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 And, anyway, they felt the document was old and outdated, drafted all the way back in 1944.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

    Here's my amendment: Congress shall enact no law, nor shall the executive department enact any policy on any issue actively studied by the world science community not in accordance with a majority consensus of said scientists, as determined by and only by published studies in the major journals and conferences of such scientists in the relevant field of study.

    June 21, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Reply
  2. Sam Harnish

    I suspect the biggest problem that would crop up addressing the whole constitution is the one the House of Representatives ran into when they wanted to read it at the opening of Congress (things like all that 'stuff' about slaves being 3/5 of a person, etc.). To get rid of that archaic language would require re-writing the entire document (a daunting task to say the least) and the amendment process the document outlines is purposely convoluted and drawn out (which has saved us from many bad amendments (like ones that would have specifically protected the institution of slavery) – and stymied others that may have been good ones (like ERA)).

    The interesting thing to contemplate with another Constitutional Convention is not in the deliberative process itself (which I believe could actually work out given the secrecy of the last one), but in a following fight over ratification – given the modern environment of instant communication and radically differing opinions. It's hard to comprehend that the current constitution was written in an era when reason and logic rather than psychology (and unknown field at the time) and emotion were assumed to rule public discourse.

    The question this all raises for me is whether an unfettered mass-media in this instantly broadcast environment is the foundation of our democracy (as the 1st amendment assumes) – or if unrestrained instant communication is the beginning of the end for our form of representative government.

    June 21, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Reply
  3. bob h

    our constitution has worked for generations. we don't need iceland's version. if you like it so much move there.
    I'm tired of reporters slanting the news and facts. try being honest for a change.

    June 21, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Reply
  4. Matt D Walser

    Why should I give a second thought about OUR constitution because if Iceland?

    June 21, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Reply
  5. Jenn O.

    1. Balanced budget amendment
    2. Senate and Representative term limits – no more than 12 years combined
    3. Something to resolve the conflicts between the Constitution and the War Powers Act to define the roles of Congress and the President in modern military actions

    June 21, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Reply
  6. Navyman Norm Bez

    I think your QuranI is out of touch with reality, with it s brutaliaztion of women and calling for the KILLING of Jews and Christians, Fareed! Why not update THAT first?

    June 21, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Reply
  7. Shakedown Crews

    It's rich to have someone compare a nation whose constitution has endured 200+ years to a nation that changes its constitution like some people change their underwear. Zakaria is a profoundly confused man, to say that democracy formed iN iceland in 930 Ad, as if the Greeks had nothing to do with it. But what is worse, it is clear that he hasn't the first notion of why the USa has a decentralized structure of a republic rather than a pure, centralized democracy.
    How can a man so ignorant of our history and the brilliance of our national structure and laws be given such a prominent platform to express his vaccuus opinions?

    June 21, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Reply
  8. Robert Crites

    I think we should have our state legislatures call a constitutional convention. That would shake things up. We should change to a parliamentary format. Most other countries have already done it. America is usually last, from abolishing slavery to medical care. We need to get up to date. Our government doesn't work any more, we need to trade it in as we do our cars when they don't work

    June 21, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Reply
  9. Tom

    We need term limits and limited time in sessions to help streamline legislating. Politician lose touch because they're not at home, they're in Washington coming up with laws when they only see us every few months. A parliamentry system wouldn't work well for us because we didn't like it when obama and the democrats controlled things and we wouldn't like it if the republicans controlled the debate. States compromise with split executive and legislatures mostly due to time restraints that force them to work together. The reason we can't get a budget is that our leaders don't have an end time, they can just pass a temporary spending bill and kick the can down the road. California has a full time legislature and the kick the can down the road on major issues. States like Texas don't because the govornor doesn't always want to call a special session to fix the budget.

    On question about a balanced budget amendment, how would we divide up our money if we can't borrow any? Would the military get what it wants then everyone else has to fight over whats left, or will there be set percentages for wach department? In either case no one gets a stable amount of money and we can't fight a war like that or build things.

