Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A Second Constitutional Convention

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A brief firestorm erupted last month when Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg declared in a television interview in Egypt that “I would not look to the United States Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012.” Ginsburg urged Egyptians instead to emulate more recent legal documents, including the constitution of South Africa (1997), the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982) and the European Convention on Human Rights (1950).

Courtesy ThinkProgress.org

Republican presidential candidates on the campaign trail were quick to seize on the Ginsburg words as yet another example of judicial elitism, or, worse still, as a sign of suspect loyalties. Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, never one to shy away from playing fast and loose with the facts, slammed Ginsburg for “prefer[ring] the South African Constitution over the United States Constitution.”

Ginsburg’s comments lent new ammunition to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s war on the federal judiciary. The self-styled “smartest guy in the room” has already called for the wholesale elimination of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, invoking Thomas Jefferson’s abolition of judgeships in his reorganization of the federal judiciary in 1802. Gingrich has also proposed hauling federal judges in front of Congress to make them answer for those decisions conservatives might find unpalatable. And if serving judges with subpoenas doesn’t rein in their “radically un-American” decisions, Gingrich suggests impeachment.

So much for that system of checks and balances established by the Constitution, a document Gingrich purports to hold “sacred.” And nevermind that the Constitution sanctions impeachment only in cases involving “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

Gingrich’s blatant disregard for the Constitution has even attracted the criticism of ideological bedfellows. Conservative legal scholar and National Review columnist Ed Whelan called Gingrich’s proposal to abolish the Ninth Circuit “constitutionally unsound and politically foolish.” Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who served in the Bush administration, labeled Gingrich’s efforts “dangerous, ridiculous, totally irresponsible, outrageous, off the wall.”

On second thought, though, maybe Newt’s constitutional flippancy is warranted. As Justice Ginsburg’s comments suggest, the U.S. Constitution is more a relic of the 18th century than a workable plan for government in the 21st. A recent study conducted by David Law, a professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis, concluded that our Constitution’s global appeal has diminished markedly over the past half century. Fewer and fewer nations are modeling their own constitutions on the American version. Other constitutions, especially those highlighted by Ginsburg, explicitly protect basic human rights such as the right to sufficient food, healthcare and education. Lacking such basic provisions of fairness and justice, the U.S. Constitution risks becoming an anachronism in the constitutional landscape of the 21st century.

Like the former Speaker, I find the example of Jefferson to be particularly instructive on constitutional questions. Scarcely a year after the Constitution had been ratified by the states, Jefferson sent a letter to James Madison, the architect of the Constitution, asserting that “the earth belongs always to the living generation … Every constitution, then, and every law, naturally expires at the end of 19 years. If it be enforced longer, it is an act of force and not of right.”

By Jefferson’s math, then, the U.S. is overdue by about two centuries. I’ll add my own voice to the growing chorus of academics, legal scholars, and armchair political commentators who have called for a second Constitutional Convention: our 224-year-old Constitution must be discarded in favor of one that enhances American democracy, affirms our commitment to basic human rights and increases government accountability and transparency.

Notable advocates of a second Constitutional Convention include Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig and University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato. The idea shouldn’t just find favor in the ivory tower, however. Well-informed citizens must ask the difficult question of whether our Constitution, in actual practice, serves the lofty goals of the document’s preamble: “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity…” The answer, it seems to me, is a resounding no.

Our union is far from perfect. Domestic tranquility is in short supply. The general welfare has hardly been promoted. Americans today feel acutely that their government is not responsive to their needs. Six out 10 Americans report that the nation is on the wrong track (a full 80 percent of Americans said the nation was on the wrong track in July as House Republicans threatened to shut down the government). A whopping 82 percent of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing. Supreme Court rulings like Citizens United have undermined faith in our democracy and opened political campaigns to a flood of corporate money.

A Constitution for the 21st century is desperately needed. Calling a Second Constitutional Convention through the action of at least 34 state legislatures, as provided by the current Constitution, would afford Americans an opportunity to discard the more embarrassing provisions of the document, including the clauses pertaining to slavery (there are many, including the fugitive slave clause, the three-fifths clause, and the Atlantic slave trade clause). In 2009, the incoming House Republican majority found these sections so disturbing they omitted them altogether when reading the Constitution on the floor of the chamber to mark the inaugural session of the 112th Congress.

The Second Amendment, a true artifact of the 18th century, should also be jettisoned. Contrary to the views of conservative justices on the Supreme Court, the amendment only protects the right to bear arms in conjunction with service in a well-regulated militia. While the Framers of the Constitution intended the Second Amendment to curb the arbitrary use of power by the federal government, not even a million gun-slinging Texans could hope to counter the power of the U.S. government today, backed in full force by the world’s largest nuclear arsenal. In light of this week’s tragic shootings at a high school in Ohio, it should be clear to any logical observer that the Second Amendment serves no meaningful purpose in the 21st century.

Like the constitutions of other civilized nations, the Second United States Constitution should contain explicit guarantees of equal protection under the law for all Americans. Discrimination should be prohibited on the grounds of race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion, language and ethnic origin. The Second Constitution should also guarantee Americans access to basic human rights including food, healthcare and education. A general right to privacy, already recognized by the Supreme Court, should also be included. And the provisions of the First Amendment protecting freedom of speech, religion, the press and assembly should be preserved.

To curb the power of the “imperial presidency” the Second Constitution should contain language similar to the War Powers Resolution, passed in 1973 by both houses of Congress but consistently ignored by the occupants of the Oval Office, most recently by President Barack Obama in his rush to war in Libya in March 2011. The War Powers Resolution requires the president to inform Congress of his decision to commit armed forces to foreign military action within 48 hours and prohibits those forces from remaining for more than 60 days without the explicit authorization of Congress. A constitutional requirement would prohibit presidents from flouting the power of the people’s representatives, in whose hands the decision to go to war rightfully belongs.

A Second Constitution should also eliminate the arcane Electoral College and provide for the direct election of the president. It is a travesty that the world’s wealthiest democracy should be represented by a candidate that the majority of Americans did not elect in the first place.

To restore Americans’ trust in their elected officials, a Second Constitution should minimize the corrupting influence of money in national elections by providing public funding for all campaigns. To prevent the kind of shameless electioneering we’ve witnessed since last spring in the Republican presidential primary, with candidates’ lies masquerading as truth (witness Mitt Romney’s repeated assertions that the president has gone all over the world “apologizing for America”), the Second Constitution should follow the example of every other modern democracy and limit presidential campaign season to a single months-long block every four years.

These changes represent only the tip of the iceberg. A Second Constitutional Convention would surely lead to even more innovative revisions by initiating a valuable public discourse about the nature of our democracy. As things stand now, our Constitution is woefully unequipped to deal with the problems of the twenty-first century. We the people deserve better.

 

Steven Sweeney can be reached at [email protected]

 

55 Comments

55 Responses to “A Second Constitutional Convention”

  1. Sandy Sanderson on March 5th, 2012 7:04 am

    We don’t have a democracy. We have a republic. They are entirely different things.

    Second, do you think that other people could hold different opinions that might still be valid, or is your view the only reasonable one?

  2. The Truth on March 5th, 2012 7:21 am

    We shouldn’t have a 2nd, because the government has nukes?

