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 And, anyway, they felt the document was old and outdated, drafted all the way back in 1944.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

    I'm sorry, but, this article is full of total bullshit. The Constitution is a work of artful genius. Maybe, Mr. Fareed Zakaria would like a one way ticket to Soviet Russia 60 years ago.

    June 20, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Reply
    • Bob

      I don't think you get it. This article was specifically written to start a debate and spark thought. There is absolutely no criticism of the document.

      June 20, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Reply
      • Courtney

        "No criticism"? He clearly said that parts of the current Constitution are out-dated and "un-democratic" and that we should consider updating/revising them. If that's not criticism, what is?

        June 20, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
  2. ZG

    I completely agree with Mr. Zakaria that the structure of the senate is undemocratic. This is largely due to the fact that we are a republic and NOT a democracy (If you don't believe me say the pledge of allegiance or take the time to look it up). Before we all decide to change the constitution, it might be helpful to look at the definition of a republic and to actually read the constitution. That way you know how your government is designed to work and you aren't relying on how your fifth grade social studies teacher (or Mr. Zakaria) told you s/he thinks the government is supposed to work.

    June 20, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Reply
  3. Tom Gregory

    Citizens feel powerless and disconnected from their government.
    The government continues to act without the will of the people.
    Grotesque compromises are made in order to get any legistation completed.
    Is your "vote" counted or considered?
    Is this the way you want it?

    Currently you have four federal representives, your Congressman, two Senators and a President. But their objective is to get elected, and not necessarily to vote the way you would prefer.

    But citizens can take charge of their government.
    A true democracy is feasible.
    A new process is outlined below, and how to get it.
    The process requires a radical change, and you will have a lot of questions! Some are answered if you read the FAQ below, after reading this outline.

    The key idea is:

    Each citizen has a direct vote on all proposed laws via his/her own lobbyist/proxy/Special Representive (SR).

    1. The SR has your voting authority (a legal document with signatures) to vote Yea, Nay or Abstain on proposed laws.
    2. The SR uses your directives/conditions to vote on proposed law.
    3. The SR may be the same person or a different person for each proposed law.
    4. The SR would cast a number of votes equal to the number of voters the SR represented (some would be yea, some nay, some abstain)
    5. The SR has US citizenship (can be prosecuted for malfeasance) but is not an elected official.
    6. The SR is hired and/or fired by you (at any time), and based on ability (see below).
    7. The SR is paid by you for each vote, but you are reimbursed with a government tax credit or refund.
    8. The SR is highly informed on the issues surrounding the proposed law, and is articulate, persuasive, and a savvy negotiator (your lobbyist).
    9. The SR has your directives/conditions regarding the law, but must interpret the acutal wording in the proposed law and decide whether your directives mean a Yea or a Nay. (You don’t need to be involved in the details).
    10. The SR knows when to compromise in order to get a proposed solution. But you can stipulate conditions for the compromise ahead of time. Or, you can be on call to decide choices as they come up.
    11. The SR will be in contact with you though a secure link, just as you do with your online bank account or stock market account (similar to how you vote on company business issues on stocks).

    FAQs
    Frequently Asked Questions:

    Understanding all issues and voting is a full time job. How do I function?
    1. You could select a SR who has your general viewpoint, i.e., a general SR for all issues (similar to a medical doctor as a general practitioner).
    2. In specific areas you could form an opinion and select another SR who covers a specific area (similar to a medical specialist, e.g. a surgeon)
    3. Or you could elect not to vote, (see Citizenship Metrics Blog)

    Having an opinion is hard work and time consuming. How do I become sufficiently informed?
    1. Read the summary positions of leading SRs (the pros and cons of a bill)
    2. Or the read the full text of the bill.
    3. Select the SR that suits you best, and add your conditions for yea or nay.

    What if the bill is too big?
    1. One of the first things to accomplish is dividing huge bills into separate bills, so that nasty compromises are not required.
    2. Vote no an any large bill

    What happens to Congress?
    1. They become SRs

    Do we still elect a President?
    1. Yes, he executes the laws, but does not make them
    2. He operates with the budget that is voted upon by you
    3. He is evaluated as an executive, not as an evangelist (liar).
    4. There will be plenty of evangelists

    Why is there an Abstain vote?
    1. An intention to abstain during negotiations encourages changes in the bill. Typically, straw votes are tallied continuously as the bill is ammended. Abstains can be the swing votes if their conditions are met.

