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 And, anyway, they felt the document was old and outdated, drafted all the way back in 1944.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.

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

soundoff (2,350 Responses)
  1. It's not even a Liberal VS Conservative issue, it's just incompetent.

    No need to point fingers. This is just a very bad idea in general and I think the vast majority of the U.S. population who has graduated High School would agree.

    June 20, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Reply
  2. gwap

    The electoral college and equal senate representation are vital. They preserve the power of the states. We already live in a soft tyranny imposed by the malingering majority on the productive minority. Our forefathers correctly saw this coming when they severly restricted the powers of the govt and allowed the citizens the rights to speak, assemble, and bear arms.

    People like you are way too impressed with yourselves. We really don't need your ilk solving our problems. We need personal and market freedom to prosper, nothing more.

    June 20, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Reply
  3. gman21

    I am a natualized citizen of America. The more I have enjoyed the freedom to be responsible under the US constitution, the more respect I have for the founding fathers. With a bunch of corrupt crooks in the congress and senate, we just cannot trust anyone to make any changes. The founding fathers were committed to the state and God. Let those values prevail forever.

    June 20, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Reply
    • Benjamin Franklin

      Cheers to you, my friend.

      June 20, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Reply
  4. Garrett

    This article completely lost me when it suggested that the US Senate needs to be reconsidered. There is a process for amending the constitution. It is seldom followed because so few things require such gravity. There are many issues for which amending the constitution can be legitimately proposed. However, abolition of the Senate is not one of them. Just imagine how things would work with a one person one vote mentality. The state of California has a budget problem. As such, it decides to partner with New York and Washington to out vote all the other states and establish that those three states shall benefit from limitless funding while exempting their own citizens from taxes. A crazy example? Yes. However, this clearly shows why our government is the way it is.

    June 20, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Reply
  5. Bill Santagata

    Oh and #3 I would institute term limits for Congress.

    June 20, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Reply
  6. ShamDemocraciesAreAScam

    I think Mr. Zakaria understands constitution and the sham democracy it creates better than most people on the planet. Democracy can be the best form of government if it is implemented properly or it can be bad as a dictatorship or even as bad as slavery depending on how it is abused. Currently all democracies are undemocratic. Poor voters get to vote once every four years. Then the elected representatives spend like bandits without ever asking the voters if they have the voters' permission to spend on useless multi-billion dollar projects. When the congress or administration spends like there is no tomorrow, the poor tax payers are left on the hook for years to come. Tax payers have no say before the expenditures are made in their name. Ordinary voters and tax payers work hard and pay their taxes while the governments intentionally keep committing more of tax payers' money without ever asking them first and also in order to keep them working like slaves for generations to come. Good luck democracies with the selfish politicians are ruining your future while they are enriching themselves. So here is an idea for constitution and make it article number 1. Government shall not spend money on projects for which it does not have tax payers' direct approval.

    June 20, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Reply
  7. Sidney

    There should be a separate Bill of Rights concerning businesses dealing with citizens and the government. It was not thought of how businesses would have an influence on the nation when the original Bill of Rights, while well thought out, was made.

    A corporation or institution:
    1. Cannot do business in America if it violates human rights, if it is unlawful, if it conducts animal cruelty or if it is reliant on harming the environment, in any part of the world. A corporation outsourcing to another company guilty of the previous is at risk of losing rights to conduct business in the United States of America.

    2. Will be eligible for tax deductions or government assistance based on sustainability, fair-trade, employing domestic workers, technological advancements, charity or other benefit to society.

    3. Will be taxed appropriately for doing business in a nation that uses an artificial currency exchange rate. This is to compensate for artificial trade imbalances. Companies will not be subsidized by the government for the fuel costs of shipping goods from other countries. Neither will companies be subsidized for negligent practices.

    4. Must use fair pricing, even for debts. Companies cannot charge above 15% on interest, or the national interest rate, if that is higher. Practices for an amount already owed cannot be changed. A contract statement inferring a debt policy can be changed at will is invalid.

