June 20th, 2011
12:26 PM ET

Is it time to update the U.S. Constitution?

We all know how Americans revere the Constitution, so I was struck by the news that tiny, little Iceland is actually junking its own Constitution and starting anew using an unusual - some would say innovative - mechanism.

The nation decided it needed a new Constitution and it's soliciting ideas from all of Iceland's 320,000 citizens with the help of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. This social media method has worked. Ideas have been flowing in. Many have asked for guaranteed, good health care. Others want campaign finance systems that make corporate donations illegal. And some just want the country to make shark finning illegal.

There is a Constitutional Council. It incorporates some of these ideas, rejects others, but everything is done in plain sight on the web. As one member of the Constitutional Council said, the document is basically being drafted on the Internet. 

Now, why do they need a new Constitution anyway? Well, after Iceland was crippled in recent years by the economic crisis, they all wanted a fresh start. And, anyway, they felt the document was old and outdated, drafted all the way back in 1944.

You might be tempted to say that Iceland doesn't have any reasons to be proud of its political traditions in the manner that the United States does. Well, think again.

Iceland is home to the world's oldest parliament still in existence, the Althing, set up in 930 A.D. The rocky ledge on which they gathered represents the beginnings of representative government in the world. So Iceland has reasons to cherish its history, and yet it was willing to revise it.

By contrast, any talk of revising or revisiting the U.S. Constitution is, of course, seen as heresy. The United States Constitution was, as you know, drafted in a cramped room in Philadelphia in 1787 with shades drawn over the windows. It was signed by 39 people.

America at the time consisted of 13 states. Congress had 26 senators and 65 representatives. The entire population was about one percent of today's number - four million people.

America was an agricultural society, with no industry - not even cotton gins. The flush toilet had just been invented.

These were the circumstances under which this document was written.

Let me be very clear here, the U.S. Constitution is an extraordinary work - one of the greatest expressions of liberty and law in human history.

One amazing testament to it is the mere fact that it has survived as the law of the land for 222 years.

But our Constitution has been revised 27 times.  Some of these revisions have been enormous and important, such as the abolition of slavery. Then there are areas that have evolved. For example, the power of the judiciary, especially the Supreme Court, is barely mentioned in the document. This grew as a fact over history.

But there are surely some issues that still need to be debated and fixed.

The electoral college, for example, is highly undemocratic, allowing for the possibility that someone could get elected as president even if he or she had a smaller share of the total national vote than his opponent.

The structure of the Senate is even more undemocratic, with Wisconsin's six million inhabitants getting the same representation in the Senate as California's 36 million people. That's not exactly one man, one vote.

And we are surely the only modern nation that could be paralyzed as we were in 2000 over an election dispute because we lack a simple national electoral system.

So we could use the ideas of social media that were actually invented in this country to suggest a set of amendments to modernize the Constitution for the 21st Century.

Such a plan is not unheard of in American history.

After all, the delegates in Philadelphia in 1787 initially meant not to create the Constitution as we now know it, but instead to revise the existing document, the Articles of Confederation. But the delegates saw a disconnect between the document that currently governed them and the needs of the nation, so their solution was to start anew.

I'm just suggesting we talk about a few revisions.

Anyway, what do you think? Should we do this? And if we were to revise the U.S. Constitution, what would be the three amendments you would put in?

Let us know in the comment thread and we'll post the best ones on the Global Public Square.

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Topics: GPS Show • Law • What in the World?

soundoff (2,350 Responses)
  1. Rick House

    While the electoral college suggestions are not without merit, your suggestion about the Senate shows your total lack of understanding of how (and why) the Senate exists. Please do some research before you display your ignorance.
    The House of Representatives is the portion of Congress which represents (to a degree) the "one-man-one-vote" idea. The number of Representatives are based on population numbers. A small state, like Rhode Island, doesn't have as much representation (and thus, as much power) as a more populous state. There is no way a smaller state could block any legislation of larger states. The Senate is designed specifically to prevent such "mob rule". Each state, no matter the size, must come to accords on equal footing. Therefore, a minority of populous states cannot push legislation which is detrimental to smaller states. So you need to do some more research. I (personally) think you should retract your comments and publish your new understanding of the Constitution.

    June 20, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Reply
    • Chase

      The Electoral College is structured the way it is for the exact same reasons the Senate and House are balanced the way they are. Many people seem to forget we're a Union of States, not just a federal government.

      June 20, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Reply
      • oldgulph

        The presidential election system we have today is NOT in the Constitution, and enacting National Popular Vote would NOT need an amendment. State-by-state winner-take-all laws to award Electoral College votes, are an example of state laws eventually enacted by states, using their exclusive power to do so, AFTER the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, Now our current system can be changed by state laws again.

        Unable to agree on any particular method, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method for selecting presidential electors exclusively to the states by adopting the language contained in section 1 of Article II of the U.S. Constitution– "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . ." The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as "plenary" and "exclusive."

        The constitution does not prohibit any of the methods that were debated and rejected. Indeed, a majority of the states appointed their presidential electors using two of the rejected methods in the nation's first presidential election in 1789 (i.e., appointment by the legislature and by the governor and his cabinet). Presidential electors were appointed by state legislatures for almost a century.

        Neither of the two most important features of the current system of electing the President (namely, universal suffrage, and the 48 state-by-state winner-take-all method) are in the U.S. Constitution. Neither was the choice of the Founders when they went back to their states to organize the nation's first presidential election.

        In 1789, in the nation's first election, the people had no vote for President in most states, only men who owned a substantial amount of property could vote, and only three states used the state-by-state winner-take-all method to award electoral votes.

        The current 48 state-by-state winner-take-all method (i.e., awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in a particular state) is not entitled to any special deference based on history or the historical meaning of the words in the U.S. Constitution. It is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, the debates of the Constitutional Convention, or the Federalist Papers. The actions taken by the Founding Fathers make it clear that they never gave their imprimatur to the winner-take-all method.

        The constitutional wording does not encourage, discourage, require, or prohibit the use of any particular method for awarding the state's electoral votes.

        As a result of changes in state laws enacted since 1789, the people have the right to vote for presidential electors in 100% of the states, there are no property requirements for voting in any state, and the state-by-state winner-take-all method is used by 48 of the 50 states. States can, and frequently have, changed their method of awarding electoral votes over the years. Maine and Nebraska do not use the winner-take-all method– a reminder that an amendment to the U.S. Constitution is not required to change the way the President is elected.

        The normal process of effecting change in the method of electing the President is specified in the U.S. Constitution, namely action by the state legislatures. This is how the current system was created, and this is the built-in method that the Constitution provides for making changes.

        June 20, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
      • oldgulph

        The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

        The National Popular Vote bill is a state-based approach. It preserves the Electoral College and state control of elections. It changes the way electoral votes are awarded in the Electoral College. It assures that every vote is equal and that every voter will matter in every state in every presidential election, as in virtually every other election in the country.

        Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. Elections wouldn't be about winning states. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps. Every vote, everywhere would be counted for and directly assist the candidate for whom it was cast. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states.

        The bill does not abolish the Electoral College, which would need a constitutional amendment, and could be stopped by states with as little as 3% of the U.S. population. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action, without federal constitutional amendments.

        The bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers, in 21 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in AR, CT, DE, DC, ME, MI, NV, NM, NY, NC, and OR, and both houses in CA, CO, HI, IL, NJ, MD, MA, RI, VT, and WA. The bill has been enacted by DC (3), HI (4), IL (19), NJ (14), MD (11), MA (10), VT (3), and WA (13). These 8 jurisdictions possess 77 electoral votes – 29% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.


        June 20, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
      • Ariel

        I think you are completely mistaken on electoral colleges... they had nothing to do with balance or any such thing. They were created due to the practical limitations of the society and technology of the time.

        We are talking before cars or phone or radio or internet. In essence it worked like this... After all the votes had been counted and the general consensus of the state / county was determined you then needed a trustworthy person whom could then carry the results of the election and by proxy the general consensus BY HORSE.. to a central location where all the popular votes of all the states could be gathered and tabulated.

        If the internet or phones or even jet planes existed back then they would not need this electoral college member to go and represent the people they would just transmit the actual numbers.

        June 20, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
      • Bob


        "Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. Elections wouldn't be about winning states. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps. Every vote, everywhere would be counted for and directly assist the candidate for whom it was cast. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states."

        Wrong – in a pure popular vote system, the Midwest would be completely ignored. Politicians would focus on the east and west coasts and perhaps Texas – the most populous states. They would visit the areas where they could speak to as many people as possible at once first and foremost. Most small states wouldn't even be addressed. Spending time and money in Wisconsin wouldn't be as effective as spending the same time and money in California. Rural needs would be ignored, due to a smaller number of people. Fine if you live in an urban area, not so much if you live in a rural area. (there are benefits of living in a rural area – low/no crime, for one. Urbanites just can't get along...)

        June 20, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
      • AJ

        Instead of a winner takes all in each state the electoral vote should be based on percentages, simply put, State A has 10 electoral votes, 70 percent voted for Candidate A, 30 percent for Candidate B. Candidate A gets 7 Votes, Candidate B gets 3 votes. This way everyone would feel like their vote mattered. Myself, living in a state that a democrat wins every time, do not feel that my vote matters and that is a travesty

        June 20, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
      • Oldmanriver

        I think Zakaria was just asking us to think about it rather than as a serious proposal. What if we would re write our constitution how would it be different from the one we have. think about this

        1 Keep the bill of rights and/or change them so that everyone has equal protection under the law
        2 Get rid of representitive government altogether
        3 Using current technology every voter would be given the chance to vote on new laws.
        4 Laws and ammendments could be recommended but in order to et them to a vote there would have to be some sort of process which a certain percentage of voters would have to agree that its good enough to vote on. The supreme court or some other body would have to review the law in question before it came to a vote. The bill would have to be in language that everyone could understand, not lawyereze. Have experts come in to answer questions about how proposed bill would expect to change things. Then let the public decide.
        5. This would reduce corruption because there would be so many people voting you couldnt bribe all of them. It would eliminate earmarks and pet projects because the bill would have to stand up to national oversite. You would have fewer tax breaks and special concerns for select buisnesses as well. There would be less horse trading to get bills signed into law.
        6. You could keep the executive branches and judicial branches the same to keep the checks and balances.

        Problems with this:
        Would enough people vote to make it worthwhile?
        Would enough people be willing to educate themselves on a subject before voting?
        How would you make it so that it does not just become a tyranny of the majority?
        What would rules for advertising for or against a bill be set up?
        Can you set up a voting system secure enough that a smart hacker could not change the number of yes or no votes?

        This is just an idea...I think Mr Zakaria was wanting our opinion on how we would change things if we could.

        June 20, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
      • Doug

        I would very much agree with Chase. The United STATES of America is the name. You will NEVER get the smaller states to agree to give up their statehood. So, lets go ahead and talk about work togethering than changing the balanced power we have working now.

        June 20, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
      • kurtinco

        oldgulph is absolutely wrong. The Constitution does indeed direct that, "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector. (Article II, section 1,paragraph 2)" Amendment 12 covers the rest of the details for how these electors shall select a president.

        Slow down on all the babble and actually read the Constitution. BTW...the Federalist Papers are not the law of the land.

        June 20, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
      • Chuck

        "Many people seem to forget we're a Union of States, not just a federal government."

        Maybe it's time we did something about that.

        June 20, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
      • Chuck

        Instead what happens is that as soon as a candidate knows he won't win a state, it becomes ignored, because it is an all or nothing proposition. California – the most populous state – gets completely ignored, because it isn't seen as winnable by Republicans. Marginalizing the most populated areas isn't particularly democratic, either.

        June 20, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
      • Jim Ryan

        Truth known, the founding didn't want a federal nation. Thus the word, Republic, a rather vague description for the collection of states.

        June 20, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
      • Herr Doctor

        The Articles of Confederation worked out so well for the founders, didn't they?
        I think, for presidential elections, we need to get rid of the electoral college. True, it does mean that candidates probably will not have many campaign stops in Wyoming...

        I think we could also do away with the 2nd amendment. I think we would be much better off if we tried to put that genie back in the bottle.

        June 20, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
      • David Levin

        "Rick House" and ":Chase" are typcial teabaggers. they seem to think the electoral college is in the constitution, They treat the constitution as a sacred text while incorrectly asserting a certain "wisdom" is in fact in that constitution. Much like Michelle Bachman who thrice now has asserted that constitutional law not verbatim n the constitution is in it. They don't realize they are in fact defending constructional law promulgated from the bench!

        June 20, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
      • sameeker

        the electoral college was put in place because the founder felt that the average citizen was not smart enough to vote for leaders. Seriously folks, this is history. What has happened is the the candidates spend a huge amount of time and money in the larger states. When was the last time you saw candidates flocking to New Mexico to campaign. I also think that person status should be stripped from corporations. I know I am going to hear from the trolls and the suck ups on that one.

        June 20, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
      • Gary Whitton

        Senate also exists to hedge against the tyranny of the majority. That's also why its seats don't all come up for election at once. Crazy ideological swings in two of the three branches of government would not be good, and the senate, presidency, and courts buffer against that by longer and staggered terms.

        June 20, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
      • oldgulph

        Unable to agree on any particular method, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method for selecting presidential electors exclusively to the states by adopting the language contained in section 1 of Article II of the U.S. Constitution– "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . ." The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as "plenary" and "exclusive."

        The current 48 state-by-state winner-take-all method (i.e., awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in a particular state) is not entitled to any special deference based on history or the historical meaning of the words in the U.S. Constitution. It is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, the debates of the Constitutional Convention, or the Federalist Papers. The actions taken by the Founding Fathers make it clear that they never gave their imprimatur to the winner-take-all method.

        The constitutional wording does not encourage, discourage, require, or prohibit the use of any particular method for awarding the state's electoral votes.

        As a result of changes in state laws enacted since 1789, the people have the right to vote for presidential electors in 100% of the states, there are no property requirements for voting in any state, and the state-by-state winner-take-all method is used by 48 of the 50 states.

        June 20, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
      • oldgulph

        The current system of electing the president ensures that the candidates, after the primaries, do not reach out to all of the states and their voters. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. The reason for this is the state-by-state winner-take-all method (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but since enacted by 48 states), under which all of a state's electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who gets the most votes in each separate state.

        Presidential candidates concentrate their attention on only a handful of closely divided "battleground" states and their voters. In the 2012 election, pundits and campaign operatives agree already, that, at most, only 14 states and their voters will matter. Almost 75% of the country will be ignored –including 19 of the 22 lowest population and medium-small states, and 17 medium and big states like CA, GA, NY, and TX. This will be more obscene than the 2008 campaign,, when candidates concentrated over 2/3rds of their campaign events and ad money in just 6 states, and 98% in just 15 states (CO, FL, IN, IA, MI, MN, MO, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, PA, VA, and WI). Over half (57%) of the events were in just 4 states (OH, FL, PA, and VA). In 2004, candidates concentrated over 2/3rds of their money and campaign visits in 5 states; over 80% in 9 states; and over 99% of their money in 16 states.

        2/3rds of the states and people have been merely spectators to the presidential elections.

        Policies important to the citizens of ‘flyover’ states are not as highly prioritized as policies important to ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing.

        Evidence as to how a nationwide presidential campaign would be run, can be found by examining the way presidential candidates campaign to win the electoral votes of closely divided battleground states, such as in Ohio and Florida, under the state-by-state winner-take-all methods. The big cities in those battleground states do not receive all the attention, much less control the outcome. Cleveland and Miami certainly did not receive all the attention or control the outcome in Ohio and Florida in 2000 and 2004.

        Because every vote is equal inside Ohio or Florida, presidential candidates avidly seek out voters in small, medium, and large towns. The itineraries of presidential candidates in battleground states (and their allocation of other campaign resources in battleground states) reflect the political reality that every gubernatorial or senatorial candidate in Ohio and Florida already knows–namely that when every vote is equal, the campaign must be run in every part of the state.

