Update the Constitution to Fix Our Government
The essay by John Cogswell in The Passy Press focuses on fixes to Congressional processes. No special benefits that are not applicable to all, timely budgets, recorded votes and so forth.
Comments include: “rules don’t necessarily work” (a concept – no matter how true – that is anathema to governing bodies everywhere); and “the satisfying whine and chunk of the guillotine” (frustration levels remain elevated).
Given the mischief surrounding legislative and regulatory efforts, one can only imagine what might happen if the Constitution were reopened to debate.
Let your mind wander. What do you think would be either the best or worst changes that might result from a rewrite of the Constitution?
Humor is permitted and spelling doesn’t count.
Haven Pell, January 01, 2014 at 9:04 am said:
Here is a reply to the published comments in The Passy Press by the author of the article.
The Passy Press
15 rue Raynouard Paris 75016 FRANCE
December 30, 2013
Dear Passy Press:
Thank you for selecting my essay on fixing the Constitution and to those who responded to it. With respect to the published responses, I make the following comments, noting in advance the limitations of space constraints.
Charles Deahl makes the case that more rules are not necessarily a solution. I agree. However, he fails to articulate the standards, which apply to determine when our choices are best regulated by laws, customs or individual discretion. Madison tells us we must “take the most effectual precautions” to keep our leaders wise and virtuous to achieve the harmony we all expect in the management of the collective good. In my view, wise and virtuous examples displayed by a few good people are not sufficient effectual precautions to save our country.
Peter Felix is as concerned as I am about the condition of our country. His Churchillean faith in the American people is what I am trying to tap. Part of doing that is showing them a way to effectuate constitutional changes initiated, not by Congress, but by the states as proposed on my website. This I have done.
John Hennessy, Peter Moore and Ronald St. John are concerned with the elective process including campaign spending. While I favor shorter campaigns, reasonable restrictions on incumbents and other reforms, the issue is whether these changes should be enshrined in the
Constitution or enacted by Congress. With respect to campaign spending, I have dealt with that subject on my website but have taken a contrary view. Money is speech and restrictions on campaign contributions and spending require a form of censorship acceptable only to those who are doing the censoring. If we cannot trust the people to be enlightened voters and filter the good from the bad, we have the wrong form of government.
Cotes Pinckney made a most telling point when he observed that “we poll [our poorly educated Americans] on issues and then use the results as some sort of compass”. He also indirectly observed that, before the polling, our poorly educated Americans, trusting as they are, are misled by an unaccountable media and dishonest politicians. A media, with the courage to display high standards of public trust, would likely obviate any need for constitutional change but reform there is an even greater challenge than fixing the Constitution. The media is run by people and today these people are largely end driven, not truth driven.
The Passy Press December 30, 2013 Page 2
Willis Sargent opines that our government is not “broken” and also adds that constitutional proposals could never be passed and some of mine are not practical. I concede that my proposed amendments may require changes and have provided for that to be done at the mock constitutional convention proposed on my website. Ironically, he believes that prohibiting gerrymandering would fix whatever might be broken but does not explain how this might occur. I do agree with his observation that a “hard digging outspoken press would be much more helpful in eventually setting the standard that we all want”. Yet, this will not happen until Rasselas returns to Abyssinia.
Dan Simpson raises the practical question of “how we get there from here”. I kept my essay short but those who are interested in the business plan for accomplishing “the most effectual precautions” I have in mind, should review my website which contains a proposed resolution for the states and a proposed mock convention. Each of these measures is designed to restrict the convention to specified subjects, which have largely been approved in advance. This will prevent a runaway convention many people fear and, at the same time, honor Jefferson’s injunction that constitutional conventions should be held (in his view every 19 years, being the term “beyond which neither the representatives of a nation, nor even the whole nation itself assembled, can validly extend a debt”). While Mr. Simpson’s regard for state leaders is no different from his negative regard for congressional leaders, I should point out that the polling of our uneducated citizenry shows substantially more confidence in state leaders than congressional leaders. As for the “whine and ‘chunk’ of the guillotine”, he can be sure that there is more than one Madame Defarge out there knitting the verdicts.
Overall, the comments raised numerous issues central to the management of our nation including the need for constitutional change, the resiliency of American people, the election process, campaign spending, federalism, the media, polling, education and human nature. In a nutshell, the intellectual spirit of current generations is alive and well.
John M. Cogswell
President, Campaign Constitution http://www.campaignconstitution.com
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