Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Our Undemocratic Constitution: Where the Constitution Goes Wrong (and How We the People Can Correct It)

by Sanford Levinson

You don't have to tell me the Constitution is screwy, but it doesn't hurt to brush up on the details. (And even if you think you know what's wrong with the Constitution, you'll find some new fuel for your fire.)

Probably the most important effed-up thing about our Constitution is voting inequality that results from the electoral college method of electing the president, and from the fact that each state gets two senators regardless of population. (The two are related, in fact.) California, for example, is home to almost 40 million people who share only two votes in the Senate, while Wyoming's two senators represent barely half a million people. That's just the tip of the iceberg, of course, as the effects are quite far-reaching, and sometimes unexpected. (Or should I say unsuspected?)

The author (who's quite fond of the word indefensible) says we should fix our Constitution by convening a constitutional convention to re-write it. While he's very convincing as to what's wrong, he left me about a million miles away from being convinced that a convention is a good idea. I just don't have enough faith in my fellow Americans, and I'm terrified of the things that might become part of a new constitution. (For starters, as a gay person, I really don't feel like putting my civil rights on the table just to open a debate about proportional representation in the legislative branch.) Call me Madisonian, call me Hamiltonian — heck, call me a monarchist — I don't believe the sort of people who are short-sighted enough to shop at Wal-mart will suddenly, with the entire Constitution up for grabs, become far-sighted or reasonable enough to do the right thing.

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