    Where, When and How is the vote?
    1. The vote is electronic and on a predefined schedule.
    2. Straw votes are typically used to assess whether there will be a true vote.
    3. There is time between votes for amendments.
    4. Your encrypted vote is from any secure internet device.

    Is bribery of voters possible?
    1. Yes, as it is now with voting by mail. (A briber could watch you vote and/or mail your ballot.)
    2. Bribery would carry penalties.
    3. Your vote would be online with a serial number, known only by you and secured by encryption.
    4. A voter could change his vote if the briber were not present. (not the case with US mail type voting)

    Will voters vote themselves money/privileges?
    1. The majority probably will not vote for excessive funding, or property grabs, outrageous proposals, etc.
    2. The Constitution still rules, and laws are enforced through “due process”.
    3. The courts will intervene when suits are brought.
    4. Tax reform or big change is possible.

    How and why will Congress approve this?
    1. A voter referendum is probably required
    2. Or an election of supporting representatives (a "Reform Party").
    3. Probably takes several election cycles.
    4. See below on starting at the local level.

    Violates the constitution?
    1. Not if written and enacted under the rules.

    Corruption possible?
    1. Encryption is pretty standard now (e.g. banking, broker accounts).
    2. Your name would be on a public register of voters (as your name is now)
    3. Your vote would by identifiable only by you via encryption.
    4. Your vote would have a serial number, known only by you.
    5. You could see your vote and change it. The total would change to verify it.
    6. Hacker defense would be needed. (like banks have)
    7. If the SR intentionally voted not in accord with your directives (fraud), your diligence would be needed.
    8. SR fraud would be transparent to you and reportable to .
    9. Fraud would be punishable. The SR is a US citizen and eligible for prosecution by a District Attorney.
    10 Voters could switch SRs, who compete for voters and are paid by voters.
    11. SRs make their living off of success as a SR, so would avoid fraudulent behavior.
    12. Coalitions are minimized (again, avoiding nasty compromises, very important!)

    Why do I need an SR if I specifty the conditions for a vote?
    1. Because the wording on the bill will not be a perfect match with your conditions. Therefore, you would always vote no. Your objective is have negotiations that get the words close to what you want. This is the main job of the SR, to inerpret your words and decide if your words and the bills words are close enough. The SR then has some negotialting power depending on the wording. So your SR can negotiate on the words to get the final bill close to your wishes. Your SR should be “on your side” of the issue.

    How can this help get fiscal order?
    1. Your SR directive would generally be to vote NO on all earmarks or "riders" (aka special interests amendments). Recommended. Note that “coalitions” (aka “parties”) are not needed to get legislation completed. Independents would have a real vote.
    2. Your SR could generally vote for 90% of last year’s appropriation to Government Departments/Agencies. This reduces the size of government in a minimally traumatic way. Recommended.

    Where does it start?
    1. At local level
    2. On the internet

    What is the process at the Local Level?
    1. Local is a likely place to start, and would show feasibility.
    2. Candidates run for election as a single issue candidate: Election Reform
    3. Candidates pledge to support legislation only with the voters' vote
    4. Voters join a web site that directs the elected official’s vote
    5. Elected official is now a SR and votes only the proxy votes that he has.
    6. Voters are registered publically by US Mail address, signature, email account, etc.
    7. Web login is protected by password.
    8. SRs operate as described above

    How does it start on the internet?
    1. Voting websites exist and could form the basis for the needed software.
    2. People would sign up and cast a mock vote on current legislation.
    3. Alternative bills could be introduced and mock voted upon.
    4. When web site had enough “mock voters”, it would draw advertising and be self sustaining.
    5. When the web site had enough voters it would become a force in politics.
    6. This is actually a business model that could be a good “start up” company.
    7. Or, just email this to Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook

    Should there be “voter qualifications for voting on an issue”, not just “one person, one vote”?
    1. The founding fathers debated this one, and there were various criteria (gender, slavery, etc.)
    2. Qualifications would make better citizens
    3. There could be simple criteria, such as, a multiple choice test on simple facts regarding the bill.

    What if we don’t do this?
    1. Government representatives want to stay in power, and do so by raising money for re-election. Substantial funds come from lobbyists, and are used in TV advertising.
    2. This effective process is devisive, distractive from real issues, dihonest and filled with inuendo and slander.
    3. The problem will be more severe now that the Supreme Court has removed political funding limits on Corporations and Unions.
    4. The problem is systemic, increasing, causing harm and will not change without radical change to the governing process.