    June 21, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Reply
  10. David M. Gilliam

    On the interactive blog "MakeEveryVoteCount.com", you can see a proposed Constitutional amendment that would change the electoral process by a combination of automatic proportional awarding of electoral votes, inclusion of at least first-choice and second-choice votes, and provisions for an instant runoff, if no candidate receives a majority of first-choice electoral votes. The principles incorporated in the proposed amendment are expected to have far greater bipartisan appeal than direct popular election proposals. If you like the proposed amendment, please write to your Representative and Senators, requesting that they introduce or co-sponsor a bill of amendment based on these principles.

    June 21, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Reply
  11. barrymillay

    Oh, leave Fareed alone. He's just writing what his friends at the Open Society Institute tell him. He doesn't actually understand it.

    June 21, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Reply
  12. p fromer

    Fareed, I am sorry for you.You have to deal with too many uneducated and uninformed political morons. Just let us not try to export our type of government,untill we know it works....which it does not. Our system is doomed to failure as it presently stands America should superceed political parties.

    June 21, 2011 at 7:14 pm | Reply
  13. BigMike227

    GO BACK TO INDIA AND CHANGE THEIR CONSTITUTION....LEAVE OURS ALONE YOU BLOOMING IDIOT!

    June 21, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Reply
  14. Christine

    1) The minute a politician in office lies with proof, they are gone.
    2) More than 2 children on any kind of public assistance and you are booted from all kinds of public assistance for life.
    3) Teacher union members make the mean salary of a teacher in the given school district and can serve for only 3 years.

    As implausible as, and for some as thoughtless as this article. At least I admit it.

    June 21, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Reply
  15. KA Voice in the Wilderness

    I have skimmed through the nearly two days worth of responses, a lot of frustration and short-sightedness, with an occasional interesting idea here or there. But I did not see any responses that grasped the significance of your request to crowdsource. The key is to understand that we now have the opportunity for our Congress to be directed by their constituency in almost real time, giving back the constituency its voice, which is currently being drowned out by the monetary power of corporations and special interests. In other words, the Congress can now crowdsource its constituency regarding nearly everything that it does. A few years ago, I submitted an idea for how to have a large scale discussion about issues of importance to Google's 10 to the 100th project, and as I suspect is the case here, it fell on deaf ears. If we are to develop a more perfect union, we will need to engage the majority of this country in a constructive conversation to address the issues confronting us. The masses, as evidenced above, are frustrated and tired of being talked at and not heard. There is no efficient method of collective self-organization currently available for one simple reason: those that are benefitting from the control of resources don't want the collective to self-organize. However, the alternative is also something that they will not enjoy. While it may not be necessary to have a constitutional convention to bring about this solution, if we were to develop amendments, they would have to empower the PEOPLE of our union to direct the actions of government both through transparency and through the most efficient form of communication using the technology available to us. The problem I see is that I do not trust our government to be able to bring this about, and this proposition will frighten those currently holding power.

    June 21, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Reply
  16. Jason

    Anyone who wants to be ignorant and display their racism should NOT have say so in any revisions in the American Constitution! Fareed, your the man! Anyways, yea Electoral Collage gotta go. Not to mention the discrimination factor should be looked at to include the rights of all Americans. Thank you!

    June 21, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Reply
    • bannister

      Who the HELL are you to say whose input should be discarded?

      June 24, 2011 at 12:18 am | Reply
  17. Martin Hopkins

    The constitution was written by men who were smarter and more intelligent then the men we have in office today. They envisioned a small government of the people and by the people. The government we have today is out of control. The founders would be ashamed of themselves today.

    June 21, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Reply
  18. Stuart

    Mr. Zakaria: I understand your hypothesis, but I do not believe looking at Iceland's example is prudent. Seeking a fresh economic start does not require a constitutional convention, nor does it justify one. Trashing core documents is a tempting path during a crisis period. The false illusion of going back to zero and restarting assumes that the bad habits that got you to the crisis point won't be waiting for you later on.

