If you have "no place to go," come here!

You say you want a revolution?

bringiton's picture

Then what are you waiting for? First thing, let’s get rid of the Constitution.

No point in fooling around with voting out one party to replace it with another much the same that will become as corrupt as the first one, or wasting time and effort on supporting third-party candidates that will never obtain enough influence to matter. No point to complaining about individual politicians at all; whether Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are evil creatures or good and decent people trapped in a system that won’t let them be any better is not the issue.

The core of our problem is the system itself, this cynical political compromise that has become enshrined in our national consciousness as some sort of sacred text that cannot be challenged or overthrown. It is not anything of the sort, just black lines on white paper that has power only because we collectively agree that it does. And it is now more than 200 years old, written in a time remote from our own technologically, intellectually and emotionally. It is absurd to contend that this document, and the thinking behind it, can possibly apply literally to the problems and opportunities that face us today. It is time for a change; not just a modification but a real change, a new constitution, for a new era.

Is there anything worth salvaging from the old document? I think not much from the body. That this effort concocted by rich white men who didn’t want to pay taxes should after 200 years still primarily function to the benefit of rich white men who don’t want to pay taxes is sufficient reason for junking the whole thing.

There is very little more to be gained from the writings of the revered Founding Fathers, who are given far more respect than they are due. The most influential are far too comfortable with slavery, including the hypocritical Jefferson who found his slave Sally Hemings good enough for his physical attentions and perhaps even some sort of emotional attachment but certainly did not consider her his equal or worthy enough to wed.

Washington’s often noted refusal of being proclaimed king may have had more to do with recognizing what the colonists had done to the last regent than to modesty, and his own treatment of slaves was all but indistinguishable from others who depended on subjugation of human beings for their own prosperity. While it may be argued that these men were no more than the product of their times, it is precisely that point which establishes that the constitution which so deeply reflects those anachronistic values is no longer serviceable.

The only part of the current constitution worth preserving unaltered is the preamble, the purest, most comprehensive statement about the proper role of government that has ever been expressed. Many have argued that as a preamble and not a part of the body of the text proper it is of no judicial weight. I find this argument preposterous; the preamble states the purpose of the whole document and however imperfectly the body may attain those purposes, they are themselves undiminished. Therefore, just to be perfectly clear what it is we’re about, our new constitution should begin with

Article I. We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

That’ll be a good start. What else should be kept? Freedom of speech, assembly, the press and petitioning for redress, of the practice of religion, FDR's freedom from want and from fear; universal voter suffrage, certainly. What can be tossed? No need for slavery references or the Electoral College, also certainly. What new? A clear statement of equality under the law for all citizens with no exception; an end to corporate personhood, to be replaced with some construct that preserves responsibility for the corporation’s activities while protecting shareholders to some degree from criminal actions of executives; universal single payer healthcare from conception to grave; guaranteed higher education and childhood nutrition; progressive taxation; an unfettered embrace of the Geneva Convention; prohibition of NAFTA, CAFTA and all the other SHAFT-YA trade debacles; the list goes on.

A review of previous attempts at constitutional reconstruction can be found here. Professor Sanford Levinson of the University of Texas has authored a book, Our Undemocratic Constitution: Where the Constitution Goes Wrong (And How We the People Can Correct It) and begun a blog to discuss the idea.

So let’s get going. Throw out the Republicans because with them in power nothing worthwhile can happen. Start replacing establishment Democrats with progressives. Begin the referendum process under Article 5 of the current constitution to establish a states convention, not to amend but to replace the old document with something new, something modern, something that works for We the People as the preamble says it should.



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chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

sorry, i'm too cynical for that. ideally, i'm ok with this path as one solution to bring about the changes we need. but right now, this minute, this electorate is too easily led by the teevee. i'd fear what sort of constitution people would produce, right now.

to me this post has value because it pushes the overton window. and i have no fear of any of what you propose happening anytime soon. that's part of the reason why i think this exact group of amurkins isn't the one to rewrite the consitution. what motives them to 'radical' action? new soft drinks and speaking fur covered toys.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Mustn’t fear change, CD, its good for you. On average. More or less.

Waiting for Jack and Jill Sixpack to improve their critical thinking skills on their own isn’t, I think, a promising plan. Without a concerted push to focus people’s awareness they will only slide further into emotional withdrawal from politics, it’s what most humans do in avoidance of anything uncomfortable. Get the process of reconstruction started and the great mass of people will pay attention – if for no other reason than to make sure it isn’t their ox being gored – and that’s what we progressives want, isn’t it?

Trying to manage governance of a modern society based on a 200+ years-old political document makes as much sense as managing modern morality based on the 2000+ years-old laws and customs of an obscure desert tribe. If you had an old, broken down automobile television IBM 360 (my first and yes, keypunch and verify sucked) you might want to hang on to it in storage for historical or sentimental reasons but you wouldn’t use it for everyday purposes – because it’s outmoded.

Opportunities for great progressive leaps forward are few and far apart, only every 40 or 50 years or more and usually after a great trauma like the current GW Bush debacle. The last one was brief under Johnson and blunted by his mistakes in Vietnam and organizational ineptitude by the Left; the one before that was under FDR in response to the Great Depression, and the one before that was the Civil War itself. If we don’t take full advantage of this cycle it will be another generation or more until the next one emerges, with who knows what fresh hell in between.

This is no time to be faint of heart, no time to settle for piecemeal, incremental change. The system is broken, as so many here have pointed out; now is the time to build a new one.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

we still need, now?

What I want -- What I want is a pair of amendments.

1.)"No person within the borders of the United States of America shall be denied the rights of an American citizen by reason of race, color, creed, sex, religion, national origin -- or lack thereof."

2. No entity composed of corporate or business interests NOT centered in one human being shall be recognized as a person or a citizen of the United States nor permitted the rights of same.

The major shortcoming of the current system of electing the President arises from the winner-take-all rule (currently used by 48 of 50 states) under which all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who gets the most votes in the state. If the partisan divide in a state is not initially closer than about 46%-54%, no amount of campaigning during a brief presidential campaign is realistically going to reverse the outcome in the state. As a result, presidential candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or worry about the concerns in voters of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. Instead, candidates concentrate their attention on a handful of closely divided “battleground” states. As a result, 88% of the money and visits (and attention) is focused on just 9 states. Fully 99% of the money goes to just 16 states. More than two-thirds of the country is left out.

Another shortcoming of the current system is that a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide.

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC). The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill is enacted in a group of states possessing 270 or more electoral votes, all of the electoral votes from those states would be awarded, as a bloc, to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

The National Popular Vote bill has 366 legislative sponsors in 47 states. It has been signed into law in Maryland. Since its introduction in February 2006, the bill has passed by 12 legislative houses (one house in Colorado, Arkansas, New Jersey, and North Carolina, and two houses in Maryland, Illinois, Hawaii, and California).


Submitted by hipparchia on

in fact, i've often thought that lincoln ultimately didn't do the world any favors by keeping the union together. alaska should just go ahead and secede, and the confederacy should for sure, and texas has always been its own country anyway. then divide the rest of it up into 3 more countries, maybe along the lines of the west, midwest, and northeast.

assuming that's not going to happen in my lifetime, i like your start here. the preamble really is the best part of the original document. i'd add to your suggestions that we need a constitutional provision for dismantling [and preventing the re-buildup] of a department of war/military-industrial complex and probably add in something along the lines of dennis kucinich's department of peace.