Saturday, August 13, 2011

Constitutional Convention, Anyone?

This piece by David Swanson raises many of the questions I've been grappling with in relation to a Constitutional Convention. This is something that anyone who wants to see a better America needs to be considering, and what we all need to be discussing with each other. The time is NOW, folks. The mess we have now that passes for government representation is only going to get worse - in spades.
No matter what your political brand is, I think we can all agree that this government is not working for 99% of us. It is not operating the way it was intended to, and has been systematically removing constitutionally-mandated rights and freedoms from We The People - while granting them, as Swanson points out, to corporations.

From David Swanson, Smirking Chimp:

To Constitutionally convene or not to Constitutionally convene: that is the question. (And one taken up by an upcoming conference I'll be taking part in at Harvard: http://conconcon.org ) Or is it? The government's broken, but would a Constitutional convention be broken too? This debate among those on the left usually takes the form of:

Progressive #1: We need to fix a system that is rotten to the core and outdated by centuries.
Progressive #2: But then the right-wingers will ban abortion, criminalize homosexuality, and require public prayer by both teams before every football game just to confuse God.
Progressive #1: But any proposal must be ratified by three-quarters of the states, which will protect us from anything crazy.

From a certain perspective there is something otherworldly about this whole debate. We are clearly not protected from craziness by inaction either. We are absolutely overrun by both crazy laws of dubious constitutionality and crazy policies in blatant disregard of the law. President Obama has erased habeas corpus from the Constitution with an executive order. We imprison people in conditions that amount to torture. We have wars declared by presidents, spy agencies, and media barons -- anybody except the United States Congress. We've granted human rights to corporations while stripping them from humans. The Fourth Amendment is gone and the First Amendment is in terrible shape for flesh and blood people. Treaties that are the supreme law of the land under Article VI are obeyed selectively. The idea of complying with the Kellogg-Briand Pact, for example, would get you laughed right out of a secret energy task force meeting or a gathering of the Super Congressional Gang of 12. Insisting on the right to employment under the Humphrey Hawkins Full Employment Act, the Federal Reserve Act, or international law might get you locked up as dangerous to yourself and others.

If only the worst bits of the Constitution are enforced, including sections that don't actually exist at all, what exactly will we gain by revising that ancient document?

But look at it a different way. If we had the popular nonviolent movement that could compel adherence to the best of existing law, we would also have the ability to improve on the Constitution. And the vision of how to make such improvements might just help us in developing that movement.

The idea that the hurdle of approval by three-quarters of the states will protect us from anything crazy seems pretty dubious to me, in the absence of a mass mobilization and revitalization of healthy civic life. Thus far, that hurdle has protected us from just about everything, not specifically crazy things. We've barely tweaked the Constitution in over two centuries, and some of that tweaking has been downright crazy. Other than the original 10 amendments that were part of the bargain made in the initial ratification, and an eleventh that came through slowly, there are only 16 amendments that have been passed at all. Six of the 16 amendments extend rights to people across previously existing barriers of race, sex, age, or education level. Six others deal with the intricacies of an antiquated election system. One of these creates the popular elections of senators. Another amendment creates income taxes. And two more do something truly stupid. The first bans alcohol, a move strongly supported by Standard Oil at a time when Ford was manufacturing cars that ran on ethanol. The second legalizes alcohol again, a move made just after Ford had ceased that offensive manufacturing and the path to global warming had been firmly established.

But, again, the craziness doesn't come from amending the Constitution. The craziness comes, relentlessly, with or without taking any notice of the Constitution. It comes from poor education, evil propaganda, inequality, insecurity, violence, and corruption. A movement to rewrite/revise/reform the U.S. Constitution should be an integral part of a movement against craziness, but such a movement must include massive nonviolent resistance, the creating of new communications systems, and education and organizing that overcome political partisanship. Such a movement will not succeed until tens of millions of Americans who are now fiercely loyal to the Democratic Party, right or wrong, outgrow that phase of childhood. And it may succeed most quickly if independent activists on both the left and the right join together on those points where they agree. These points of agreement are areas on which a large majority of Americans agree, but on which the current federal government is strongly opposed and partisans too compromised....

See the rest here.

1 Comments:

Blogger Anna Van Z said...

If enough people from divergent political stripes manage to put this effort together officially, I wonder what the Gov-Corp response will be?
Betcha it involves weapons! And "crowd control".

Not that it will stop us. (Unless we're dead; that would be somewhat of an impediment).

Hey, maybe I'll just team up with my righty acquaintances, whose stockpiles of weaponry and ammo puts my own itty-bitty guns to shame.... As they say, politics makes for some strange bedfellows!

11:11 AM  

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