    That’s rather like telling your wife or daughter they shouldn’t carry weapons, because a rapist is physically bigger. Or telling your kid to stop defending himself against larger bullies.

  3. Mike Vanderboegh on March 5th, 2012 7:30 am

    “The Second Amendment, a true artifact of the 18th century, should also be jettisoned. Contrary to the views of conservative justices on the Supreme Court, the amendment only protects the right to bear arms in conjunction with service in a well-regulated militia. While the Framers of the Constitution intended the Second Amendment to curb the arbitrary use of power by the federal government, not even a million gun-slinging Texans could hope to counter the power of the U.S. government today, backed in full force by the world’s largest nuclear arsenal. In light of this week’s tragic shootings at a high school in Ohio, it should be clear to any logical observer that the Second Amendment serves no meaningful purpose in the 21st century.”

    So saith Steven Sweeney. Having once been a clueless leftist college student myself, I can forgive his callow inexperience with the ironclad Law of Unintended Consequences, however, given that he just proposed the next American civil war I would like to point out that ignorance of the law — even an unwritten one — is no excuse.

    To get what he wants Sweeney would have to kill many millions of American firearm owners, and they will not go gently into his collectivist good night, i.e. they will shoot back. It is probably outside his experience, but there are people who are not only willing to die for their principles but to kill in righteous self defense of them as well. Such people will certainly not wish to exchange their lives on a mere one to one basis, so the body count would soar into the tens of millions. It takes an arrogant college student to propose mass homicide in furtherance of his most cherished misconceptions. Most folks with experience in the real world would rather just not go there.

    Second, Sweeney seems woefully ignorant of the current state of the United States military and of military history in general. The efficacy of nuclear weapons use on your own soil even to an oppressive government that didn’t mind wiping out an entire rebellious region would be nil. Such use would guarantee the downfall of such a regime. And his Borgian “resistance is futile” mantra ignores the reality of today’s military. Who is it, does he think, that makes up the tip-of-the-spear units of the military? Why it is the sons and daughters of those traditional Americans who most bitterly cling to their God and guns. And who does Sweeney think they would turn those sophisticated tax-paid weapons on if such an order came to kill their fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters? Once again, Sweeney should get out more into the real world.

    In addition, the history and ability of tyrannical regimes with mighty militaries to deal with insurgencies is hardly persuasive to his thesis. They lose more often than not. To try such a course in the United States, whose citizenry is the most heavily armed in the world — EVER — as Sweeney proposes? Well, all I can say is good luck with that. He would find all his intellectual applecarts overturned in a sea of real blood.

    Before Mr. Sweeney tries to remake the Founder’s rule of law and the Constitution he should perhaps study the Law of Unintended Consequences first.

    It would save all of us a whole lot of agony.

    Mike Vanderboegh

  4. Phil on March 5th, 2012 8:18 am

    I think its telling that the basis for your “new” constitution is hat you call “fairness and justice” – where you treat individuals differently based on …. what? What’s “fair” is that we are all created equally – we all should be treated EQUAL as a result. No special entitlements for anyone. But that doesn’t fit in your skewed vision, now does it?

    When it comes to rights, you mention that the rights of “food, healthcare and education” should be included in the Constitution. Why stop there? Of course I’m baiting you into a conversation around individual rights, but again, lets look at the basis for your proposed rights – Namely that a right constitutes a financial obligation onto others to deliver that right to the individual in question. No sir, that is not a right, that is an entitlement. Given your position on this, it is only logical that you petition the government to purchase firearms for all Americans – after all, it is a clearly defined right in the Constitution.

    “As things stand now, our Constitution is woefully unequipped to deal with the problems of the twenty-first century.” In your fanciful world, the logic is plain as day, but for the rest of us, your idea of the future is full of rampant horror is individual mistreatment all in the guise of fairness and justice.

    While I appreciate your feeble attempt at starting a conversation that might be intellectually stimulating, all we are left with is a clear illustration to just how intellectually shallow your position is – never mind your politically warped perspective. And dare I say a statement to the quality of education you are receiving.

  5. Bob on March 5th, 2012 8:26 am

    The Second Constitution should also guarantee Americans access to basic human rights including food, healthcare and education. Ha Ha Ha Ha; who is going to buy my food for me, moron? You?

  6. Sean T. Before on March 5th, 2012 8:41 am

    So this is what higher education produces? Save yourself the tuition Steven, no one will hire you except the Communist party. With them however I;m sure you have a bright future.

  7. FrankInFL on March 5th, 2012 9:05 am

    It’s remarkable that prose such as this emanates from a soi-disant ‘institution of higher learning’, and even more remarkable that it passed editorial screening.

    Has this writer never heard of The Law of Unintended Consequences? (Yes, I know all consequences are unintended…)

    So, 34 states call a constitutional convention and whip up a new one… which is ratified by 28 states. What of the other 22? Do we start our Brave New World by coercing the minority to abide by a constitution they would not ratify? Or do we cut them loose to go their own way? Secession, anyone?

    Other scenaria also suggest themselves: a constitution which explicitly forbids all ‘positive rights’ and allows only ‘negative rights’, perhaps. Massachusetts would NEVER accede to such a document, but what if it became the new model? Shall we shackle Massachusetts to it anyway?

    Good grief! Can’t we get some actual thought coming out of our colleges or is that asking too much?

  8. DavidT on March 5th, 2012 9:32 am

    “The Second Amendment, a true artifact of the 18th century, should also be jettisoned.”

    This, sir, is why a constitutional convention should be avoided at all costs. If you would be so kind as to do some research on the beliefs of the framers of our current constitution, you will find that they didn’t think the second amendment was needed because the right of self-defense is inherent in all men. Also, your misunderstanding of the subordinate “militia” clause is understandable, due to the left-leaning philosophy in todays higher education. The intent was not for a military to defend the borders (that was a secondary purpose) but rather to be able to remove a government headed toward tyranny, as we are today.

  9. Ed Cutting on March 5th, 2012 9:39 am

    It is downright dangerous to let a sophomoric diatribe like this go unanswered — I will respond with just three things though.

    First, be damn careful of what you ask for because you might just get it. Take UMass – a lot of people equated strong decisive leadership with competent leadership and we have wound up with Holub. Enough said?

    Second, look into the difference between someone like Locke and someone like Voltaire. Locke is famous for “Life, Liberty and Property” — individual rights which Jefferson wrote as “Life, Liberty & Pursuit of Happiness” because “property” had two meanings in the 18th century much as “man” has two meanings today (and hence we use the word ‘person’). Contrast this to “Liberty, Fraternity & Equity” — the rallying call of the French Revolution, Viva La Gillotine….

    Read _Tale of Two Cities_ — remember that the guy writing it was being paid by the word (think UM Undergrad stretching the 4 page paper into 7) and that the language has changed over the past 2 centuries — in other words, it may take a bit of effort to understand what is being said — but try. The book gave me nightmares for weeks, yes I was 10 years old when I read it, but it ought to cause a grown adult to at least stop and think.

    The real question is does the individual exist with certain inalienable rights granted by a power greater than any government (Locke/Jefferson) or should mob rule prevail?

    I won’t get into how you have the Second Amendment wrong beyond just asking you two questions: How would UMass be different if students were as well armed as the police and they had the equal ability to arrest the police officers?

