The United States must organize a Constitutional Congress and write a new, 21st Century, text to govern our nation. The further we go, the deeper the messes caused by a text written for the world of 1787. It would be a long process but I don’t think a few Amendments or Referendums will get the job done. However, there are things that could be done now.
Get A Horse
To begin with; any elected representative who supports the Electoral College should be forced to go to Washington on horseback like the Founding Fathers and for the same reasons. We could easily do away with the Electoral College without changing the number of delegates by introducing a state-by-state proportional voting system.
Let’s say a state has 30 representatives to the House. In a proportional voting system, the parties which reach a certain threshold, say 10% of the vote, divide the number of delegates according to the percentage of the popular vote they got. This would eliminate the problem of Gerrymandering.
Such a system would also allow for the emergence of new parties to challenge the status quo of Democrat and Republican, basically giving us a greater choice than the conservative right-wing and extreme-right wing choice we have now. It will enrich the debate and offer voters more options while at the same time fight ‘Fake News’ by getting more views expressed publicly.
With more parties elected comes the possibility of forming coalitions and thus limiting gridlock. More parties and coalitions also limit the capacity for executive abuse as we see today with Trump and his subservient GOP or under Obama and his hidden wars.
We should also extend the terms of House members to at least four years. Under the present system, they spend half their two year mandate campaigning for the next elections.
A National Photo I.D. Card
The US should introduce a mandatory national photo-identification card. This will do away with all accusations of voter fraud. It will also help the administration in many of its tasks. Those opposed to such I.D. papers should think of their Drivers License which is already one form of photo-I.D.
On the photo-I.D. would be name, place and date of birth, social security number and fiscal IRS number, which should be one and the same anyway. Perhaps Draft Status could be added (yes, I want to bring back the draft). These cards would also help in the fight against illegal immigration, welfare fraud and speed access to social services for citizens. Yes, they will probably contain a micro chip and, if an address is included on the card, you may have to renew it every time you move.
There are arguments for and against such identification (click here ) but I am convinced this will make everybody’s life a lot easier and legal. The European experience can be studied to see how well it works.
Flintlocks and Powder Kegs
These photo-identification cards could also help in gun control and background checks if the US is to maintain a Second Amendment under a new Constitution. The problem is, for many, the Second Amendment has become more important than the First which gives us liberty. In this case, nuttier elements of our society will easily use the Second to suppress the First as has already too often been the case.
I would say that these Second Amendment enthusiasts should all be forced to own a Flintlock, keep their powder dry in the pantry and report for State Militia duty once a month. I am not against owning weapons. I own some myself. But I do want to keep semi-automatic weapons out of the hands of unstable and criminal elements. A national I.D. card can help do this.
Aliens Are Not Citizens
“Birthright Citizenship” for aliens must end. I agree this is a complete mis-reading of the 14th Amendment as designed by those who wrote it. It was never intended for anybody else other than freed slaves of which we have none in the US today. It was to insure they could benefit from US citizenship along with their 40 acres and a mule. Most never got the latter and many are still waiting for the full rights of the former as the 2018 voter suppression cases demonstrate. It would have spared North Dakota Indians from having to fight for their right to vote this year (click here).
At last Florida will allow ex-convicts to vote (25% of the state’s Black males have a prison record (click here ) and Colorado has abolished the servitude clause in their State Constitution (click here). Now we need to end chain gangs and exploitive prison labor for private enterprise where they still exist. The new Constitution will have to ban private prisons and private police forces for public order. It will have to clearly define the government’s monopoly role in ensuring law and order for the general public.
End Executive Abuse of War Powers
Another thing the new Constitution can do is take back war powers away from the president. The executive branch has much too much authority to use military force around the world without any accountability. The new Constitution should also abolish the use of mercenaries, also known as ‘private contractors.’ If a country goes to war, the whole country goes to war. You don’t sub-contract a nation’s security, nor allow for ‘private wars’ to be fought in our name with no Judicial or Congressional oversight.
We could actually drastically limit the power of the president to one where he presides more than he governs. At any rate, ‘decrees’ should have to go through Congress one way or the other. Many will argue that these rules already exist but the president is acting unconstitutionally. If that is the case, then it is because the Constitution we have lets him get away with it. All the more reason for a new text.
These were just a few reflections but the time is now.
- Completely limit the amount of authorized campaign funding and impose a fair exposure clause for media in order to maintain their licenses and access to the airwaves. The 1947 Hutchins Commission Report on Freedom of the Press and its responsabilities has been completely forgot (click here)
- Henry Luce and Robert Hutchins developed the social responsability theory with the goal of avoiding a public which demands government regulation of the media. They could not foresee corporate monopolies taking over the media landscape:
"Social-responsibility theory thus proposes that the media take it upon themselves to elevate society's standards, providing citizens with the information they need to govern themselves. It is in the best interest of the media to do this; if they do not, social theorists warn, the public will demand that the government regulate the media."