        Even in California state-wide elections, candidates for governor or U.S. Senate don't campaign just in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and those places don't control the outcome (otherwise California wouldn't have recently had Republican governors Reagan, Dukemejian, Wilson, and Schwarzenegger). A vote in rural Alpine county is just an important as a vote in Los Angeles. If Los Angeles cannot control statewide elections in California, it can hardly control a nationwide election.

        In fact, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland together cannot control a statewide election in California.

        Similarly, Republicans dominate Texas politics without carrying big cities such as Dallas and Houston.

        There are numerous other examples of Republicans who won races for governor and U.S. Senator in other states that have big cities (e.g., New York, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts) without ever carrying the big cities of their respective states. It is certainly true that the biggest cities in those states typically vote Democratic. However, the suburbs, exurbs, small towns, and rural parts of the states often voted Republican. If big cities controlled the outcome of elections, the governors and U.S. Senators would be Democratic in virtually every state with a significant city.

        Under a national popular vote, every vote everywhere will be equally important politically. There will be nothing special about a vote cast in a big city or big state. When every vote is equal, candidates of both parties will seek out voters in small, medium, and large towns throughout the states in order to win. A vote cast in a big city or state will be equal to a vote cast in a small state, town, or rural area.

        June 20, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
      • aacon

        I say if more people vote for person # 1 than person # 2 for president then person # 1 should be president or what is the use of even voting.It is pretend democracy the way things are now plain and simple.People who want to smoke marijuana should have the right to under the protection of the pursuit of happiness given by the Constitution.

        FIX these two things while were at it please.
        Respectfully : Aacon

        June 20, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
      • Mac

        Precisely. Would those who lose site of this suggest that members of the United Nations have ambassadors, and therefore votes, numbereed based on population?

        June 20, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
      • Infoguy

        Interesting discussion.

        I'm inclined to cut Fareed some slack here and not go too ballistic at his overt references to the U.S. Senate and the Electoral College as "undemocratic". If the US was a pure democracy rather than a republic, perhaps those institutions might be termed un-(perfectly)democratic, but fifth graders know we are a republic not a pure democracy, and also that we are the greatest democracy in the history of the world. You don't have to be a perfect democracy to be the greatest democracy. The U.S. Constitution, the document that binds our nation together, was a painstakingly constructed document resulting from many compromises that diverge from the tenets of perfect democracy.

        So let's take Fareed's article at face value as simply a call for discussions to consider the necessity of a constitutional update.

        I for one do not think any major update is needed, but I would tell Fareed that sufficient tools and methods are contained in the basic document and can be used whenever sufficient political will arises. Article V of the Constitution allows both for ordinary amendments (27 so far since 1789), and also for Constitutional Conventions should the need arise.

        Regarding Fareed's remark about the "undemocratic" Senate, I would mention that Article V establishes only one limiting caveat to the amendment process, namely that "No state without its consent shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate". So, bad luck Fareed, anything altering the EQUAL representation of states in the Senate is off limits in the amendment process unless the affected states go along.

        I would also like to comment about the Electoral College and the current move to modify it by an interstate compact as advocated by the group National Popular Vote (NPV). I admit I'm a fan of the Electoral College as a means of leveling the electoral playing field, somewhat, between large and small states, and I think that was the basic intent of the framers.

        Even though I personally like the Electoral College, I would support its modification or elimination by constitutional amendment, if the amendment process in Article V was followed. The NPV-backed compact seems to me to be a sneaky way to amend the constitution while not following the Article V procedure.

        But honestly, I don't think the popular vote interstate compact will ever fly.

        Even though it has approval in 29% of the needed states now, that's a long way from 50 percent given the volatility of state legislatures and governorships. Even if it was to be approved in sufficient states, the whole thing would likely blow up at election time because there is no guard against states backing out whenever they want. Say what you will about the Electoral College system, it's a stable system that has worked reasonably well since 1789. Modifying the Electoral College through this interstate compact would make the process of electing our president subject to the fickle political winds blowing in fifty state capitals and might create an electoral disaster that would make Bush v. Gore look like a walk in the park. Spare me, please!

        Another problem facing the NPV proposal is Article I, Section 10 of the constitution, which requires congressional consent for states entering into interstate compacts. With regard to that point, the NPV website goes through a lot of mind-numbing legalistic mumbo jumbo, but at the end, acknowledges that to avoid messy and lengthy litigation, it is "working to introduce a bill in Congress for congressional consent".

        My prediction about the likelihood of the interstate compact being passed by Congress? Quoting the Clint Eastwood line from "In the Line of Fire": "That's not gonna happen".

        June 26, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • TooClose2DC

      I know, let's abolish the House of Representatives...then each state will have an equal voice...oh but wait...the founding fathers already thought of that scenario didn't they?

      June 20, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Reply
      • SueUS

        Exactly. How can CNN even publish an article by someone who clearly does not understand the US constitution. Shame on CNN for not researching before publishing this joke of an article.

        June 20, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
      • Sir Craig

        Wait – did you even read the article? He was voicing concern about the Senate, not the House, because of the lopsided representation of states in that "august" body. The House represents a closer realization of "one person, one vote." Nebraska has a unicameral that seems to work just fine, without the need for a senate chamber.

        And SueUS: This article was anything but a joke, but apparently you and TooClose2DC have comprehension issues. You might try an actual education before mouthing off on something that is clearly NOT the intent of the author. (By the way, I would venture to wager that Zackaria has a greater understanding of the Consti-tution and consti-tutional law than either of you.)

        June 20, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
      • Reggie

        TO Sir Craig: You forget why Senate was design this way, following your logic and only House's little states will be trampled (whatever the word is) by larger states, which clearly not desirable.

        June 20, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
      • freewilly

        Keep it simple folks. All the little states should merge first of all. The south goes to the mexican people. The rockies go to the skin heads and the deep south becomes black states. Walls and fences betrween all the states. White minoroity gets wjhats left over. Then we invade Canada. No more constitution needed at all. We all get guns and have abortions.

        June 20, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • RG

      True. The Great Compromise right? In the Senate the least populous state still has a significant say on laws being passed. This makes this body frustratingly slow and inefficient, but that is the cost of our Democracy. Still brilliant after 200+ years.

      June 20, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Reply
      • John

        There is a simple fix to what is suggested here. The Senate is the problem. We need to limit the term of Sentors to the same term as the President. The six year term is just asking for the problems we have with the Senate – the "good ol boys network".

        June 20, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
      • Mississippi Steve

        First the legislative branch was split in two for a reason. The House is made up of roughly equal votes per rep. This allows each person an equal say in government. Next is the Senate which gives each state an equal voice. If we restructure the Senate to be representative of people and not states would duplicate the House. Secondly states like New York and California would make laws for all states. California already has issues between southern and northern California in their state government and how one doesn't understand the other's issues. How would Ohio, Iowa, and Nebraska feel about laws made for big cities and coastal states? The House and Senate are fine the way they are. What America needs is to go back to what the document says not what we think or want it to say. The President was never meant to have as much power as the current President wields. The Judicial branch was meant to rule on whether laws being created in the Legislation are Constitutional, not class action suits for environmental issues. The power of the US government was to remain with the states and not federal levels. Our documents are fine, may need clarification when terms such as all men are created equal if the people feel it doesn't mean mankind (humans) but means males. I feel rewriting it or writing a new one is not needed and would ruin the very fact that this nation is a model for the world to follow and emulate. And who would have the last say in what it says? Our current President is in contempt of the war law by not getting approval for Libya and he thinks he and his advisors are right and everyone else is wrong.

        June 20, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
      • sassypants

        Amen! This is typical progressive bull that they pull when they are trying to get a leg up on someone else. The only thing broken is their perspective! Fix that and leave our great system alone!

        June 20, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
      • JJ

        we are NOT a democracy. We are a REPUBLIC!!!!

        June 20, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
      • Chris

        @ John

        The reason that US senators serve for 6 years is to provide more of an incentive to focus on long-term issues rather than simply being concerned with re-election

        @ JJ

        Exactly. The US is not and was never intended to be a pure democracy. Federalist 10 provides a good explanation for why this is the case

        June 20, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
      • Peter G

        Mississippi Steve – I was really impressed with your knowledge of the three houses, the manner in which you explained their authority and your overall comment... until I got to the last sentence. For a person with the level of understanding it took to break down the pillars of our government so succinctly, surely you recognize that the violation to the War Powers Act you are sighting has neither been substantiated, nor is as cut and dried as you are presenting it. To the letter of the requirements of that treaty, taking into account the actual level of support the US is providing in the NATO effort, the argument of whether congressional approval is required is just. Further, the GOP is politicizing this to the hilt as a violation of congressional procedure with little or no concern for the people of Libya it has saved.

        June 20, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
      • NRPjbo

        The constitution never intended for a president to have the power that they now have, the war powers act is unconstitutional as is executive privledge. The congress abdicated their right to declare war with the act and as Obama took us to war in Libya because Gaddfai was "threatening our values" there is no doubt that it is illegal, in no way is a threat to our vaules an actual threat to our country. You may approve of the war on humanitarian reasons but attacking a sovergn nation for no reason is unconstitutional and also another huge waste of our precioius tax dollars.

        June 20, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
      • floydgg

        Mississippi Steve,
        The Constitution does not mention that the Judicial branch has the power to determine if legislation is constitutional or not. You might want to read the US Supreme Court case of Marbury vs. Madison. Of course, there is always a possibility that you might not understand it either.

        June 20, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
      • Zane

        Floydgg you are wrong and Mississippi Steve is right

        No where in the Constitution does it give the the SCOTUS the right to review legislative law to see if they are constitutional. Read the entire document you will not find it. The judicial review precedent was founded in Marbury v. Madison however if you read the opinion of the court they find no Constitutional reason for being able to review the case.

        June 21, 2011 at 12:43 am |
      • Germstar

        This is a democratic republic, not a democracy. The author of this piece seems to be unaware of this fact and it's a shame that he is so ill-informed.

        The original document was designed for the specific purpose of limiting the abusive power of a centralized, federal government, something that the founding fathers had first hand knowledge of. The closer the power resides to the individual, the better. However, now that the federal government is unlimited in it's power, size and has no accountability to it's citizens, perhaps an Article V convention is in order to add a few amendments, to return power to the states and put real limitations on the federal behemoth (term limits, balanced budget, flat/fair tax, spending limitation based on GDP, pork removal, protecting borders, staying out of state business, etc.)?

        Besides, imagine the turmoil (as demonstrated by 2000) if the popular vote were close. In 1960, Kennedy and Nixon were separated by less than a 1/4 million votes (0.3% difference), but the balance of states allowed Kennedy to have nearly 100 more EC votes than Nixon. What would be the limiter on whether a candidate could demand a recount?

        June 21, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • abc

      @RickHouse Thank you for a 3rd grader's definition of how Congress works. Obviously the author is aware of everything you stated. The question he is posing here, is whether or not it is the best system. Why should a tiny group in Rhode Island have the same influence as a massive group in California. Is a Rhode Islander's vote worth more? In today's system it is.

      June 20, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Reply
      • Rob

        ABC – the reason is that most other less populous states do not want socialist-leaning states such as the People's Republik of Kalifornia wielding more influence and thus bullying the other states into what CA wants.

        June 20, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
      • NoConstitutionalConvention

        We need to the balance of power... just because populus states like California can't get anything right.

        June 20, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
      • Joe

        It didn't sound to me as if Mr. Zakaria had any clue of the purpose of the 100-member Senate. We get a proportional representation in the House, and equal representation in the Senate, a fairly brilliant setup that helps balance the power states have in congress and give them all a voice. Why have a bicameral congress if each house is the same as the other?

        Two nice things about the Constitution I should mention: one, it is designed to be amendable; it can change. And it has. Two, it is difficult to change, also a good thing. Certainly, asking the general population what a Constitution should be like sounds like a piss-poor idea, especially given the terrible suggestions given on Facebook by Icelanders. Guaranteed health care? Campaign finance laws?? Making shark finning illegal??? Constitutions should be enumerating the powers and roles of the government and guaranteeing the people certain freedoms and rights, rights to action. All the above suggestions are limiting the people's freedom and increasing the government's power. But then again, it's amazing what people will give up, without a fight–in fact, eagerly, for some sense of pseudo-security in return. It's happening here.

        June 20, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
      • Bunt

        It's like that so morons in one state don't control everything. Moron.

        June 20, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
      • Bob in pa

        Because each State is a member of the "Union" having equal power. Lager populations get more house seats while each State gets two Senators. The Senate is supposed to represent the State government in Federal matters. The current Senate elections are a perversion to a proper check and balance system.

        June 20, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
      • sassypants

        California's vote is certainly not worth more than mine! To hell with anyone who thinks that an illegal vote is worth more than the generations of hard work and sacrifice that my family has put in!

        June 20, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
      • Nicholas

        Yes, the 17th ammendment really screwed up the system. By having senators be elected by popular vote, a vote in a small state can be worth more than in a big state. The senate used to be appointed by the state governments to go on behalf of the state (not the people, that was the job of the House). That way the people had equal representation, and voting weight, and each state had an equal voting weight as well. This is no longer the case. Now the house and senate are the same thing, but with distorted weights.

        June 20, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
      • stejo

        @sassy – what? How are Californian votes illegal?

        June 20, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
      • American citizen

        ABC... Remember the constitution was about balancing powers that is why I believe the Senate was formed. I think this author made some mistakes in suggesting we totally start a new. The founding fathers were smart in that they knew the document would need to be changed from time to time. Here is an amendment and my dream list would be. Amendment one stipulate and remove lawyers from office. This country is a republic and if they would just enforce the rules they already have things would work out. However, the supreme court is corrupt in my opinion and they should serve a limited term. Especially after hearing about their Wal-Mart decision today. I think I will need to read more about what was really decided. There are big problems in the Judiciary. One thing I would remove is no more pardons by the president if someone in his office did something bad like committing treason.

        June 20, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
      • seraphim0

        Rob- it is UTTERLY HILARIOUS that you say that about California. How long was it run by a republican governor, btw? Hrm. Funny how that works.

        Oh, and in case you didn't know, we're a democratic republic. We're not a true democracy. Shocking, right? /eyeroll

        June 20, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
      • Peter G

        @ Rob – regarding your exceedingly immature comment: grow up, for your own good and most definitely ours.

        June 20, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
      • Peter G

        sassypants; and fortunately for us the founding fathers based our constitution on a system of equality and not what you are sighting as precedence!

        June 20, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
      • Rob

        @Seraphim0 – what does the past Governance of CA have to do with how it is now ran? CA is basically one big cesspool of socialist ideals catering to illegals.

        CA has twice the population of New York but 5 times as many welfare cases. In 2009, CA tied with Louisiana for the lowest credit rating among the states, and is ranked 48th as the least business friendly state. The average native-born Californian pays nearly $1500/year to subsidize the education, health care, and incarceration of illegal aliens. Illegals are allowed to pay in-state tuition while a US citizen who happens to live in a state other than CA must pay out-of-state tuition.

        I could go on, but even someone like you should get the point.

        @PeterG – immature maybe, however it's factual. More populous states would bully less populous ones and thus would wield more power.

        June 20, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
      • RickBTX

        Sadly none of this makes any difference since it is the lobbyist and special interest groups that get their way, not the people of the individual states.

        June 20, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
      • Rick House

        If he had a third-grader's understanding, I would not have felt compelled to explain it to him. What he (and possibly you) missed is that there is a sound REASON to have this system of balances. The Senate has NOTHING to do with an individual's voting power. It has EVERYTHING to do with a sovereign state's power. Even third graders understand that.

        @Joe Amen, brother. The Constitution is not a law-book. It is the system in which laws are created. More people need to understand this.

        June 20, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • Mitch Owens

      Mr House, Your otherwise appropriate response to Mr Zakaria's column would have been much more effective without the following sentence: "Please do some research before you display your ignorance." With all due respect, what could have been a simple, measured, thoughtful, and intelligent response is undermined by a rude blast of condescension.