    June 21, 2011 at 9:10 pm | Reply
  19. humadroid

    People are more connected than 222 years ago. People could be asked more often about what is best for them rather than only once every 4-5 years just to send an ignorant and corrupt individual to Washington who thought he/she figured it all out. It is just plain nonsense in 2011. The people can and should self-govern.
    We do not need parliament anymore, simply. We, THE PEOPLE could vote 100 times in our issues yearly if needed to. If you can check-in online for your flight then you can vote as well. "Veto-rights" ? – forget about it, the majority wins. Political standstill, indecision, backdoor deals, campaign corruption – over.

    June 21, 2011 at 9:21 pm | Reply
  20. Tom Preston

    WISH LIST
    – Illegal to bribe politicians (lobbying)
    – Elect president by percentage of entire population
    – Limit campaign spending and give free time on PBS
    – Government to keep track of eligible voters rather than voter registration
    – Each voter gets $10 (to be adjusted for inflation)

    June 21, 2011 at 9:47 pm | Reply
  21. Shane (of WMDB)

    Great timing for this debate: 223 years ago today, on June 21st, 1788, our US Constitution became ratified by New Hampshire, and our new government was born. Nine of the 13 states needed to ratify the Constitution for it to pass. NH was the 9th state, followed by VA, NY, NC, and then finally RI on 5/29/1790. Happy Birthday US Constitution!

    Elections are the foundation of our democracy. Our election system is broken, and only a Constitutional Amendment can fix it. I suggest that we start with just 1 Amendment: one that creates equality throughout our election system, from the President’s election to our city elections. After our election system is emptied of the inequalities between the voters of every state, after the absurd influence of money to buy elections is drastically reduced, and after the power of the political parties have to silence voters is gone (e.g. Michigan and Florida lost ½ of their voting power in the 2008 Primaries because the national political parties thought that those states held their Primary Elections too early), our newly elected representatives will have a better opportunity to represent “We the People” and finally fix our national problems like our national debt, health care, education, social security, and illegal immigration.

    To bring equality to our election system: I propose the Equality Voting Amendment (EVA) with the following 8 Principles:
    1. States and the Political Parties can no longer use Vote Interpreters. Delegates & SuperDelegates will discuss solutions and ideas at the Party Conventions, but shall no longer have any power to reinterpret the public vote. The results of the public vote from the Primary Elections will replace the undemocratic practice of party insiders “nominating” candidates. For the General Election, there will be no need for Electors. Like the elevator operators and the switchboard operators of the mid 1900s, the “Middle Man” is no longer needed in our elections. Each vote that is cast throughout the US is counted equally… One person, One vote. The Winner-Take-All system of the Electoral College will no longer exist, since Electors will no longer exist. Candidates who receive 40-60% of a state’s votes will no longer get 100% of that state’s Electors, which essentially misinterprets someone’s vote. Republican candidates running for President will then campaign in typically Democrat (Blue) states like CA and NY, because every vote will count. Similarly, Democrat candidates will now want to appeal to every voter in the Republican dominated (Red) states of AL, SC, AZ, UT, and WY instead of just writing them off. As of now, candidates spend almost all of their time campaigning in the 10-12 “swing states” like FL, OH, PA, WI, VI, CN, IN, CO, and NJ since these states are the only ones that are not dominated by one party and are still “up in the air”. One person, One vote makes brings equality to every voter.

    2. All states must use Primaries, discontinuing the Caucuses used in 13 states. This allows everyone to vote – even those who are working or who can’t fight the winter storms to vote, not just those who can make the 2-3 hour meeting. It also allows absentee voting, and allows all votes to be privately made rather than by raising your hand in a crowded room and having your neighbors and colleagues know how you voted.