    (Imagine if Suzie Sophmore and Eddie Hull were considered equals and each could haul the other in front of a neutral magistrate?)

    That was the British system, the French was one of a standing army and disarmed citizenry. Kinda like having a large police department ready and able to squelch any student dissent.

    (Remember too that the word “regulated” had 18th Century meanings which have faded from use.)

    My final point is this — two wolves and a lamb are having a vote as to what they will have for dinner. In a democracy it is a 2-1 vote to have lamb for dinner and so-sorry, you were outvoted and get eaten.

    In a REPUBLIC, which is what the United States is, minorities have rights. It can be 2-1 or 2,000,000-1 and it doesn’t matter, you don’t get to eat one of your fellow citizens for lunch because you outvoted her. The minority have rights which can not be violated by the majority.

    Even though the underpinning research was flawed far more than most realize (e.g. male prisoners are not reflective of the male population as a whole), assume the accuracy of the 2:20 figure and thus that 90% of the population is heterosexual. In an election, 60% is a landslide; even in Massachusetts, about 20% of the legislature is held by the Republicans.

    So in terms of a democracy, 10% is a really small number — particularly when (nationally) it is only about 1% of the population that is openly and outwardly identified as being gay or lesbian. (The APA style manual explicitly states “use ‘gay and lesbian'”, yell at the American Psychological Association, not me.)

    So can (not should) the 90% super-super-majority decide to take all the gays & lesbians out into the woods and shoot them? In a democracy, this is perfectly acceptable (majority rules), while in a republic each person has human rights, granted by a higher authority (God, principles of humanity, whatever) that absolutely no other human or human organization/government can violate.

    In a republic, the lamb doesn’t get eaten for dinner, even though she was outvoted by the wolves. In a republic, you can’t take the gays & lesbians out into the woods and shoot them because doing so would violate their human rights which you don’t have the right to do — regardless of having a 90% majority or a 99.99999% majority.

    If you look at American history and our shortcomings, which we have had; Andrew Jackson’s “Trail of Tears”, our treatment of African-Americans, the various incarnations of the Klan, etc, etc, etc, — all of this has come out of eras where there was a pressure for direct democracy and mob rule. There is a direct connection here folks, democracy is all fine and good when you are in the majority — it is when you are not that you need to worry.

    I know quite a few lesbians who are quiet defenders of the Second Amendment, women who quietly know that the 20 gauge shotgun under their bed is the best defense against the homophobe trying to hurt them that they will ever have.

    They live in a republic where they have rights. In a democracy, their rights would be subject to the whim of the majority. Think about that….

  10. John Smith. on March 5th, 2012 10:18 am

    Your ideas are interesting. The problem is you have only given ideas and not a way to implement said ideas in a non violent manner. If there is no implementation this article is no more useful than a personal opinion which is something everyone in America possesses…. The difference between doers and thinkers is that doers implement their ideas whereas the thinkers do not.

  11. Jeff on March 5th, 2012 10:28 am

    You assert that food, education and healthcare are basic human rights. This implies that a farmer, a teacher, and a doctor must provide them as slave labor, or that taxpayers fund it via a transfer of wealth (taxes). That as the law of the land, this is enforced at the point of a gun held by the State.

    And then you want to disarm us.

    You need to graduate, work 15 years, pay taxes, try to start a business, and take your licks in life before you come up with this ivory tower elitist nonsense. You haven’t got a clue.

  12. theaton on March 5th, 2012 10:32 am

    The Second Amendment is part of what is called the Bill of Rights. These rights are bestowed on us by our creator and can’t be infringed by any person or government. If you wish to try to take my arms, please don’t send others in your place to do it. Come yourself so that you may see, first hand, the consequences of your actions.

  13. sirmatthew on March 5th, 2012 10:55 am

    Jefferson also called for a periodic revolution every 20 years. However, I disagree about the nature of rights. What is a “right” as opposed to a need? Humans need food to survive, for example, but do they have a right to it? I don’t think so and that is why men work to acquire food. Be it hunting, farming, or gathering, humans invest time to acquire something which ensures their own survival. Some work for others to acquire currency with which they purchase food, but if a man doesn’t work then he will not eat. Man has no right to food, much less education and health care.

  14. tim brower on March 5th, 2012 11:01 am

    If they remove the second amendment, the first amendment will also be removed. molon labe!

  15. RLEmerySgt on March 5th, 2012 11:05 am

    The second amendment as RATIFIED by the state’s.

    “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

    Maybe you can explain how for the entire history of English
    language, that the independent clause of a complex sentence, has always set the meaning of the complex sentence. (“the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”)

    Yet STEVEN now claims the dependent clause (A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State) is the determinator of the complex sentence meaning and history and English scholars have all been wrong throughout the history of written English. Have at it STEVEN, but warn us when Hades will be freezing over for you actually having data to support your claim.

    Lets see, have you removed the 30 plus references from the
    congressional writings 1774-1789 & the federalist papers showing well regulated as to meaning well trained in the arts of war? Much less all those dictionaries that say the same thing? No, you haven’t. Reference Karpeles
    Museum, CA.

    http://www.rain.org/%7Ekarpele

    Maybe you removed that original draft of what became the second amendment. You know, the one that was clearly written as a collective right, but then was changed to what exists today. Why did our founding fathers change the amendment draft if it was what they wanted? Oh that’s right, actions do speak louder than words. Ref Karpeles Museum, CA again.

    original proposed draft 
of 
the right to keep and bear arms 
of the 
BILL of RIGHTS 
(17 TH of 20 amendments)
    on display at the Karpeles Manuscript Library 
Santa Ana, California

    “That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a well regulated Militia composed of the body of the people trained to arms is the proper, natural and safe defense of a free State. That standing armies in time of peace are
    dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided as far as the circumstances and protection of the community will admit; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to and governed by the civil
    power.”

    http://www.wemett.net/2nd_amen

    Then of course, here is the logic failure the anti’s always have. They always fail to prove, that the miltia existed before the armed individual.

    Funny how all that was before the 2008 rulings eh?

    Funny how in the 2008 Heller ruling all 9 justices agreed that bearing arms was an individual right. That 5-4 vote was on the constitutionality of the Washington
    D.C. gun ban, read it, you will see!

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/sup

    Get back to us when you have a clue which right ensures the government cant eliminate the 1st amendment.

  16. Mark on March 5th, 2012 11:15 am

    I like mine the way it is written currently. All rights and powers are reserved to the People, except for that which is specified within.
    That it hasn’t been followed much over the last 75 years doesn’t change the elegant simplicity of it. If you so desire to live in a more “enlightened” society, feel free to move.

    And we don’t live in a Democracy, more a Republic. That you think otherwise makes your entire article suspect.

  17. Oregon Democrat on March 5th, 2012 11:57 am

    Your proposal for a domestic war is not uncommon.

    You will not win this war.

    The weapons of mass destruction you would depend on to eradicate regions of the country who would not follow your ideas are not in your hands. The men who control those weapons are patriots of the first grade, who will not arm/drop/place/fire a weapon that not only will kill good Americans, but destroy cities and scar the land for generations. Your proposal to do such a thing, in print, has already destroyed your credibility among good men. You will be backpedalling against this post, that will emerge from the most basic search, for the rest of your life if public office is a possible objective.