    Would you like to vote directly on political issues? Vote now
    see th tgmanifesto on blogger

    June 20, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Reply
    • The Simple Truth

      A true Democracy will not work in the United States so long as the states remain allotted with unequal populations and competing interest. You try for a true democracy and the result will be dis-assembly of the Union, in short. Your ideas, although eloquent, will not work and will never come to fruition via ratification.

      June 20, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Reply
      • Tom Gregory

        The Simple Truth says the “ideas ... will never come to fruition via ratification”
        Ratification for a change comes down to a few simple voter questions:
        1. Do you want to vote or don’t you?
        2. Consider the options: Stay mired in the system we have or change to something like a true democracy?
        3. In Wyoming with 600,000 people the questionn is: What is having a disproportionate advantage in the number of Senators giving you? … Answer: Nothing

        June 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
      • Tom Gregory

        The Simple Truth says “A true democracy will result in dis-assembly of the Union.”
        Why would the people disassemble the Union? After all, the central ideas of a rule of law, a common defense, a Bill of Rights, a separtaion of powers, and a Constitution are generally good and win the people’s approval (I assume).

        June 21, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  4. kdk2002

    Here's a proposed amendment:

    "In any fiscal year in which the Federal budget is not balanced, no elected member of the US Government may seek election or appointment to any Federal office."

    June 20, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Reply
  5. Rick

    So much ado about a document that the Federal Government ignores routinely anyway. In reality The US Constitution is an illusion.

    June 20, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Reply
  6. Nick

    Thomas Jefferson thought that each generation should redo the constitution based on their specific time period. This is not a new idea, but we Americans don't realize that adaptation and change is needed for survival.

    June 20, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Reply
    • Eric

      Please provide your evidence.. Also define generation in this context and btw... Amendments do reflect the time... Try reading them. Slavery.... Prohibition (inception and dissolution)... Women voting... hmmm.. ya, they're all right there, representing the thought at the time.

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

      Such a shame... Imagine how things would be if we had listened?? The corruption would be far less, that's for sure...

      June 20, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Reply
  7. Anon

    Sounds great to take a fresh modern look at the Constitution, however our current government is so corrupt and heavily controlled by big business that it will never happen. That is until we are living in Rollerball times, then the corporate overlords will replace it with articles of incorporation and the individual will have no say whatsoever.
    I like the idea of no corporate government bribes (lobbying). Making bribing (lobbying) a gov't official a crime, putting term limits on ALL elected gov't offices, and giving we the people the power to submit bills for passage into law would make this country much more democratic, but the politicians will never give their power over the people back unless they are forced. As Jefferson said, a little revolution now and then is a good thing.

    June 20, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Reply
  8. Crumbling faith in humanity

    If you're arguing on the internet, you're already wrong.

    June 20, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Reply
    • Mike Houston

      So true...

      June 20, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Reply
    • The Simple Truth

      If you're not arguing somewhere, you're silent and have chosen irrelevancy.

      June 20, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Reply
      • Mike Houston

        When you make the internet your sole forum for "argument" or debate you make yourself and the internet "irrelevant".

        June 20, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  9. Maire

    Iceland is a tiny, ethnically homogenous nation of less than half a million people. Studies on political culture have shown that in such circumstances it is relatively easy to make what would be sweeping changes any place else. America is a nation of 300 million that is deeply divided along racial, socio-economic, and ideological lines. This would make what Zakaria is suggesting difficult enough, but what is most significant is that the Constitution is said to be the ONLY thing holding all of us together. This is not true of Iceland or most other countries which openly acknowledge that their nation is also based on a shared history, culture, and language. Comparing Iceland to the U.S. is beyond apples and oranges, it's moronic. And Zakaria is normally such an intelligent writer, he really should know better.

    June 20, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Reply
  10. wendy5

    no we do not need a new constitution we need to adhere to the one we have; what good does changing something do; do you think that changing it will make everything mysteriously get better noooooo; the libatards would love to change it and let me guess the 1st 2nd ect ect would be omitted ; and i say the day they remove the 2nd will be the day civil war breaks out and for good reason; see whats happening in the middle east; its because they dont have that right; no no no no no never trust a government to do the right thing as we can see they will kill you with no hesitation; i;m convinced of that fact jack

    June 20, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Reply
  11. Mike Houston

    To ask the population of a nation so badly educated in history and in Civics to propose changes to our constitution is asking
    for trouble. And to ask that same population which is so badly polarized along political party lines and regional and racial
    biases (bigotry?) is an invitation to disaster. Leave our Constitution alone.