      June 20, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Reply
      • terry Moore

        Agreed.. It is so easy to suggest that someone may not master his subjet.. This is not a live debate and Mr zakaria has little options with which to potentially show that Mr Rick House is an ignorant person... works both ways, so courtesy should rule. Mr Sakaria may not be every one's pot of tea, but he does raise intelligent questions.

        June 20, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
      • FlankerLeft17

        Sounded good to me, since the article was indeed a bunch of crap.

        June 20, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
      • Steve

        Civil discourse and effective debater go hand in hand. Insulting the writer says more about the insulter than about the insultee.

        June 20, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
      • Bob in pa

        Why, It is still a free society, right ? Or does Mr. Zakaria deserve more consideration for his comments than Mr. House ?

        June 20, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
      • Floyd

        Not knowing Mr. Zakaria nor Mr. House personally, i cannot speak to their levels of congnitive discourse.
        however, this idea that everyones opinion should have equal weight is utterly assinine. do you take the opinion of a 3 year old that their tummy hurts because of a demon against the opinion of an internal medical doctor who says the kids tummy hurts because of poor dietary habits that have caused an ulcer? or how about the opinion of some people that the world is 6000 years old because that's what a book says, and humans and dinosaurs were friends and played golf, while the entire group of people who have studied the creation of the world and the universe have the opinion that the world is 6 billion years old, and the universe is close to 14billion? should those two groups opinions be weighted equally?

        June 20, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
      • Bryan

        Since when is pointing out someone's ignorance (lack of knowledge) on a subject an inflammatory statement? This is yet another example of the age of political correctness gone awry. Changing a words meaning to fit a corrupted education on the value of a word to a derogatory stance has become a more common practice for the last 20 years or so. Mr. House wasn't saying that Mr. Zakaria was anything other than missing some of the facts. And as others have stated previously, Mr. House input in JUST as important as any others. It was intelligent and directorial in contrast to many other comments that will not take notice.

        Concerning the subject at hand, the obvious answer is absolutely not. The document will never need to be rewritten to adapt to the change in times. Amended probably, but abolished completely to start a new is, as Mr. Zakaria pointed out, heresy. Is it perfect for every situation, absolutely. In it's entirety no, in its function and ability to be amended should the need arise, yes. Besides it was never meant to be all encompassing because the founding fathers designed it not to be as they didn't want an all encompassing government that would be created upon the foundation of such document to be so absolute.

        June 20, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
      • cjherval

        Yes, his right to input is just as important as anyone else's, but not the input itself.
        He's been heard. But that doesn't mean we all should agree with him, or place value on his rude comments.

        June 20, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
      • Glaudy

        The reason he was wrong to say that about Zakaria is because it most certainly did not help his argument. Respect your enemy and you have a greater chance of winning your argument. Bash your enemy and it will just further divide by causing them to stand their ground.

        That said, I agree with whoever said that Iceland is making a mistake. The mob most definitely needs to be kept as far away from power as possible. Time and again we, as a people, have proven our inability to properly treat each other, respect each other and leave each other the hell alone. No thanks. We need to take more power away from the people and put it into the hands of a select few. Fewer than we have now in D.C.

        How about we reduce the size of Congress and the Executive branch?

        June 20, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
      • Rick House

        @Mitch Owens,
        Perhaps I chose my words poorly. But "ignorance" is the state of not knowing. It is evident that the author did not know the purpose of the Senate. I could have been kinder, but that would obfuscate the meaning. I hope Mr. Zakaria knows the meaning of words, as should you.

        @Steve, I fail to see the term as insulting. Had I said he was "stupid", I would agree I crossed the line. See my response, above, regarding terminology.

        @Bryan Thank you.

        June 20, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
      • royce

        Rick House You seem like a no it all with your dismissive attitude! Can Fareed not have an opinion without you calling him an idiot!

        June 20, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
      • Mirlin

        Some of the posts here seem very intelligent and well thought out. Others just seem to be rants by people who have never taken the first class on U.S. History, or a Political Science class in college on the Constitution or the Congress. These same people seem to be the primary ones (not the only ones) shouting insults to the author of this article and to other posters. Why not at least be civil to each other and consider the fact that some people may actually have been educated on the subject. I recommend reading "The Living Constitution by by David A. Strauss, The United States Constitution: Annotated with The Federalist Papers In Modern English by Mary E. Webster, and Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process by Walter J. Oleszek (8th Edition). You'd be surprised what you might learn. To those who actually know what they're talking about and refrain from hurling insults at others, kudos!

        June 21, 2011 at 1:17 am |
    • Agree

      I couldn't agree more. If you don't understand that part of the constitution and how the Legislative branch is set up, then you should not be suggesting the constitution be re-written. If it were re-written it would be a piece of junk that would destroy our country. The constitution is the core values of what this country was founded and it is still revellant today!

      June 20, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Reply
      • American

        I agree

        June 20, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
      • Nancy


        I do not believe that Zakaria is suggesting that the Constiution be rewritten, but rather amended. He does not say it should have a direct connection with facebook or twitter that would establish immediate ammendments as the population suggests it. He merely intended to spark some sort of conversation regarding amendments; what should be added or amended? There are several parts of the Constitution or our laws in general that would require an Amendment to be effective. An amendment establishing a national electoral system for presidential elections would ensure we do not have issues like the 2000 election.

        I encourage readers to understand that Zakaria most likely did not intend to suggest that the Senate was undemocratic, but rather ironic in its set up. Furthermore, term limits are inherently undemocratic as they seek too restrict the amount of time an elected official is in office (presidential term limits weren't established until after WWII and FDR).

        June 20, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
      • Jesse

        It is relevant, but what is being suggested is that it be updated to contend with the times. You probably arent using a computer right now that is 5 years old, your car probably isnt from the 30s, why would you think that something from the late 1700s would still be pertinent?
        Yes, much of what was written is incredibly insightful even today, but some of what was in there, and some of what has been changed makes no sense by today's standards.

        June 20, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
      • Steverino

        A piece of junk? Possibly. But I find it to be an interesting thought experiment to ask what our Constitution would look like if it were being written today.

        June 20, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
      • Patricia

        Some is relevant today but it certainly could do with major changes that reflect society TODAy not in our grandparents' day

        June 20, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
      • betterthanjosh

        thought and hoped you were extinct with the rest of the dinosaurs, you will be soon

        June 20, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
    • Chris

      Rick, your comment actually brought up a broader question. Why should we use states, at all, when we are determining national elections? How about dividing the country up into 100 regions that are the exact same size in terms of land area. Each region gets 1 rep in the "Senate", and a proportion of reps based on population in the "House". Why should the land claims of European explorers in the 16th and 17th centuries influence the voting districts we use today?

      I like the idea of population and region determining the two houses, but not when geography is based on historic boundaries that don't mean anything today.

      June 20, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Reply
      • whatguy

        Because we are a collection of states where the states are supposed to hold most of the power and give the federal government very little power beyond international commerce and treaty negotiations. Much like the EU is a joining of nations where each member nation still has the power to govern itself.

        Your suggestion goes against the very principals the nation was founded on and would require not only a complete re-write of the constitution, but also that we abolish each states government and boundaries. It would be a huge upheaval, and probably would touch off a civil war.

        June 20, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
      • Gezellig

        Well if you are going to do that, why have a Senate at all?

        June 20, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
      • Alex

        Most of the state borders aren't just arbitrary lines drawn up by European explorers. Most are based around geographical features such as rivers and mountains.

        June 20, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
      • Getmetothinking

        This is the most interesting concept presented in this thread. I would have found the article more fascinating had there been thought provoking ideas. However, your idea is worth exploring even if only for intellectual exercise. Always shocks me to see the content of our "media" outlets. Ahhhh, I miss the good old days when CNN reported the news and left the sillyness to talk shows..

        June 20, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
      • Georgia Hull

        The constitution and the American republic work well now. The system of amendments allows for change. Often people calling for change are just predators waiting to swoop in and promote some judgmental agenda.

        June 20, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • Joe in Colorado

      I don't think we need a new Constitution as much as we need to either A) divide the country in half and the Conservatives can live in one half while the Liberals can live in another, or B) have an all-out civil war until one side is completely obliterated.

      The country can't go on divided as it is. I have living under the rule of a government with values (such as constant "war" and police state mentality that I abhor).

      June 20, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Reply
      • Garrett Easson

        WHat many people fail to realize is that our split country of liberals and conservatives is why we have survived this whole time. Never in the history of the world has a one-party system worked. ex: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Apartheid South Africa... Our split provides balance that changes every 4-8 years

        June 20, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
      • KC

        Don't think Liberal and Conservative have much to do with constant "war" that you abhor so much. Just look at our current president who was deemed the most liberal but now is basically shunning the War Powers Act to continue war without the consent (or even informing) of Congress. Both parties will always go to war.

        June 20, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • richard

      Revising electoral college is a good idea. It is archaic piece that goes back 222 years. Congressman term and Senate terms should also be limited. They limited the President cause Franklin Roosevelt was elected 4 terms. Someone didn't like that. Well we should also limit the terms of the Congress so we can get new blood flowing from time to time. Besides Congress approved the amendment. But it's another issue when you are the target. The President was one thing Congress is not so fast on the trigger of changing a good thing. They will fight tooth and claw to stop that change. as a good idea, it is so that they have limits. But reality gets in the way. Why rock the boat.

      June 20, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Reply
      • KawiMan

        Agreed. The only change I see that needs to be made is term limits in Congress. Our founding fathers did not intend for our elected representatives to be career politicians. THIS BREEDS CORRUPTION!!! Our founding fathers served our country and then returned to their private lives.

        June 20, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
      • Peter G

        Unless my knowledge of it's history has been permanently distorted by years, wasn't the electoral collage devised as a means to obtain election results quicker due to geographic complications of all the precincts which needed to be tallied?Not lined by telegraph, telephone or any other reliable means of quick execution, the electoral collage was a means to come to a count in timely means through representation. An obviously outdated system which now serves little purpose over a means to bypass the will of the voting public

        June 20, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
      • Phil Perry

        It was the Republicans who despised FDR and wanted to ensure that no other popular president could keep getting reelected time after time. Ironically, it was Republicans who agitated to repeal this amendment so that poplular president Ronald Reagan could be reelected without limit! Fortunately, that didn't go anywhere, but does prove that Republicans in general are brain-dead.

        Rational people support term limits because they see career politicians working for their financial supporters and only worrying around getting reelected. The corruption is readily apparent to anyone who cares to look (whether or not they agree with their Congresscritter's voting record). The contrary argument is that experienced people are lost, but with continuity of staff and institutions, I can't see that some fresh blood at intervals wouldn't help. Are there really so few capable people out there that we'll quickly run out of good ones? I don't think so.

        @Peter G
        Uh, what's the difference between carrying a piece of paper that says "George Washington: 18237 votes, John Adams: 12,298 votes", and one that says "George Washington: 5 electoral votes, John Adams: 2 electoral votes"? I can't believe one piece of paper would be that much heavier than the other! The purpose of the Electoral system, as much as anything, is to reduce the influence of the common rabble on the outcome. Our Founding Fathers lived in fear of what unfettered democracy could do, and wanted to reduce the power of the Common Man as much as they could, while still giving them the comforting illusion that their voice would be heard (has anything changed?).

        Some of the other comments on this page are calling for more direct democracy (national referendum, initiative, etc.). That would be a foolish mistake, and our Founding Fathers knew that. Look what that's done to states like California - they're tied up in knots with all the crazy laws "the people" have passed (Prop 13, anyone?). Part of the reason we have the governmental structure we have is to cool popular passions and let supposedly mature and level headed people in the legislature/Congress reflect on what they're doing and make sober decisions. It doesn't always work that way, but it's better than would could be.

        June 21, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • whatguy

      Lets also not forget that the senate was originally not supposed to be voted on by the people at all. It was designed to be the state's representation in the federal government. The power was divided to protect 3 interests, the people (house), the states (senate), and the federal government (executive branch). Right now foreign nations from all over the world have official representation in Washington, while none of the states in the US do.

      June 20, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Reply
    • Bob in pa

      The Senate should be reverted back to it's original intent. Senators should not be elected representatives because it does promote "mob" rule by national political party. That power has been forever stripped from the states and was the biggest mistake ever made by the American people (outside of electing Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama).

      June 20, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Reply
      • JG


        June 20, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
      • Peter G

        JG – As a democrat and more over, a sane human being i'm not arguing your point in the least! But it was the first time that was a fraud, The second time was a democratic party f/u in the manner in which it managing it's canvasing of Ohio- throw a few celebs to do the skin and grin in key metropolitan areas vs. the more grassroots door-to-door approach adopted by the GOP which included coverage of all key precincts, both metro and rural. The dems gave Ohio away and as the documentary says.. so goes the nation.

        June 20, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • j. von hettlingen

      @Rick House
      The Swiss Parliament took over the American bicameralism in 1848, when the modern Swiss nation was founded. The constitution had ever since then been rewritten a few times. The Swiss upper chamber is the equivalence of the American Senate. Each canton sends two elected to Bern, regardless of the demographic size of it. The Swiss find this system very democratic, as a small canton has the same relevance as a major canton like Zurich or Geneva in the upper chamber.
      I find it quite allright that the citizenry in Island update their constitution on line. We in the Nordic countries are known to be flexible and pioneers.Therefore we have the highest quality of life!

      June 20, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Reply
      • Bob The Viking

        Get real... time to thaw out and come to grips with reality.

        June 20, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
      • aups1115

        Statistically speaking, J is correct. The Nordic countries have scored very highly on quality of life indices for several years. The US has been slipping on those same indices for quite a while. Remember, Bob, patriotism means occassionally having to ask what you're doing wrong. Blind faith is not a good thing for political systems.

        June 20, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
    • Jason

      I think folks here are missing the point. Yes, there is a reason the Senate and House are setup in their respective manners. But, do we really need a Senate to represent the states? And are Senators really the wise statesmen who cool off the radical, temporary passions of those in the House? In other words, is the logic of the founders valid today? Does policy-making occur as The Founders envisioned when they set up the structure of decision-making?

      The US Constitution was written by smart men who used historical anecdotes to make their arguments. Countries that run into problems have this type of government, so we need to do something different. That is what their logic comes down to in The Federalist Papers. We know more today about the relationship between institutions, rules and elite behavior than they did 200+ years ago. So, the question is why not make some changes?

      Personally, I would like each presidential candidate to propose amendments, but that will never happen. But what changes are needed? I'm not really concerned about the electoral college – it doesn't bother me too much. I rather see an amendment that deprives corporations of personhood status (only way apparently to stop corporate donations) and something about more specific rules for Congress so that important bills don't get buried in committee because party leadership doesn't want to bring it to the floor (in other words, let them vote on it publicly so we know how our legislators really feel about issues rather than just the two or three highly partisan issues that come up).

      June 20, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Reply
      • rb

        Your point on bills being tied up or buried is right on target. It would also be good if all spending in a bill was required to be germane to the bill.

        June 20, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
    • Eric J.

      I also agree that the electoral college should be looked at. But it is incredibly ignorant to suggest revising representation in the Senate; this is the reason it was created. On top of that, I'm fairly certain if polled a large majority of liberals and conservatives would agree.

      However, looking into term limits in Congress is a worthwhile idea. Our Congress was not set up to create career politicians, it was made to allow for a voice of the common people. It is a shame that our country in run not by constantly rotating perspectives but by vote grabbers who make politics a career.

      June 20, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Reply
      • skytag

        The popular notion that Congress is full of career politicians is a myth. Average length of service for Representatives in the current Congress is 9.8 years (4.9 terms) and 11.4 years (1.9 terms) for Senators.

        Several states have implemented term limits, so we don't have to talk about the effects of term limits from a purely theoretical point of view. It is, in my opinion, irresponsible to advocate them for the U.S. Congress without giving any consideration what we've learned about them from the states that have them.