    The US Constitution doesn’t need to be re-written. As-written, it allows for Amendment, if you can get most Americans to agree that there is such a need. If you can not get such wide agreement, then struggle on inside the limitations imposed by the original document. I ask only that you read and understand it in plain language of the late 18th Century, not the “revised” language of Lincoln, Wilson, FDR, and Obama.

    For example, “well regulated” does not mean greatly burdened by thousands of pages of statutes. It means to be orderly, as a clock mechanism, well-supplied and trained in the things and knowledge an irregular military organization can use to do their work. Regular events like drill are needed because militia men are civilians doing their duty to their community, not professional soldiers, not even paid reservists or paid National Guardsmen. The closest thing to what was a local militia that is common today is found in rural volunteer fire departments. People work and prepare to defend themselves and neighbors from a real threat without pay. Volunteer fire departments use as many tools of the big city professional fire departments as they can afford, and as works for them. Constitutional militia is much the same, in that volunteers buy their own equipment and supplies of a type and pattern that is best able to do the job. The most recent militia activation by my State Governor was during WWII, for coastal defense. They expected to be able to delay and harass the Japanese until the fastest US Army units arrived. This domestic defense capability affected Japanese attack plans, and they decided to not land troops on the West coast 48 States, but did occupy Alaskan territory that was not defended by local militia.

    School shootings: much of the blame for shootings by students in schools may be laid at the foot of a feminized culture that exhibits “zero tolerance” for boys who might defend themselves from a bully by a relatively-harmless bloodied nose. Currently, a boy who strikes a bully gets the same punishment as the bully, or worse, gets labelled as “dangerous” or “violent”. This stress of allowing bullies to run free without consequences builds until the last option in the mind of a 15 year old is murder/suicide. The pharmaceutical load of young people in schools must also be considered. Anti-depression med’s are well-known to cause suicidal/homicidal thoughts and impulses in young adults, who lack the self-control of a normal 25 year old.

    As far as gun control goes, only the UK has stricter laws than MA. Gun restrictions don’t reduce crime, but they do increase corruption in government, and make work easier for home invasion criminals who have less to fear from disarmed victims. “Shall Issue” concealed carry handgun laws have been the most effective anti-crime measure in States that have passed such laws. There is not “blood in the streets”, because NO ONE, not even the toughest criminals, wants to get shot by a citizen. No citizen wants to do more than defend themselves, lawfully. People who buy guns for self defense are not stupid and will pay for their own safety and effectiveness training, often of better quality & quantity than professional police officers get from a Department. Expect much resistance from Boston political leaders, who carry personal firearms, due to their on-going criminal behavior.

    Cheers from Portland Oregon.

  18. Jeff Thompson on March 5th, 2012 12:08 pm

    Two responses:

    1. Dream on, dearie;

    2. Molon Labe.

    That is all. Thank you.

  19. BHirsh on March 5th, 2012 12:36 pm

    The mere idea of invoking a constitutional convention is stark, raving mad. What’s “broke” is our political and judicial systems, the latter of which has taken it upon itself to amend the constitution by case law and precedent (which, by the way, has no constitutional authorization – there is only one way to amend the constitution), and the former of which chooses to honor only those parts of the constitution it agrees with.

    Well, that’s got to change, and not by meddling with the most effective document in history in protecting individual rights against the prevailing public opinion, and until 1939, limiting the federal government to its enumerated powers. What must happen is not a convention of mental midgets compared to the brilliant minds that wrote the original, but a return to the original, AS IT WAS INTENDED TO BE UNDERSTOOD.

    If you want a different system, go to another nation where it exists and LEAVE OURS ALONE.

  20. AJ on March 5th, 2012 12:49 pm

    So, you suggest we need a more modern Constitution ala South Africa, Canada, etc? Constitutions which in their respective countries establish that the government is the supreme authority over the people. Constitutions that establish collectivism. Constitutions that establish group rights. Constitutions that grant privileges disguised as rights.

    I have a better idea, you should move to one of the aforementioned collectivist utopias and leave the rest of us primitives and our “outdated” Constitution in peace.

    BTW, the Second Amendment is still perfectly relevant to curbing tyranny. The if the US government wouldn’t use nuke in Korea, Vietnam or Afghanistan, it is absolutely ludicrous to think they would use them here. Speaking of Afghanistan, shouldn’t our vastly superior military have brought that fiasco to conclusion by now? Shouldn’t the very sight of our incredible war machine have those bass-ackward cavemen shaking in their loincloths? It’s been ten years, there is no end in sight. The US will eventually give up the effort due to unsustainable costs and unpopularity at home. The entire population of Afghanistan is less than half the number of gun owners in the US. Do the math.

    Furthermore, if it really were valid to say that the civilian population is too undergunned to be a check on tyranny, the correct solution would be to rectify that situation. What kind of pusillanimous runt would rather just throw his hands up into the air and beg for mercy from our new dictator? All the declarations and resolutions in the world mean absolutely zilch if there is no way for the citizens to back them up when push comes to shove.

    PS, you may want to take a civics class. We don’t live in a democracy. The United States is (or was) a Constitutional Republic. Also, you may want to read the Federalist Papers.

  21. Matthew Peters on March 5th, 2012 1:12 pm

    Steven,

    You’ll no doubt be surprised when shortly after emasculating the Second Amendment our cherished First Amendment will be re-written requiring state political approval for public written discussion of any matters relating to the well being of The People and their relationship with the state. After all who could now possibly stop such a requirement for prior approval? Would the state shudder should The People in support of free speech surround the District of Corruption holding pitchforks or driving tractor trailer rigs? See, what you are proposing is fully empowering the state while at the same time taking away the last vote that really counts in the hands of The People.

    Don’t forget there are millions of Americans who will not quietly go into such a long dark night, and this includes the majority of members of our military and police! I’ll bet you didn’t consider this. How can you be so out of touch with the understanding the vast majority of Americans have who love freedom and liberty and our United States Constitution? I think I know, too much time in an ivory tower will do it. Get out into the countryside where real Americans reside, it’ll be a true education.

  22. Daniel on March 5th, 2012 2:00 pm

    You apparently have been educated far beyond your intelligence. To propose doing away with the Second Amendment is to propose the unnecessary deaths of untold thousands, maybe millions.
    If any effort is made to confiscate firearms, there will be no stepping back from that precipice. You will not get your utopia. You will get a civil war. What emerges on the other side will depend on who prevails by force of arms. What are *you* prepared to do?
    Will *you* enlist in the Army, to kill Americans? In the name of “peace”, and “democracy”?
    Be careful what you wish for, sir. You may get more of it than you are equipped to survive.

  23. John Parks on March 5th, 2012 2:56 pm

    Be careful of what you wish for. It seems to me that dreamy constitution you hope to get will not be the one you actually receive. Many of the flyover or red states you want to ignore by popular vote are those same states that would codify a constitution protecting those very same rights you would choose to jettison or the history you find “embarrassing” we find historical and humbling. There is, currently, a way to get all of those utopian ideals conveyed by any # of what you would consider more enlightened constitutional guarantees. Amend The Constitution, or move to such a place that you find has more acceptable constitutional guarantees, my suggestions can be found in Justice Ginsburg’s interview. In closing, a constitutional convention is probably the most dangerous way to get what you think you are owed by virtue of your birth in this great nation.

