Constitution

Paul Krugman: Republicans Don't Give a Damn About Their Country or Its Constitution (5/19/2017)

"The Constitution should be clarified so that it sustains rather than throttles democracy. Do away with the Electoral College. Ban the practice of gerrymandering. Close the loophole that allows governors to appoint cronies to vacant Senate seats. Ask why America maintains a House of Lords - like Senate where, today, the vote of a member elected by 121,000 Wyomingites can cancel out the vote of a member elected by 7.8 million Californians. Consider electing members of the House to four-year terms that parallel those of the president, so that the popular will of 131 million voters in the next mid-term election can't be stymied by 90 million voters in the next mid-term election." Robert McChesney and John Nichols book: People Get Ready 
'We've come to this ignoble moment.' 'We have become like Serbia.' 12 Jul 2008 'I never thought I would say this, but I think it might, in fact, be time for the United States to be held internationally to a tribunal. I never thought in my lifetime I would say that, that we have become like Serbia, where an international tribunal has to come to force us to apply the rule of law... So we've come to this ignoble moment, where we could be forced into a tribunal and forced to face the rule of law that we've refused to apply to ourselves.' --Constitutional Law expert Jonathan Turley, on MSNBC's Friday 'Countdown,' discussing accountability behind US war crimes at Guantanamo.

Trump is Violating the Constitution (2/23/2017)

Donald Trump: A One-Man Constitutional Crisis

Justice Stevens Pens Six Amendments to Tune-Up Constitution (1/27/2015)

A Constitutional Scandal Worse Than Iran-Contra or Watergate (8/7/2014)


Where Framers of the Constitution Fell Short

Supplanting the United States Constitution: War, National Emergency and "Continuity of Government"

US governmen is dysfunctional. Neither of the major political parties will let the other accomplish anything, so we are not addressing major problems. Special interests and big money control the agenda, and the Supreme Court  made things much worse by allowing Corporations to spend as much money as they like to influence elections.

Free Speech For People

On January 21, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that corporations are entitled to spend unlimited funds in our elections. The First Amendment was never intended to protect corporations. This cannot stand. Join our campaign to protest this decision. Protect our democracy! Free speech is for people — not corporations.

The 99% Declaration

Our politicians are either unable or unwilling to regulate themselves or protect us from economic predators like those who nearly led us into a second great depression in 2008. Many politicians are the unabashed paid agents of corporations, political action committees and the top 1% of wealth owners. The corporations and people who control these concentrated sources of wealth hire lobbyists and others to ply our politicians with gifts, money, inside financial information, promises of future benefits and unlimited campaign funding so they sellout to do their clients’ bidding. The United States of America is no longer a republican democracy. It is a poorly functioning corporate oligarchy. Through our own apathy and complacency, we have allowed our government and economy to be hijacked by professional corporatists who unceasingly crave money and power for its own sake regardless of the consequences. Fortunately, Americans are awakening and the Continental Congress 2.0 and resulting Petition for Redress of Grievances is one of many steps being taken by average people to “reboot” our democracy. (from the99declaration)

Campaign Finance

Campaign finance law underlies all other law.

Larry Lessig writes that we have lost our republic because politicians are beholden to the funders and not the people. Public financing of elections is necessary so that candidates are not beholden to money.

Nothing will change without a Constitutional Amendment to roll back Citizens United.

Political Parties

It is clear that the two party monopoly has become corporate, polarized people and government to an extent that the US is incapable of recognizing, let alone dealing with serious challenges.

The two party monopoly does not work for the people. It has resulted in gridlock and dysfunction.

We should insist on Instant Runoff Voting or Range Voting for all of our elections as a first step to weakening the two major parties.

Gerrymandering allows politicians to select voters instead of the other way around. It has resulted in the current crisis. Redistricting should be done by non-partisan entities.

See this note.

Elections

Good Americans believe in fair elections in which all votes are accurately counted. Voting machines are currently manufactured by Republican partisans and their inner workings are trade secrets. For that and many other reasons (see the elections page), US elections cannot be trusted. Election procedures should be reformed and standardized.

