You say you want a revolution?
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.