Why should we force a national constitutional convention? The present US Constitution is a living document. It was intended by the Framers that the US Constitution be periodically amended as needed. One whole article, Article Five, describes the methods by which the Constitution is to be kept up-to-date.
The Constitution has been amended 27 times. The first ten of those amendments, the Bill of Rights, were more or less part of the original document. That leaves just 17 amendments proposed by Congress and ratified by the States. The last amendment to take effect, the 27th Amendment, became part of our Constitution in May 1992. The 27th amendment was originally proposed on September 25, 1789, as part of the Bill of Rights. It took 203 years to gain ratification!
Prior to that, the 26th amendment was proposed on March 23, 1971, and ratified on July 1, 1971. The 26th amendment took just 100 days to become part of the US Constitution. The 25th amendment was proposed on July 6, 1965, and ratified on February 10, 1967, 584 days after being proposed.
It is obvious that if the political will is present, the US Constitution can be changed. Sometimes it takes hundreds of years, other times it can be done in a 100 days. The last amendment proposed by Congress, and ratified by the States to become part of the US Constitution, was proposed 40 years ago.
The US Constitution isn’t being kept up-to-date. It isn’t changing to reflect the changes that have occurred in society for 40 years. The right to privacy has all but been lost due to advances in electronic technology. The Equal Rights amendment failure to be ratified is still a glaring failure of democracy and equality. Why?
Political parties, and political polarization, are the reasons. The attempt to extend any freedom or liberty to the citizenry of the US has and will continue to be blocked and stifled by the two main political parties in this country, the Republicans and the Democrats.
The two parties are engaged in a political test of wills. The Republicans are trying to remake this into a rightwing, Capitalist dominated, Christian theocracy, the Democrats are more prone to try to pursue socialistic and left wing policies. The vast majority of the the people of the United States of America are politically somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between these two extremes.
A new Constitution, in essence a new form of government, is one of the only three ways out of the current stalemate between the two political parties. This stalemate has resulted in a situation that has “locked down” the current constitution, and is slowly resulting in the loss of political freedom and civil rights in the US. The other two avenues available are, one, a new moderate political party to arise, or two, a second war of independence, but this time it would be a war for freedom from our own government.
I don’t see a third party being able to arise. The current situation makes it very difficult for anyone to get financial support to run a nationally effective third party. People have been trying to start one for years with little success. No one, or very few of us anyway, would want another civil war, so revolution is absolutely the last recourse. We should try to force an unlimited national constitutional convention first.
So how would a new constitution get by the current deadlock between the Republican and Democratic Parties? Any new constitution could contain its own specified method of ratification. That’s what the Framers of the present US Constitution did to the Articles of Confederation. They bypassed it. The US Constitution was ratified according to the rules in the US Constitution itself, in a bootstrap kind of manner. How could the US Constitution be used as a legal method of ratification, while it itself wasn’t yet in effect?
I really don’t know the answer, but the fact is, it did. And if it worked one time, it could work again. If we were to specify that a new constitution would be ratified by a supermajority of the electorate, voting directly for or against ratification, a new constitution could be ratified regardless of the forces opposed to change.
I renew my call. Let’s get a new constitutional convention called. Use ballot measures to force state legislatures to issue a resolution to the Congress calling for a new, unlimited, constitutional convention. The clock is ticking.