    June 20, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Reply
  12. Annexian

    Hey, for a new Constitution let's just WELCH on the debt...

    Seriously, we can KEEP Social Security so even if we fail to become "Dot com millionaires" we won't starve as old men. Social Security wouldn't be a problem till people lived to 144 years old. It's just that one Administration after another has raided it, starting with Hoover for highways. Just declare the fund to be there, the "Funny Money" the rich elite think they are owed disappear!!!

    June 20, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Reply
  13. John

    We already have a process for amending the constitution, and changing it to reflect the times...It is called an Amendment. Not being an Icelandic constitutional scholar, I can't comment on whether or not they had that ability in their constitution, which might be why they are starting from scratch which seems like a really drastic approach. However, one amendment I would like to propose is eliminating the sale of our representatives' votes through corporate and PAC donations.

    But the process of amending the constitution is deliberately onorous such that we don't pick the political issue of the month and create a constitutional mandate about it. Soliciting ideas via modern media makes great sense. But writing the constitution based on the internet ramblings of the collective is a firghtenting prospect (purely based on the sampling I come across just on the CNN site). I sincerely hope the 320,000 citizens of Iceland have the good sense to ignore some of the more inane postings.

    June 20, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Reply
  14. Eric

    Hey Fareed,

    Go F*CK yourself. This is OUR country. If you don't like it, then go back to your homeland... Oh wait, that's right you don't want to because America kicks A**! We have a process for amending that is INTENTIONALLY DIFFICULT TO DO in case LIBERAL COMMUNIST TYRANTS ever take over the government. It is this way so that there is time to DEBATE and not just RULE BY DECREE because some immigrant thinks he is better than the people who he CHOSE to be a part of.

    June 20, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Reply
    • John Lamb

      My Constitutional amendment proposal is a combination of two concepts: term limits and a balanced budget amendment.

      "No member of Congress shall be eligible for re-election at any time in which there is a federal budget deficit."

      June 20, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Reply
  15. Mike

    What catches me about this selection is that the piece does not thoroughly acknowledge the premise of the Constitution as a living document created to change along with time. When it is suggested that the Senate is outdated because it supplies equal votes for Montana compared to Texas, you must remember that the ideal presented in the Constitution is to give equal footing to the minority in the chamber. (This is the principle of William Patterson's New Jersey Plan at the convention to ensure states like NY, VA, and Mass could not dominate the federal governments direction) Montana in the foreseeable future will not have the same population as Texas, yet if Texas has its way, Montana could go down with the ship if Texas makes a bad call in a unicameral population based legislature. For this reason, the founding fathers brilliantly created the legislature based on population (The House of Representatives set on the Virginia plan) as the lower house in the legislative branch. It still takes into account population, but does not allow it to supersede its jurisdiction over the entire nation. California and Texas would dominate the system and others would be subject to their whims. Maybe if we did choose to re vamp the Constitution with a new document, some protections will not be guaranteed because a majority can all of a sudden rewrite the rule book. We cannot assume that common sense will win the day. The founding fathers with all their flaws (Jefferson) understood this. Freedom of Religion might as well be out, along with Right to Bear Arms or Freedom of Speech. I apologize to anyone offended, but this seems as silly as the need to change the law to elect the President because people wanted to have Arnold Schwarzenegger run at one point. You cannot have a flash in the pants moment decide how the nation should reinvent itself because things don't seem to be looking okay today. The long term must always be taken into account, which is what the founding fathers decided years ago and still is seen as an appropriate way to ensure everyone is represented regardless of whether it is enforced {which is an entirely different matter}

    June 20, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Reply
  16. scdad

    1. NO censorship. Not evenpornography, of ANY kind, for any reason, even for kids (I should not suffer because you have kids)
    2. Clearly defined seperation of church and state to keep christian cultists from dicating policy
    3. Arrest federal politicians when they propose/enforce un-Constitutional laws

    June 20, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Reply
    • robcam

      "1. NO censorship. Not evenpornography, of ANY kind, for any reason, even for kids (I should not suffer because you have kids)
      2. Clearly defined seperation of church and state to keep christian cultists from dicating policy
      3. Arrest federal politicians when they propose/enforce un-Constitutional laws"