        And what have we learned? In a nutshell we've learned they bring about a number of changes. Some are arguably good and some are clearly not good. But at the end of the day it seems to be a wash at best, and some believe a net negative. Both Utah and Idaho repealed their term limits. The Articles of Confederation had term limits and they were rejected when the Constitution was written.

        California has term limits, and the worst budget crisis in the country. In fact, some of the most vocal opponents to term limits for Congress are people in California where they don't like what term limits have done there. Arizona, another state with a serious budget crisis, has term limits. Their term-limited legislature produced a birther bill and an immigration bill many believe to be unconstitutional. Florida, another state with a serious budget crisis, has term limits.

        Effects of term limits in Maine: more power to the executive branch

        Effects of term limits in Arizona: irreparable damages

        Term limits are a copout. Terms are already limited by elections. People advocate term limits because they want government to run well on autopilot. Instead of expecting voters to study issues and vote responsibly to vote bad legislators out of office we'll just purge the entire legislature of all of them — good and bad — every few years. Advocates of term limits are basically saying we can't trust voters to vote responsibly so we'll take away their right to reelect representatives they like more than one or two times.

        Term limits make sense for the president and governors because those single individuals wield so much power and influence over policy, but that logic doesn't apply to a member of a legislative body.

        I guess it's my conservative nature that compels me to oppose term limits, as I oppose amending the Constitution of the United States unless someone can present a compelling argument the result would be an improvement over what we have now, and no one has presented such an argument.

        Instead all I see are people making unsupported claims that term limits would solve this or that problem. These people have great faith in their beliefs in this regard, but they have no evidence to back that belief, and universally they fail to even attempt to address the negative consequences. That's simply not good enough to justify amending the Constitution.

        On the other hand, I have never encountered anyone who can offer any reason to believe a better informed electorate would be anything but positive, and yet it's almost impossible to get any support for the idea. Term limits are popular, educating the public is not. Why is that? To me the answer is obvious: Term limits require no effort from the general population.

        People want a government that runs on autopilot. They want politicians who are honest, hard working, and effective without supervision. Does anyone believe that if he ran a business, he could structure it in such a way that he could hire people without studying their resumes or the needs of the company and all employees thus hired would be honest, hard working, and effective without any supervision from the boss?

        And yet that's exactly what people want from government. Don't study the job applicants (candidates), don't study the needs of the company (the issues), and pay no attention to those employees and what they do after they're hired. How can this seem reasonable for members of Congress when it's such an absurd approach for a business?

        A better informed electorate would take time. It would take work. It would involve challenges. And it would never be 100% successful. But there is simply no substitute for it..

        I appreciate your offer to deny me my constitutional right to reelect representatives I think are doing a good job because you believe I can't exercise good judgement in that arena, but no thanks. Instead of trying to deny me my rights, focus your energies on getting voters to stop shirking their responsibility to be informed voters. Seek to help the masses understand the value of this quote from Thomas Jefferson:

        "Educate and inform the whole mass of the people...they are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty."

        June 20, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
      • Ralph

        @skytag, that is very well reasoned and explained. Thank you for taking that time.

        June 20, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
      • Problematic

        Really well reasoned and solid response skytag. I agree with you that term limits aren't the answer. But I also believe that the hope for informed voters is a bridge too far. People are influenced by the media and he who has the most $$$ is most likely to win. There are many folks that do a good job in our government. There are many more that seem to have selfish intent. The amount of money involved in campaigns is a little out of hand. Perhaps what we need are some incentives.

        If he / she who has the most $$$ in campaign funds wins. What does that incentivize? I would guess that it incentivizes those who have the dough to ante in for tit-for-tat. To provide a promise of money in return for a future favor. If this happens half the time, this is a sad state of affairs. I believe this happens more than half the time.

        I too want those that are devoted to service and know how to get things done to spend a lifetime doing it if they have the desire and can avoid the corrupting effects of favor trading. But I think we've allowed some unhealthy things to happen. That, in itself, cannot be that hard to undo through some rule restructuring. There is integrity in America, it's just not getting the most attention.

        June 20, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
    • Common Sense

      Actually, there was another purpose for the Senate till it was erased by the 17th Amendment: giving state legislatures direct influence on federal legislation. Senators were originally selected by whatever method individual state governments chose (mostly elected by state legislatures), not directly by the people. This acted as a powerful check on the expansion of federal power since all federal laws had to pass a vote by people who served at the pleasure of state governments directly. The Presidential Electoral College used to work the same way.

      The shift to popular elections for senators (and presidential electors) may have been motivated by a desire to address real problems, but it ultimately has proven far more deadly to the concept of limited government than any ot the problems it was meant to address. Turns out, those guys knew what they were doing when they wrote the Constitution.

      Nowadays, senators of all stripes and parties trample the rights of states and the limitations of the 10th Amendment with reckless abandon while whoring themselves directly to cobbled alliances of special interest voters–a process that Iceland has now expedited through the wonders of social media.

      "Towards the preservation of your government, and the permanency of your present happy state, it is requisite, not only that you steadily discountenance irregular oppositions to its acknowledged authority, but also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretexts." –George Washington's Farewell Letter

      I think Mr. Zakaria's declaration that this process is "already working" is a bit premature and laughable given the gems of popular wisdom that he cited as accruing from this stratagem.

      Good luck, Iceland: you're going to need it.

      June 20, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Reply
      • Rick House

        Very true, and this is a good point which should be kept in mind in any discussion of the Senate. Thank you.

        June 20, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • Nate

      When we talk about the original appropriation of the Upper and Lower houses of Congress there are a couple of things to remember: a.) how seats were originally allocated, & b.) the original population disparity compared to today.

      Originally Senators were elected by state legislatures. Over time some states changed their election laws to allow for the popular election of Senators. It wasn't until 1913 that this was changed to popular votes nation-wide via Constitutional Amendment.

      When the Constitution was first approved the largest population disparity between states represented in the Senate was 8 to 1. Today the largest disparity is 74 to 1 (California to Wyoming). For matters in the Senate, voters in California have 1/74th the voting power of voters in Wyoming. This disparity is practically astronomical and unforeseeable during the founders time. We need to do something to level that playing field. What issues is Wyoming really getting pushed around on? Does Wyoming really deserve statehood with a total population no bigger than a medium-sized city?

      June 20, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Reply
      • QZ

        And look at California's budget issues compare to Wyoming's. I think Wyoming does just fine despite their low population. The last thing we need is to let California have more of a say in anything.

        June 20, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
      • janelle

        By the same token, in matters of voting in the House, California has 74/1 say. It's a balance.

        June 20, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • WeFriendYou

      Boy is this author clueless – and i mean CLUELESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      June 20, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Reply
    • Matt

      Great post, this guy is so out of touch with the purpose of the constitution like most other liberals the constitution just gets in the way so eliminating/re-doing would be a great step to further grow the federal government.

      If anything let's start over the with original document and re-build amendments like slavery and the right to vote. The federal government has grown to an unsustainable level and the ONLY hope we have is the constitution.

      June 20, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Reply
      • From there

        Yep! No need to spend so much on government 'function' that do nothing for 99.99% of the population. Reduce our TAXES!

        June 20, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Cygnus

      Wow, your comment is asinine. I especially like how you argue that it should not be changed while stating "let it be continued to be modified as people see fit." Perhaps you should do some research, like on the English language for starters. When you get up to 3rd grade level then maybe you can wade into a complicated issue like this one without displaying your ignorance.

      June 20, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Reply
    • Matthew

      Good call. Thanks for responding with that knowledge. That article is written with lots of biases.

      June 20, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Reply
      • Tdog

        What a liberally biased question to revise the constitution. The only ones that what to change the constitution are those that don't get their way (health care). We already have a way to make needed changes and have done so in the past.

        June 20, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • coxxon

      @ Rick House
      I would also add that the Senate was not for the people. The purpose of the Senate was to represent the "state" to the federal government, and the senator chosen by his state government. It wasn't until the early 20th cent that the Constitution was amended so the people voted for the senator. Personally I think we should go back to that (not having senator chosen by popular vote). Not running for state election – or more importantly – not spending time trying to get campaign money, might allow them to actually do the jobs they've been sent to Washington for.

      June 20, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Reply
    • Alex S

      I'm pretty sure Mr. Zakaria understands the US Senate at least as well as you do. Yes, it is meant to be a way to give a voice to smaller and rural states, but to say that people don't believe the Senate should be democratic is just stupid. I think many Americans agree that the current system ignores proportional representation so badly as to make the system totally unfair, and not to mention DC has no voice whatsoever in the Senate and not a real voice in the House. But at least the Senate works, unlike the presidential electoral system, which is just ridiculous. I don't care if the founding fathers thought it was a good idea or not, if there are two people running for president and one gets more votes than the other, he should be president. That this isn't assured in the current system is a slap in the face to democracy.

      In short, despite being incredibly innovative in the private sector, the public sector in the US is extremely reluctant to change anything – whether that's adopting the metric system like every other country, changing one dollar notes into one dollar coins or changing how the electoral system works. In some cases this is a good thing – it provides continuity and stability to the country. But in other cases it is just stupid and results in the American government following methods that are totally outdated.

      June 20, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Reply
    • Alec C

      Exactly what I thought when I read his senate example. I actually somewhat liked the idea of rewriting the constitution to fit our modern needs instead of our colonial ones. However, the legitimacy of this author just fell completely apart once he used the 'undemocratic senate' argument. Clearly, this author is just a journalist scrub trying to stir a buzz. Give my an author who can argue this with factual and in depth understanding of the constitution, and then maybe I'll think he has a point. Until then, I actually think our current one is fine. The founding fathers allowed change through the amendment system, so there is no reason to start from scratch, even though doing so would be kind of a neat idea.

      June 20, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Reply
    • Anon

      I think the real issue with the modern-day Senate is not small states vs. large states, but rise of the two-party system and the 60-vote super-majority requirement to pass legislation. In the modern two-party system we have now that is very polarized (which was never envisioned by the drafters of the Constitution), it's almost impossible to pass legislation in the Senate with 60 votes.

      The question is whether it's fair the political minority to hold the political majority hostage in the Senate since 60 votes is so hard to get. With the 60 vote super-majority rule, legislation could, and often is, squashed in the Senate that a majority of the american population would support. The 60-vote rule should be changed to be a simple majority vote so that 51 votes is sufficient to pass legislation so that legislation more accurately reflects the will of the people, as Fareed suggests, rather than political gamesmanship.

      June 20, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Reply
      • TRH

        I'm not ready to agree with your solution, but I DO agree with your assertion to one of the major problems afflicting the Senate, and our legislative process, currently.

        I personally would LOVE to see what the founding fathers would do with this state of polarized democracy that we've withstood for decades now. I'm not sure going to a simple majority in the Senate is the answer, but an answer IS needed.

        As for the re-write of the Constitution, it's my opinion that the strength of the Constitution is that there exists a process for revising it built in. I see no need to scrap it and start fresh. None whatsoever. And yes, I too was upset at this article author's seeming lack of understanding of some of the core ideas in our Constitution.

        June 20, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • zj

      However, the House of Reps is also not "one man-one vote." The lowest number of Congressmen for any state is 3, no matter how un-populated it may be. This piece of the Constitution is okay in my opinion. I would like to see guaranteed health care so that we may join the ranks of other industrialized democracies.

      June 20, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Reply
      • Alex

        That is actually not true, Wyoming only has 1 at large congressman and I believe one other state only has 2.

        June 20, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
      • Alex

        Universal healthcare is a pipe dream that is unattainable. It's not even working in other industrial nations. Furthermore, people in Europe are terrified of us getting Universal healthcare. It discourages specialized medicine and everyone there comes here when they have a unique health problem. I am someone with a specialized condition. Had America had universal healthcare in the mid 1980's when i was born, I would likely not be alive today. Finally, philosophically speaking, what right does 90% of Americans have to take the money of 10% of Americans in order to pay for their own healthcare? Charity is great, we should all donate to charity. Government run forced charity however is wrong.

        June 20, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • John33

      Obviously, Fareed knows the purpose of the two houses and if you take the one one vote quote literally thats wrong.
      The point is the senate was designed to balance big and small states when the US was only 5% urbanized versus 80% today. It was also to consider that big states had areas that would not always vote at a high percentage because they had a frontier. So you had Pennsylvania which had the biggest city and biggest frontier fighting in the big state camp and New Jersey in the small state camp. Also the entire federal tax system had not even evolved so the tax and spend side of it was not considered. And after that states were not created in any natural order. They were almost all admitted in two's – not for balancing big states or small states but to balance the vote for whatever the key issue of the day was. Most of history this was slavery which resulted in trying to create a rural/urban balance in a rapidly urbanizing country. This definitely was not the vision or criteria. Today slavery is gone but the issue is over political party. Hawaii and Alaska came as a pair and DC will remain waiting for statehood unless a Republican state is found. This entire process has now created a huge urban/rural mismatch (on the average – sure you can cherry pick exceptions).

      If you take the ratio of power back then in Senate a small state citizen had 2-3 times more voting power than a big state. The ratio between CA and ND is now around 70X. This political calculation impacts spend so -for example even though California pays in more than 100 times in federal tax revenue during the Recovery Act ND recieved 1/30th of the amount of California! (with 1/100th of the contribution and 1/10th of the population). This story is the same for many of the smaller pork addicted states – many of whom then later have the nerve to say they run responsible budgets.

      The founding fathers never intended for this to happen so Fareeds question on reform is valid. The body doesn't have to reflect 1 man 1 vote but it should reflect some higher principle than enabling pork to rural states.

      June 20, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Reply
      • John33

        Correction: 1/50th the population.

        June 20, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • Mclano

      Agreed. "The structure of the Senate is even more undemocratic, with Wisconsin's six million inhabitants getting the same representation in the Senate as California's 36 million people. That's not exactly one man, one vote." I stopped reading after this statement

      June 20, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Reply
    • Paulie

      Why are people such morons. You cant change or update the constitution only add amendments to it which is not the same thing though it does change the interpretation of it. The 19th amendment which allowed women the right to vote is an example.

      June 20, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Reply
      • Steverino

        Not true, Paulie. The 12th amendment explicitly changed the procedures for presidential elections that were laid out in Article 2. It didn't just "change the interpretation of it". Maybe you should be more careful about calling others morons when you don't know what you're talking about.

        June 20, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
    • miller

      Rick, you make some good points but the insulting tone really is uncalled for and is not helpful in an open discussion.

      June 20, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Reply
      • Rick Hosue

        I apologize if you found it insulting in "tone". Many have said it was my use of the term "ignorant". While I used the term correctly (lack of knowledge), many people often take it as an insult. That is not how it was meant. That being said, I felt insulted, myself. By his obvious disdain for the American system, so much so that he failed to make a salient point regarding the Senate, which was one of his central arguments. For someone to suggest wholesale scrapping of a Constitution, that person should have a better understanding of what his rationale truly is. His "ignorance" was appalling.

        June 20, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
    • JG


      June 20, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Reply
      • Really?

        You know JG.. there are always mouth breathers in every comment section. Thanks for raising your hand (in all caps too) to let us know who you are.

        June 20, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
      • doncissio

        You must be a Tea Party supporter to be so ignorant. Number one, he is INDIAN, not ARAB, not that I expect you to know the difference AND A NATURALIZED AMERICAN CITIZEN, not that I would expect you to know what that means.


        June 20, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
      • fdhghgd

        He is an Indian-American, not an Arab. So, don't be racist

        June 20, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
    • iamnotaneoconidiot

      I agreee that he does not understand the set up of the Senate. The House has the population-based represenation. The Senate has the "equal-state" – based representation. My daughter just thoroughly learned this in her 5th grade social studies class. And she knows it, because got an A on her test.

      June 20, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Reply
    • Billy


      June 20, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Reply
    • TennVol2001

      Thank you, Rick. I'm glad someone understands the purpose of having two Senators per state. Zakaria obviously doesn't understand it. Zakria also criticizes the Senate as "undemocratic." The simple response is: It's not supposed to be democratic. We live in a republic. How can we take his suggestions for "reform" seriously when he doesn't even understand the system we have now?