  24. Mark on March 5th, 2012 2:57 pm

    About your right to health care, just how is a service provided by another person a right? Are you advocating for slavery, now? That is the only way you can make one person provide a service to another upon demand without compensation.
    Or did you not think that one through to it’s logical conclusion?

  25. sirmatthew on March 5th, 2012 3:01 pm

    Although you don’t claim to appreciate some of the rights which are secured in the Constitution you do claim to believe in freedom of expression. Unfortunately, I’ve seen no evidence of that given the number of comments (ALL OF THEM!) which have been moderated out of existence. And that’s why citizens will never stand for a rewrite, for they know if they give an inch you’ll take a mile.

  26. Jack Meoff on March 5th, 2012 5:13 pm

    Egypt, Libya, Syria. Three 21st century examples of why the second amendment is more relevant than ever. Can’t happen here? No, humans are humans and power corrupts them all.

    PS: Any government that would use nukes against its own people
    needs a second amendment used against it.

  27. James B. on March 5th, 2012 5:28 pm

    I could go into the many many reasons why this is such a bad idea, but it is obviously the dream of a socialist to envision such a thing, tossing our Constitution in favor of something that guarantees things like healthcare and food. Oh, and of course ditches our right to arm ourselves against our very government that will direct our lives. A million armed Texans could not hope to defeat the greatest military power on the face of the earth? Think about it, many of those Texans will be military, or have sons in the military. The military will not attack its own citizens trying to defeat a rogue government trying to dictate the actions of its citizens. By the way, there are over 83 million gun owners in America. Those numbers can’t be defeated all that easily. Nukes against our own people? Get real. No what we need is not a new Constitution, it’s politicians who actually believe in America, who don’t make excuses for it, and who are willing to say America is unique in all the world, we are the best, and live up to that statement. And not go on a platform of “hope”, with dreams of socialism.

  28. El on March 5th, 2012 5:53 pm

    Do you want another civil war?

  29. El on March 5th, 2012 5:54 pm

    And yes, a million Texans absolutely could overthrow the US government. Marines officers are overwhelmingly Texan and will not hesitate to turn on you if you and your kind try to remove our fundamental rights.

  30. John on March 5th, 2012 6:18 pm

    Keep dreaming!

  31. Diamondback on March 5th, 2012 6:29 pm

    Yea, and THEN you’ll have to ACTUALLY come and take them!

    Bring it whenever.

    I’m ready, are you?

    Diamondback

  32. David Codrea on March 5th, 2012 7:33 pm

    Who is this stupid little boy who presumes to dictate the rights of men?

  33. Rebecca D'Attilio on March 5th, 2012 8:39 pm

    My oh my, we have a long way to go.

    To those of you who did not write your full and true name: It seems to me that those of you who seem to be so confident in your courage to bear arms do not have equal courage to show your face, so to speak. Why hide behind half-names and pseudonyms? Do not criticize Sweeny who has come out in the public, from behind a curtain. How is it that you feel so passionately about what you have stated yet you don’t have the courage to attach your name to it?

    The Constitution is, as Sweeney said, 224 years old and Sweeney even makes note of Jefferson’s argument that the Constitution should be examined every 19 years! He would laugh if he knew we were still living by some of the laws him and his co-patriots had written. America is not a bubble in which time does not pass, and its citizens need to recognize that as time passes, so do events that may change the course of ethical decision making. For example, concepts such as privacy have changed so drastically in the last 200 years that what we now think of in terms of privacy would hardly be recognized by the Founding Fathers. WikiLeaks…what? It is my understanding that Sweeney is not proposing socialism, utopia or anarchy. He is suggesting that we as Americans continue in our quest for a more perfect democracy.
    Also, healthcare is indeed a service, but I do not believe that Sweeney was suggesting we force doctors into slave labor. I think it is safe to assume that Sweeney thought the state should pay the salaries of doctors, and that they should be considered states employees, rather than private employees. U.S. citizens should not need to sell their homes in order to pay their medical bills. (Yes, that really does happen.)
    To kick your heels in and deny even the possibility of a re-vamped Constitution is, to put it simply, to choose ignorance. (I realize that may be a fighting word, but I think you can handle it.) Sweeney does not suggest feeding the original Constitution to the fire, but merely re-examining it, and re-evaluating it.
    The fact that so many of you seem to think that the government, and the people, could not handle a civilized convention which did not result in a civil war may be, as they say, the problem staring us all right in the face. Why is it that our country is not strong enough to have this debate without becoming angered? What is so terrifying about re-writing the Constitution? Is it that we would have to admit our mistakes in the past? Our flaws? Is it not better to take a good hard look at our past and decide if it is in fact what we want our future to be like?
    I see no harm in this becoming an issue discussed in much greater length, and by people more well versed on the matter than anonymous people on the internet, including myself.

  34. Pete on March 5th, 2012 9:04 pm

    the constitution works, you just need congress and the white house to follow it.

    ps. you can have my gun after you pry it from my cold dead fingers.

  35. PMain on March 6th, 2012 1:38 am

    Mr. Sweeney,

    You may want to actually read the dissent of both Heller & McDonald. All of the Justices agreed that the 2nd was an individual right, including Ginsburg. The vote was 9-0, the dissent doesn’t say what you think it does.

    Jefferson, Madison, etc all believed that the 2nd was an individual right as well. Please notice that use of “regulate” refers directly to the militia – something that wasn’t controlled by the Federal Government until the passing of the Militia Act of 1903 & the creation of the National Guard – the use of shall not be infringed refers to “the people.”

    Other Amendments in the Bill of Rights use “the people” to refer to citizens, not the Federal or State governments. Unless you believe that it’s use in the 1st,3rd, 9th or 10th do not refer to individual rights.

    Furthermore, the US isn’t the largest Democracy, we’re a Federal Republic.

    I’d not sure that quoting 2 people who actually believed different then you’ve lead – Jefferson & Ginsburg – & misrepresenting the very defining foundation of the US Government, makes the strongest argument or platform on which to suggest changes to be made.

    I can understand why you’d want to eliminate the 2nd given your basic misunderstanding of it, but please forgive the rest of your fellow citizens – who’d prefer to keep our God Given Right’s intact – from disagreeing with you.

  36. Bill Pistol on March 6th, 2012 6:39 am

    All the college education in the world can’t change the fact that stupid is forever.

  37. JJ Swiontek on March 6th, 2012 12:19 pm

    A Second Constitutional Convention, hmmmm. Interesting idea. Language has changed in 200 years. It would be nice to have a Second Amendment that just read, “The right to own and carry all arms shall not be infringed.” Thus eliminating all gun laws in the country. Yeah, that would be nice.

  38. Dan on March 6th, 2012 12:29 pm

    Please tell the hundreds of people who used firearms to defend themselves and their families in the last few months that guns have no place in the 21st century. See GunsSaveLives.net for examples.

