Can Constitutional amendments save the Republic?

Summary: We’re losing to the 1%, and articles like this show why. Reformers dream of changes to the system (like the amendments proposed here) while the 1% builds the machinery to make changes happen. They’ve invested the time, effort and money; now they reap their reward. It need not be this way.  {1st of  2 posts today.}

“The throne is never vacant.”
— Russian aphorism. If we choose not to govern, then others will.

Amendments to the Constitution

It’s Not Too Late: Save Democracy By Amending the Constitution

By John Nichols, The Nation, 6 April 2015
“Corporations are not people, money is not speech,
and votes must matter more than billionaires’ dollars.”

Nothing locks in inequality and dysfunction like a constitution so imprecise that it allows right-wing judicial activists to make buying elections easy and voting in them hard. But don’t just blame “constitutional conservatives” for turning our founding document into an outline for oligarchy. Fret about liberal constitutionalists who imagine we’re just one thrilling presidential appointment away from making our democratic vistas real. Like Democrats dreaming of another FDR, liberals waiting for another Earl Warren miss the point. Our democratic destiny is not something to wait for — it’s something we have to make happen. Dissident Americans have been bending the arc of history by rewriting the US Constitution since amendments were added with quill pens. Today’s dissenters should be about the business of doing so once more.

… The real friends of the Constitution today champion a “move to amend” that would declare that corporations are not people, that money is not speech, and that votes must matter more than billionaires’ dollars. Sixteen states and some 600 communities have recently demanded that Congress initiate a constitutional response to the judicial activism that has allowed elites to commodify our politics and corporatize our governance. At the same time, activists are taking up a proposal by Congressmen Mark Pocan and Keith Ellison to end the crude assault on voting rights with an amendment that establishes, finally and unequivocally, a right to vote and to have every vote counted. These are good starting points, but they are not an end to anything.

 

Next Ten Amendments
National Constitutional Center.

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. And then get serious: ask, as Congressman Victor Berger did more than a century ago, 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.

… Opening up a big debate requires faith in humanity. And even those who harbor such faith will ask: How can we, the people, ever beat the billionaires and media moguls of a digital age? As if it was easy to beat the robber barons and press lords of the new twentieth century on behalf of amendments to elect senators, impose taxes and enfranchise women. Yes, going to the root of the matter is daunting. But the alternative is a strategy of managing democratic decline. And that is no strategy for a left that seeks a transformative politics. …

This article is part of The Nation’s 150th Anniversary Special Issue. Download a free PDF of the issue, with articles by James Baldwin, Barbara Ehrenreich, Toni Morrison, Howard Zinn and many more, are here.

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We are strong together

This is what passes for political insight today. The 1% have gained economic and political power from our apathy and passivity. They dominate both major political parties. There are no substantial alternative mechanisms for political activity by the outer party and proles now that the unions have been largely neutered. In the absence of these, any amendments to the Constitution will benefit the 1%.

Dreaming about wonderful changes is the equivalent of asking in song “Would it spoil some vast eternal plan if I were a wealthy man?” rely on blind “faith in humanity” is a dangerous course, as history teaches us. I suggest to put our faith instead in hard work, because our problem is not a lack of nifty ideas about goals, but discussion about means — the connecting link between information as entertainment and dreams of great deeds. How do we recruit, train, and motivate people to organize for political reform, and begin the long, difficult, and probably high-risk trek to a New America? That’s the subject that few discuss.

When organizations exist to harness the energies of a people committed to reform, then will be he time for big dreams. Eventually we’ll have enough strength to challenge the 1% directly with Constitutional amendments.

Meanwhile we dream while we lose, getting weak with the passage of every day.

Our burning constitution

For More Information

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.  For tales of the New America arising around us on the ruins of the see the new GOP budget, judges burning the Constitution, and ever-bolder police militarization and brutality.  You might enjoy other posts about the Constitution. Especially see these about the peril of our situation:

If you would like to action after reading this see Reforming America: steps to new politics. Also see these about amending the Constitution:

  1. Is it time to take the drastic step of calling a Constitutional Convention?
  2. Was the 1787 Constitutional Convention a runaway, in effect a second revolution?
  3. Could a new Constitutional Convention help reform America? Is it worth the risk?