      June 20, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Reply
    • Scott in Atlanta

      Rick could have made his legitimate points without being insulting. What is about the Web that anonymous comments bring out the 6 grader in people? I am from a Southern state, and we do believe that the balance between democracy and federalism is an important one for our Republic. So, good points, Rick, but tend to your manners. Best, Scott in Atlanta

      June 20, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Reply
      • Rick House

        Many have said my use of the term "ignorant" was insulting. If that is what you meant, please let me explain. While I used the term correctly (lack of knowledge), many people often take it as an insult. That is not how it was meant.

        That being said, I felt insulted, myself. By his obvious disdain for the American system, so much so that he failed to make a salient point regarding the Senate, which was one of his central arguments. For someone to suggest wholesale scrapping of a Constitution, that person should have a better understanding of what his rationale truly is. His "ignorance" was appalling.

        June 20, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • Oldmanriver

      I think Zakaria was just asking us to think about it rather than as a serious proposal. What if we would re write our constitution how would it be different from the one we have. think about this

      1 Keep the bill of rights and/or change them so that everyone has equal protection under the law
      2 Get rid of representitive government altogether
      3 Using current technology every voter would be given the chance to vote on new laws.
      4 Laws and ammendments could be recommended but in order to et them to a vote there would have to be some sort of process which a certain percentage of voters would have to agree that its good enough to vote on. The supreme court or some other body would have to review the law in question before it came to a vote. The bill would have to be in language that everyone could understand, not lawyereze. Have experts come in to answer questions about how proposed bill would expect to change things. Then let the public decide.
      5. This would reduce corruption because there would be so many people voting you couldnt bribe all of them. It would eliminate earmarks and pet projects because the bill would have to stand up to national oversite. You would have fewer tax breaks and special concerns for select buisnesses as well. There would be less horse trading to get bills signed into law.
      6. You could keep the executive branches and judicial branches the same to keep the checks and balances.

      Problems with this:
      Would enough people vote to make it worthwhile?
      Would enough people be willing to educate themselves on a subject before voting?
      How would you make it so that it does not just become a tyranny of the majority?
      What would rules for advertising for or against a bill be set up?
      Can you set up a voting system secure enough that a smart hacker could not change the number of yes or no votes?

      This is just an idea...I think Mr Zakaria was wanting our opinion on how we would change things if we could.

      June 20, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Reply
    • Sam

      I think Zakaria of all people knows what he's talking about. Yes, we do understand that it's about the states. His argument is... is it right that we recognize a state's power over an individual's power? I don't believe it is. I say one person, one vote in as many senses of the word as possible. We need huge revisions in our government. We really, really do.

      June 20, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Reply
    • JC

      While changing the constitution might be a good idea, should we do it while Corporate America has such a mighty hold on Congress? I seriously fear the return of slavery, child labor, seven-day work weeks and no health care or retirement benefits, if 'The Monied Gentry' are able to control the process.

      June 20, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Reply
      • sharon

        IF? IF? Where have you been lately? They already have FULL control!!!! Why do you think we are in the sorry-a@@ed economical shape we are in? Big business making pisspoor financial decisions then the government has to bail their sorry buts out to prevent a total economic collapse. One that would be many times worse than the GREAT DEPRESSION was, so we nearly bancrupt the country to keep them afloat yet they continue to report billions in profits......... on & on & on it goes.
        So THEY ALREADY OWN THE ENTIRE CONTRY. We are no longer a republic even we are corporate property. Perfect example: the Supreme Court's recent ruling on the class-action suit against Wal-Mart.

        June 20, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • Roger Noe

      You forgot to add that Senators where originally appointed, that Blacks and women could not vote and that the only voters where white males who owned property. Very, very undemocratic beginnings to this country!

      June 20, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Reply
    • John Wells

      While the Electoral College is a controversial issue that deserves debate, I believe there are other issues that need discussion. My three changes would concentrate on:
      1. Term limits for all politicians at all levels of government.
      2. Serious limits on all campaign contributions from all individuals, groups, companies, etc.
      3. The elimination or severe curtailment of paid lobbying from all groups left and right and specially fom business and unions, especially including the move from politician to lobbyist and back.

      June 20, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Reply
    • DC

      From Wikipedia – "Before the 2008 U. S. Presidential election, Zakaria endorsed Barack Obama on his CNN program. In May 2011 it was revealed in The New York Times that President Obama "has sounded out" Zakaria concerning Middle East issues in meetings with him." ANY HIDDEN AGENDAS HERE????? .......................................................
      Beware of the man bearing koolaid....

      June 20, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Reply
    • Corey Kepler

      Mr. Zakaria you are, without question, an idiot. The article is a great example of how poor the state of national journalism is in the USA. You obviously have no idea how the US House and Senate actually work. It's like you skimmed Wikipedia without even reading/understanding anything.. What a shame!!! I'm very disappointed!

      June 20, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Reply
    • KIRK

      anyone and i mean anyone who says get rid of electoral college is a moron ONE PERSON ONE VORE ARE YOU NUTS NO SMALL STATE WOULD ALLOW THAT they would have no say in election
      out founding fathers set it up to cover both ideas congress on amount of people and senate each state equal
      the combines total of both is your states vote in pres election THATS WHY THEY HAVE TO WIN STATES
      besides you have to have 2/3 majority of states to change it NOT GONNA HAPPEN PERIOD

      June 20, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Reply
    • PSD

      Rick talks of our Constitution and Country as a Democracy. Are we not a Republic? Reference the Pledge of Allegiance. I don't think our forefathers thought of us as a Democracy and where is it written in the Constitution that we are a Democracy?

      June 20, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Reply
    • ChrisInGa

      This idea that democracy is a good thing is whats wrong with rewriting the constitution. This country is a republic and it should remain a republic. Tyranny can exist in many forms. And tyranny of the majority is equally as bad as tyranny of an individual. Possibly even worse.

      The electoral college is an manifestation of the nature of this country. it eliminates the concept of simple majority and requires something bigger. It or something like it is necessary to ensure we don't get tyranny of the majority.

      June 20, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Reply
    • Dex

      I disagree completely. The Constitution of Los Estados Unidos needs to be written anew, not just revised. The fact that anyone can vote and anyone can procreate is insane. The entire list of fixes would be pages long but these two would be a great start.

      June 20, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Reply
    • mikem

      Wow, Rick House you sure are a piece of work. Although you might be right on the reasoning for the Senate vs House reps, you don't need to be so condescending. The author is merely identifying what some see as inequities with our current system in order to initiate ideas for changes. Settle down your arrogant, and just plain wrong, attacks.

      June 20, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Reply
      • Rick House

        I was not "condescending". I was being accurate. His lack of understanding of the role of the Senate equates to ignorance of said role. If you dislike the term "ignorance", please suggest another.

        And if you find my point of view "arrogant", how about the arrogance of suggesting we scrap a system of government which he obviously does not care to research nor understand? Or how about the arrogance of someone replying to a post saying my point of view was "just plain wrong" without giving the first bit of evidence to the contrary? If you have something to add to the conversation, please do. But make it have substance. I find your post condescending in it's own right. No, I find it insulting.

        June 20, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
    • Skivt

      The heck with election reform etc.... make illegal immigration a crime, insure that illegals have no rights including healthcare, schools, etc., change the rule regarding anchor babies to make them illegal if their parents are illegal, and insure a hefty jail term of hard labor for all illegals.

      June 20, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Reply
    • Rick House is misinformed

      No where does Zakaria show he doesn't understand the logic; he simply says it's undemocratic by definition. This is a fact. This may be designed to be undemocratic on purpose, but you are not refuting his statement. Now, a country that is not "democratic" can mean it is a "republic", which is the case for the US.

      Zakaria is simply asking whether we have to upload the old tradition of keeping the "mob" out. Your argument is that we shouldn't because you think it's a good idea to ensure there is no mob rule. That's a valid argument. Zakaria doesn't think there is a need for that safety net, I assume. Both can debate that point.

      No need to assume Zakaria is stupid. No need for personal attacks.

      June 20, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Reply
      • Rick House

        Oh please. His argument was that the Senate was un-Democratic in context of one-man-one-vote. But that is not the purpose of the Senate. And if he had the slightest understanding of that, I wouldn't have said a word.

        Also, "ignorant" is not the same as "stupid". Pointing out that he doesn't know is not a "personal attack".

        Here's and example of a personal attack: The only people who think "ignorant" is an insult are either children or just plain stupid.

        See how that works?

        June 20, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
      • Rick House is misinformed

        Rick House, you still don't get it. Zakaria says the Senate is undemocratic and you say it's for a reason and you assume he is ignorant of that reason. This is a wrong assumption.

        I say he knows the reason but believes that the reason is no longer good enough. Why can't that be the basis for his op-ed? Why can't he still call the Senate un-democratic? Why do you jump to the conclusion that he must not know there was a reason for the way the Senate was set up. Zakara can be both informed and dismissive of the Senate system. Both can co-exist - like you can be both stupid and ignorant.

        June 21, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • AI

      Well said, Rick. Zakaria is starting from the assumption that we should not be a union of states, but simply a single country, with no state sovereignty. It does show a glaring lack of understanding of this country's history and form of government. It is precisely this type of centralization of all governmental power that leads to many of our current problems. And then he's advocating letting people on Facebook and Twitter just pipe in with their Christmas lists, and add these things into the new "Constitution."

      This is where they really, really had it right, and people today have it as wrong as they can have anything. You CANNOT have rights granted by a new "Constitution" that comprise obligations on other citizens to provide you with goods or services without compensation. The idea is beyond preposterous. People who have these things "guaranteed" to them by law are all slaves, in reality, to the state.

      We are FREE in this country, Fareed. FREE. That means something to some of us. To those who long to give it up so that they can create new "rights" for themselves by imposing obligations on others, there are plenty of other countries where that's exactly what you can have. Most of them, in fact.

      Instead of writing a new Constitution, we need to fix the treason that goes on in the Congress and the court system where that document is ignored and/or deliberately flouted daily. THAT would be a good way to "rethink" the Constitution. Start living up to it, or change it by the proper process!

      June 20, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Reply
    • Brian

      People also seem to forgot that we're not a democracy, we're a democratic republic, hence the electoral college.

      And apparently the author completely forgot about the Roman Senate or Athens attempts at democracy. I do believe those came quite before Iceland.

      June 20, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Reply
    • Mark S

      Rick is 100% on the money. The senate was created so that Rhode Island or Delaware had the same power as California or New York. The House of Reps is for the 'Mob rule' the Senate is not. Rick is correct by pointing out that Zakaria has NOT done his reasearch. The founding fathers new exactly what they wanted; equality of states' powers and rights.

      June 20, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Reply
    • McCy

      "There is no way a smaller state could block any legislation of larger states." Exactly the reason the Senate needs to be abolished. What business does a state representing a small fraction of the population, say Rhode Island, have saying it deserves to have an equal say in matters of a natural interest on the same level as a state like California or Texas? This is what is and has been wrong with America for a long time; the arrogant belief that some peoples' votes should count more than others because of totally arbitrary circumstances. There is no such thing as "mob rule." If the vast majority of people want something, say lower taxes or legalization of medical marijuana, why should a minority be able to overrule them? The Senate is tyranny incarnate. If Rhode Island wants as much of a say as California, then they should entice some more people to move there.

      June 20, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Reply
    • Josh

      Fareed Zakaria, instead of trying to change our country for the worse, why not go back to your own country so you can change it from the bottom up, top down, and inside out. You are a fool.

      June 20, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Reply
      • Sam

        That's right. And while you're at it, let's send the Mexicans back to Mexico, the African Americans back to Africa, the Japanese Americans back to Japan, the Indian Americans back to India, the Irish Americans back to Ireland, the Italian Americans back to Italy.... Hmmmm. Or maybe not right. He wrote a hypothetical news article. To get people talking. The personal attacks on his "ignorance" (not insulting? Yeah, whatever, Rick, you seem all warm and fuzzy to me!) are so sad – whatever happened to civil discourse? Remember? Intelligent statesmen and women? The days when intelligence was valued, not ridiculed? You betcha.

        June 20, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
      • betterthanjosh

        eat me

        June 20, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
    • Robert Rutherford

      Well done, great response Rick. Mr. Fareed Zakaria– Your utter ignorance on anything to do with our constitution, how our government works, or why, and the historical writings (i.e. The Federalist Papers) of the time is shameful. I wonder how CNN can justify keeping you employed after an article like this. I am so amazed with your stupidity, especially where you are supposed to be “a trusted news source.”

      June 20, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Reply
      • betterthanjosh

        why are you so afraid of a little discussion? coward

        June 20, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
    • Jack Sheridan

      Amendment 1: Universal Marriage Rights for LGBT citizens
      Amendment 2: Limit profit margins for manufacturing businesses, in order to discourage price gouging and manipulation of cheap overseas labor.
      Amendment 3: Electoral college is counted by county, not by state.

      June 20, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Reply
    • Bill Brennan

      Here's a new and revolutionary thought. How about leaving the constitution alone and stopping our "leaders" from bastardizing every word of it, manipulating it for their own personal gain and using it to hurt the people it was intended to protect?

      June 20, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Reply
    • jg

      Umm...I think the Zakaria is aware of the reasons behind the Senate and House make up. This is a very short, simplified article and he is simply mentioning some examples of how the government is at times at odds with pure democracy. He is not proposing necessarily that the Senate members reflect the population of the states they represent. YOU read that into the article.

      June 20, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Reply
    • msfsts

      TOUCH OUR CONSTITUTION AND YOU ARE A DEAD PERSON!!! DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!!!! The United States of America, was declared independent from the monarchy of the rule of England in 1776, and the U S Constitution was a work of masters at design of a new nation, and they gave us a document that provides structure and balance and gives explicit direction on how this nation is to function. No one should ever consider that our CONSTITUTION IS NOT SET IN STONE!!! It most certainly is and those that are even thinking of such a thing are an egrigious insult to this nation and it's founders.

      June 20, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Reply
      • Edwin


        are you *really* ignorant of the fact that the constitution has Amendments? These are CHANGES TO THE CONSTITUTION THAT HAVE ALREADY OCCURRED! The constitution DOES change. It HAS changed. Your belief that it is set in stone is, well, just plain wrong.

        Even the idea of radical changes, such as put forth in this article, is A PART OF THE ORIGINAL CONSTITUTION!


        June 20, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
      • JH

        Are you aware since the initial creating of the constitution it has been changed or "Amended" several times. Were it 'Set in stone' as you seem to imply, slavery would never have been abolished. Are you saying you would prefer an America with slavery?

        June 20, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • MK54

      The bicameral legislature exists because the representatives of small states and large states could not reach agreement on how to apportion representation in the legislature. Old Ben Franklin proposed the compromise that created the House and Senate. All the baloney on preventing mob rule and such was manufactured later.

      June 20, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Reply
    • Mark

      Well spoken and correct.

      June 20, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Reply
    • Mark

      Well spoken and correct when it comes to house and senate seats. The electoral college is an outdated unnecessary system that should be done away with only when concerned to election of a president. The electoral college is based on population of the given state and was set up so that election count could be done on a local basis because no technology existed that would allow for national election count. This should be changed but we don't even have a unified national voting system to eliminate "hanging chads"

      June 20, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Reply
    • jim

      While the electoral college suggestions are not without merit, your suggestion about the Senate shows your total lack of understanding of how (and why) the Senate exists>>>>>

      I disagree. the author is not very well educated. we are a republic. the electoral collage and senate seats are in place for a reason.

