Over the centuries that America has existed, the Constitution has been subject to debate and the engine of change in the nation. Since it's inception, the Constitution has been found to be illogical, incorrect, limited, exacting, useful, and the core of the nation. It is one of few documents, like the Magna Carta before it, that stands out as a timeless written format for a more ideal governace of people. According to Louis Michael Seidman, professor of constitutional law at Georgetown University, it is also contains "archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions" and thus should be discarded.
This is not the first time that the Constitution has come under assault. As Mr. Seidman correctly notes, Thomas Jefferson believed that the Constitution should be rewritten and ratified every 20 years. Decisions from the Supreme Court conflict with other rulings based on interpretations of the Constitution prevailing at the time. From Administration to Administration, expansions of power by the Executive Office and Congress occur in violation of the Constitution or are claimed to be supported by a interpretation of it. Of course, the document was created by priveledge White landowners, in violation of the laws of England, who were by definition criminals at the time.
There is no question that all the above is true and accurate. The argument for following the guidance of Thomas Jefferson can be a sound rational call for change. But what Mr. Seidman is stating in his OpEd is not change, it is rhetoric in favor of creating a partisan ideological manifesto that supports views that he favors.
The key theisis statement of his OpEd is that the Constitution is "evil" and "archaic", and as such must be replaced with a more modern and fair document. He starts with this example of his position,
"Consider, for example, the assertion by the Senate minority leader last week that the House could not take up a plan by Senate Democrats to extend tax cuts on households making $250,000 or less because the Constitution requires that revenue measures originate in the lower chamber. Why should anyone care? Why should a lame-duck House, 27 members of which were defeated for re-election, have a stranglehold on our economy? Why does a grotesquely malapportioned Senate get to decide the nation’s fate?"
The fiscal cliff, and the failures of Congress to create a budget since 2009, and the failure of Government in general to be fiscally responsible are all the fault of the Constitution, according to Mr. Seidman. Why? How is it that elected representatives of both political parties, standing in stalemate, seeking political advantage by using any loophole or legal requirement to substantiate their refusal to act in the best interest of the public, is the fault of the Constitution?
Yes, the Constitution does require the House of Representatives to provide revenue measures - which it has done several times since 2009 (Ryan Plan passed the House 2x) and was shot down by partisanship in the Senate with the support of the President (both of the Obama budget proposals, presented to the Democrat led Senate failed to garner a single vote). It is logical to see that the Founding Fathers never envisioned a day where elected officials, representing the public for the good of the nation, would endanger the public welfare on the basis of political oneupmanship. It is equally logical to presume that the purpose of having 2 parts of Congress was to ensure that if such a dilema was to occur there was another avenue available to take to reach the outcome needed for the public - though such a statement is not detailed in the Constitution.
But that is the problem thesee days. A growing trend, which has existed for decades, in which the powers of the Government to micromanage the lives of the public increases as calls for more and more legislation covering every minute detail are made. In New York City, the extreme has gone to local Government stating that adults, responsible and intelligent enough to create and hold jobs and pay taxes and/or sever in the military to defend the nation with their lives are not intelligent or resposible enough to properly use a shaker of salt. Micromanagement and insulting, by our view.
But this is not the fault of the Constitution. This is the fault of elected officials, taking actions that they hope and presume will go unchallenged by a public coddled with "free stuff" (continuous extensions of unemployment, entitlements that are fiscally insane, temporary preferential tax breaks that have no end in sight, ect). These are the actions of elected officials, in office often for decades through gerrymandering and special interest campaign funding, that long ago forgot the day to day struggles of the general public - as they do not share those struggles nor suffer the same outcomes of law (members of Congress can bounce checks without concern, they are often paid 3x - 5x what their constituents average, laws often exclude members of Congress - ie. Obamacare, ect).
Which brings us to what Mr. Seidman is really after. Not a change of the Constitution, but a modification. Changes to support a specific view of how the nation should be run. As he states in the OpEd [emphasis added]
"This is not to say that we should disobey all constitutional commands...
What would change is not the existence of these institutions, but the basis on which they claim legitimacy. The president would have to justify military action against Iran solely on the merits, without shutting down the debate with a claim of unchallengeable constitutional power as commander in chief. Congress might well retain the power of the purse, but this power would have to be defended on contemporary policy grounds, not abstruse constitutional doctrine. The Supreme Court could stop pretending that its decisions protecting same-sex intimacy or limiting affirmative action were rooted in constitutional text."
Thus we see that Mr. Seidman isn't so much against the Constitution, but the lack of legislation in favor of what he favors. The nation needs, as he proposes, a new parlimentary style government - without Constitution - so the nation can be more like Britian (ie Europe). Under such a struture, more of the values and legislation he apparently supports - pacifism in the face of nuclear terrosism, continued fiscal irresponsibility akin to that of Greece and Spain, and same sex marriages and regressive retroactive racial bias as determied by elected officials - can be enacted, and America will magically be transformed into a Utopia to be envied by the world. Perhaps we exaggerate the last part, but under the view of Mr. Seidman, to do anything else is to be immoral and subjugate the masses.
We of course would counter that America has prospered in ways that Europe and the world have not. Those nations are as free as their Parliments and governments allow. America is as free as we allow the Government to become. The difference is hardly semantic, and the tens of millions that have given up their nations of origin to stand steadfast by the Constitution over decades and centuries including today is testament to that difference.
Mr. Seidman ends his OpEd with an emotional plea,
"If even this change is impossible, perhaps the dream of a country ruled by “We the people” is impossibly utopian. If so, we have to give up on the claim that we are a self-governing people who can settle our disagreements through mature and tolerant debate..."
Perhaps Mr. Seidman, and those that would prefer a government that has greater ability to micromanage the daily lives of the public and enforce the social justice that it believes is adequate (much like Josef Stalin's forced migrations of the Soviet peoples), believe "We the People" to be utopian. Perhaps he and those like him are willing to give up on self-governance, to give up freedoms in place of Government mandates of enforced fairness and social justice. But to take the fiscal irresponsibility of Government, and the political partisanship that has the nation in a stalemate today, and blame it on the Constitution is a radical leap of conjecture.
While we are not as learned nor enlightened with colligiate degrees, that does not deem greater support to a biased and partisan viewpoint whose goal is ultimately enforcing legislation that the nation as a whole does not support or want. Let us not forget that the public has rejected the very things that Mr. Seidman is promoting. The majority do not wish to accept his opportunistic revamp of the Constitution. As well worded as his OpEd is, as much as it implies a moral imperative, it is in our opinion a reduction in Freedom and an enslavement to idealistic values shared by a few and sold as an opiate to the masses.
America is in difficult times, and strong measures are required to ensure our fiscal livelihood as well as continued existance as a nation. Many of these decisions to come will not be loved by various political preferences. Many of these decisions will have outcomes that will place hardship on some, and will be used to again promote the goals of Mr. Seidman. As a nation we must resist the lure of easy fixes, and simplistic overtures. That is what brought the nation to the current situation.
The Constitution may be many things, flaws and all, but it is not the root of the fiscal problems in America today. To discard it, on the basis of what it has no control over nor was ever meant to, is folly for the masses and opportunism of vultures for the few that wish to remake the nation. We need only ask the tens of millions that have become naturalized citizens about the value of the Constitution if we have any doubt.