    5. Must hold all preferred stock private. Common stock can be made available to the public markets. This keeps businesses' decisions away from those not involved in its production or services. Public stockholder's interests are generally based on profit, and not on improving the company's integrity. Hostile takeovers are also prevented. Public shareholders are still allowed to invest to benefit and generate capital for businesses.
    An elected official of the government must temporarily give up preferred stock for the time in office. This is to prevent leaders who makes rules to benefit their business at the expense of the country, and for the same reason an individual cannot hold two seats in office.

    6. Cannot be outsourced for government infrastructure. The government must produce its own currency and military equipment. Newly made water and electric distribution will be made, owned and operated by the government. Corporations are not prevented from providing complementary services for public usage. Certain services may be rented out for corporate use. The best minds or talent may be made available, so long as its not a threat to national security. Companies can be compensated for use of its employees or resources in government projects.

    June 20, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Reply
    • Sidney

      Make this a second Economic Bill of Rights. The original constitution is masterful and changing that is too risky.

      7. Has restrictions against lobbying. Also, government officials are not allowed to use the government to advance their affiliated businesses. (An elected official of the government must temporarily give up preferred stock for the time in office. This is to prevent leaders who makes rules to benefit their business at the expense of the country, and for the same reason an individual cannot hold two seats in office.)

      8. Trade and economic laws. (those that have been repealed in the last decade belong here)
      Basic economic rights: (such as been proposed in the past)

      9. Secure housing – Restrictions against foreclosures. Hold banks liable. (some of the secure economies such as South Korea and Singapore are based on secure housing)

      10. Education – Student loan forgiveness for engineer, medical or economically relevant related degrees at qualifying educational institutions. Reimbursement for high grades toward relevant degrees and core courses. Regulation and price caps on corporate educational institutions. Upgrade of the educational system.

      11. Healthcare access – Privileges for those in the medical field. Advancement in the medical field to reduce costs and provide better treatments using ethical means. Provide affordable healthcare. Free preventative health services. Free healthcare for those under 21 and of old age. Economic security for injured persons. Option to be taxed to receive government healthcare coverage. Emergency treatment cannot be denied for anyone, unless there is a shortage.

      12. Labor laws –

      June 22, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Reply
  8. pt6071

    Let's remember that the founding fathers were men, not gods. Very great, but not perfect, individuals who had great ideas but ideas that aren't above debate. I think we need to stop thinking of the constitution as "unquestionable truth" and not just fall back on the idea that if Jefferson, Franklink, and Madison wrote it then it's practically heresy to even question it.

    June 20, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Reply
    • Benjamin Franklin

      It was written by 39 men who all agreed on core principles to best serve a country, the were committed to the building of strong state, devoid of political bias. Let those values prevail forever. Maybe we'll return to those principles and stop telling everyone how to live their lives and what project their income will be forced to fund.

      June 20, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Reply
    • Kelly

      39 slave owning men... Who, if somehow appeared here in modern time, would be horrified at the equality given to slaves and women. Those men did good for the times, but times have changed... The world has evolved from horse-riden communications to emails that arrive in seconds across the world. The Consitution is behind the times and should be updated accordingly... So sorry, Mr. Franklin... But it's true

      June 20, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Reply
  9. David

    States' Rights

    Just what I needed to start my day...a Pakistani retard working for the Communist News Netword telling me (a true American) that I need my Constitution re-written so that he and his liberal pals can force me to pay for more things that they're not willing to, like Obamacare. I've read the Constitution. I don't see anything that really can't be applied now a days. It's a document that liberals don't like b/c it guarantees true Americans the rights of freedom, most importantly that the federal government can't rule over us. Instead of re-writing the Constitution, I have a better idea...let's round up all the liberals, buy them all one way tickets to Europe, and wave goodbye to them forever. That sounds nice!

    The same can be said for right wing lunatics...let all the "liberals " buy em tickets to sudan where they can live in a society purey controlled by those who have over the have nots!!!

    June 20, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Reply
  10. cnntwistruth

    Fareed: Go back to where you came from. We're doing just fine without you or your ignorant ramblings. CNN: Do you actually pay this guy for articles like this? ?

