out of election cycles without a single doubt in my mind, but I am going to grimace and hope nothing is close. But this is already following the same pattern of rcv ballot measure 2. I don’t expect “yes” to win.

    • And if no wins because they cheated, then I don’t want the convention anyways until we can stop the cheating.

      In other words, they have us where they want us. Dunleavy better work on the election system and restore more trust.

  11. Very WELL WRITTEN ARTICLE… VERY INSPIRING and CLARIFYING… the comments following are very thought provoking and TRIGGERING TRIGGERING in a good WAY ! LETS BE UNITED ON THIS and FAST !

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