Having A Strong Constitution

Andrew Sullivan —  Nov 11 2013 @ 7:32am

Not long after Norm Ornstein called for a constitutional right to vote and Stephen Lurie made the case for an amendment guaranteeing K-12 education, Alex Seitz-Wald proposes a full rewrite:

Clocking in at some 4,500 words – about the same length as the screenplay for an episode of Two and a Half Men – and without serious modification since 18-year-olds got the vote in 1971, the Constitution simply isn’t cut out for 21st-century governance. It’s full of holes, only some of which have been patched; it guarantees gridlock; and it’s virtually impossible to change.

“It gets close to a failing grade in terms of 21st-century notions on democratic theory,” says University of Texas law professor Sanford Levinson, part of the growing cadre of legal scholars who say the time has come for a new constitutional convention. Put simply, we’ve learned a lot since 1787. More than 700 constitutions have been composed since World War II alone, and other countries have solved the very problems that cripple us today. It seems un-American to look abroad for ways to change our sacred text, but the world’s nations copied us, so why not learn from them?

Chris Bray rolls his eyes:

The Constitution survived (for example) the long historical moment in which the Weather Underground was routinely bombing government buildings; three of the nation’s top leaders were assassinated; civil rights activists were clubbed and shot and attacked by police dogs and knocked over with firehoses; and churches were bombed, sometimes with children inside them, but it can’t survive any longer, because Ted Cruz. Be grateful that Seitz-Wald isn’t a doctor, too, because you’d go in with a hangnail and come out on chemotherapy.

The Senate doesn’t work anymore, he writes, because the Constitution is broken:

“Today, the Senate is an undemocratic relic where 41 senators, representing just 11 percent of the nation’s population, can use the filibuster to block almost anything and bring government to its knees.” But the filibuster isn’t a feature of the Constitution. It’s a product of Senate rules. …  In any case, no one complaining about American gridlock actually means that they hate gridlock. Here’s a deal for you, and it’ll solve the problem of gridlock right now: Give the deep red states far more power in the national government. Gridlock will end right away, and government will get busy doing things: banning abortion, banning gay marriage, slashing federal welfare spending, purging the military of gay and lesbian service members, increasing the military budget, expanding American military power, locking Gitmo and the military tribunal into permanent, uncontested features of our national life. Congratulations – no gridlock at all!