      June 20, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Reply
    • jim walsh

      We are not a democracy. We are a Republic. The republic can stand up to the mob rule of a pure democracy, because the representatives hold the people's power. Do 10 people want to silence 1? Does a natural disaster or civil disobedience in one area take away the people's voice there, because they can't 'get out the vote'?, while another area runs up their vote total? Maybe a big city on the west coast, sees how the vote is going in the central and eastern states, and they rush to vote in GREATER PROPORTION, after the east coast polls have closed. Who represents the displaced interests? Does a Taliban like force or KKK like force or minority defense league spread panic and fear to control the masses? We invite this when we de-regionalize our representative power and votes. Even if only 4 vote in a congressional district, tall the people there have the same representation as if all the people there vote. no more. no less.

      Do we let children vote, with promises of candy and ponies? one person on vote. Or do we keep a way (age 18+) to let the vote be completed by mature and wise citizens?

      There is a way to change our Constitution. It is a way that keeps us safe from the Tyranny of swift action instead of our checks and balances.

      God Bless America and God Bless the Republic. May it stand forever.

      June 20, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Reply
    • Edwin


      You are right that representation need not be directly aligned with population. But the value of the senate as a political body diminished dramatically as the number of states increased. Nowadays, it serves merely to empower the political party favored by states with small populations rather than enhance states' rights.

      If we redesigned the constitution, I could imagine us creating representation other than according to population. But the senate's time is long past - if we added a second house, it should look nothing like the senate. Maybe the second house would be better if it were proportional in size to a state's GDP - since that factors in economic power, which drives this country.

      Small states with few people and little economic value should not be able to dominate political discussions.

      June 20, 2011 at 6:33 pm | Reply

      Here's how you can get rid of the Constituion:

      Globalize the banks
      Globalize the corporations
      Convince the western countries to form a "union" and create the international monetary fund
      Deregulate the banks and corporations
      Intermingle the monies
      Allow corporations to end their company provided pensions and have workers pay their own way
      Workers then invest their money in the stock market which heavily invests in corporations (401Ks)
      Corporations raise more cash – CEOs raise their salaries
      Create wars so the western countries have to spend money
      Undermine jobs in these economies by allowing high imports of cheap products from communist and socialist run countries
      Undermine jobs by introducing outsourcing
      Cut taxes on the wealthy top 1%
      Markets start to crash; governments "forced" to spend more by offering bailouts using the excuse "they are too big to fail"
      Bailout money is given to the global banks instead of individuals within their own country
      Corporations "suffer" and lay off workers
      Bailouts work for a period of time, corporations increase profits but don't rehire workers
      Governments become overloaded in debt and then can't pay their bills
      Unemployment is through the roof and the average American only makes $32,000 a year
      The global banks then force another bailout loan on them..…in exchange for their assets
      The governments become so overloaded in debt, they fail to make payments
      Western governments fail; Markets fully crash
      The world's reserve currency – the dollar – loses all value
      Individuals lose all savings
      The global banks (and the few running the scam) now own everything
      Some foreign countries like China may demand payback
      Since the dollar becomes worthless, our government ceases to hold power
      The global banks implement a "one world government" as the savior and our Constitution falls
      This one world government (and the people runnig it) now owns all major assets
      When the government owns everything, guess what it's called?

      ....where you will have zero rights

      June 20, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Reply
      • Unknown Person

        Communism is not a bad thing in theory. Communism would give equal rights to everyone. There is a common misconception that communism is a bad thing just because of the cold war and how the Soviet Union worked. The problem is that dictators are too greedy and don't give people their rights. Communism does not work, but it is not a bad thing.

        June 20, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
    • hasc

      Well, hell.....let's rewrite the Bible while we're at it.

      June 20, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Reply
      • betterthanjosh

        that fantasy book has already been rewritten

        June 20, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
    • Daniel Correa

      Your comment is right on point. I getting ready to blast Zacharia the same way. This is not the first time he has misconstrued the law, and I'm sure it will not be the last. And, as far as changing the Constitution is concerned, a person can read the actual doctrine and be astonished to find that the words don't mean what they say, they mean what the Supreme Court says they say. Whether that's legitimate or not is another question, but the document is always subject to change under the rubric of judicial review.

      June 20, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Reply
    • PW

      CNN should be wise enough to pull inaccurate propaganda like this off it's site. Obviously Fareed has a poor understanding of why the Senate and House were organized the way they were. The House to closely represent a popular vote and the Senate to protect the rights of each state. Furthermore the tone of his article is very disturbing as he makes the Constitution sound more like a corporate document.

      June 20, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Reply
    • SC resident

      --How nice for a first generation American like this author to make such a suggestion as to scrap our constitution. I have countless forefathers who died to protect what the document stands for. I have lost all respect for this author as it was certainly not is place to make such a suggestion that demonstrates a total lack of understanding of American etiquette. --

      June 20, 2011 at 6:41 pm | Reply
    • David Duffield

      Zakaria comes from India which inherited the Parliamentary System of government, its not surprising he would question the Senate. He may not understand the history of the Great Compromise (setting up a bi-cameral legislature to ensure equality between large and big states). He may also not understand that simplicity is the reason the constitution has survived so long, its incredibly hard to make changes to and requires a great deal of national consensus, which takes a long time. The Electoral College isn't in the constitution, true, but there are innumerable pieces of law which allow for changes in elections – such as the Civil Rights Acts – and this may not require a constitutional amendment. States like Colorado or California which have 150+ Amendments are examples of how popular voting on constitutions can be problematic we end up with documents that conflict in portions.

      Regardless the question seems to be how can we incorporate changes in government using technology? There is the idea of a virtual democracy in which people vote online directly or through representatives. I believe that in the US case it is a very good idea to explore how social media can be used to make government more responsive. Fixing problems like the electoral college, which does work despite its controversy, are more simply done away with or addressed using social media to influence governmental committees. Iceland's example of using social media to influence public policy is great and much more should be done. A series on how social media is used in Public Policy already in he US would be great! If he's curios he should check out the Deliberative Democracy Handbook, (Castil and Levine 2007), is a great source for how technology, especially at the local level, is helping to change public policy.

      June 20, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Reply
      • Unknown Person

        It doesn't mean anything that he comes from India. There are plenty of parlimentary systems in this world. We all understand how other systems work. Also, back then, a lot of state rivalries happened. Now that does not happen as Congress looks at the whole nation as a whole instead of each senator for only his own state. There his argument does make sense.

        June 20, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
    • Nicole

      I think you should retract your comment for acting like a pompous ___. Even when you are right, there is a "classy" way to suggest it. You should try that next time.

      June 20, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Reply
    • canderson

      Well said. Thank you.

      June 20, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Reply
    • BarrensChat

      Sylvanas Windrunner for President in 2012!

      June 20, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Reply
    • mijkal

      The Senate was also setup in a time when the population identified with a particular colony/state (ie They thought of themselves as Virginians or New Yorkers — not 'Americans'. The American national identity came much later.

      Given how mobile we are these days, I say scrap the Senate and go with a more unicameral system for the federal government. That could also give 3rd parties a chance to have influence, and at least weaken the 2-party system we have now.

      Also, the districts would need to shrink considerably to get more local reps elected. As is, the House is stuck in size, forcing districts to grow ever larger. Create multiple federal districts and connect them online to house them all (no need to put everything in one city these days, either).

      Another suggestion would be to prohibit non-individual money from elections. We need to level the playing field to have real democracy, not some corporatocracy.

      While we're at it, bring back E Pluribus Unum and rout out the religion injected into our secular state. It should be an agnostic entity, though participants are free to worship as they wish. Take Turkey, for example!

      June 20, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Reply
    • Jamie Raney

      Thank you for your comment about the Senate. Complete ignorance. We must look at educating people about the history of this document and the ratification debates following.

      June 20, 2011 at 7:01 pm | Reply
    • PvtRyan

      F()@% that dirty Hindu!!!

      June 20, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Reply
      • jsfaofhvk

        You are a racist person. This is a discussion and response area, not a racial hatred site. So, please do not disturb us here.

        June 20, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
    • ANNON

      I think the person who wrote the article should understand how the Constitution was written and why before representing themselves as a journalist. Unfortunately we now live in this media frenzy world where so many people, who know so little, are able to say so much when they have no idea what thing really mean! Just like this article!. Those of the younger generation seem to think they can change everything (and should) when they are obviously uneducated and haven't thought everything through. Those who wrote the Constitution weren't "tweens" who follow blindly whatever they see online. They were educated and experienced men, who had seen and lived in life- and a REAL life! Not staring at something fake like a computer screen. Man it scares me how articles like this get published, and uneducated folk will agree.

      June 20, 2011 at 7:14 pm | Reply
    • Raul Duke

      Fareed, can I see that passport?

      June 20, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Reply
    • Hank

      Mr. Zakaria would be better served, as would his readers, if he took an American Government course. Better yet, we might all be better served if he and others who think the Constitution is out of date, moved to Iceland.

      June 20, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Reply
    • Nat Gelber

      You could have expressed your views without being insulting

      June 20, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Reply
    • oldgulph

      The small states are the most disadvantaged group of states under the current system of electing the President. Political clout comes from being a closely divided battleground state, not the two-vote bonus. The reason for this is the state-by-state winner-take-all method (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but enacted by 48 states), under which all of a state's electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who gets the most votes in each separate state.

      None of the 10 most rural states (VT, ME, WV, MS, SD, AR, MT, ND, AL, and KY) is a battleground state.
      The current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes does not enhance the influence of rural states, because the most rural states are not battleground states.

      12 of the 13 lowest population states (3-4 electoral votes) are almost invariably non-competitive, and ignored, in presidential elections. Six regularly vote Republican (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota), and six regularly vote Democratic (Rhode Island, Delaware, Hawaii, Vermont, Maine, and DC) in presidential elections Despite the fact that these 12 lowest population states together possess 40 electoral votes, because they are not closely divided battleground states, none of these 12 states get visits, advertising or polling or policy considerations by presidential candidates.

      These 12 states together contain 11 million people. Because of the two electoral-vote bonus that each state receives, the 12 non-competitive small states have 40 electoral votes. However, the two-vote bonus is an entirely illusory advantage to the small states. Ohio has 11 million people and has "only" 20 electoral votes. As we all know, the 11 million people in Ohio are the center of attention in presidential campaigns, while the 11 million people in the 12 non-competitive small states are utterly irrelevant. Nationwide election of the President would make each of the voters in the 12 lowest population states as important as an Ohio voter.

      In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. Support is strong among Republican voters, Democratic voters, and independent voters, as well as every demographic group surveyed in virtually every state surveyed in recent polls. Support in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): Alaska - 70%, DC - 76%, Delaware –75%, Idaho – 77%, Maine - 77%, Montana – 72%, Nebraska - 74%, New Hampshire –69%, Nevada - 72%, New Mexico - 76%, Oklahoma – 81%, Rhode Island - 74%, South Dakota – 71%, Utah – 70%, Vermont - 75%, and West Virginia – 81%, and Wyoming – 69%;

      In the 13 lowest population states, the National Popular Vote bill already has been approved by nine state legislative chambers, including one house in, Delaware, the District of Columbia, and Maine and both houses in Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Vermont. It has been enacted by the District of Columbia, Hawaii, and Vermont.

      June 20, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Reply
      • kirk


        June 21, 2011 at 4:08 am |
      • oldgulph

        Kirk, That's very mature of you to simply call me a liar about everything. Care to show any facts that dispute what I've said?

        June 21, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • Jim

      I agree with so many of my progressive colleagues. It's time to scrap the Constitution! Especially the Second Amendment, and the First......and...,

      June 20, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Reply
    • john lang

      Rick, your an arse..we all know your point, we know the smaller states need a voice. Fareed is just offering up an idea for debate. I'm sure your a political scholar and all, but I don't see a need to call him ignorant and retract his statement.

      June 20, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Reply
    • Zeke Moore

      Thanks, Rick- my thoughts exactly. Fareed's otherwise excellent article was nearly ruined for me by his apparent ignorance of the purpose of a two-house legislature.

      June 20, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Reply
    • Dale

      Let me be very clear here, the U.S. Constitution is the greatest expressions of liberty and law in human history; it has survived as the law of the land for 222 years. The U.S. Constitution’s greatness lies in its core principle.

      Mr. Zakaria he is showing his true colors he is anti-American !!

      June 20, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Reply
    • Good Citizen

      So, by changing Senate's structure you want to change US to mob ruling like India and Pakistan...

      June 20, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Reply
      • fsafernjk,b

        India is not a mob ruling. It has the world's largest democracy and the world's longest constitution, with rights for all. It is a Parliamentary System based on United Kingdom.

        June 21, 2011 at 7:00 pm |


      June 20, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Reply
    • Tom Tinker

      FAREED ZAKARIA, you have zero understanding of the Constitution or anything resembling Liberty you pile of Indian curry, I am sick of stupid uneducated foreigners pretending to revere the Constitution, and at the same time piss on it. As for your "no industry" comment the American Colonies were making excellent Steel and textiles for years before the Constitutional Convention, they also were shipwrights, millwrights, and hundreds of other skilled trades because of a "free system of English laws", I hope you slip and break your leg on some paneer naan, go back to India, you filth.

      June 20, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Reply
      • fdhghgd

        You have to agree that all starting nations are a little weak. The industry there was weaker than it was in the 1800s and 1900s.

        June 20, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
    • truesoy

      Although I agree with most of what you say, the point is that in re-writing the constitution there is a real danger of 'screwing' ourselves instead, in trying to fix something that is not broken. I believe that, as it has been done in the passed, tion.the amendment process is the best path tofinding solutionst.
      One amendment I like to see is to prohibit members of Congress from voting on any bill before them that would affect any business either for profit or non-profit, from which they have received (other than for legitimate employment) monies and/or anything of value in the previous 2 years, or are receiving monies or anything of value (this includes campaign contributions), or will be receiving any monies and/or anything of value from such interests, including employment promises withing the proceding 5 years after leaving Congress.

      June 20, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Reply
    • george plunkett

      We don't need slum dog zakaria or any of his commicrat thieving friends destroying or fundamentally transform our Constitiution . Try working instead of stealing or using corrupt democrat politicians aka marxist politicians and corrupt unions to steal for you. One nation under GOD not government you filthy heathens. Excuse me I need to go to the restroom and take a zakaria.

      June 20, 2011 at 10:55 pm | Reply
    • Patrick - Kaneohe, HI

      I wanted to add to Rick's posting about the history of the Senate and House. Rick is very correct in everything he says and I would add that the Senate was originally elected by each state's respective legislature. I believe it was under Woodrow Wilson that they changed the election of senators to a popular vote. Originally Senators were not sent to DC to represent the people, they were sent to represent the interests of their state. The House of Representatives was designed to represent the people and thus is why the number of Reps each state has is dependent on population.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:38 am | Reply
    • Jeff

      "Update the constitution" is code for "Destroy the constitution"

      This foreigner suggests destroying our constitution?

      June 21, 2011 at 3:09 am | Reply
    • rick

      the original construction of the Senate, as created by Ben Franklin, was to represent the state. Therefor the 2 senators where appointed by the state legislation. The House was to represent the people, and the Senate was to represent the state. Thats why each state got 2 no matter their size. It wasnt until Woodrow Wilson and the 17th that changed this "in the name of democracy" but really it was so they could create the Federal Reserve.. something the states would never allow, but the mob wouldnt care about. Thats why you get to elect a Senator.

      June 21, 2011 at 7:43 am | Reply


      June 21, 2011 at 10:00 am | Reply
    • AL

      With regards to the Senate – I agree, it is fine as is (two votes per state, that is) because of things like CA vs RI. We have the House who vote based on actual numbers.
      Modifying the constitution, or starting fresh, has a lot of merit. It doesn't mean we would lose things like Freedom of "expression", but we might rewrite it to be a freedom of expression, with responsibility (e.g., slander prevention). Right to bear arms might be rewritten, to be clear (right now it is hotly contested, and is very state based). Wouldn't it be great to have a document that doesn't say "3/5ths of all other persons" – referring to slaves.
      With regards to Iceland – someones suggestion of stopping shark finning...that is too small to fit in a constitution, but a greater amendment could be written to include "Observation and adherence to global conservation efforts to minimize the effects which cause animal/plant populations to become extinct". This would cover shark finning, whale hunting, etc.