      1. No censorship = anarchy, where you can say and do anything you want without regard to how it would affect someone else's beliefs, understanding, or development. This is the opposite of a healthy society.
      2. Your understanding of "separation of church and state" is appalling, yet typical. This is NOT part of the Constitution, it is a phrase taken from one of Jefferson's private letters. The Constitution actually forbids the state from establishing an official STATE religion. It does not forbid government officials from being religious, recognizing or participating in religious observances, or even from creating laws that protect, respect, or even encourage certain religious practices or ideals. The framers of the Constitution did not want a situation as in England, where the head of the state (the king) was also the head of the only recognized religion in the country (the Anglican church), i.e. practicing any other religion (including the lack of a religion, if pressed!) was punishable by secular law.
      3. Politicians do not ENFORCE law, they CREATE law. They are the legislative branch. The court system is the branch that interprets the laws that the legislative branch create. The executive branch is the one that enforces the laws.

      Also, you seriously want to arrest a politician for even proposing something that is unconstitutional? You want us to have Thought Police now? Did you even consider that a proposed amendment to the constitution is by definition unconstitutional since it is not part of the constitution?

      Please put more thought into your posts, or don't post at all.

      June 20, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Reply
  17. Evan

    You think? We have been through every singe possible combination of a democratic/republican president with a democratic/ republican house and a democratic/republican senate and we fail to solve the problems that face our nation: failing schools, an outdated immigration policy, an energy policy that makes us more dependent on foreign oil, over regulations on small businesses, corrupt regulators for large corporations, the increasing trade deficit, the debt bomb that is the retiring baby boomers and the entitlements promised to them, peoples reliance on welfare, the disappearing middle class, the fact that we are always at war, the continuing success of wall street at the expense of main street. The american republic has failed to find a solution to these problems in its current form, it must be changed.

    June 20, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Reply
    • dave in ky

      that, the problem the constitution is being side stepped by the special interest in Washington.
      when the founders lived if "you were asked to serve in office, then voted on" if you wanted to run for office it was understood you had the wrong motive for being in office. now we will spend over 1 billion on the 2012 election, for what more special interest!!!
      we have to go back to the basics and restore America and that starts with us restoring ourselfs. Honor, Truth, Moral Character and Love for what is Good not the opposite where we are now!!!

      June 20, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Reply
  18. dave in ky

    first in order to cast a vote individuals must 1st be a tax paying citizen of the US and/or a home/property owner.
    also let's try living underneath the current Constitution and within our means!!!!

    June 20, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Reply
  19. Unrepentant Westerner

    The biggest problem with the Constitution today is that the Federal Government ignores when it is inconvenient to their goals. As long as that is true, no constitution can limit the power of the government.

    June 20, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Reply
  20. truthhurts

    Yeah. We should do away with those pesky gun law things, and make hate speech a crime too.

    June 20, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Reply
  21. Bull

    I think this author's views are warped, writing obvious bias against the current system without any 'pro' arguments for retaining the system as-is; not exactly a balanced "pro" vs "con" argument. Calling the Senate "undemocratic" certainly shows a lack of understanding how the system was designed to work. Or even saying that the Constitution was "revised" 27 times; it was amended, not "revised"–there is a difference.

    Personally, as an educated citizen that makes enough money to maintain a "middle class" land-owning status, it scares me what would happen if the government was left to be formulated by "popular demand" of people that largely have not made the choices in their lives to put themselves into a bracket that actually pays taxes or owns land. It was initially a requirement to be a land owner before a citizen could vote as an indicator of understanding the responsibilities unique to earning and owning real assets. With the direction this country has taken the last few decades, it should return that way.

    June 20, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Reply
  22. RickBTX

    I'm sad to say 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 5:21 pm | Reply
  23. J Mabie

    All wrong. First of all, there is no evidence any provision of the Constitution is outdated or 'Undemocratic' as it was put. Secondly, there are no better ideas presented. Thirdly, our government is far more corrupt than in 1787 and any changes to the Constitution would inevitably carry far more baggage than any potential improvements could counter. Finally, 'one man one vote' was never a cornerstone of democracy, nor would it work. Under such a system, the denseley populated urban areas would run the country and the voice of the rest of the country would go unheard (which it already is, to a large extent, even under the current 'unfair' system). And yes, many people dislike the electoral college, but none of them seem to have any better ideas – at least not any ideas that would bring a greater sense of fairness to the table. Completely intellectually bankrupt article that demonstrates a lack of understanding of our nation, then and now.

