Why do we need to rewrite the United States Constitution? Why can’t we fix the one we already have? Could we not amend the current plan of government we have used for the past two centuries, and make it work for us again?
Sadly, no. It would require too much reworking of the basic fabric of the Constitution. Take political parties for example, the Republican and Democratic Parties are nowhere to be found in the Constitution. No political party is mentioned, absolutely no mention anywhere at all, in the basic plan of government framed by the Constitution, yet political parties are fundamental to the operation of government in the United States of America. These days it is hard for most people to envision government separate from political parties and party politics.
Indeed, they arose spontaneously at nearly the beginning of independent rule over our own land. It was a way for like minded individuals to organize their efforts and energy into accomplishing goals for the government. However, political parties are now the bane of our county’s government, and therefore also of us, “We the People.”
Ideology has consumed the hearts of the political parties currently co-ruling the United States. The Democratic Party is one main pole of political belief, and the Republican Party is almost the diametrically opposed political pole. These two parties have traded off running the county for over 150 years. At first they were able to put aside pure ideological purity in favor of compromise and accommodation. They were able to work together, at least together enough to keep the government functional.
That willingness to see the other side as worthy and the willingness to work together has vastly diminished over the past fifty years. The war in Vietnam and the Watergate scandal were the beginning of the end of effective two party rule in the United States. Ever since those epic traumas to the national psyche, the two main political parties have essentially been in a state of war with each other.
Today, in Washington D.C., we see a classic example of the dysfunction of the two party political system at work. The current President, a Democrat, was elected by a majority of the voters in order to allow him to fulfill his plan, his promises, to the people. One of the promises he made, one of the most important, was to revamp the healthcare system to broaden its availability to all Americans. On the other hand, we have just elected a Republican majority to the United States House of Representatives. One of the Republican Party’s main promises was to undo the reforms brought about by the President.
Many of the Democratic President’s reforms have yet to take effect, yet the Republican Party is trying hard to disassemble them. This state of affairs is worse than gridlock, it is chaos. The damage to the healthcare system by this political tug-of-war is likely to be enormous. Insurance companies, doctors, hospital administrators and owners, and the companies that buy most of the health insurance policies covering Americans today are going to be hard pressed to do any rational planning. At best they will be in damage control mode until the issue is resolved. That could take years.
In addition to the House of Representatives being in conflict with the Executive Branch of government controlled by the Democratic President, the Legislative branch of government in conflict with itself. The Senate is controlled by the Democratic Party. The House of Representatives is controlled by the Republican Party. The two Houses of Congress are controlled by different parties, with totally different goals and agendas.
We don’t need this kind of service. These institutions are there to serve us, you know, We the People.” More and more, the political parties are there to serve themselves and to give us what they believe we should have. The differences in opinion about what forms of service are appropriate are deeply rooted in the respective ideologies of the the two parties, not in what the people truly need and want.
In order to create a more perfect Union, we need to revise Article 1, the Legislative Branch, and Article 2, the Executive Branch, of the United States Constitution. We need to find a way to elect a chief executive and a legislature that will not fight each other. However we need to assure that the original intent of the founding fathers that the legislature and the executive branch act as checks against abuse by the other is not destroyed in the process.
I propose that we do away with some of the powers of both branches of government. We live in an educated and interconnected country. We don’t need a representative form of government as much as the founding fathers did when horseback transportation was all the rage. We may want to keep a deliberative body such as the Senate, but how about we try direct democracy? Let the President propose legislation, let the Legislature debate and argue its merits. Let us, “We the People,” enact our own laws by direct vote.
The people could vote using a secure internet link, tied to some form of electronic ID verification. Once the citizenry has voted, if a majority does agree, the law is enacted, no need for a Presidential signature. Why would it need any more authority than the will of the people? And, why would we allow our elected servant to veto it?
We would need a independent governmental agency to police this national voting system to prevent fraud and tampering, but this would be something that is possible with today’s technology. For years the nation’s banks have run a secure and reliable electronic system for transferring massive amounts of funds. I am sure that a system as secure or more so could be devised at a reasonable cost and in a time frame that would allow its implementation in the near future. The future would bring more technology to increase the security of the national voting system.
By taking back this important function of government, the enacting of our own laws, we would take much of the power away from the political parties to steamroll their own ideological and often polarized version of what laws we need upon us. If political parties could not impose their own ideology, the tendency toward the polar political extremes would be greatly reduced.
This is just a suggestion. It is one of many different options to eliminate the quagmire of political stalemate that has resulted from the two party system. The one thing that both parties would agree on however, is that it must not be allowed to happen. They will never willingly relinquish this right back to the people. The only way to get it back will be to hold a constitutional convention and rethink the whole constitution. When a new plan is drafted they would have to accept it or reject it as a whole.
How would “We the People” get the political parties to agree? That’s the meat of another post to come.