      The US constitution is a living document (5th grade history for me, in a public school). As such it was intended to be modified, and nothing says it can't be scrapped for something else. Unfortunately we can't agree on most things, so I'd wager we would have a hard time with this document. It should be global, but simple, not providing favor to any one particular group, locale, etc. It should not include too many specifics of a health care plan, as those change over time, but should include some kind of information. Then again, some of the country doesn't want a national health care plan and some does – so who knows if it gets put in.

      This is a beast to tackle, and our population is way bigger then Icelands. Plus we tend to eat our own young.

      June 21, 2011 at 10:20 am | Reply
    • Mike in NYC

      It is frighteningly stunning how little people actually know about our government, how it is set up, and more importantly ... WHY! For Fareed to suggest that just because Iceland and its 320,000 people (which is fewer people than live in 10 square blocks in Manhatten) decided to scrap their Constitution means that we should consider the same, is truely amazing.

      There are mechanisms in place to amend our Constitution as needed (which Fareed acknowledges). So to throw the whole thing out because ..... why?? You don't like the way its been amended? Please explain to me what's wrong with our current Constitution that requires it to be thrown away and re-written? There is nothing. Apparently Fareeds only complaint about the Contitution are the conditions under which it was drafted in 1787.

      Fareed seems to be saying that he wants us to consider scrapping the Constitution because he doesn't like the Electoral College. Well if he actually UNDERSTOOD the reasoning behind the system he wouldn't complain. The Electoral College was initially designed to keep the larger states from forcing smaller states into legislation with which they did not agreed (see Virginia at the time). Remember ... we had a group of individual colonies that were trying to throw off an oppressive government in England so the last thing the state of Rhode Island would want is to have to be forced into anything by Virginia! Delegates from the small states generally favored the Electoral College out of concern that the large states would otherwise control presidential elections.

      Check this out http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/2008/ . It give a really good representation of WHY a presidental election by popular vote would REALLY be unfair. Basically ... if the presidental election were strictly by popular vote then all a candidate would have to do is win 8 – 10 states and they would take the election. THAT certainly doesn't sound very democratic to me!!! That 40 states' votes would immediately become irrelevant!

      The whole point here is that we are NOT a direct Democracy, for which Fareed seems to be wishing. Our representative form of government was set up so that the individual States had representation on the federal level ... not the individual citizen.

      June 21, 2011 at 10:27 am | Reply
      • oldgulph

        The United States has a republican form of government regardless of whether popular votes for presidential electors are tallied at the state-level (as has been the case in 48 states) or at district-level (as has been the case in Maine and Nebraska) or at 50-state-level (as under the National Popular Vote bill).

        Anyone concerned about the relative power of big states and small states should realize that the current system shifts power from voters in the small and medium-small states to voters in a handful of big states.

        Under National Popular Vote, when every vote counts equally, successful candidates will find a middle ground of policies appealing to the wide mainstream of America. Instead of playing mostly to local concerns in Ohio and Florida, candidates finally would have to form broader platforms for broad national support. It would no longer matter who won a state.

        Now political clout comes from being a battleground state.

        Now with state-by-state winner-take-all laws presidential elections ignore 12 of the 13 lowest population states (3-4 electoral votes), that are almost invariably non-competitive, and ignored, in presidential elections. Six regularly vote Republican (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota), and six regularly vote Democratic (Rhode Island, Delaware, Hawaii, Vermont, Maine, and DC) in presidential elections.

        Support for a national popular vote is strong in every smallest state surveyed in recent polls among Republican voters, Democratic voters, and independent voters, as well as every demographic group. Support in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): Alaska - 70%, DC - 76%, Delaware –75%, Idaho – 77%, Maine - 77%, Montana – 72%, Nebraska - 74%, New Hampshire –69%, Nevada - 72%, New Mexico - 76%, Oklahoma – 81%, Rhode Island - 74%, South Dakota – 71%, Utah – 70%, Vermont - 75%, and West Virginia – 81%, and Wyoming – 69%.

        Nine state legislative chambers in the lowest population states have passed the National Popular Vote bill. It has been enacted by the District of Columbia, Hawaii, and Vermont.

        The 11 most populous states contain 56% of the population of the United States, but under the current system, a candidate could win the Presidency by winning a mere 51% of the vote in just these 11 biggest states - that is, a mere 26% of the nation's votes.

        June 21, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
      • Michal

        Sir, the idea that abolishing the electoral college would make 40 states irrelevant is simply not true. In theory a candidate probably could gather 50% of the vote in 10 states, but he would have to win those with 100% support, which is impossible. Even Reagan in his landslide victory of 1984 had not achieved such a support. His best result was 74,5% in Utah (not one of those "big states" you talk about). Generally speaking, his margins were thiner in big states – in his home state of California, he won with 57,5% (check for yourself on http://uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/ ). Abolishing the electoral college would in fact level the field for all voters. Today, it doesn't matter whether you win a state with 51% or 75% – rendering the vote of millions of people invalid.

        It is also important to realise that the world has changed since the 18th century. Territory is no longer so important a factor. A guy living in LA can be much your "neighbour" to a much larger extent than a guy living across the street in New York. The former can easily be your colleague, relative, business partner etc., while the latter you have never met and never will. Doesn't your boss living in LA (for example) belong to your community much more than a person you have no dealings with. Is territorial proximity really as crucial as it was 230 years ago?

        June 23, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
      • Michal

        One last point that I forgot: You are wrong to accuse Fareed of being a supporter of direct democracy. Few people have argued so powerfully against it as he did in the Future of Freedom (great book, by the way).

        June 23, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • John

      Globalists, you will NOT have your NEW WORLD ORDER.

      You will fail and you will face the consequences.

      June 22, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Reply
    • Joseph DiToma

      This diatribe is wrong on SO many levels that I hardly know where to begin. Using Facebook and Twitter to vote on issues is asking for vote tampering . Even their polls are untrustworthy. Requiring a Constitutional Convention would be right up the alley of the One World Government lackeys such as yourself. You know darn well that once a CC is called that the voting is not limited to the question at hand and any and all Amendments can come into play. I bet you and your CFR friends would love to see that happen. The Constitution took almost 11 years to complete because our Forefathers were trying to thwart any future traitorous talk such as yours. The Constitution calls for protection from enemies both " foreign and domestic". Our country was not only an agricultural society. Didn't you learn about the Industrial Revolution in your roundtable schools. Our problems started when we allowed the Federal Reserve to take over our economy and you know it. Your demi-god Edward Mandel House pressured Pres. Wilson to sign the Federal Reserve act and then he founded your CFR. As far as the Senate representation of two senators per state you must be aware that that was implemented because this nation was never meant to be a democracy. It was intended as a Republic and was such until the passing of the 17th Amendment which the CFR demanded . NICE TRY , Zakaria but we the people are waking up. Tell them that at your next Bilderberger meeting so you won't make an ass out of yourself again with such nonsense as this.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Reply
    • Karl Born

      I have not read all of the comments, yet, but I do not see where anyone has pointed out that the Constitution's amendment provision specifically prohibits any amendment to deprive any state of equal representation in the Senate without its consent. In other words, Zakaria recommends the one amendment that is forbidden. (Maybe someone has pointed that out, but if someone did, I missed it.)

      June 22, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Reply
    • noSS4me

      This guy clearly knows nothing about the Constitution as it relates to the Senate.

      In the article, Zakaria says,
      “The structure of the Senate is even more undemocratic, with Wisconsin’s six million inhabitants getting the same representation in the Senate as California’s 36 million people. That’s not exactly one man, one vote.”

      Article I, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution:

      “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.”

      The Senate was formed to represent the individual States and their interests, not represent the people.

      Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution:

      “The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.”

      The House of Representatives was formed to represent the People.

      However, the 17th Amendment watered down the States’ right to representation in the Legislature. It put the power of electing Senators in the hands of the people. This may be one of the worst Amendments to the Constitution. If only the people back then knew how badly they were screwing over Americans for generations…

      Check the wiki: bit (dot) ly/9HVw

      June 22, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Reply
    • Joel Carlston

      Also I will add...The problem is with A. Not adhering to the principles of the Constitution in the first place. The Senate was set up as a split of power on behalf of the states themselves. When the 17th Amendment occured...One of your so called "Revisions", it tipped the balance of power away from State Sovereignty and more towards a "National" government. Mr Zakira, I would suggest you read the Ratification debates before writing such a silly and uniformed article

      June 23, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Reply
    • Anne R. Dick

      The heavily populated progressive states are not well represented. California with 37 million people gets two senators. 21 low populations states get 42 senators. California and New York should have 20% of the senate. Our country wouldn't be so backward if progressives were fairly represented. We are falling behind in the world. I suggest one senator for every 3 milllion people. Low population states can band together to get a senator.

      Another thought. If everyone has to have a gun it must be a flintlock rifle like the ones of 1776.

      September 23, 2012 at 2:03 am | Reply
    • JV

      Rick House,
      you can express your disagreement without being so disrespectful!

      October 29, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Reply
  2. Malikov

    Constitutions are different. By the size of jurisdiction the Icelandic constitution is a medium city by-law. Of course it's all eventually going to be online, but for it to be efficient we need to breed culture of online communication and learn what works and what doesn't. So in US one shouldn't start with the Constitution. We need a few years of getting used to the idea. For that I am building a service called Law Delta (as Nile delta), where there will be accessible all laws (some federal already are), where people can read, discuss, vote, and propose their own bills. I am trying to promote political culture and legal awareness that will help bring the future nearer. http://lawdelta.org

    June 20, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Reply
  3. wtf

    Zakaria just what in the hell are you smoking?

    June 20, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Reply
    • Doomguy

      My guess is he is with those who want to get rid of that pesky second amendment they hate so much because Soros pays them to.

      June 20, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Reply
      • Jimbo von Winskinheimer

        Yes, you are buying into the Soros conspiracy. Your statement is just as stupid as saying that Rupert Murdoch was paying to get rid of the First Amendment. Grow up!

        June 20, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
      • reACTIONary

        He is! And so am I – We all get together at midnight at.... well, I don't want to tell you all that much. Unless you know the secrete handshake and password. Wink, wink!

        June 20, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
      • skytag

        You people are just nuts. Instead of articulating an intelligent comment about his idea you babble right-wing nonsense about imagined attacks on the 2nd Amendment.

        June 20, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
      • terry Moore

        No clue if he is with the "let's remove the 2nd Amendment".. But I sure am.. If a little bit of logic, a touch of knowledge and a simple look at the way things evolve could ever get within your skull, you would see the complete imbecility in maintaining an Amendment designed for a time and a set of circumstances, and never meant to live beyond the power consolidation of the USA. But having a gun probably makes you feel sooooo much bigger and better....And THAT was not the intent of the Founding Fathers.

        June 20, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Bob in pa

      Obviously too much Obamaganga.

      June 20, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Reply
    • BarrensChat

      If liberals attempt to remove the 2nd amendment, you will have an outbreak of civil war. And the first to perish is going to be the liberals... why? Because they got rid of their guns! OMG... yes... YES... PLEASE take my 2nd amendment rights away... its time to clean up society!

      June 20, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Reply
  4. The Jackdaw

    Why update it? Our politicians ignore it anyway. Yay America!

    June 20, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Reply
    • Darryl

      Judging on the legislature we've seen, I don't just ignore it, they actually have no idea what it says...or don't care...

      June 20, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Reply
      • kaneda

        When you said "don't care".. also meant ignoring it...

        June 20, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      They make more money by not knowing. If they defended the American people, they would not have those golden parachutes.

      June 20, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Reply
    • whatguy

      I was thinking the same thing, maybe the people of Iceland could use our constitution, we aren't

      June 20, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Reply
    • HC

      Except for Texas Congressman Dr. Ron Paul. Someone who actually still believes and follows the Constitution, who wants to limit federal government, and who wants to return America to the citizens instead of being run by big government, big corporations, and big banks.

      June 20, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Reply
    • AI

      Agree entirely. Very, very, very sad, but even more true.

      June 20, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Reply
  5. Eric

    No! What would be the point of changing the constitution anyway if the government refuses to follow it, and actually installs corrupt judges to deliberately subvert it. We are now fully controlled by the military industrial complex.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Reply
    • The Jackdaw

      We are controlled, but mostly by our own ignorance. I"m not sure you can say we are industrial. If there was ever a world war III, we would lose because our industry no longer exists. We would not be able to mas produce the arms we would need like we did in WW II. It would be game over for America, unless we use our nukes, in which case it is game over for Earth.

      June 20, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Reply
      • Sam

        I'm not saying your wrong, but Im just curious on where you got your information or is it opinion? Why dont you think we cant mass produce if needed.

        June 20, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
      • The Jackdaw

        Look around you Sam. The industry in this country is long gone. We produce almost nothing. We import almost everything. Is Microsoft going to make a tank for you? Because thats about all we have left.

        June 20, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • Tony

      i beg the differ. if we use our nukes. it might be detrimental for living organisms on earth, but to say game over for earth is a little too severe. earth will still exist even if a country launches a thousand nukes on its surface, but whether it will still be inhabitable or not is another story.

      June 20, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Reply
    • The Jackdaw

      Well, as long as those microbes are American Microbes, I guess my point is moot.

      June 20, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Reply
    • FactCheKR

      The DOD budget allocations now total over 30% of the Federal expenditure commitments – And yes the military budget Has DOubled in just he past 10 years. But not totally in control–
      That's where the corporations are in control – excessively influence All Three branches of our government.
      Corporate lobbying, campaing funding, and several other areas of excessive influence Must be reformed!!
      I strongly agree with the IceLanders!–
      Many have asked for guaranteed, good health care. Others want campaign finance systems that make corporate donations illegal. (worth repeating)!!

      June 20, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Reply
      • george

        Where'd you get your numbers or, more specifically, what's your methodology? DoD in the 2010 was ~19 percent of the US budget.

        June 20, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • BarrensChat

      Don't matter... Deathwing is coming to a town near you to pwn you. Oh wait! You can get an achievement for that!

      Sylvanas Windrunner leading the Forsaken Party in 2012! Woot!

      June 20, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Reply
  6. Lila

    Logically, it should be updated, but this country is too politically divided, it would be a really bad idea.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Reply
    • Lee

      Please explain why logically? Age has nothing to do with transcendent values and principles.

      June 20, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Reply
      • Lila

        Um I don't know, It's been revised 27 times. Why do you think it might need to be updated?

        June 20, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
      • Brett

        As perfect as the constitution is, it doesn't reflect how our country is today. the "fathers" didn't have a crystal ball, they couldn't imagine where we would go as a society and how big we would get. Updating the document to reflect our current society isn't bad idea.

        June 20, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
      • dan25ny

        Assuming there are transcendent values and principles...
        Everything needs a context. If society has changed enough, it makes sense to update it. Even if the agreement is to leave it just as is, it's still a discussion that should be had.

        June 20, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
      • reACTIONary

        Let's see, industrial revolution maybe? When the actual empirical facts change, its always good to reconsider your "transcendental" principles.

        June 20, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
      • TTH

        President Jefferson, a founding father, believed that the Constitution should be rewritten every generation because the dead should not rule the the living.

        June 20, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • Bob in pa

      “politically divided” is a bad description. On one side there is freedom and personal responsibility, while the other is a view that has twisted the meaning of every moral concept that has ever existed..

      June 20, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Reply
      • Lila

        Both the Left and the Right could write that exact sentence but they don't share the same views. That's exactly what I'm talking about. Not everyone shares your definition of freedom and personal responsibility.

        June 20, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  7. Descarado

    We seem to be morphing into a judicial dictatorship of minority rule. Might we limit federal judges, including Supreme Court justices, to a single term of three years?

    June 20, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Reply
    • Calahan

      You can not limit the terms of supreme court justices because the whole reason that they are supposed to be in the supreme court forever is that they do not have to fall in to a political party. They are supposed to use un baised. Now i know that is not true but you can not take powers away from them that they have had since 1787. Now i do agree we need to change the constitution but it can not happen right now. We need to start a grass roots campign of people to change it. We need people who will take political office with every mind set that they are there to help the american people not to secertly help corporation.

