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 And, anyway, they felt the document was old and outdated, drafted all the way back in 1944.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

    bulletslinger

    Yes, the Constitution needs updating. We need to address term limits, a longer presidential term to get out of this cycle of endless campaigning and clauses to address campaign financing and the role of lobbyists. It is a fantasy that this document is holier than all, but the political capital to address these issues will be highly controversial. We are a young nation, wrapped up in symbology and ideology and the constitution is weaved into that cultural fabric. As long as our citizens remain isolationist in their view of world history and geopolitics, we will revere our founding fathers as omniscient and our constitution as untouchable. There are other great political and governmental ideas all across this earth.>>>>>>>>>Our founding fathers stood up to an oppressive and evil empire and won!!! i dont appreciate you....this country so hated by so many would not exist as a beacon of freedom and you would still be bowing to a older lady as your queen....the USA humbled the british and proved their power no match for our ingeniuty,courage and wits and that my friend is worth fighting for!!!

    June 20, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Reply
  2. Robert Abney

    It is time to re-write the 1st Amendment concerning churches. I have no problem if people want to believe but the rest of us should not subsidize religions by allowing tax deduxtions for money sent to a religious organization. There should be NO tax deduction for religions. If not with the 1st amendment then an independant amendment. The proper thing would be to follow the letter of the 1st Amendment, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion–"

    June 20, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Reply
    • Uncle Sam

      this has nothing to do with the constitution. That is tax law. I do agree that Scientologists should not receive a tax shelter for their practices.

      June 20, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Reply
  3. Ann

    The great thing about the U.S. Constitution is that our Founding Fathers had the forethought to create it with the idea that it can be changed with the changing times. We don't need a new Constitution. If we want to change anything as it is written now, we can change. If we don't like how our officials are elected, we can add an amendment to change that. If we don't like an amendment, we can repeal it...like we did with prohibition.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Reply
  4. WA

    Never have I seen someone show their "butt" so badly. Take A history course, or at least a poly sci course. THIS IS A REPUBLIC....NOT A DEMOCRACY!!. This is why the people have their house -the House of the representatives.-This is were one vote get you one person-this is where the "mob" rules. The Senate is the States prepresenative- and every state is equal.

    You should have to take a test before your allowed to express an opinion... you SIR are an uneducated buffon.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Reply
    • Realkman

      The correct word is buffoon, not buffon. I hope you see the irony after accusing somebody with ignorance, not that anyboy who reads your response doubts who the real buffoon is.

      Amazing so many people are in awe of a document written almost 250 years ago. I am sure you also think documents like the Bible and Quran are also still relevant today.

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

      CORRECTION: We are neither a republic nor a democracy. The Republic has been slowly destroyed for the past 30 years and has been replaced by a national oligarchy. These people you think are running the country — Executive | Legislative | Judicial — are but pawns who kneel before the wealthiest 1% of Americans and the corporations they operate.

      June 20, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Reply
  5. Mark

    Pathetic. You're understanding (or lack thereof) of the Senate (with it's original intent and electoral process) is frightening. The electoral college protects us from Election Fraud (I don't want Chicago electing all my presidents). When are leftists and their ignorant masses going to give up the whole "Democracy" kick......we are a Constitutional Republic!!!! There's is a difference. Democracy is mob rule (50% plus 1 can change any law), our Constitutional Republic protects minority rights.

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

      And why should minority rights be protected, especially when the minority is exploiting the majority? Either way, very little in the U.S. Constitution protects minority rights. It is mostly accomplished through legislative rules like the filibuster. Yes, you can say checks and balances blah blah blah... but the Senators aren't the wise statesmen the founders envisioned who cool off the passions of the House. Radicals are in the Senate too.

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

      The current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes maximizes the incentive and opportunity for fraud. A very few people can change the national outcome by changing a small number of votes in one closely divided battleground state. With the current system all of a state's electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who receives a bare plurality of the votes in each state. The sheer magnitude of the national popular vote number, compared to individual state vote totals, is much more robust against manipulation.

      Senator Birch Bayh (D-Indiana) summed up the concerns about possible fraud in a nationwide popular election for President in a Senate speech by saying in 1979, "one of the things we can do to limit fraud is to limit the benefits to be gained by fraud. Under a direct popular vote system, one fraudulent vote wins one vote in the return. In the electoral college system, one fraudulent vote could mean 45 electoral votes, 28 electoral votes."