 

 

9 thoughts on “Can Constitutional amendments save the Republic?

  1. Good Monday stuff:
    “This is what passes for political insight today. The 1% have gained economic and political power from our apathy and passivity. They dominate both major political parties. There are no substantial alternative mechanisms for political activity by the outer party and proles now that the unions have been largely neutered. In the absence of these, any amendments to the Constitution…..”
    …….
    The Draft was abandoned to avoid the Politically Galvanizing events that would impede the PTB in their headlong adventures. One thinks it will take another galvanization to see the rising of the people willing to sacrifice much of the usual Life to ferment the organizations to unseat the apathy and passivity we see all around us. And give serious voice and planning to begin the Turnaround.

    Keep it up here, FM.
    This place offers some of the impetus and idealism so well needed.

    Thx
    Breton

    1. Breton,

      I suspect one reason for our apathy is the feeling that we have time. Eventually we will rise up and smite our oppressors! It’s the standard thinking of peasants. In fact time is our enemy.

      “But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? … Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?” {More of this here}

    2. To abolish the Electoral College would need a constitutional amendment, and could be stopped by states with as little as 3% of the U.S. population.

      Instead, by state laws, without changing anything in the Constitution, The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the presidency, to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country.

      Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps of pre-determined outcomes. There would no longer be a handful of ‘battleground’ states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in 80% of the states that now are just ‘spectators’ and ignored after the conventions.

      The bill would take effect when enacted by states with a majority of Electoral College votes—that is, enough to elect a President (270 of 538). The candidate receiving the most popular votes from all 50 states (and DC) would get all the 270+ electoral votes of the enacting states.

      The bill has passed 33 state legislative chambers in 22 rural, small, medium, large, red, blue, and purple states with 250 electoral votes. The bill has been enacted by 11 jurisdictions with 165 electoral votes – 61% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.

      NationalPopularVote.com

    3. In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided).

      Support for a national popular vote is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in every state surveyed recently. In the 39 states surveyed, overall support has been in the 67-83% range or higher. – in recent or past closely divided battleground states, in rural states, in small states, in Southern and border states, in big states, and in other states polled.

      More than 2,110 state legislators (in 50 states) have sponsored and/or cast recorded votes in favor of the National Popular Vote bill.
      Since its introduction in 2006, The National Popular Vote bill has passed 33 state legislative chambers in 22 rural, small, medium, large, Democratic, Republican and purple states with 250 electoral votes, including one house in Arkansas (6), Maine (4), Michigan (16), Nevada (6), New Mexico (5), North Carolina (15), and Oklahoma (7), and both houses in Colorado (9).
      The bill has been enacted by 11 jurisdictions with 165 electoral votes – 61% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.

    4. SE,

      I hate to be the one to break the news to you, but there is little correlation between US public policy and that shown as desired by public opinion polls. On the other hand, this is really obvious — and has been for a decade or two. So your faith is touching but sad to see.

      Looking forward, Most observers predict this lack of correlation to decrease even more as the 1% gain power. The new budgets passed in both Houses of Congress show this, as there is little support for shifting the tax burden from the 1% to the rest of us — and massive support for doing the opposite. Yet that’s what is happening in several States, and Congress is pushing to do this nationally.

      Please read the post before commenting. It is quite rude to use comments as a dumping ground for your views without any reference to the post. Better moderated website comments would delete your, but the FM website is more open.

  2. Smiling…..I suspect such is exactly the case. And yes, Time is our enemy. We missed a good opportunity back in 2007-2008 ish. Recall telling anyone in earshot, we will not recognize this country in five years. Deafness was the greeting. And now, that time period seems seems both just yesterday and an eternity.

    “Peasants”? Who can stand and face such an epitaph?

    Breton

  3. Romney: “Corporations Are People, My Friend.”

    He won 24 states, so you need to get the legislatures of 12 Romney states to pass an amendment plus all of the Obama states. This assumes all the states that voted for Obama don’t have Republican legislatures, many do. Move to Amend says that 16 states have shown some indication of support. We don’t yet live in country that has 38 state legislatures willing to pass an amendment ending corporate personhood. The country that would do such a thing would be a very different animal than the one we have. I live in a deep blue state and most of the people I know would support it.

    https://youtu.be/KlPQkd_AA6c

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