Toward a Constitutional Convention

...no society can make a perpetual constitution, or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always to the living generation. They may manage it then, and what proceeds from it, as they please, during their usufruct. They are masters too of their own persons, and consequently may govern them as they please. But persons and property make the sum of the objects of government. The constitution and the laws of their predecessors extinguished them, in their natural course, with those whose will gave them being. This could preserve that being till it ceased to be itself, and no longer. Every constitution, then, and every law, naturally expires at the end of 19 years. If it be enforced longer, it is an act of force and not of right. (A letter to Madison from Jefferson Sept. 6, 1789. Quoted in Larry J. Sabato's book 'A More Perfect Constitution'

..."A constitutional convention to rewrite our governing document would unleash every bat in America's political belfry. More modest changes, though, remain in the realm of the possible. " Harold Meyerson in the American Prospect October 2011

There are a number of good reasons that the Constitution needs revision. See Call A Convention.

Elections

Lawrence Lessig, founder of Rootstrikers, described in some detail Congress' dependence on campaign money as the reason we have lost our republic. His book is titled Republic, Lost.

Since the two parties have put our government in gridlock, we should break the two party monopoly.

The Constitution should be revised to assure that elections have integrity. The process needs to be revised and strengthened so that it cannot be rigged.

Open source voting machines should be required. Secure, standardized voting procedures should require Range Voting.

The Electoral College should be eliminated.

Concentration of Power

The framers of the Constitution had great suspicion of concentration power and even designed checks and balances to counter it,
but recent events have shown we forgot about it. Just look around. for the results.

Media has become so concentrated that it has no local accountability, a lot fewer jobs, downsized news, partisan hate speech, a message that allows for little well informed opinion, and rhetoric that is too often incendiary. We have seen in Rwanda how powerful talk radio can be.

We have had a close brush with fascism. It is not over.

Restore Checks and Balances

The Presidency has grown too powerful, and it threatens those checks and balances we heard about in school.

If the Republican concept of an imperial Presidency is allowed to stand, we will lose our Constitution altogether. 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.

Remember the Constitution was written 'for the people'. The only way people can be the deciders is through their representatives in Congress. 

War Power belongs to the Congress

We ought to break our addiction to wars. The Congress should reassert its sole power to make war.

The Constitution does not authorize any effort to remake the middle east. We need to reach a consensus that the US is not to build an empire. Agreement on that would remove the need to build and support the world's largest military. We could get back to building a better standard of living.

People cannot be deciders unless government is be open and transparent. The Bush administration deliberately kept its activities and records secret, and would not even respond to Congressional subpoenas for routine information. That should be criminal.

Empire

The U.S. will not get its fiscal problems under control until it rejects the need to build an empire. The outlook for rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, providing universal healthcare, or any real civilization is bleak unless we wind down our profligate military expenses. There is no longer any credible threat to justify the world's largest military expenditure.

Bill of Rights

The first amendment is well served when there is a really free press, but media should not have the right to deliberately lie. (Courts have ruled that they can.) Talk radio is the voice of the Republican party: it enabled the election of Bush, cheered for war, and didn't notice any problems with the economy until it fell off the cliff. Media can distort politics for the benefit of its funders.

The Fourth amendment has been gutted. We have no fourth amendment rights at the airport. President Bush took it upon himself to wiretap without court or any other oversight. There ought to be reconsideration of this. The Bill of Rights could be strengthened so that we again have fourth amendment rights against arbitrary search and seizure

The Fourteenth Amendment was supposed to protect people, not corporations. See this. http://www.kickthemallout.com/article.php/Story-Two_Step_Plan

Corporations

Corporations have become much more powerful than people, particularly in light of the recent Supreme Court decision.

The Supreme Court was wrong and a change to the Constitution should remedy it. Corporations are not people, and do not have the rights of people. If they are not good citizens they need to be eliminated. Their influence on the political process should be restricted.

Corporate governance needs limitations. See Thomas Geoghegan's "Notebook" in Harper's for March 2010.

Corporations have grown too large to fail, and we now have to bail them all out with taxpayer funds. Although the Supreme Court decided that the only obligation of Corporations is to make a profit. Allowing them to spend unlimited amounts of money to buy elections will have dire consequences. Already, theirs is by far the loudest from broadcasters.

Corporations, to retain their charter, must be good citizens.

Economy

Our economic measures are no longer appropriate. Similarly, our economic direction is misguided. The financial sector, Speculators, casinos, and weapons manufacturers have gone wild. Thoughtless deregulation was the problem.

Secrecy

The law should require that high-level officials keep complete records and that  need to be open, unless judicial oversight agrees that they should be closed. A revised Constitution should reject the 'executive privilege' claimed by Nixon, Bush, and Cheney. They are public servants, not dictators. Refusing to deliver needed information to the Congress should be a crime and an impeachable offense.

Covert agencies are not accountable. They not only have budgets that are
large and hidden, they have been responsible for all US wars since WWII and
many illegal activities. We know that the CIA has run drugs into Los
Angeles, that Afghanistan under the Taliban produced almost no narcotics but now it
produces a large part of the worlds drugs, the agency has engaged in
renditions, torture, assassinations, regime changes...and it has supported
dictatorships in many parts of the world. If good US citizens were fully
informed, there would be an even more massive change of politicians.

There must be some restraint, judicial oversight, of the governments decisions of what secrets to keep. The Bush administration's volume of 'classified' documents was unprecedented, and extrmely ant-democratic. Without a doubt, the Bush administration's worst abuses occurred because they could keep their activities secret.

They succeeded in neutralizing the FISA court. They were able to do this, in addition to other crimes, because it was secret.

Information that caused us to go to war in Iraq was extracted using torture....in secret.

Having failed to learn lessons from history, we went to war in Iraq based on twisted information. The same people, some felons, who justified the massive and dysfunctional arms buildup in the Reagan administration also were responsible for twisting 'intelligence' to justify the war in Iraq. Although media is complicit in keeping Americans ignorant about these facts, Congress, unwilling or unable to access classified information, has failed in its oversight of the executive branch. Secrecy will likely be a fatal poison for the US Constitution.

We know that the Bush administration used secrecy to hide very unsavory political activities, lawbreaking, ideological falsehoods, and an assortment of lies. There was no accountability.

See Impeachment.

Outlook

Confrence on the Constitutional Convention

Convention USA

Without timely change in course, the forecast is bleak.

Home Editorial News Books Blogs Links Feedback