Can You Do the Con-Con?
Richard Kreitner’s call for a new constitutional convention [“Conventional Wisdom,” Nov. 20/27] is not only a great idea for today, but also one that’s long overdue. Unfortunately, for decades, most Americans have revered the US Constitution as if it were a sacred religious text. We even force our government officials to swear an oath in public to uphold it; in some instances, they must place their hands on a Bible as they do so.
The Constitution is not only obsolete today; it has been so for decades. The oligarchy that adopted it in 1789 evolved into a plutocracy during the Gilded Age of the robber barons. That plutocracy is stronger than ever in today’s neo–Gilded Age, in which billionaires buy public offices and politicians secure their power through legislative gerrymandering.
As the world’s oldest document guaranteeing elected representative government, the US Constitution has failed to adapt to the needs of this country’s growing, diverse, and dynamic population. Its tattered language has much in common with the Bible—it’s archaic and vague. Its obsolescence is most obvious in the Second Amendment. Now 226 years old, the arms amendment (minus its first clause) is considered by many to be the Constitution’s most sacred sentence of all.
A new constitutional convention should do far more than amend the existing Constitution. It should start from scratch, and perhaps look beyond our borders to successful representative governments elsewhere for new ideas. Although the Constitution contains no mention of political parties, whatever might replace it should encourage multiple parties that embrace separate but humane principles. Any system is broken that allows a minority of voters to elect a wealthy, psychopathic narcissist to its highest executive office. Any new system would be better than the current entrenched duopoly that has long served the wealthy before all others.
east stroudsburg, pa.
Richard Kreitner’s “Conventional Wisdom” convinced me that we need to invoke Article V of the Constitution and have a new constitutional convention. Earlier this year, I listened to an NPR debate on the topic and was not convinced either way. Kreitner clinched it for me with the argument that the antidemocratic features of our existing Constitution are the reason for our government’s inability to get anything done.