  39. Kyle on March 6th, 2012 12:34 pm

    “On second thought, though, maybe Newt’s constitutional flippancy is warranted. As Justice Ginsburg’s comments suggest, the U.S. Constitution is more a relic of the 18th century than a workable plan for government in the 21st. A recent study conducted by David Law, a professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis, concluded that our Constitution’s global appeal has diminished markedly over the past half century. Fewer and fewer nations are modeling their own constitutions on the American version. Other constitutions, especially those highlighted by Ginsburg, explicitly protect basic human rights such as the right to sufficient food, healthcare and education. Lacking such basic provisions of fairness and justice, the U.S. Constitution risks becoming an anachronism in the constitutional landscape of the 21st century.”

    Food, healthcare, education, etc…are not rights. A right is something abstract, such as your right to free speech, freedom of religion, privacy, and so forth. Things that are goods and services are not rights because that means that you then have to infringe on the rights of others to provide others with these goods and services. You have to take, by force, from others.

    That other constitutions in the world claim they are rights doesn’t change the reality. Also, define the terms “fairness” and “justice.” These are words that are very arbitrary in meaning but that can mean completely different things to different people. The left love to toss out words such as “fairness,” “justice,” “equality,” etc…without even bothering to think about what they actually mean.

    “Our union is far from perfect. Domestic tranquility is in short supply. The general welfare has hardly been promoted.”

    Says who? What is the “general welfare?”

    “Americans today feel acutely that their government is not responsive to their needs. Six out 10 Americans report that the nation is on the wrong track (a full 80 percent of Americans said the nation was on the wrong track in July as House Republicans threatened to shut down the government). A whopping 82 percent of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing. Supreme Court rulings like Citizens United have undermined faith in our democracy and opened political campaigns to a flood of corporate money.”

    Citizens United did not undermine faith in our democracy (which BTW, it’s a republic, not a democracy), except to a few partisans. Citizens United was about freedom of speech. The corporate money just refers to advertising in campaigns, nothing more.

    “A Constitution for the 21st century is desperately needed.”

    Why not just keep updating the current one? Most constitutions throughout history fail, because they try to cover everything. Thus, after a few decades, they find themselves obsolete. Ours is timeless, because the Founders, in their brilliance, made it a very short, brief document, that only covers the really big stuff, and that is flexible in that it can be changed with the times or if mistakes to it are found. It has thus sustained our government for a very long time.

    “The Second Amendment, a true artifact of the 18th century, should also be jettisoned. Contrary to the views of conservative justices on the Supreme Court, the amendment only protects the right to bear arms in conjunction with service in a well-regulated militia. While the Framers of the Constitution intended the Second Amendment to curb the arbitrary use of power by the federal government, not even a million gun-slinging Texans could hope to counter the power of the U.S. government today, backed in full force by the world’s largest nuclear arsenal. In light of this week’s tragic shootings at a high school in Ohio, it should be clear to any logical observer that the Second Amendment serves no meaningful purpose in the 21st century.”

    Gun-toting criminals are not going to be stopped by outlawing guns, no more so than drugs are stopped. It being the 21st century means little. People are not more sophisticated today because we have better technology, they’re the same as they have always been. If anything, the recent highschool shooting only emphasises all the more why people should be permitted to be armed to protect themselves (and the SCOTUS has ruled multiple times that people have no Constitutional right to police protection). Regarding the government, nukes cannot stand up to millions of armed people who want to overthrow the government, if it really came to that. Look at the uprisings in the Middle East. They send attack helicopters and battle tanks out against their people, and it still doesn’t put down the uprising. An armed populace is dangerous to an oppressive government.

    “Like the constitutions of other civilized nations, the Second United States Constitution should contain explicit guarantees of equal protection under the law for all Americans. Discrimination should be prohibited on the grounds of race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion, language and ethnic origin. The Second Constitution should also guarantee Americans access to basic human rights including food, healthcare and education. A general right to privacy, already recognized by the Supreme Court, should also be included. And the provisions of the First Amendment protecting freedom of speech, religion, the press and assembly should be preserved.”

    You know you could just modify the current Constitution to do all of that without replacing it. To a degree, we already have. But we could also amend it further to claim things like food, healthcare, and education are “rights” even though reality negates that.

    “To curb the power of the “imperial presidency” the Second Constitution should contain language similar to the War Powers Resolution, passed in 1973 by both houses of Congress but consistently ignored by the occupants of the Oval Office, most recently by President Barack Obama in his rush to war in Libya in March 2011. The War Powers Resolution requires the president to inform Congress of his decision to commit armed forces to foreign military action within 48 hours and prohibits those forces from remaining for more than 60 days without the explicit authorization of Congress. A constitutional requirement would prohibit presidents from flouting the power of the people’s representatives, in whose hands the decision to go to war rightfully belongs.”

    You can amend the Constitution for this.

    “A Second Constitution should also eliminate the arcane Electoral College and provide for the direct election of the president. It is a travesty that the world’s wealthiest democracy should be represented by a candidate that the majority of Americans did not elect in the first place.”

    We aren’t a democracy, we’re a republic, and you’re not taking into consideration the dangers of what you’re proposing here. If the U.S. got rid of the Electoral College, then the candidates would only campaign in California and New York and that’s it, as those are the most populous states. The rest of the country would be ignored. The EC counters this.

    “These changes represent only the tip of the iceberg. A Second Constitutional Convention would surely lead to even more innovative revisions by initiating a valuable public discourse about the nature of our democracy. As things stand now, our Constitution is woefully unequipped to deal with the problems of the twenty-first century. We the people deserve better.”

    A Constitutional Convention might well result in a constitution that turns us into a dictatorship or a theocracy. The Soviet Union had a constitution. You seem to think a constitutional convention would go smoothly, and result in an improved version over what we have now. It likely would not go that way as we’d have extreme partisans of both sides vying for power and influence. And most Americans aren’t knowledgable enough to even know what they’d be standing for.

    If you don’t like our current Constitution, then list out the flaws, and push for amendments to it.

  40. Happy D on March 6th, 2012 12:57 pm

    What is it with you people? In order to get your way on the personal protection issue the first thing you do is threaten us with Heavy Weapons and Weapons of mass destruction. Weapons systems I note that you have no intention of operating yourself. Instead you think someone you elitist types routinely denigrate will mindlessly open fire on the people whom built and often maintain the weapons you wish used on us unwashed masses. Even if the people you want fired upon have more in common with the weapon operator and little in common with your elitist parasitism.

  41. HG on March 6th, 2012 6:24 pm

    Rebecca D’Attilio, don’t criticize people for not using their full names on an internet forum: it’s common sense. Most people tend to exercise caution when on the internet, especially when commenting on internet forums because they recognize that freaks can, and will, look up their information. It isn’t cowardice, it’s being street smart.

    And isn’t it kind of arrogant to assume that your ideas are the only right ideas? Isn’t it attitudes like THAT that are dividing our country so drastically today? You accuse some on here of refusing to discuss other options, but that is exactly what you are doing are you not? Instead of trying to advance the conversation, you ridicule those who think differently by suggesting that “they still have a long way to come”, and calling them “ignorant”. That’s highly insulting, and encourages no one to consider your point of view.

    And I have a question for Sweeney and Rebecca: if the Second Amendment was only put in to guarantee that armies(or “well-regulated militias”) were allowed to own guns, then why the heck was it put in there? Obviously armies are allowed to own fire-arms. Obviously. So why did the Founding Fathers feel it necessary to PUT IT IN THERE if not to ensure that the common person was to be allowed to own a fire-arm for protection? It is precisely because they recognized that governments tended to lean towards tyranny, and that the only thing tyrants fear most is the chance that the people they rule become armed and able to defend themselves. Guns prevent the government from being able to turn their guns on we the people, because if they try, we’ll just point ours at them. Guns have also been proven to reduce crime, and banning guns(Britain) has been proven to only increase crime, since it takes the guns out of regular citizens and puts them into the hands of criminals.