    June 20, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Reply
  11. Shane

    Great insight Fareed. I think the main problem with proposing amendments is deciding which to propose first and where to stop. There has to be enough popular public opinion to support changes in the law of the land. The first step would be online referendums, but allegations of electronic fraud and bias towards those who are not computer savvy would abound. I'm not saying this should be looked at but I am also saying that it would be tremendously difficult, especially given the current political climate.

    June 20, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Reply
  12. Bob

    The idea that there would be enough fundamental agreement among Americans to sustain major changes to the U.S. Constitution is so unrealistic that it does not bear serious consideration. This is a deeply divided country, and amendments to the Constitution - including amendments by substitution – require something close to consensus. It's not going to happen.

    June 20, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Reply
  13. Todd

    I think we should chunk our constitution and start over.Leave out the 2nd amendment completely,guns do kill people.
    Also we need to do away with the state senate and congress.These bodies of state govt. do little and cost way too much.Have a elected group of 12 that votes on state issues and leave it at that.As for the US senate give each state 2 and the US congress give each state 1 and cut the rest.We also need to add to our states like Puerto Rico or any other Commonwealth or any territory that is part of the US should be able to become a state with the right to vote for president.

    June 20, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Reply
    • Benjamin Franklin

      If you even tried to remove the 2nd Amendment, you would have a very large revolution on your hands. The 2nd amendment was made to ensure that citizens could fulfill the obligation to act against an overstepping and unjust government and replace it if need be. That was the whole point of declaring independence. You are a dolt. Go live in Europe or something where the people are at the mercy of their governments, for better or for worse.

      June 20, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Reply
  14. Tristan

    1. Abolish the House of Representatives and grant to the people the ability to enact legislation through the indirect initiative, also known as the Initiative to the Legislature; establish a 66% minimum approval rate (by the general electorate) for all proposed constitutional amendments. Keep in mind that the House of Representatives, unlike the republican Senate, was set up to be the voice of the people, i.e., the democratic component of government; that this was done instead of an Athenian-style democratic chamber probably only reflects the practical impossibilities of the initiative in the 1780s. Keep the Senate on as a body whose sole purpose is to pass or propose alternatives to legislation submitted by indirect initaitives. To appease the small states without perpetuating the ridiculous inequalities of the the current Senate (WI's 6 million? How about Wyoming's 600,000?) establish a four or five tiered system: the ten least populous states get 1 senator each, the 10 most populous get 5 each, the second 10 least populous get 2 each, etc. This would preserve a strong bias in favor of the smallest states without totally disenfranchising the vast majority of US citizens.
    2. Elect ALL offices through STV or IRV voting, as applicable.
    3. Hold judicial elections in every relevant judicial district (i.e. Western Dist. of WA; the 8th Circuit; the Supreme Court) for NON-RENEWABLE 10 yr terms.

    June 20, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Reply
  15. jamesnyc

    I shake my head at this pundit's lack of historical context regarding the constitution and his stupidity regarding the senate. I am also interested in why he didn't mention changing the archaic laws regarding anchor babies. I do think though that a law should be passed that only corporeal entities and not corporate entities have a right to contribute to elections. I also think K street should be leveled for a parking lot. SCOTUS needs to have stronger antilobbying and conflict laws put in place because scalia obviously is being paid by corporations in one way or another.

    June 20, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Reply
  16. Wes

    Three proposed amendments:

    I. The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. Therefore I recommend instituting a restructuring of term limits on Congress and the Presidency.
    1. House members should be elected for 4 year terms, and should be limited to 4 terms; consideration should be given towards setting a limit on the number of consecutive terms, perhaps 2.
    2. Senators should have a 8-year term, limited to 3-4 terms, again, no more than 2 consecutive terms.
    3. The Presidency should be 6 years, with no limit on the number of terms; however, they should be non-consecutive. A former President cannot be a Vice-Presidential candidate in the next election.

    II. Regarding elections, there should be an amendment overturning Citizens United v. FEC. As Justice Stevens noted in his dissent, the ruling, which struck down parts of McCain-Feingold and allows corporations and other organizations to broadcast 'electioneering communications,' "threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the Nation. The path it has taken to reach its outcome will, I fear, do damage to this institution." Any and all money used in elections should be 100% transparent, and limited. This may also require revisiting Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad (1886), which granted corporations protections under the 14th amendment (i.e. corporate personhood).