    3. All Presidential Primaries shall vote on the same date: the first Tuesday of June. IA and NH will no longer be the bullies that insist on being in the front of the line, pressuring candidates to not even campaign in other states who try to vote before them (e.g. in 2008, the Democratic candidates were pressured to withdraw their names on the ballot in MI [all but Clinton did], and were told not to spend any time or money in FL) or else they won’t be regarded as favorable in IA in NH. Rather than having 2 states that represent 1.4% of the US population decide on who will be our next President, all 50 states, DC, and the Territories will vote at the same time, just like in the General Election. Our issues are not local, they’re national, and the Presidential candidates do not need to walk door to door in IA and NH to successful understand and represent an entire country.

    4. All states shall use Instant Runoff Voting (i.e. Ranked Voting). Our present system (Plurality Voting) prevents 3rd party candidates from winning, causes the public to consider them “wasted votes”, and splits the votes of the candidates who are similar politically – causing the candidate who is different to win. Primary Election examples: 2008: Clinton & Edwards split the moderate Democrats and caused Obama to win, just as Romney & Huckabee split the conservative Republican votes causing a moderate Republican McCain to win. General Election examples: 2000: Gore & Nadar split the Democrat and moderate votes causing Bush to win, 1992: Bush & Ross Perot splitting the Republican and moderate votes causing Clinton to win, and 1912: Roosevelt & Taft splitting the Republican votes causing Wilson to win). Ranked Voting is used in cities in CA, MN, ME, and MA as well as in national elections in Australia and Ireland. It’s even used to pick the Oscar winners, to prevent movies that are similar in style from splitting up the votes. The need for run-off elections in local and state races will be eliminated, saving millions in election costs.

    5. Open Primaries. No matter the political party affiliation, all candidates are put on one ballot, and all voters are given the right to vote for any candidate – not just the ones who are in their party. The political party of the candidates will be listed, as well as their profession. Independent candidates will be marked as Independents. This will also allow voters who are registered as Independent, Decline to State, and with the various 3rd Parties (Green, Libertarians…) to vote for Democrats and Republicans. This will fix a major injustice since the political parties of most states only allow registered Democrats to vote for Democrats and only registered Republicans to vote for Republicans in the Primaries. And with so many moderates leaving the 2 major parties and becoming Independents, only the remaining voters of each party have the power to choose a candidate, which tends to be someone from the far left (blue) or the far right (red). This leaves most of America (moderates and centrists… the combination of reds and blues [purple voters]), without any candidates who appeal to the center. Instead, their choices are either a very liberal Democrat or a very conservative Republican, working in a state legislature or in the US Congress that is also very polarized.

    6. Same day registration. Citizens will be asked to provide ID in order to vote AND to prevent voting fraud. Millions of more people will be allowed to vote: people who are traveling can now vote within their state, students who didn’t register on time, and people who recently moved.

    7. Clarification: a campaign contribution is not free speech. It’s a tool used to influence an election, to sometimes buy a politician, or at the very least – to rent one for a few votes. By clarifying what campaign contributions and expenditures are, the Supreme Court will no longer be forced to interpret what our Founding Fathers meant when they wrote the 1st Amendment, giving every citizen the Freedom of Speech, and will no longer be able to overrule local and state campaign finance laws. In other words, campaign contributions and expenditures can be regulated by local, state, and federal campaign finance laws.

    8. Each state shall create Independent Citizens Redistricting Commissions so that the role of drawing state and federal districts will be taken away from the politicians every 10 years (for the census) and given to an independent and politically diverse group of citizens that eventually gets to be approved by the voters of each state. Presently, politicians draw (gerrymander) their districts in order to guarantee political victories for themselves and their party. With a Citizens Commission (used in 12 states: NJ, CA, CO, WA, ID, IA, MS, MO, HI, & AZ) the districts will be drawn to keep communities together.

    On July 4th, a citizen’s movement will be launched to fix our nations’ election system, one that explains the problems, provides the solutions, and creates an effective strategy to pressure our state and national representatives to support the Constitutional Amendment or lose their next election. WMSB! Stay tuned.