    And no one is arguing that the Constitution needs to be re-evaluated and (in your words) updated. We just disagree with what he’s calling for–he IS calling for the current one to be thrown out, and a brand new one created out of thin air. We believe that the means for updating the Constitution are written into the document itself, and we as a nation need to exercise those means as frequently as possible and necessary.

    And no, healthcare is a service, period. I’m a pre-med student majoring in history(and a woman in case you want to stereotype me as a man just because I own a gun and am in support of them), and you seem to be telling me that since you want my hard work to be relegated to the status of “state employee” that I should somehow be okay with that. No. I’m working damn hard, and I expect to be compensated for it. Teachers shouldn’t just roll over and accept the wages they are paid either. They work damn hard too, and it is BECAUSE they are employees of the state that they receive such crappy salaries. See, that’s “equal distribution” for ya.

    The reason that people end up selling their homes to pay for medical expenses is because our country doesn’t exercise common sense when it comes to suing our doctors. Malpractice insurance is incredibly high(unlike in say Germany or India) because people are allowed to sue their doctors because Pa died during open heart surgery. It isn’t legally acceptable to only sue in the case of gross negligence(like say, the doctor was drunk during the open heart surgery). In other countries, the only time you CAN sue is when gross negligence occurs. Thus, a doctor’s malpractice insurance is kept under a reasonable amount(50,000/yr vs our 500,000+/yr), and prices for medical services are kept incredibly low.

    I agree that it is necessary to look at our past, and recognize the serious, serious flaws that our Founders had. But to simply throw out the Constitution because Thomas Jefferson was a dirty perv is ridiculous. His ideas were great, truly, truly great. To simply throw out the Constitution simply because he failed to extend them to everyone equally is ludicrous.We have to look at our history in all its gruesome glory, you’re right. But to write America off just because we weren’t very good at keeping the promises we gave is to ignore how far we HAVE come, and recognize that in spite of everything, most of us are reasonable people who try to live up to our ideals, and extend the practice to all. We just need, as a country, to band together and respect our differences instead of ridiculing them, and to allow room for dissent in all circles; failing to do that, we will never advance.

  42. AJ on March 6th, 2012 11:00 pm

    When more far, far more people can name all of the Kardashians from memory than can briefly (and somewhat accurately) sum up the positions of the current Presidential candidates, the thought of a second Constitutional Convention makes me cringe.

  43. Jarhead1982 on March 7th, 2012 1:19 am

    Poor Rebecca, where oh where, is there an inherent right not to get your arse handed to you, when your unsubstantiated opinion with no sane resolution for implementation, is put into a public forum, and the little twit hasnt the balls much less the intellectual ability to answer with a logical arguement?

    We are Constitutional Republic, F$%K Democracy, a system based on the rule of the Mob which means the same to your idea also sweety.

    You havent defined the failures either, so before ANY discussion for a constitutional convention is put forth, how about like a sane adult, actually defining the problem rather than lamely attempting to wax elequent ka ka as justification?

    Get back to us when you get a clue.

  44. Ed Cutting on March 7th, 2012 4:06 am

    And the Soviet Constitution granted its citizens more protections than the US Constitution did. On paper. Only on paper….

    The Soviet Union had the highest election turnouts in the world as well, something like 99% voter turnout. Of course there was only one candidate on the ballot, but it was a true democracy with full voter participation (you got fined if you didn’t vote).

    Care to venture a guess as to what Soviets did in the (true) privacy of the voting booth? They wrote “screw communism” on their ballot.

    And do you know the first law that Hitler passed — before he started killing Jews and everyone else? Gun control.
    Can you imagine a properly armed Warsaw Ghetto?

  45. Brian on March 8th, 2012 1:57 am

    Sigh, some of the mindless knee-jerk comments above truly deserve an epic facepalm. There is one in particular that stands out:

    “The Second Amendment is part of what is called the Bill of Rights. These rights are bestowed on us by our creator and can’t be infringed by any person or government.”

    Really? That’s funny, I’m pretty sure there is NO RELIGION ON EARTH that believes that. Which Creator are you talking about, exactly? The Christian God? The Christian God never said anything about any right to bear arms (or any of the other rights in the Bill of Rights, for that matter).

    So let’s make this absolutely clear: The Constitution of the United States represents the opinions of a relatively small group of men who lived about 200 years ago. The vast majority of Americans did NOT have a say in it. You may think those few men who wrote the Constitution were the most intelligent people who ever lived, you may passionately agree with their opinions, but you CANNOT demand that everyone else must also agree with you. Anyone who insists that the Constitution must be strictly followed as written and never changed in any way is basically saying that the United States should be a dictatorship ruled according to the wishes of those long-dead founders, because they knew what’s best for everyone. This is a ridiculous idea which was even rejected by the founders themselves! They would be HORRIFIED to hear that people today are treating their opinions as Word of God. A free society is not supposed to be ruled by all-powerful, all-knowing dictators – not even dead ones.

  46. Brian on March 8th, 2012 3:50 am

    And there is another often-repeated absurdity which needs to be refuted:

    “Things that are goods and services are not rights because that means that you then have to infringe on the rights of others to provide others with these goods and services. You have to take, by force, from others.”

    ALL rights require the provision of some good or service by the government, even if it’s merely the service known as police protection. And I know that when you talk about “taking by force from others” you are referring to taxes – even though taxes are part of the social contract and it makes no sense to oppose them unless you oppose all laws in general – so let’s talk about that for a bit.

    Providing people with food or health care costs money, which the government needs to get from taxes. But EVERYTHING the government does requires money. The police costs money, the justice system costs money, the heat and electricity for the Capitol and the White House cost money, the paper on which the laws are written costs money. All of that money comes from taxes. Your right to not be murdered or robbed is protected by the police and the military, which are paid for with tax dollars. Your private property rights exist only because the government enforces them – and that costs money. So there is absolutely no difference between demanding that tax dollars be spent on the police to save lives and demanding that tax dollars be spent on food or health care to save lives.

    It is ridiculous to say that the government shouldn’t guarantee a right to food or health care because that requires taxing people to pay for it, as if the government wasn’t already taxing people to pay for what it does every day! If you truly believe that it’s wrong for the government to impose “financial obligation onto others”, that means you believe it is wrong for the government to exist at all. In other words, if you really oppose taxes on principle, then you logically have to be an anarchist. And if that is indeed what you are, fair enough. But if you’re NOT an anarchist, if you do in fact believe that the United States should continue to exist, then you must accept that taxes are necessary. Then if taxes are necessary, why shouldn’t we use them to provide people with basic food and health care?

