Why a New Constitution is Our Best Hope

Having the longest-lasting constitution that is the hardest to change is a negative, not a positive. Personally I advocate radical egalitarianism, democratic world government, and nuclear disarmament. The constitutional convention process that I propose maximizes democracy, and it will completely level the playing field by removing the influence of money. But what can people like me do if the American people under a new constitution desire laissez-faire capitalism, a flat tax, and a neo-conservative foreign policy? We can try a new approach in popularizing our preferences, but our plight will be less dismal than it is now because future constitutions will be easier to amend and easier to abolish.

In my ideal constitution, I would empower the 7 largest national political parties, create proportional representation in a unicameral national legislature, and abolish the US Senate and the Electoral College. I also would advocate single payer health insurance, with the government as the single payer, and a public banking system that abolishes the Federal Reserve. For some types of elections, I would recommend instant runoff voting.

Since I am still listing my personal preferences, I would change state governments as well: I would empower them from the bottom-up, from the neighborhood block club, to the precinct, township, county, and ultimately to the state legislative council that would make judicial and executive branch appointments, as the lower levels would also be able to do.

Regarding the public schools (as a retired teacher), I would let the residents, who live within the geographical districts of every elementary, middle, and high school, use public funds to develop their own educational philosophy and curriculum—with neither federal, state, county, nor township school superintendent, hierarchical control. This feature can bring back neighborhood togetherness and community solidarity, as neighbors get to know one another better and form common dreams.

But why is a new constitution needed? The world and the nation have changed since the constitution was written in 1787 and since the current government was first implemented with the presidency of George Washington in 1789. There have been 27 amendments to the constitution for repairs and updates from time to time, but an entirely new supreme civil document is now long overdue. Dialogue and careful consideration is needed with full participation from every citizen.

Some libertarians and original constitutionalists believe it was wrong to allow average citizens, rather than state legislators, to elect the US Senate (Amendment 17). Others oppose the income tax altogether or the unfair way that the wealthy and poor are now taxed (Amendment 16). Both conservatives and liberals would like to clarify the wording of the Second Amendment regarding the “right to bear arms” and whether the Federal Reserve, a private organization, should have been formed in 1913 when the constitution says that Congress shall “coin money, [and] regulate the power thereof” (Article I, Section 8).

Many people resent the fact that our supreme document makes reference to how slaves are counted (Article I, Section 2) and how slavery is to be allowed until 1808 (Article V). Article V tells how the constitution can be amended, and it is more difficult to amend than any other constitution on earth. Moreover, there is absolutely no place in the constitution that tells how it can be totally abolished, which Jefferson recommended doing with every new generation.

Article I, Section 8 says that Congress has the ability to declare war, but current presidents start wars too freely. It would also seem that the National Security Administration (NSA), the Pentagon, the CIA, FBI, Homeland Security, and transnational corporations–the military-industrial complex–pretty much does whatever it wants in regards to foreign policy and domestic surveillance. “If voting could change anything [significantly], it would be abolished,” is one of my favorite quotes. John Perkins, author of the book Confessions of an Economic Hitman also expresses my sentiments: “We cannot have homeland security until the whole earth is our homeland.”

In a world that is changing fast, any new constitution must show how it can be amended and also abolished easily in a fair, orderly, and nonviolent way. To make it easier to amend and to abolish our current constitution — a constitutional amendment must be passed.

Constitutional amendments are difficult to pass when the issues are polarized. The Twenty-Sixth Amendment, which reduced the voting age to 18, was passed in a few months. But if a new Twenty-Eighth Amendment proposal could show how a constitutional convention could be held that totally levels the playing field among Republicans, Democrats, and the 5 major political third parties, this idea could pick up momentum. Here is one way the proposal could be written:

Proposal for a Twenty-Eighth Amendment to Revise Article V: How to Amend and to Abolish the Constitution More Easily

The United States government can be changed through new amendments added to the constitution. It can also be modified when Congress passes new federal laws or statutes. But to change the federal government completely by abolishing the constitution, there has to be a Constitutional Convention to rewrite a new constitution.

How to Add Amendments to the Current Constitution More Easily

To change or modify the federal government by merely adding amendments to the Constitution, the United States Congress (including both the House and the Senate) must pass any proposed amendment to the Constitution with at least a 67% majority in both Houses. The previous, additional ratification by 3/4 of the state legislatures is no longer required.

Amendments can also be added to the constitution if 2/3 of the state legislatures approve them at a national convention that has one representative from each state.

How to Abolish the 226-Year Old Constitution

The Constitution is the supreme civil law of the land. A radically new constitution and government can be formed through a Constitutional Convention. It can be achieved in a fair, orderly, and nonviolent way. A new constitution would not need to throw out the best of the old. The American people have a right to choose whether they want a new constitution. Through their chosen representatives, an entirely new constitution can be made. For now on, the decision to create a new supreme document will be considered by the American people at every presidential election.