    III. The metric system should become the measurement standard of the land. The short term aggravation would lead to longer term benefits, wealth, and knowledge.

    June 20, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Reply
  17. Mr. Zippy

    This guy's ideas are half baked at best. The Senate was deliberately set up with 2 per state in order to protect the small states. Hence the two chambers. Also, as a matter of fact, Senators were originally elected by state legislatures. It wasn't til the mid 20th century that Senators were elected by popular vote.

    June 20, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Reply
  18. John Atkins

    Presidential Candidates must spend most of their time in battleground states such as Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. They ignore the ones which are already a foregone conclusion, even if they could pick up extra votes by campaigning there. This makes the nation more polarized, and battleground states extract favors from the new administration. We can do better than this! The Electoral College is an anachronism.

    June 20, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Reply
  19. Clint

    Very weak article decrying the electoral college and the entire concept of a bicameral legislature. The author enshrines direct democracy as a paragon, but won't discuss its shortfalls.

    Of course we could change the constitution, but the author here really just wants to do away with the senate and the electoral college. The author just used 'change the constitution' as a tagline to draw hits, fit in an interesting story about iceland (without disciussing its electoral system), and display his / her logical shortcomings.

    June 20, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Reply
    • The editorial failboat.

      This should be flagged as opinion, not news.

      June 20, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Reply
  20. Kelly

    I think it is an interesting idea to revisit the constitution. Times have changed, and if we as a country do not change with it, we are doomed to fail...

    This document was written back when the only communication available was hand-written letters by horseback. The whole system could be streamlined to take into consideration the technology available.

    For instance (and this is only an idea, there are obviously flaws and some aspects arent exactly possible at this exact moment just because of security reasons): Why not eliminate Congress all together?? With internet, we could each cast a vote on a possible law and as a country the actual majority could decide. This would solve the problems of lobbying and campaign contributions, because these things hinder our rights as citizens.

    All Fareed was getting at is, maybe it's time to discuss some better ideas. If nothing else add in simple things (that the founding father's wouldn't have even though of due to the non-exsistance) like banning lobbying and special interest campaign contributions as mentioned above. If we leave that up to Congress, it will never happen (thanks to their lobbying buddies and special interest groups that give them all sorts of goodies. Who would want to give that up?).

    I also think that all political positions should have term limitations. Officials can become to complacent, and it seems the longer they are in the more corrupt they get. Not to mention, my views (being 26yrs old) are a little different than an 85 year old senator who has been in office for decades. My generation is going to be the more effected by the decisions the 85 year old who is completely disconnected from the modern era will be (isnt there a Senator still in office – or recently left office – that voted against de-segregation?? Someone like that shouldn't still be in office... so antiquated).

    Also, I think our Constitution should be more stern on the seperation of Church and State. Gay Unions (not even on the Founding Father's radar...) should not be decided on because someone's religion views it as wrong. That is mixing your religious views with the state... NOT ALLOWED. Plane and simple. Homosexuals should have the same right as any other human being. It is a simple right... And Marriage is a Religious instituation, so let's stop calling it that people... Gay Unions takes the Religious aspect right out of it.

    Or how about abortion (also not on the Founding Father's radar...)?? I am pro-choice, because I believe in my right as a women to choose. The main arguements against abortion rights are all religious based. Keep your religious beliefs out of my basic right as a women to make a decision about my body.

    A document written 222 years ago might as well have been written in the stone ages. We have evolved leaps and bounds and to assume that this old document will be our letter of law for all times is a little naive. I do not think we should throw it out the window and I also think the Bill of Rights shouldnt be modified much (maybe add a few), but I think it is time to start revisiting it and changing it to be more appropriate for modern day life.

    Think about it, these mean that w hold at such high revere were all slave owners. If somehow they were to wake up in present time, they would be horrified that the slaves are equals. Could you even imagine how they would feel about Affirmative Action?? They would be disappointed in how the country has evolved, and not in a good way. In an ignorant, pathetic way. (just saying...)

    June 20, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Reply
  21. Rod C. Venger

    If I had to offer one amendment, it would be to not recongnize Islam as a religion, since it also claims to be a social, judicial and economic system as well as a "religion". There mere idea that a Muslim would propose we start making changes to the US Constitution should cause all of us great cause for concern.