  47. Peter M on March 8th, 2012 7:06 pm

    I’m sorry, I was only reading, but then I read the comment by HG that simply infuriated me. Another common mistake made by many misinformed people relates to crime. What I mean by this is your small but significant reference to “(Britain)” being from britain I can tell you quite bluntly that the assertion you have just made is wholly incorrect and should really be withdrawn. Firstly, since handguns were banned in the UK, there has been a colossal fall in the amount of crimes recorded with firearms used as blunt instruments/projectile weapons, or to threaten from 3172 in 2000 to 2574 in 2010. When you consider the growth in population this can be regarded as quite an achievement (pistols were banned in the UK in 1997 following the Dunblane Massacre). Also as a percentage of population the US currently has 4.8 murders per year, per 100000 inhabitants, whereas the UK (where firearms are banned) has only 1.23. I would say that is significantly lower wouldn’t you? On a list of countries in the world, the US homicide rate ranks in at 34. The UK at 49. So maybe the comparison is a bit of a misleading one to make don’t you think?

    Also, on the subject of a National Health Service in the US, may I point out that virtually every other country in the western world has one, and the citizens of those respective countries would not trade those in for the world. I certainly wouldn’t. If a government came in and said they wanted to privatise the NHS I there would be a revolution. You want to know why? Because there is one underlying truth. The government has a budget, every year it has to tell us how much it spends on our healthcare, and if by the election year, we find that waiting times are too long, or there is not enough funding…well that government can consider itself at a rather large disadvantage. This accountability DOES NOT EXIST for private companies. In fact it is only in The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed into law in 2010 that insurance companies were forced by law to insure everyone who applies, regardless of pre-existing conditions (this only becomes effective in 2014). Imagine that though, you have money to pay for an insurance plan, you apply, and you are rejected YOU CAN NOT get insurance, what kind of person is okay with that? In Britain I don’t need to worry about this. Recently my sisters life was saved on an NHS A&E ward, and she spent 2 weeks recovering in Intensive Care with the most wonderful attentive nurses you can imagine. Very Talkative, knew exactly what they were doing. They saved my sisters life. They were government employees. Does that make them less important? (Also I would like to add that doctors get paid a fortune to work for the NHS over here).

    My final point is about the 2nd amendment. Now I know this is a very touchy subject with many americans, however I would merely like to point out the reason for the founding fathers embedding this in the constitution, as everyone seems to have missed it. They were scared. Terrified in fact. As far as they were concerned the British wanted their colonies back, and were not going to wave good bye to such a huge investment. So, in order to prepare against invasion, they made it law. Everyone ha the right to carry a weapon. And it was solved in one go. Now that America had this enshrined in the constitution there was 0 chance of a British counter invasion, because they knew they would lose. This has NOTHING to do with civil rights. NOONE should have the right to own a gun. A gun is a weapon. Used to kill people. Why are we okay with killing people?? Surely that is wrong? The excuse that guns are needed as a means of protection becomes insignificant when you look at the volume of instances in which they are used in aggression, and crime (often organised). Why is it that people are so keen to cling to their guns anyway? What joy can you possibly get from an object whose sole purpose is to kill injure or mutilate?

  48. David Hunt '90 on March 12th, 2012 5:17 pm

    “A gun is a weapon. Used to kill people.”

    And your pathetic craven cowering point is?

    Some criminal threatens me or mine, I WILL KILL THEM.

    Some government thug threatens to enslave me or mine, I WILL KILL THEM.

  49. David Hunt '90 on March 12th, 2012 7:02 pm

    You would think that after the 150 million killed in the 20th century by collectivism and putting the state ahead of The People, people would have learned.

    One third of my family went up in smoke – literally – in the Germany that put the collective good above the individual. Never again. I will die first, and will take as many of these Marxist bastards with me as I can.

  50. Skeeter Sanders on November 2nd, 2012 2:22 pm

    Public support for taxpayer dollars going to finance political campaigns is at an all-time low. The idea — born inthe mid-1970s as a consequence of the Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon — will likely be soundly rejected for a very potent reason: Why should a liberal see his or her tax dollars go to finance a hard-line conservative candidate whose views on issues — especially abortion, contraception and same-sex marriage — are diametrically opposed to their own? Why should a conservative voter see his or her tax dollars go to finance a liberal firebrand for the same reason?

    No, I am unalterably opposed to taxpayer-financed political campaigns. As one who strongly supports women’s reproductive choice and gay and lesbian couples’ freedom to marry, there’s no way I’ll sit still for my tax dollars going to a right-wing candidate who seeks to deny those choices and freedoms.

  51. Mary Soper on November 27th, 2012 8:00 pm

    The best book on the subject is “The Next American Revolution: How to Demand Congressional Reform.” Short and sweet, it is a manual for the people on how to use Article V to reform Congress. It can be found on Amazon.

  52. Diamondback on July 8th, 2013 9:11 pm

    Only thing is, our rights are granted by God and NOT man or man’s institutions. Even were you to REPEAL ENTIRELY the 2nd Amendment, we still have the right to keep and bear arms and to use them to defend our lives (see how it ties in with the Right to Life). Additionally, even IF you could repeal the 2A, you’d still have to come and get them.

    Many of us out here say, “Molon Labe” baby.

  53. tom sulcer on April 7th, 2014 7:48 am

    Excellent article. In my view, two big areas needing fixes are (1) foreign policy (2) citizenship. The current constitution hampers foreign policy by dividing up responsibility between different branches, with an (often) untested president having the most authority; since he or she may be out of office after 4 years, definitely after 8, it is tough for the nation to stick with strategies that require decades to bring to fruition. As a result, foreign policy is largely dependent on the skill of the president, which varies. Further, I see a fundamental flaw in the current constitution in that there is no clearly specified relation of citizenship: what does it mean? who is a citizen? what are the privileges and rights and duties? Currently, citizenship is a passive relation, essentially like membership in a corporation; I think it should be an active relation with specific duties (meeting regularly with representatives perhaps twice a year, voting, military service if summoned, jury duty if summoned) and privileges (legal protections, rights, etc.)

    I wrote a new constitution a few years ago which (hopefully) fixes these and other problems, including ones addressed by Steve Sweeney in his excellent essay.

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Essay:Second_Constitution_of_the_United_States

    — tom sulcer
    summit, new jersey

  54. Gloria on March 18th, 2015 3:00 am

    All your idealistic changes will never come about with ALEC being a major player in this push! The ability if the Federal government to work for the common good will be crippled. It will be all for the benefit of corporations. ALEC and Rob Nadelson will see to that. ALEC has their handbook up to counter any concerns about a “runaway convention” even while calling such a concern a “myth.”

  55. akima tendo on September 24th, 2016 10:38 pm

    a constitutional republican mortal state protecting a liberal democratic mortal society with welfare capitalism – and o yes, consenting adults with drugs, guns, etc. nonviolence, avoiding aggression, and nonsinning, avoiding harm to others, should be the basis of a second constitutional convention. it is not the highest weal, just the COMMONweal. the pursuit of perfection has proved – in the last raw, angry century – to be the path of perdition. so let us work for livable world. thomas jefferson’s “empire of liberty” is possible if we accept that society has social nations (race, faith or not, etc.) and solitary persons (hermits,etc.) and their concerns as such are society’s problems. a parliament backed by an elected control branch that selects the judges would be a start. the core of the new constitution must be a declaration of the rights of the person and the citizen. the goal is a multiparty parliamentary system – at all levels – that governs as little as possible. write a new constitution – this little lady did – and publish it. may the best constitution win in a special national and federal election.

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