Every 4 years when Americans vote for a president, they can vote for or against having a Constitutional Convention. If 51% or more of the voters say yes, then 100 delegates, chosen through proportional representation, will be sent to the Constitutional Convention to create a new constitution. Then if 51% or more of the Constitutional Convention delegates approve any new document, the new government will be implemented 4 months later. This orderly process will take 23 months.

Here is how Proportional Representation can work in the selection of constitutional convention delegates: American voters will study and evaluate the platforms and constitutions of the 7 largest national, political parties. Each voter will choose one of 7 political parties that he or she most identifies with for this purpose only. Let us pretend that based on the latest national election, the 100 Constitutional Convention delegates will have these numbers or percentages: 20% Republican, 20% Democratic, 15% Libertarian, 15% Constitution Party, 15% Green Party, 10% Socialist, and 5% Communist.

A National Elections Committee, whose executive directors will represent the 7 largest national, political parties, will be established beforehand to guarantee impartial election officials. Local election administrators will be professionalized. The National Elections Committee may use a voter-verified, paper audit trail produced by standardized voting equipment, or it may decide to use paper ballots to prevent corruption. The National Elections Committee will also be responsible for counting and verifying the membership of national political parties.

The 23-Month Timeline for Creating the New Constitution and Implementing the New Government

If at presidential election time, the American people decide they want a Constitutional Convention, then they will have almost 5 months, from November through April, to officially register with a national political party for this purpose only. Websites such as www.politics1.com describe all the known national, political parties. Then during the month of May, no switches can be made as the official count is reported by the National Elections Committee.

Any national, political party that represents at least 1% or more of the nation’s eligible voters will participate in national public speeches and debates, held from June through August. The political parties will also share their party platforms and their own proposed constitutions in writing.

Then from September through December, the representative political parties will be narrowed down to the top 7 political parties only, as determined 4 months earlier in May, and these 7 parties will share their party platforms and proposed constitutions in writing, and they will engage in public speeches and debates.

Then during the second week of January, voters will choose just one of the top 7 national, political parties to identify with, if they want their vote to count.

Let us pretend for pedagogical purposes that the 100 delegates from the top 7 national, political parties will be comprised of the following numbers at the Constitutional Convention: Republican Party, 20; Democratic Party, 20; Libertarian Party, 15; Green Party, 15; Constitution Party, 15; Socialist Party, 10; and Communist Party, 5.

On March 1, the Constitutional Convention delegates will meet at the Capitol building in Washington D.C. The delegates will work from March through May to create a new constitution that 51% or more of the delegates approve. Each party will choose one of its delegates to be the potential chairman. The 100 delegates as a group will then choose one delegate to be the chairman of the Convention using Instant Runoff Voting with 7 candidates (one from each party) on the slate.

If the delegates agree on a new constitution with a 51% majority before the 3 months elapse, they must use the remaining days to hear dissenting voices in the constant effort to revise their document through consensus decision-making in order to get an even higher percentage of approval. If only 50% or less of the delegates approves the new constitution after working on it for 3 months, then the proposed document becomes void, and the current constitution remains official.

However, if the new constitution is approved with a 51% majority or higher by the end of May, then the Constitutional Convention delegates will determine the specifics as to when and how the new government, based on the new constitution, will be implemented in a safe, orderly, and smooth way on October 1.

Summary of 23-Month Timeline for Creating the new Constitution and Implementing the New Government

November thru April—Each American voter chooses a national political party

Month of May–Official count of voters in each political party is reported by the National Election Committee

June thru August—Public speeches, forums, and written responses from all parties that captured at least 1% of the vote

September thru December—Speeches, debates, and written responses from the top 7 political parties only

Second week of January—Each American voter chooses just one of the top 7 national political parties to identify with for this purpose only

March thru May—The 3-month duration of the Constitutional Convention

October 1—The new government under the new constitution will be implemented

(End of 23-Month Timeline and Timeline Summary)

The spoken and written words of the delegates must be publicized, and citizens will be allowed to voice their own opinions in the process.

The US Congress, the President, and the US Supreme Court will not have the right to control a Constitutional Convention. They can, however, express their opinions and recommendations in the process.

(End of this Twenty-Eighth Amendment Proposal)

If the above Twenty-Eighth Amendment proposal is passed, many citizens on the political Right and the Left who have felt helpless, hopeless, and alienated about making any significant political changes, will, maybe for the first time, become animated by citizenship and politics. If a new constitution can be simplified, shortened, modernized, easily amended, and easily abolished—a lot more people will feel empowered about making political changes that matter.

Roger Copple is a retired teacher living in the Bradenton/Sarasota area of Florida. Read other articles by Roger.