We need voting machines to be open source, transparent,  standardized, and auditable.  Procedures should be in place to provide security.

Range voting ought to be in place at all levels: State, Local, and Federal.

Gerrymandering has polarized the Congress.

Almost everyone agrees that the electoral college should be abolished.

Election procedures need substantial reform, but it is not even up for discussion. Media, in its own downward spiral, doesn't talk about it.

Corporations

Corporations, to retain their charter, must act like good citizens, since the law says they exist only for profit they are more often sociopaths. If they are too big to fail, they need public oversight. Yes, regulations. They are not people. Their political spending should at least be disclosed.  If they act contrary to the public interest, they should lose their charter. Many of them are trans-natiional, so they have no allegience except to profit. They can choose the most lax tax environment to have their headquarters, the lowest wage country to employ workers, and the most lax country to dispose of their waste. The only way to see that they are responsible is to build an international consensus. Globalization requires global institutions.

An amendment.

Presidency

Like many empires before, we are headed for an imperial head of state. It is contrary to the US Constitution that a single individual decides important matters on his own. Sometimes we have wise leaders, but more often they are quite fallible...if not outright self-serving. Congress has allowed much of its power to be usurped.

Another Republican bad idea is making the Presidency all-powerful. Bush, in signing statements made the law or distorted it beyond recognition. He thumbed his nose at international law.

Bush, like Nixon, argued that the President is above the law. The Constitution needs to be altered so that no President ever makes that mistake again.

The Danger from the Imperial Presidency

Supreme Court

Supreme Court justices should be held to the same ethical standards as is the rest of the judliciary.

It should be expanded so that a single individual cannot be making important decisions. Policy change after Presidential elections is destabilizing both domestically and internationally.

Congress

The debt ceiling should be ruled out as a weapon.

Government shutdown should not be an option.

Majority rule should be restored to the Congress.

War Powers

The US has been at almost perpetual war since WW II. Most wars were carried out by the CIA, and none of them have been successful. We are now experiencing what Chalmer's Johnson has richly described as blowback. Although we spend hundreds of billions of dollars annually on 'defense', we are still seriously threatened by a few people with box cutters. Because our politicians have visions of empire, our own people are not well served and the country is broke. Republicans want to cut domestic spending though.

Without Congressional oversight, checks and balances are inoperable. Bush Republicans put the Constitution at risk by carrying on public dialog in secret, even Alan Greenspan admitted that the War in Iraq was about oil. All the other pretexts for the war have been discredited now. Massive quantities of emails from the White House have disappeared, so they are not available for Congressional scrutiny. A partisan Supreme Court, which also threw the election of 2000, protected Cheney's secret discussions of energy policy. Secrecy is a dagger in the heart of democracy and the Bush administration has maximized its use.

A fundamental assumption of the Constitution is the need for constant vigilance against concentration of power. Bush's FCC pushed for concentration of media, and in return media became lackeys for the Administration. He provoked two wars without any serious challenge. The Iraq War was based on twisted intelligence and that is a crime. Without a free press there can be no democracy.

Over the last centuries Europeans nearly destroyed themselves in horrendous wars. But they appear to have learned that a head of state who, on his own whim, can make war, can disappear people, can torture, can ignore habeas corpus, or can otherwise act without regard for law is a clear and present danger. After nearly destroying themselves, they have now limited their royalty to mostly ceremonial functions, and their people are more the deciders. That's what democracy is about.

In contempt of Congress, transparency, and democratic principle, Bush minions refused to testify before Congress. They should be held accountable and Republicans should be driven from office.

A few months ago, a 'blue ribbon' commission decided that the 1973 law which attempted to decide whether the Congress or the President had war power decided that the old law was 'quaint' and needed to be revised to give the President the power to make war after discussion with Congressional leaders. Get real. A President that can go to war at will and, without accountability, operate without restraint, is a dictator. In history, such strong-men governments have been typical of countries building empire.

National War Powers Commission

There is nothing in the Constitution that supports the policy of the Bush administration that we need to remake the Middle East. Anyway it likely cannot be done with military force.