      June 20, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Reply
    • SId Airfoil

      We do and SHOULD have minority rule in this country. Remember, only INDIVIDUALS have rights, and that means that the majority does not rule over him. It means that the minority of ONE is sovereign and has rights that no majority can violate. That is the role of the judicial branch...to defend the rights of individuals as expressed in the Constitution AGAINST the will of the majority as expressed through voting.

      Don't be too fond of majority rule. When the majority rules the individual has no rights. And the when the individual has rights the majority does not rule.


      June 20, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Reply
  8. Eric

    Zakaria is a globalist, he wants a world government, this is why he wants to "change" the constitution. Don't fall for the world of this traitor.


    June 20, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Reply
    • BarrensChat

      America doesn't need the rest of the world. That is clearly evident. The world needs us. Everybody needs to embrace the US... not the other way around. Zakaria... you can always go back to home country if you like. I hear you need to irradiate and then filter the drinking water 20 times over before it becomes reasonably safe to drink. And you want us to embrace India? Come on pal. It is clear... the United States is what everybody aspires to... so why do we need to embrace the rest of the world when clearly everybody wants what we have?

      June 20, 2011 at 7:14 pm | Reply
    • Chris

      Prisonplanet is a right-wing lie factory.

      June 20, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Reply
  9. Mike

    Being the "beacon of freedom" is a position we are loseing quickly. Our actions and policies are not working. The current constitution is flawed in that it was written a very long time ago and is being used to destroy our country with. If you do research you will see that "amendments" and tweeks have been made. These tweaks have done nothing positive for the people. I think we absolutlely need to update our constitution, my fear is that the two parties running the show will use this as a way to further take away our rights and the current vicegrip lock they have on us and the way they have lulled us to sleep will help nothing but further their agenda. We have to awake as a nation and rise above this. We have to look at the situation we are in. Why does the person who raises the most money get to be president.. or at least get a better chance then those without the funding. To me the funding prooves they are funded by people with agenda. Their nomination and time in office are plain and simply to better the situation of the wealthy that have put them in the position they are in. I belive we need to go through our government systems and put term limits where they are not present. We need to allocate money to everyone who is a viable candidate for teir elected office. Nooone shold be allowed to have more TV or air time then anyone else. These postions were created for the avarage American to hold.. do their time as a civil servant and then return to life as a normal person. It has turned into a good old boys club. Where the people whio are there to further the agenda of the people who paid the money to get them elected are the ones that are being taken care of instead of the avg tax payer. Until we end this and revamp our government i fear that any changes to out current constitution would be used to spin wording in that would allow them even more power that cannot be challenged. So in the end. YES i think we need to update this missions statement.. but i dont think we can do that until we break the current form of government down and get rid of the corruption.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Reply
  10. Sheri Ritchie

    I believe the Constitution needs revision...some permanent..some temporary. We need to abolish the electorial voting system that may have been useful in the Pony Express era. Our voting should be by popular vote., and popular vote only. The Federal Government needs to keep it's face out of the State Government...this is the basic idea of even having separate State Government. I have lived in several states; believe me..each state is individual to it's own needs.
    Maybe, just maybe, we don't need the Feds telling our states what to spend on and how high to jump..We could actually have a system where the states trade amongst themselves; thereby becoming more self sufficient, and less reliant on the Feds. The Feds could worry about pertecting our boarders, and keeping terrorists at bay.
    Our country needs cleaning up; perhaps closing the borders to new aliens would help clean up the medicare mess that has transpired. I have paid into this system for 42 years; it is my money and it should be available to me at 62; not 65; not 70! I did not approve our government's dipping into my money. Why can they? Perhaps it is time to move toward a tax revolution... to begin with!

    June 20, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Reply
    • oldgulph

      The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

      The National Popular Vote bill is a state-based approach. It preserves the Electoral College and state control of elections. It changes the way electoral votes are awarded in the Electoral College. It assures that every vote is equal and that every voter will matter in every state in every presidential election, as in virtually every other election in the country.

      Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. Elections wouldn't be about winning states. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps. Every vote, everywhere would be counted for and directly assist the candidate for whom it was cast. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states.

      The bill does not abolish the Electoral College, which would need a constitutional amendment, and could be stopped by states with as little as 3% of the U.S. population. Virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action, without federal constitutional amendments.

      The bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers, in 21 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in AR, CT, DE, DC, ME, MI, NV, NM, NY, NC, and OR, and both houses in CA, CO, HI, IL, NJ, MD, MA, RI, VT, and WA. The bill has been enacted by DC (3), HI (4), IL (19), NJ (14), MD (11), MA (10), VT (3), and WA (13). These 8 jurisdictions possess 77 electoral votes – 29% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.


      June 20, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Reply
      • stan

        Zakaria needs to learn why there only 17 changes in 220 years. He totally mis understands why this is a nation of laws ( imperfect at best, ) and NOT OF MEN.
        He should try out some of the "nations" subject to the tyranny and inhumanity of leaders in the 110 countries I have visited.
        In the USA worst days ( aliensedition,Japanese interment, etc etc) we finally got it right because of that document, the oldest in humanity's world. ) Think about it.

        June 20, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
      • rb

        The law you support will not really matter one way or the other. They already ignore the people so why not change the system maybe it will be cheaper

        June 20, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
      • Maciej

        Thanks for bringing the link to the webside.
        While the Electoral framwork of the reform has it merrits in the political situation of the country, it still upholdes us in the trancated democracy: US citizens livinig within US jurisdiction but outside the state framework ( US-Vegin Island, Porto Rico, Guam, etc) will be excludede form election.

        June 21, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • Melissa

      The state gvts have proven they are morons. Life and death should NOT be left up to state governments, that includes health care.

      June 20, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Reply
      • Brian

        Yeah because it's not like some of the States aren't ahead of curve then others on healthcare, education or prison reform, oh wait they aren't.

        And no, we should still have the electoral college. The small states already in comparison, don't have much power. Simply turning the president into a majority vote installs mob rule and simply gets rid of any meaning to smaller states.

        June 20, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  11. Ken K

    It's time that the public had some sort of immediate redress against what career politicians have done to our political and law-making processes.

    A Constitutional Amendment to allow public propositions (similar to California law) to introduce and allow a popular vote on legislation would change this. To avoid the flurry of lawyers blocking the results, the subject of the referendum would have to be constitutionality-tested by a higher US court before going to the ballot box.

    To become law, the proposition would have to pass a tough test - say 2/3 or 3/4 of voters (or possibly registered voters) in the US (or possibly in each state) would have to approve it. This would help prevent any one majority group from targeting legislation against a minority group.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Reply
    • Doug

      Ken K,

      We all see how good the referendum system works in California, quite possibly the most broken of the 50 state governements.

      June 20, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Reply
      • dan25ny

        I was about to say, I think I may be more comfortable with corrupt politicians than with ignorant voters...

        June 20, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • Melissa

      Now that is an idea I'd like to see. Its time for the people to have the ability to propose ideas to the federal gvt and bipass the state completely. Right now we don't. We can send a letter or email to the state gvt and it will just be totally ignored in favor of whoever has the money.

      June 20, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Reply
    • Eric

      There is a nearly immediate redress.. It's called elections every 2, 4 and 6 years.. You can't just recall every politician because they do something you don't like. Do research before voting in the first place.

      June 20, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Reply
    • Calahan

      Now i do agree that americans should be aloud to voice their thoughts in government without having to hope for a represientive to. I have always liked direct democracy more then representive. But if americans are aloud to prepose something to be voted on in to law then i do believe a good amount of americans need to be behind this act. I am think 3% to 5% precent of all registered voters need to sign a petition before it is even going to be voted on nationally. That is roughly 9 to 15 million people. It could go higher but i do believe that americans should be able to prepose legislation. I do not believe they should be able to vote out a congressmen or congresswomen or the president. That should happen at their respective re election.

      June 20, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Reply
  12. SoCal Patriot

    As an "advisor" to the President, you, Mr. Zakaria should be at least remotely educated about our Republic before you make such uninformed arguments. We are not Iceland, Mr. Zakaria, and if you believe that we should take our lead from them, perhaps you and Barry can go live there and help them realize your utopian socialist society.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Reply
  13. Sam Lucchese

    Our political representatives in Washington seem to consider holding on to their job as their highest priority. This does not bode well for their constituents or the country. Big money donations becomes a factor in decision making. Saying anthing to get reelected is commonplace including twisting the truth and flip flopping on issues. Primarily because job retention is all important, Congress has become disfunctional. To counter this sorry situation, Americans might want to consider an amendment to the Constitution setting term limits. The number of terms would be open for debate, but the idea is to eliminate the life tenure concept . Perhaps then we can have dedicated representatives whose primary concern is the welfare of their constituents and their country.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Reply
    • Jennifer

      Agreed! Term limits for all elected officials. And elimination of corporate campaign donations too.

      June 20, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Reply
  14. zack

    I completely agree with rick house. Fareed Zakaria lacks understanding of the founding document and is not in an educated informed position to suggest it be changed.
    that document is the greatest document ever created by man. throwing it away and starting anew would actually violate the constitution anyway and would be tossed by the supreme court. the constitution can be amended, it can not be wholly discarded.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Reply
    • Marcus

      Wait, really? The greatest document ever created by man? A couple thousand years of history, and the constitution of fairly young country is the greatest document? Really? Come on.

      June 20, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Reply
    • Bob in pa

      No, I think he understands exactly how our government is defined. You must remember the Mr. Zakaria is an advisor to Obama and probably sees the Constitution in the same light as Obama, a detriment to creating the "perfect society" and the only thing between them and their great society is that pesky little outdated document.

      June 20, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Reply
  15. The Jackdaw

    The Federal Government needs to be put back in its place. It should exist to protect the interestes of the American people, not exist by exploiting the American people.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Reply
  16. Peter

    The reason we can't do the same thing as Iceland is we don't have a tradition of civil discussion in the U.S. Go to any thread on CNN and will see what I mean. It is a series of unsubstantiated self-righteous posts that are the equivalent of trying to shout each other down. And that is just the story about recycling soap for use in Africa. If you go to the politics or religious sections it gets really nasty.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Reply
    • David Duffield

      You know this is my first time looking at this post and your right, much of this is ridiculous even comical. However if you read or spend some time on it carefully you find the occasional thoughtful even informative comment. I checked out the Popular Vote Bill in one of the posts above and it looks good. Perhaps CNN should divide up the comment section into much smaller (5 – 7) very specific questions, this could help guide the questions a little more. I taught Government for a semester, so I'm very glad he raised the public awareness with this, but it should go much further. Dialogues like this take a series of programs looking at it from multiple angles, levels and legitimate opinions. To do this justice, Zakaria should really focus on a much broader, longer term series like "American Government in the 21st Century"

      June 20, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Reply

    The constitution has already had so many "amendments" already, why not just more "amendments". Never mind the fact that most of the previous "amendments" were back door opportunities for the rich & powerful to become more so. Why don't we just let DOW Chemical, DuPont, Exxon & Bank of America write the new one for us so we can save some time. We might as well since they will now be buying all our "public servants" with each new "election".

    June 20, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Reply
    • JMHO

      In Practice – this what the Major (campaign funders / Lobbysts) corporations Have been doing for my entire adult life!

      June 20, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Reply
  18. 11:11

    The current crop of (and I use this term loosely) "leaders" have all but shredded it already. Those that would see liberty dead become more open and embolden about their intentions daily, don't they Zakaria?

    June 20, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Reply
  19. We the People...

    Change the Constitution The document that gives us our freedom.... H_ll No, bad idea!

    June 20, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Reply
    • desi

      it has been changed 27 times already, in case you didn't know it.

      June 20, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Reply
    • dbrown

      The Constitution does not give you your freedom. You are endowed with unalienable rights from your creator. The Constitution is supposed to require the goverment to uphold those rights that you are born with.

      June 20, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Reply
      • mijkal

        The constitution doesn't 'give' us our freedom, and the founders all knew that. The constitution was to limit the power of the government and create the framework to function, and including the Bill of Rights was very contentious because they didn't want to to be perceived as a finite list of rights, but rather a subset of unwritten rights we all already possess.

        That's why I find arguments like 'there's no right to same-sex marriage in the constitution' absurd — we do not derive our rights from this piece of paper (nor base our secular laws on sacred texts), but contemporary Americans are ignorant of this fact.

        June 20, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  20. Kevin

    @Rick House
    Bravo! I stopped reading Mr. Zakaria's article as soon as I read his Senate comment. Is it any wonder, with this degree of civic misunderstanding, that our nation is in decline?

    June 20, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Reply
  21. Ali999

    The structure of the Senate is even more undemocratic, with Wisconsin's six million inhabitants getting the same representation in the Senate as California's 36 million people. That's not exactly one man, one vote.
    You might also point out that California has more representation in the HOUSE because many of its 36 million people are NOT citizens, but illegal aliens. Now, an amendment that doesn't base representation on population but CITIZENS I can go for. And that limits citizenry to those born to at least one citizen parent.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Reply
    • Moose

      California is actually under-represented in the house of representatives because a LOT of people (I think it was half a million or something large like that) weren't counted in the last census. The data for the census is from itself, and the data that shows there is a shortfall is from the tax collecting part of California's government. So ignoring the whole illegal immigrant thing, not even all of the tax payers in California are even being counted in the house. problems abound! 😀

      June 21, 2011 at 5:31 am | Reply
  22. Doomguy

    If you want to revise the constitution, there is already a process in place. It is called adding an amendment.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Reply
  23. Jason

    I seem to agree with everyone, why change what has been so brutally ignored. Is it too much to ask for an amendment by which the Legislative branch of our government can not excluded themselves or their family from any laws they pass.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Reply
  24. Ralphie

    I love how Zakaria see's the lack of flushing toilets, the size of the room, and the lack of a cotton gin as relevant to the need to reform the constitution. Bravo. That's some real fine logic.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Reply
  25. db

    The only change I would support would be term limits not to exceed the President's maximum term limit of two terms on all Senator's and Congressmen/women, and the Supreme Court Justices instead of life appointments, more like 10 or 12 year appointment.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Reply
  26. Dan

    If the two best example you can come up with are the electoral college and the Senate you have a long way to go on coming up with a convincing argument.

    If you want a system that is more democratic why not just go all the way and bring our "democracy" into the modern era and have all laws voted on by the populous online ... (which is a horrible idea).

    June 20, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Reply
  27. Hemi

    Given Zakaraia is "in the tank" for Obama, as a consultant, it is not surprising that he implies we should change the Electoral college, given he wants to win the next election by popular vote, by granting amnesty to 20+million illegals, thus "buying" their popular vote. Unfortunately, the majority of those he will buy, live in predominantly 3 states; thus his highly slanted reasoning for wanting revisions to the electoral college and the Senate. He must be worried about the next election, in order to try to get a "FIX" in early with this absurd commentary. I say NO, and if ANYTHING gets revised, it is to deport Zackaraia.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Reply
  28. Sam

    News pundits should be counted as 3/5 of a person.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Reply
  29. Anthony

    Access to free healthcare (like every other modern nation in the world), campaign finance reform (a corporation is not equal to an individual), legalize marijuana (its less detrimental to society then alcohol and we could use the tax revenue). I do have to agree with Rick, your position on the senate is completely backwards and the electoral college is an outdated method for electing the highest ranking government official.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Reply
  30. Ahmed

    Sorry but I stopped reading after one man one vote comment on the senate. You lost credibility by not understanding the point of having two seperate houses. If it was not for the equal respresnation of the states, the country would be running on laws passed by CA and NY.

    Rick House hit the nail on the head as well.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Reply
    • desi

      If combined population of CA and NY is more than other 48 states, then why not? I am tired of money being spent on smaller states on projects that help very few people. Remember Bridge to Nowhere?

      June 20, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Reply
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