    Realistically, we can't even get the government to obey the US Constitution as written. BAFTE's mere existence virtually guts the meaning of the Second amendment and the current occupant of the White House picks and chooses which lawyers to listen to when it comes to the legality of our intervention in Libya. The problem is NOT with the US Constitution. The problem is with those who interpret it to their own, nefarious ends and a Supreme Court that cherry picks which cases it takes and makes up the law as it goes along. It is NOT a "living, breathing document". It says what it says.

    June 20, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Reply
    • jsfaofhvk

      That breaks the first amendment to the constitution.

      June 20, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Reply
  22. Stephano

    Hey!!!! Here's a great chance to cram into the constitution all those rights that the founding fathers intended (but apparently forgot) to include. Finally we can throw out all those principles this country was founded upon. We can change the nation's name to the Revised States of America (RSA). Although I suggest keeping a version number so that immigrants can keep track of what nation we are this decade. We can apply the law to individuals based on whether they became citizens during RSA 1.5, or RSA 3.9!! Because after all, RSA 1.5 was what they signed up for and so why should we apply RSA 3.9 laws to that individual? We can tell all the veterans that served and died for the USA, "well, thanks for your participating in RSA Beta (formally known as USA). But now that we no longer hold these truths to be self evident, we'll send you a 5% discount when you buy into RSA."

    June 20, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Reply
    • Kelly

      Tell me, is ignorance really bliss??

      He wasnt saying throw it out... This was meant to start an interesting discussion and to share view points on changes you think should be made if the opportunity were to ever present itself. Which it wont, because the slave-owning founding father's – who's only communication was a pen and paper taken by horse days later to the intended recipient – is the final say, mostly because of the ignorance in this country such as yours. Times have changed, technology has grown leaps and bounds; there are more efficient ways to govern a country. It would be interesting to see some big changes/additions (not a totally new document) to the 222 year old document.

      June 20, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Reply
      • Mike Houston

        "technology" can never provide answers to philosophical questions. Our current generation of technology worshipers is
        a very shallow minded generation: if they can't find a button to push to fix whatever problem faces them at the moment they're totally stumped.

        June 20, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
      • Stephano

        OK Kelly, for you I'll drop the sarcasm. I agree, there are better ways to govern, however technology has nothing to do with it. Whether I read the constitution on paper or via my phone or nook, the principles are the same. If you think that the writers of the constitution (of which there were over 200 revisions and changes made to it before coming up with the final verbiage) weren't in touch with the common man and woman's opinion, then you're sadly mistaken Many of them went through an evolutionary process that brought them to that point. And please know that I've learned this through years of study of history. I'm sorry that you mistook my sarcasm as ignorance.
        Which brings me to my second point; Please advise Al Franken, Stephen Colbert and Bill Maher via email, text, twitter, or FB (certainly not via pen and paper-lest it doth offend thee) and let them know that their sarcasm is ignorant. I'd appreciate you sharing that opinion with them.

        June 20, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
  23. Political Mayhem

    OK, I've read a lot of the comments here, some highly intelligent and some not so intelligent. Neither of which is suprising in this great country. My only opinion is that the constitution is not the problem, It's the politicians we vote for to enforce it and then become corrupt and use it as a means for their own ends. If we could figure out a way to put checks and balances on them, then we would have a great system.

    June 20, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Reply
  24. Bob

    The reason this would never work in America is that the suggestions from Americans would only change things to help themselves. You would have 350M amendments all of which say "me". Americans do not think about the greater good. Read most of these comments. There is no sense of a greater good, it is just criticism and name calling.

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

      Yes, a friend was complaining about NBC' recent editing of the Pledge of Allegiance to omit God. I found it interesting that most people were not upset at all about the part also omitted that says the country is 'indivisible'. The same people complaining about the edit have no problem buying made in China goods that help put other americans out of work.

      June 20, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Reply
  25. David

    A document written 222 years ago might as well have been written in the stone ages. We have evolved leaps and bounds and to assume that this old document will be our letter of law for all times is a little naive....

    Oh while we are at it we might as well throw out the bible too...