    June 21, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Reply
    • Maciej

      I agree!
      Election law is the real measure of democracy not the election itself: in the Soviet Union there were elections

      June 22, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Reply
  22. Shane (of WMDB)

    2 things to consider when debating whether or not the Constitution should be revised:
    1. The Constitution was created with the clear expectation that it would be amended (improved) as the country and its citizens evolved. It’s a 224 year old document that was revolutionary for it’s time, is still the foundation of our great nation, and influences many nations who are still trying to build a democracy. However, if it were never changed, women and blacks would not be voting today, slavery would still exist, the Vice President could still be elected from a party other than the President’s party, and the US Senators would still be selected by the state legislators. It’s been amended 27 times: 10 times in 1789, once in 1795, 4 times in the 1800s, and 12 times in the 1900s. To say that it’s perfect and shouldn’t be changed again is to say that we are done evolving as a country. We aren’t.

    2. If you think that the Constitution was perfect and should never be revised, then I recommend you read the following letter from Thomas Jefferson (3rd President and principal author of the Declaration of Independence) to Samuel Kercheval, written in 1816 (40 years after the Declaration of Independence and 29 years after the Constitution was first drafted). It’s about the need to update the Constitution as society evolved. The following is the last 1/3 of the letter. The entire letter can be read at: http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=459

    Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the arc of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment.

    I knew that age well; I belonged to it, and labored with it. It deserved well of its country. It was very like the present, but without the experience of the present; and forty years of experience in government is worth a century of book reading; and this they would say themselves, were they to rise from the dead.

    I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.

    It is this preposterous idea which has lately deluged Europe in blood. Their monarchs, instead of wisely yielding to the gradual change of circumstances, of favoring progressive accommodation to progressive improvement, have clung to old abuses, entrenched themselves behind steady habits, and obliged their subjects to seek through blood and violence rash and ruinous innovations, which, had they been referred to the peaceful deliberations and collected wisdom of the nation, would have been put into acceptable and salutary forms.

    Let us follow no such examples, nor weakly believe that one generation is not as capable as another of taking care of itself, and of ordering its own affairs. Let us, as our sister States have done, avail ourselves of our reason and experience, to correct the crude essays of our first and inexperienced, although wise, virtuous, and well-meaning councils.

    And lastly, let us provide in our constitution for its revision at stated periods. What these periods should be, nature herself indicates. By the European tables of mortality, of the adults living at any one moment of time, a majority will be dead in about nineteen years. At the end of that period, then, a new majority is come into place; or, in other words, a new generation. Each generation is as independent as the one preceding, as that was of all which had gone before. It has then, like them, a right to choose for itself the form of government it believes most promotive of its own happiness; consequently, to accommodate to the circumstances in which it finds itself, that received from its predecessors; and it is for the peace and good of mankind, that a solemn opportunity of doing this every nineteen or twenty years, should be provided by the constitution; so that it may be handed on, with periodical repairs, from generation to generation, to the end of time, if anything human can so long endure.

    It is now forty years since the constitution of Virginia was formed. The same tables inform us, that, within that period, two thirds of the adults then living are now dead. Have then the remaining third, even if they had the wish, the right to hold in obedience to their will, and to laws heretofore made by them, the other two thirds, who, with themselves, compose the present mass of adults? If they have not, who has? The dead? But the dead have no rights. They are nothing; and nothing cannot own something. Where there is no substance, there can be no accident. This corporeal globe, and everything upon it, belong to its present corporeal inhabitants, during their generation. They alone have a right to direct what is the concern of themselves alone, and to declare the law of that direction; and this declaration can only be made by their majority. That majority, then, has a right to depute representatives to a convention, and to make the constitution what they think will be the best for themselves.

    But how collect their voice? This is the real difficulty. If invited by private authority, or county or district meetings, these divisions are so large that few will attend; and their voice will be imperfectly, or falsely pronounced. Here, then, would be one of the advantages of the ward divisions I have proposed. The mayor of every ward, on a question like the present, would call his ward together, take the simple yea or nay of its members, convey these to the county court, who would hand on those of all its wards to the proper general authority; and the voice of the whole people would be thus fairly, fully, and peaceably expressed, discussed, and decided by the common reason of the society.