When the US signed the UN charter it agreed to go to war only in self defense. Did we do that ?

Media

Media has become too corporate, too concentrated, and its message is not in the public interest. Such media, particularly talk radio, has clearly shown the way to fascism. There should be a mix of public and private media so that the corporate voice is not the only one. Without good information, we cannot have an informed public, or fair elections. We should follow Canada's lead and sanction broadcasters if they lie.

Religion

Medieval religions are a major cause of wars and terrorism. They are divisive, often uncompromising, and since they indoctrinate with the unbelievable, they degrade education with misinformation, and they polarize our politics. They are often highly profitable as well. Some have become propaganda channels for Republicans and, as such, they enabled the disastrous Bush adventures, denied likely environmental catastrophe, incited violence, and, more recently, have shutdown government. If they preach violence, they should at least lose their tax exempt status.

The wall separating Church and State needs shoring up. 

Secrecy

Secrecy is corrosive for all traditional American values and it continues to expand to cover up much of our government. The national security state is designed to stamp out opposition to the agenda of building a world dominating empire. Whistleblowers, who might leak real information, are quickly silenced. Our prisons are bursting. Torture became routine.


Arianna Huffington Karl Rove's Contempt for the Constitution and the Public's Right to Know

The Bush Administration was probably one of the most secretive. Lack of information led to dysfunctional Constitutional checks and balances.

Covert agencies with secret, undisclosed budgets continue to operate in ways that Americans would never approve. They are (and ought to be) unconstitutional.

Secrecy Report Card 2007

'Intelligence'

Secret agencies construct our view of the outside world, provide controlled versions to media, and frame issues to justify actions. The pretext for the war in Iraq, for example, was made to fit the policy.

Communism was a red flag used to justify an immense arms buildup and a justification for the permanent war. When the USSR fell apart, we needed a new adversary and that after a period of time became Muslims. We have engaged in a new crusade. Since religious war is politically incorrect, we now have a new enemy that can never be defeated: namely terrorism. Since terrorism will always be with us, we can have an endless war. This pleases corporate war profiteers.

Secrecy is poisonous for a Constitutional government.

FISA

FISA

Wiretappings True Danger

FISA Bill's real target is freedom of the Press

Thank Senator Dodd for fighting FISA 

Senator Feingold: The Problems with the FISA Bill

Posted: 09 Jul 2008 11:59 PM CDT

I cannot believe that we are still debating the legality of this program on the Senate floor, and that anyone seriously believes that merely notifying the Gang of Eight - while keeping the full intelligence committees in the dark - somehow represents congressional approval. -- Senator Russ Feingold more... | PDA

There are a few in Congress who take their oath seriously and actually do protect the Constitution.
Thank Senator Dodd for being one of them. He has opposed the warrentless surveillance, FISA, law relentlessly. 

Civil Liberties

National Security State

Bill of Rights

Patriot Act

The Patriot Act inverts the constitutional requirement that people's lives be private and the work of government officials be public; it instead crafts a set of conditions in which our inner lives become transparent and the workings of the government become opaque. Either one of these outcomes would imperil democracy; together they not only injure the country but also cut off the avenues of repair. Elaine Scarry

See other ideas for reform.


Links

People's Campaign for the Constitution

Move To Amend Resources

Port Huron Statement

American Constitution Society

American Constitution Society Blog

Raleigh Myers

Bibliography

Broken Trust: Dysfunctional Government and Constitutional Reform Stephen M. Griffin

Our Undemocratic Constitution: Where the Constitution Goes Wrong (And How We the People Can Correct It): Sanford V. Levinson

A More Perfect Constitution: Larry J. Sabato

Constitution 3.0 Freedom and Technological Change:

The Second Bill Of Rights: FDR's Unfinished Revolution and Why We Need It More Than Ever: Cass R. Sunstein

The Limits of Power, the End of American Exceptionalism: Andrew J. Bacevich  

Constitutional chaos : what happens when the government breaks its own laws by Napolitano, Andrew P

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