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

      Oh, you mean the book written in the dark ages as a means to lift spirits and inflict fear with tall tales?? Yep, precisely... Thanks for further proving my point.

      June 20, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Reply
    • Mike Houston

      It would be a good idea to throw the Bible out of our legislative halls of governance.

      June 20, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Reply
  26. Kevin

    A separate article should be created in a new Constitution that clearly spells out all individual rights laid out the current Amendments but with parallel responsibilities are required for each right. In my mind this was a big oversight of the original framers of the Constitution. Some ideas:
    Section 1: Qualifications for Citizenship/Responsibilities of Citizenship
    a: People born in the U.S.A. are fully vested citizens of the United States regardless of race, creed, religious affiliation, sex or sexual orientation. b: It is the responsibility of all U.S. citizens regardless of civil or military status to serve, protect and defend the United States of America including possible loss of property, well being or life itself.
    Section 2: Right to Free Speech, Religion etc. / Responsibility of Tolerance
    a: All citizens have the right to free speech or to practice a faith of their own chosing
    b: Citizens are prohibited agains discrimination or violence against those exercising such rights in good faith.
    Section 3: Right to Bear Arms and Responsibility of Civil or Military Service
    a: All citizens have the right to bear arms as part of a citizens militia called by the governor of the state in which they reside or the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Military.
    b: All citizens upon reaching the age of 18 must complete one year of military or civil service training that includes training on use of firearms for the defense of the nation for any all military attacks or to maintain the security within U.S. borders for any man-made or natural crises. Citizens having completed said training are required to serve in citizen militias at the discretion of the governer of the state in which they reside or the President of the United States in his role as Commander in Chief.

    June 20, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Reply
  27. HelloNurse

    1. Make limited, individual campaign contributions the only legal variety. No corporate campaign contributions, no fund-raising groups. Retiring congressmen must wait ten years (they will receive a stipend) before returning to private sector employment.

    2. Give congressional votes and their results unavoidable, daily media coverage. Mandate that a few minutes of every news broadcast, a ticker on every email portal, search engine and internet news outlet, and a header on the front page of every newspaper be dedicated to the most recent votes in both House and Senate. Give corresponding focus to the votes of congressmen/senators from the areas/states of the readers. Include short, concise and un-biased summaries of what each bill contains with focus to any riders and earmarks along with their sponsors.

    3. The establishment of universal healthcare and a nationalization of the healthcare industry.

    June 20, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Reply
    • Mike in NJ

      Sorry, #2 would backfire – people would (sadly) just stop looking where those things were prominent, and look where their interests were sated.

      June 20, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Reply
  28. WildManBrainiac

    We are far past the point when geographical divisions are of any importance. Congressional representation should be determined by income. The top 1% of income earners in the United States should be represented by no more than 1% of a unicameral legislative body rather than by the 99% representation they have in the house and senate today.

    June 20, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Reply
  29. Paul Schlachter

    1. Abolish the second amendment. State legislatures should regulate arms ownership and possession.
    2. Abolish the electoral college and make the popular vote the means of electing the president and vice-president.
    3. Abolish the "natural born" requirement for president and vice-president.

    June 20, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Reply
    • J Mabie

      So you want only the most desely populated parts of our country running the entire country – and you want the rest of us left with no means to defend ourselves? There are a lot of countries in this world run this way – but that is key reson the US is a special place – so the beaurocrats in Moscow don't just send us off to Gulag. maybe you should think about relocating.

      June 20, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Reply
  30. Mike in NJ

    To answer Mr. Zakaria's original question,
    1. The First Amendment (It's first for a reason). Clarify and expand the separation of Church and State (It's there to protect the STATE – Church has never been in danger from this government.)
    2. A Corporation is not a Person; it is a collection of persons, and has no rights unto itself. Person's rights shall supersede any rights accorded a Corporation.
    3. Congress shall make no law to dictate to another person what they can or cannot do to their own body, or any part of their own body.

    A lot of crazy ideas up above, and most to limit or remove rights from people. Amazing. Let's keep the Constitution we have, and let's try walking in the footsteps of others more often – more empathy, less antipathy.

    June 20, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Reply
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