    June 20, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Reply
  24. The Simple Truth

    The United States is fine, and eventually global trade will rebalanced itself where we are once again competitive. We are declining from an unprecedented economic domination of the global stage. If we cannot tolerate this, then we should explore protectionism, but that also comes at great cost. Either way, the politicians are actually so weak in comparison to the forces at work that any legislative stop-gap they attempt to use to countermeasure the decline will likely be circumvented unless they utilize full protectionist practices. America is like a bucket, we were once full of wealth. That wealth, through our consumerism and lack of protections, is now balancing out with the rest of the world as we have effectively removed the walls upon our bucket that kept the wealth inside. All citizens of the world will prosper in therms of their quality of life from this, but it will be at the cost of the average American citizen. The problem is, not every nation in the world will participate voluntarily in this game and the liberal economic policy will likely result in punishment for our benevolence.

    We're okay. Our economy is okay. The real question is more about our trade practices and policies.

    June 20, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Reply
  25. Sean in Michigan

    You missed the very answer in your own argument. You point out that the constitution has been amended over the years. That's how problems get fixed, not re-writing the whole deal. You don't tear apart your house to fix a leaky faucet. Re-writing the Constitution that has been perhaps the greatest framework for democracy in history invites more troubles then it could ever solve.
    I agree with your point on the electoral college, and in this day and age there is no reason why we shouldn't just use popular vote, which is the truest democracy.
    I don't agree with your point on the Senate. You want representation based on population? You already have it in the House of Representatives. In the Senate, each state gets equal representation so no state (or it's citizens) aren't stuck without a political voice due to lower population, which is the way the Senate is intended to work. The Senate is about legislative parity among the states, and isn't equality the heart and soul of the document we're discussing?
    It's not a problem with the Constitution, but your lack of understanding of it's purpose.

    June 20, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Reply
  26. Professor Richard Conn Henry

    Fareed, here is the answer:
    http://streitcouncil.org/uploads/PDF/F&U%20-%20Fall%202010%20Henry.pdf
    Cheers,
    Dick Henry

    June 20, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Reply
    • Beautiful idea, but won't happen.

      American Nationalism and National Identity/Pride > Desire to unify into any other sovereign body.

      June 20, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Reply
    • Tom Gregory

      While this is an instructive and formal type of update, it contains the basic flaw in most all current governments: the people cede their power to elected officials who then run amuck by having inordinate power. Please remember that power corrupts.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:44 am | Reply
  27. Nate

    I do like the idea of rewriting things at some interval. Probably be a good idea to condense and clarify the Constitution and modernize some aspects of it.

    That said, however, the Constitution is not nearly the "bloatware" that the general government and legal framework of the country is. Many laws are very old and pointless these days. Others are overly broad. There are too many loopholes with regards to taxes, allowing people and corporations with money to find and exploit them. This is the part of the country that needs to be condensed and rewritten.

    I really do like the idea of eliminating the influence of money on our representation. Our legislators are always hunting for campaign money for their next term. Give everyone the same amount of campaign money to put them on an equal footing so their ideas not their campaign coffers get them elected.

    June 20, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Reply
  28. Coondawg76

    After reading some of the responses I have to question whether some lack the intelligence or are just completely ignorant with the subject altogether. Seriously, change the Senate? The Senate is the only thing that gives States the equal representation among larger and Smaller States. I think people often forget what USA means. We are United yes, but we are also States. We are 50 individual States with Unique and wonderful people. Do you people really want to make to entire Country all the same plain jane vanilla? I'm from Louisiana and if anyone has visited my State you would know that we are unlike anywhere else in the US. And that is why I love it! There is nothing wrong with the Constitution! I'm tired of hearing people say we live in a democracy! We do not! We live in a Republic! Go back to Civics class and actually pay attention this time Zakaria!

    June 20, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Reply
  29. E Connelly

    The Constitution does not need revamping. All of those little bitty amendments that special interests have put on the end of it need to be deleted. Fareed quit being an ignoramous. We know you are a slave to Obama. It's a pity you can't see the forest for the trees.

    June 20, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Reply
  30. WaitWhat?

    Hell yeah. Slap it up on Wikipedia and let's see what happens.

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

      you'd get the most massive piece of misinformed drivel that the world has ever seen...

      June 22, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Reply
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