# How would you rewrite the Constitution?

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Suppose you got the opportunity to rewrite the United States Constitution. You've been invited to a new Constitutional Convention and you can propose anything you want. What would you put in? What would you omit?

There's a lot of hot issues, like gun control, gay marriage, government surveillance, and money in elections, which could be addressed. But you could also restructure the government entirely. What if Congress were more like a parliament? What if redistricting was taken out of the hands of the legislature?

I'm thinking of redesigned elections (no more first-past-the-post), a stronger 4th Amendment, and some sort of proportional representation in Congress. Hard to decide.

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Complete transparency of the finances and electoral funding of all public officials.

A time buffer between working for executive, the judiciary, or the legislature and working/consulting in the same area in the private sector.

All decision making is open to public scrutiny (perhaps after significant time period) unless, on a case by case basis, leaders of all three wings of government personally sign-off on a process being kept secret.

freedom of religion - and government free from interference by religion

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Since transparancy is partisan politics in disguise, it will always hold sway over how our government operates no matter who runs the show. Each state, regardless of population, should have equal representation, eight in the house of delegates and two in the senate. As such, those in Deleware, Rhode Island, California or New York would have equal balance. So, ultimately the big pigs or those who squeal the loudest won't always get the top slop portions. And since states are fixes as to size, this would stop gerrymandering for any party trying to pick up votes. Other than that, leave our constitution alone. It has for the most part never hurt anyone, and only those disrespecting its goodness will always try taking advantage of it.

A perfect example.

http://nationalatlas.gov/mld/cgd109p.html

Edited by rigney
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Since transparancy is partisan politics in disguise, it will always hold sway over how our government operates no matter who runs the show. Each state, regardless of population, should have equal representation, eight in the house of delegates and two in the senate. As such, those in Deleware, Rhode Island, California or New York would have equal balance. So, ultimately the big pigs or those who squeal the loudest won't always get the top slop portions. And since states are fixes as to size, this would stop gerrymandering for any party trying to pick up votes. Other than that, leave our constitution alone. It has for the most part never hurt anyone, and only those disrespecting its goodness will always try taking advantage of it.

A perfect example.

http://nationalatlas.gov/mld/cgd109p.html

Not a big fan of "one man, one vote", I see.

The thing is, there is no strong correlation of population with federal money received under the current system — NY is break-even, California gets $1.09 per$1 in taxes, Delaware is $0.71 and RI$1.15. (A much stronger indicator of taking more than getting is having 2 Republican senators — the only one bucking the trend is Texas).

http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2012/02/is-your-state-a-net-giver-or-taker-of-federal-taxes/

Equal numbers of reps will not stop gerrymandering unless all the reps are elected state-wide.

So what actual problem does this solve?

A time buffer between working for executive, the judiciary, or the legislature and working/consulting in the same area in the private sector.

Does this really have to be solved at the constitutional level?

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I'd curtail the ability of the Senate to filibuster bills to death. The Senate could amend its own rules to accomplish this, but refuses to do so.

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/.. snipped

Does this really have to be solved at the constitutional level?

I would have thought so - any lower level of legislation to the same effect might be trumped by constitutionally held rights to work, freedom of enterprise, and possibly even freedom of speech.

Constitutions bind the very fibres of government together so go to the root of representation in a democracy; a scenario that will/may engender a belief in the electorate that their elected representatives and officials cannot be in the pocket of landowner X, corporation Y, or single-issue group Z is of paramount importance. It is too easy for the majority to write off their duty as a citizen to be involved in the running of their polity (man is the political animal etc.) by claiming that firstly all politicians are corrupt and secondly that their voice will not be heard. Non-corrupt politicians do listen to their constituents - pragmatically because it is a great firewall against a bad decision and idealistically cos it is why they were elected - so the removal of corruption (whether overt or hidden) provides a re-connexion in two vital ways between elected and electors.

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I would have thought so - any lower level of legislation to the same effect might be trumped by constitutionally held rights to work, freedom of enterprise, and possibly even freedom of speech.

Do we have constitutional right to work or freedom of enterprise? The government already has the power to control interstate trade.

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Do we have constitutional right to work or freedom of enterprise? The government already has the power to control interstate trade.