      Hendrik Hertzberg wrote: "To steal the closest popular-vote election in American history, you'd have to steal more than a hundred thousand votes . . .To steal the closest electoral-vote election in American history, you'd have to steal around 500 votes, all in one state. . . .

      For a national popular vote election to be as easy to switch as 2000, it would have to be two hundred times closer than the 1960 election–and, in popular-vote terms, forty times closer than 2000 itself.

      Which, I ask you, is an easier mark for vote-stealers, the status quo or N.P.V.[National Popular Vote]? Which offers thieves a better shot at success for a smaller effort?"

      June 20, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Reply
    • oldgulph

      National Popular Vote has nothing to do with whether the country has a "republican" form of government or is a "democracy."

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

      June 20, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Reply
    • oldgulph

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

      June 20, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Reply
  6. David

    Thomas

    You lack a basic understanding of American history so dont go and say that we need to revise our consitution just because Iceland is doing it. This just another example of poeple who think more power in less hands is good for America, sounds alot like Obama....>>>>>>>>>>WRONG!!! Can you please prove your point with fact??? or is this just an excuse to try to attack the President?? No wonder this nation is going downhill the people are so corroded by HATE!!!

    June 20, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Reply
  7. Lucas Bensley

    It doesn't seem necessary to restructure the Senate to be based on population rather than equal representation, since the House of Representatives is already based on population. The original worry on the part of the Founding Fathers in regards to setting up a Legislative Branch was that states with higher populations would hold too much influence over states with lower populations, which is why they settled on the Great Compromise to provide the equally representative Senate for the lower-populated states' benefit and the population based House of Representatives for more popular states. I do, however, agree with Fareed in questioning the role of the Electoral College, which, as demonstrated in the 2000 election, doesn't diligently reflect the voice of the voting public.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Reply
  8. Rethink

    Last I checked, the United States is a republic, not a democracy. Don't accuse the United States of being undemocratic in its presidential election system. Such was not the intent. If we wanted to fix the electoral system, then we would have runoffs, both in the primaries and in the general elections.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Reply
  9. Big Dave

    Yes, there is always need of amendment. That's why the function was allowing in the original constitution. Personally, I believe that getting rid of the Electoral college and changing the senate are bad ideas. They represent a mentality that states are merely lines on a map and do not hold any power in and of themselves. The House represents your "One man, one vote" idea, and the senate represents the "One state, one vote" mentality. Similarly, the electoral college represents a president being elected by the states and the state representatives, not directly by the people. This is the concept of Federalism. I believe we should maintain a federal system (the states have the majority of the power) over the strong national system. I recognize the author's and other commentors' right to a different view of that, though.

    In response to your other question regarding which three amendments I would propose, I would say first, there should be an amendment specifically detailing the means that the three branches of government can enforce their respective powers be respected. Right now, the congress seems overwhelmingly of the opinion that the President is violating their powers over war. However, they also seem unable to find a course of action for enforcing that, aside from writing nasty letters to the president. I realize that there is the process of impeachment, but as this is hardly an impeachable offense, there is nothing to be done (conversely, the executive branch has long held that the War Powers Act was a breach in their constitutional powers, but likewise has no way to dispute that except this administration's method of simply ignoring it). Second, I believe that rules regarding governmental openness should be included in the constitution. Given the major enhancements in communications technology, I believe that there should be constitutional requirements for openness (such as universal access to full text of all bills within, say, 24 hours of their initially being presented in congress. These documents were written electronically before being submitted in hard copy, so this should present no logistical problems unless the authors use type writers. Granted, exceptions would obviously be made for sensitive hearings in any branch of the government (such as intelligence reports). As for the third, I don't have any idea what it would look like, but it would be wonderful if there was a way to check the powers of the major political parties. It seems lately that we really have two branches of government, not three. There are republicans and democrats. The three branches do not serve as checks and balances over each other, because whichever party is leading any particular branch is typically only willing to check or balance against another branch if their party is not also in control of that other branch. Since Lincoln the Republicans and Democrats have been in nearly complete control of the government and have created this two-way pull for power, rather than the three way pull around which the entire system was designed. This ends up with a huge imbalance because congress, which is the only dual-party branch (since the executive branch is inhabited by only one party at a time, and the judicial branch is [ideally, not really] apolitical), congress gets bogged down with political infighting and the two parties spend so much time fighting each other that they have no strength left to check the other two branches. This has led the judicial branch to incrementally increase its legislative ability as judges continually legislate from the bench, since congress is too busy with infighting to try to check that breach of constitutional powers. It has also led to huge power grabs by most of the presidents in recent history, which congress is also powerless to fight against (short of the above mentioned angrily worded yet toothless letters).

