Sunday, April 21, 2013

Thoughts On... The Constitution

I am not a political junkie. I am not someone who follows all the news all the time, and I certainly do not have intimate knowledge of the finer points of the law. Therefore, I ask you to forgive me when I tell you that I just recently (within the last year or so) found out about an idea floating about that the Constitution of the United States needs, in writer's terminology, a "page one re-write". This means that there are those out there who think the Constitution needs to be re-written from scratch to meet the issues being brought up by modern day society. And, to be quite honest, I find this idea EXTREMELY provocative.

Think about the argument for this: The Constitution was written by people who lived over 200 years ago. Think about how life has changed in that time. There was no electricity, no cars, no internet, no phones, no regular running water, no supermarkets, etc. How could those men foresee issues like digital copyright laws? Or Nuclear weapons? Computer hacking? Privacy? At the time that the founding fathers wrote out the Constitution, the life we have now would have been seen as fairy tales and the height of science fiction. They weren't psychics. How could they write laws or even fathom the moral implications of stem cell research? Nano technology? Climate change? These concepts, while completely beyond the realm of their thinking at the time, are providing challenges to our society today. Do we really turn to laws written so long ago?

I mean, the founding fathers knew their limitations, and they built the system of the Constitution to be adaptable and changeable to needs of an evolving country. They had to, because at the time, they had NO IDEA where the United States would go. But there is a limit to how much the Constitution can change and adapt, right? At a certain point, one has to see the Constitution as just an old, outdated set of laws that should be updated for modern times, right?

I can sum up my opinion on this in two words: HELL NO!

The Constitution is MORE that just a set of rules. We all know that life is more complex than any simple set of rules can possibly cover. So, the founding fathers didn't just write a set of rules that this country has to follow to the point of dogma. They infused the laws they wrote with an underlying philosophy. What we now call the "spirit of the law" as opposed to the "letter of the law". A philosophy that is so pervasive the founding fathers could not conceive of the after-effects creating it would cause and also so subtle, they had no idea the areas in which they fell short of their own creation. That philosophy, that spirit is one of tolerance, freedom, openness to debate, and a recognition that societies MUST evolve and change to survive, but in doing so, in making those changes, CAN NOT forget the reasons for which they exist.

Over time, we have analyzed and researched and delved into that philosophy and gained a deeper understanding of it. Realizing the errors of claiming a free society and still having slaves. Understanding the conflict in being of, for, and by the people and not letting women partake in their own government. And we still have more challenges ahead of us: gay rights, gun control, being more intricately connected to other countries than EVER before are just SOME of those challenges. And yet, the traditions written by our forefathers still apply 200 years later. In this ever changing world, those rules, still work.

Now, I will grant you, my dear readers, that we have stepped far away from that underlying philosophy. In a sense, that leads to my second issue with this. I mean, our those traditions have been used as vulnerabilities against us, by forces outside AND INSIDE our nation. Think about that for a moment. If we do have a full rewrite of our constitution, who does the writing? In an era where we can't trust our politicians to do anything right, or on time; where we are in fear of losing the basic rights assigned to us by the Constitution, who do we trust to re-write the DNA of the United States?

Put it another way: who do we trust, as a nation, to re-write what is and isn't legally allowed in a country that has one of the  most FEARSOME NUCLEAR ARSENALS on the planet? A country that has a budget for defense greater than the next 20+ countries on the list (most of which are our friends)? Who do YOU want to rebuild the core, fundamental ideas that will define what the United State of America will stand for over the NEXT 200 years?

From a political perspective, the founding fathers, in creating the Constitution, gave the world the political Big Bang. They formed an entirely new universe of political thinking that has worked, with adaptation and amending, for 200+ years. And now, people want to essentially re-write the laws of political physics? I don't think that's a good idea. It's too dangerous for the global stage, and I don't trust any of the people who would be doing the re-writes.

What do you think, my dear readers? Sound off in the comments below!

3 comments:

  1. what's the harm in trying? it would still need ratification, and there are a lot more eyes on the thing now, and we're more familiar with the working model(s).

    i could suggest a couple entities capable of drafting a document i would personally take seriously, such as the EFF. the trick would be in producing a worthy successor - then convincing the rest of the country. not sure which would be the more difficult task, writing a decent draft or convincing both sides to get along.

    then again.. trusting the government not to do outright bad things with it? the same government that just removed legislation providing oversight on insider trading by congresscritters? can you imagine the riders on a new constitution? scary.

    lots of thoughts :)

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  2. Here's my problem: Firstly, by what process would the USC 2.0 be ratified? What happens if it isn't universally accepted by all 50 states? Forget the actual writing of USC 2.0, can you trust the people who would write the PROCESS of ratification?

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation (www.eff.org) seems like a good place, but I don't have the resources to track their funding. How do I know who's pulling their strings?

    In a post-Orwellian era, where fringe groups like the Tea Party can be taken seriously and concrete, logical thinking on the behalf of the citizens of this country is thrown out the window, I really don't like the idea of revamping the core ideals of this country.

    One further thing: thank you for commenting, Anon. I don't say that often enough, and I know that's probably why more people don't comment on here, so again, thanks for your comment. I really appreciate it!

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