No but I am assuming that such provisions will make it into the new Constitution

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Not a big fan of "one man, one vote", I see.

The thing is, there is no strong correlation of population with federal money received under the current system — NY is break-even, California gets $1.09 per$1 in taxes, Delaware is $0.71 and RI$1.15. (A much stronger indicator of taking more than getting is having 2 Republican senators — the only one bucking the trend is Texas).

http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2012/02/is-your-state-a-net-giver-or-taker-of-federal-taxes/

Equal numbers of reps will not stop gerrymandering unless all the reps are elected state-wide.

So what actual problem does this solve?

Does this really have to be solved at the constitutional level?

No! None of this has to be solved at the constitutional level. Electing our president and his VP should definitly be a one person one vote policy. In essence, electorial colleges be damned! Those running for Senate or House should run as non-partisan in the same fashion and not be indebted to any political party. At best, politics and politicians suck, and all for the wrong reasons.

Edited by rigney
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I'd look for a way to write healthcare and quality education availability for all people regardless of income into the new document.

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I'd look for a way to write healthcare and quality education availability for all people regardless of income into the new document.

Yes, availability with standards to be met by each student, not just a number; or to simply take up space in a classroom. Healthcare is going to be a big problem for years, regardless.

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No! None of this has to be solved at the constitutional level. Electing our president and his VP should definitly be a one person one vote policy. In essence, electorial colleges be damned! Those running for Senate or House should run as non-partisan in the same fashion and not be indebted to any political party. At best, politics and politicians suck, and all for the wrong reasons.

Why the executive but not the legislative branch, then?

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I'd look for a way to write healthcare and quality education availability for all people regardless of income into the new document.

It really is strange - My research at the moment is directly in neglected tropical diseases. We get funding from the National Institutes of Heatlh and USAID to work on disease control, treatment and delivey of treatments to poor communities. I've never had the fact that this is a good use of money questioned before - the implicit assumption being that basic health treatment is a fundamental human right everyone should have access to. It's sort of mind boggling that it's seemingly fine to spend tax dollars developing the best way to get trypanosomiasis treatments to rural communities in the DRC, but "socialist" to suggest that universal health care for Americans should also be funded.

On topic - how about having a "bill of responsibilities" to go alongside the bill of rights?

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I would start with the Preamble, such a shame, since I like the school house

I think the following ideas should be incorporated:

Recognize that we are in debt to our fellow citizens of the past, present and future.
Strive to be a positive partner in the global community, promoting human rights for all and helping sustain the global environment.
PS: Maybe a new song could be made, with Justin Bieber singing it. Yay!
Edited by john5746
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PS: Maybe a new song could be made, with Justin Bieber singing it. Yay!

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of pop music, especially sung by Canadians

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Economic decisions should be proposed by the best economists in the nation. Differences of opinion should be debated by ECONOMISTS, not dumb lawyer-congressmen-senators-governors who become president because they have a gift of gab.

Presidents should be required to have an extensive economics education.

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Another thought: what about terms of office? For instance, what if the House of Representatives had longer terms, so they weren't constantly fighting for reelection? Or what if there were mandatory term limits built into the Constitution?

For instance, suppose representatives were given six-year terms, with elections staggered so a third of representatives would be up for reelection every two years. And there'd be a one-term limit. Staggering reelections means there wouldn't be wholesale turnover, and the term limit would discourage a class of career politicians from forming. On the other hand, you wouldn't end up with elder statesmen types who've known each other for twenty years and can cut deals and negotiate with foreign nations. Is it worth the tradeoff?

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Another thought: what about terms of office? For instance, what if the House of Representatives had longer terms, so they weren't constantly fighting for reelection? Or what if there were mandatory term limits built into the Constitution?

For instance, suppose representatives were given six-year terms, with elections staggered so a third of representatives would be up for reelection every two years. And there'd be a one-term limit. Staggering reelections means there wouldn't be wholesale turnover, and the term limit would discourage a class of career politicians from forming. On the other hand, you wouldn't end up with elder statesmen types who've known each other for twenty years and can cut deals and negotiate with foreign nations. Is it worth the tradeoff?

Length of service was debated back in the 1780s (arguments in Federalist 52), when travel to the farthest states would have been up to 2 or 3 weeks, and 2-year terms were decided upon. They noted that at the state level elections were typically annual or even more often, in making the case for biennial elections.