    If this avenue be shut to the call of sufferance, it will make itself heard through that of force, and we shall go on, as other nations are doing, in the endless circle of oppression, rebellion, reformation; and oppression, rebellion, reformation, again; and so on forever.

    These, Sir, are my opinions of the governments we see among men, and of the principles by which alone we may prevent our own from falling into the same dreadful track. I have given them at greater length than your letter called for. But I cannot say things by halves; and I confide them to your honor, so to use them as to preserve me from the gridiron of the public papers. If you shall approve and enforce them, as you have done that of equal representation, they may do some good. If not, keep them to yourself as the effusions of withered age and useless time. I shall, with not the less truth, assure you of my great respect and consideration.
    – Thomas Jefferson (1816)

    June 21, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Reply
  23. john

    As a soldier, I find your comments disturbing. If you want just to amend the US Constitution then fine, have fun with the amendment process. If try to scrap the Constitution then me and you are going to have issues.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Reply
  24. Bill Fleming

    Dear Mr. Zakaria,

    Here are my ideas to update our Constitution:

    1. Limit senate and congressional terms to two terms just like the office of the president. Congressmen should be able to run again after sitting out for four or six years. It's time to end the "permanent campaign".

    2. Our population has grown. It's time to elect four senators for each state according to the points of the compass (N-E-S-W) in order to keep closer contact with citizens.

    3. Campaign war chests above the amount spent on electioneering should by law be returned to the taxpayer (Treasury). Why should a public servant be an entrepreneur?

    4. Eliminate all lobbying activities. The lobbyist are an unelected elite that have too much power. Congress can always call on private experts for adivce and testimony. But it's time to set up a fire wall between public servants and guardians and private business in the U.S. All lobbying activity and money should be removed from Washington. The government should not be "bought" by anybody. We need clear rules and public referees with integrity.

    5. Since congress has oversite and command of the regulatory agencies, if an agency fails at its mandate and the public therefore suffers, principals at that agency should be fined (or jailed in case of crime), and the members of the pertinent congressional oversite committees should bear some responsibility and pay a fine for not doing their job.

    6. Eliminate the electoral college. We don't need it. We have computers.

    7. Finally, we should by law have a constitutional convention convened every fifty years to update and enhance our
    precious government blueprint in order to provide better service to and greater opportunities for individual expression for our Citizens.

    I really enjoy your show and tape it every Sunday. Thank you for keeping us educated.

    Bill Fleming
    Arlington, Texas

    June 21, 2011 at 11:12 pm | Reply
  25. Sanford Levinson

    I thought this was an excellent commentary. I note for the record that I published a book in 2006, Our Undemocratic Constitution (Oxfor University Press), and University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato published A More Perfect Constitution (Walker) , with 23 specific suggestions for change.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Reply
  26. Wayne Capra

    We need three fundamental amendments addressing campaigns, bills, and taxes before we can have any meaningful changes in government:

    To insure that political campaigns are modeled on a political foundation and not an economic one they are to be solely publically funded and such funds may not be used for advertising. Funds are to be used to publish an electronic and hard copy document that provides standardized information: 1)Biography/resume, 2)Political agendas, 3)Proposed total Federal budget amount broken down by sector percentages, to be distributed free to all citizens. Funds may be used freely for public speaking (free speech) engagements and debates. Candidates would be required to attend issue oriented debates and be disqualified for not attending debates or not directly answering debate questions or not providing sources in support of their positions.

    Bills introduced and passed by Federal and State Legislatures shall only contain one issue and amendments may only address the corresponding issue.

    Taxes at the Federal and State levels are to be raised solely for providing government services and not to provide incentives or disincentives for any social or economic activity. No individual, group, product, service, business or economic sector may be taxed at a different rate than another of the same category unless the Federal or State government provides a service specifically related to such entity.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Reply
  27. free

    hey fareed are you an idiot?. change the constitution ha ha ha ha go back where you came from and stop messing with our constitution!!!!

    June 21, 2011 at 11:57 pm | Reply
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