One drawback of longer terms is that you can't replace a dud. A big drawback, IMO.

Treaties currently require senate approval, not house, so negotiation with foreign nations is moot as far as that goes.

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How about a shorter term after election (as evaluation time so to say), followed by a longer one after that?

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I wouldn't change much about the principles in the US constitution. But I would make a major change in the way it is written and interpreted. One of the things that has always bugged me, and I think most everyone else, is that we can have judges with various interpretation techniques. That seems silly. Let's write the constitution with a specified interpretation. Think encryption.

Strict Constructionism is only admirable if we write it to be interpreted that way. With strict constructionism we avoid most of the problems with "textual originalism", "original meaning", "original intent", and etc. But it has to be written to be construed strictly in order for that to work. Ie..it has to be transmitted with DSP encryption in order to receive it DSP encrypted and extract the correct intelligence.

"‘We the People’ Loses Appeal With People Around the World"

http://www.nytimes.c...-the-world.html

It is not the least bit surprising about the hostility toward the rigidity of the US constitution. It is quite predictable actually with a great big "duh" - it's why such a thing exists. It checks democracy. What is democracy? Rule of the majority. Of *course* the majority will be offended by any document that impedes their will.

'Damnit, the majority agrees that brown people should be at the service of all white people, but this stupid, rigid, old fashioned, relic of the past constitution is magically worshipped by the institutions created by it and won't let the people's voice be heard'.

Of course, the modern arguments don't contain such blatantly ugly values, but rather values that are "sensible" to today's standards, our current position in evolution.

The constitution has done a great job. It has not been perfect in the past, but our overarching values changed, and we changed the document with it and righted previous wrongs. No doubt, we will do so again as our culture and sensibilities change and evolve even more. A hundred years from now, we'll be shocked at some of the values we think of as sensible today, and that they were protected by the document.

The people the United States are divided today. And our government is too. We *are* being properly represented. That is the point of our government - not to be efficient, but to be inclusive and representative. Our government is not designed to move and do things when we are not in agreement. Our government is designed to freeze, until we have consensus in order to move. The games congress plays are the mechanics that force this attribute.

From what I can tell, our constitution is just fine. It's doing its job. Of course any majority, any day of the given week, conservative or liberal, is going to have choice words for a "antiquated" document that is protecting the rights of the current minority.

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Quote by: Swans on Tea: Why the executive but not the legislative branch, then?

The president as a single person regardless of left, right or center, other than executive privilege, is entirely dependent on whether congress agrees or disagrees with him on issues. But pork barreling by one party or the other has always been our downfall when it comes to making crooks of politicians. At one time: "We the people, for the people and by the people" was almost a ritual that made sense, but not for the past 80 years.

http://constitutionus.com/

Edited by rigney
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Quote by: Swans on Tea: Why the executive but not the legislative branch, then?

The president as a single person regardless of left, right or center, other than executive privilege, is entirely dependent on whether congress agrees or disagrees with him on issues. But pork barreling by one party or the other has always been our downfall when it comes to making crooks of politicians. At one time: "We the people, for the people and by the people" was almost a ritual that made sense, but not for the past 80 years.

http://constitutionus.com/

That doesn't answer my question. Why are you against 1 man 1 vote for representatives in the house? Why should a small state get 1 rep per 50,000 people while a more populous state gets 1 per 100,000? Someone is still going to be in control of congress and there's every reason to think there will still be pork, so you haven't solved that. But this gets rid of one of the "checks and balances" that's in the system.

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Length of service was debated back in the 1780s (arguments in Federalist 52), when travel to the farthest states would have been up to 2 or 3 weeks, and 2-year terms were decided upon. They noted that at the state level elections were typically annual or even more often, in making the case for biennial elections.

One drawback of longer terms is that you can't replace a dud. A big drawback, IMO.

But how often do we actually replace duds? Most incumbents are automatically reelected by their constituents; everyone approves of their representative but thinks Congress as a whole is terrible.

Also, since representatives tend to be renominated by their own party, it's unlikely that a dud will be voted out because the district would rather have someone of their party over electing the opposing candidate. Restructuring the primary system may be necessary.

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I don't feel like I am credible to rewrite it.

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