    Now that I've had my rant, I welcome you all to disagree with me 🙂

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

      One other comment about my third point with the political parties having too much power. 2 parties. 3 branches of government. This makes the model of three equally powerful branches checking each other impossible (if you accept my assumption that two branches will not check each other if they are of the same party), and here is why: you will always have two branches controlled by one party (now I am abandoning the assumption in the main post that judges are apolitical, because everyone knows that's hogwash). So it will always be either 2 against 1 or 3 against none (the only exception being if congress is equally split between the two parties, the president is of one party, and the other party has a majority of seats in the supreme court. Sorry, but that's too many stars aligning at once, so I reject that as a legitimate possibility).

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

      The powers of state governments are neither increased nor decreased based on whether presidential electors are selected along the state boundary lines, along district lines (as has been the case in Maine and Nebraska), or national lines.

      June 20, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Reply
  10. David

    To think that we would use social media to re-write our constitution is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard. Although Facebook and Twitter have redeeming values, 99.5% of social media is completely useless. Perhaps Kim Kardashian or Lebron James could be the new Madison and Jefferson. Maybe Lady Gaga could write the preamble 140 characterizes at a time. Our constitution is one of the most remarkable documents ever created. The idea that it could be changed in a similar way we pick our American Idol is nightmarish. As for Zacharia's complaints about the Electoral College and make up of the senate, I would suggest he do a little more homework and maybe he would understand the beauty and importance of these institutions. Besides, its not as if our federal government follows the constitution anyway.

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

    This is probably one of the most poorly written opinions on the constitution I have read ever read. It is not based in any fact at all. If you felt any compulsion to read our founding fathers, you would understand they had a deep desire to formulate a system where we would not have tyranny of majority. That is why all states have equal representation in the senate. Any good Poli-Sci teacher would make you go back to your reading and actual try to write something good this time.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Reply
  12. Elbert

    All I wanna know is: Where my Obama money at??

    June 20, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Reply
  13. TPR54

    It never ceases to amaze me how some people respond to these articles. Anyway, YES, I think we should make some long needed amendments to the Constitution. You touched on one, the Electoral College (should be eliminated). But some others would be the line item veto by the president (the Supreame Court left the door open in their ruling), term limits for Congress (get the professional polititians OUT) and a required balanced budget amendment. These amendments would go a long way in setting this country back on the right course.

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

      To abolish the Electoral College would need a constitutional amendment, and could be stopped by states with as little as 3% of the U.S. population.

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

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

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

      Virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action, without federal constitutional amendments.

      June 20, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Reply
  14. RobertFTL

    In an ideal world rewriting the constitution for the 21st century is a very good idea, but could never happen in a polarizing society as we have in the USA. Our country is not united in any way shape or form. Americans for the most part don't want progress...it seems stats quo works for them. When you have 30%+ Americans protecting the ideas and concepts of the 1% very wealthy, we are put in a quagmire. Not mentioning that most Americans believe Christianity to be the only religion and therefor should be subjected to all, in a country with an extreme diversity of religions. These I believe being the two biggest issues our country is facing now has no place in our constitution. Sometimes a mess has to be made for real change to occur and I would think most Americans believe we are at the point, but we are not. I think now is not the time to be suggesting redrafting the constitution. Americans need to unite before such an endeavor could be attempted.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Reply
  15. CaptUSMC

    Here are my three amendments. Balanced Budget Amendment, Term Limit on House of Representatives Amendment and Amendment that only permits flat tax on income. Congress has proven that it cannot be trusted with our money. The current marginal and progressive income tax is the penultimate, yet counterintuitive, example of that principle. Other than that, leave well enough alone.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Reply
  16. agathokles

    Well, if we do revise it, it'll have to be written in language for the 6th-grade reading level - i.e., appropriate to today's USA. And it'll have to be a 1-pager, because the new generation of Americans has a short attention span. Oh... and perhaps it should have lots of jazzy pie-charts and holograms.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Reply
  17. NoConstitutionalConvention

    Have you even considered that if people try to do this... states will break off and say screw you! What if a state said we will only accept the current Constitution. What would you do then?

    June 20, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Reply
  18. RonFromNM

    Zacharia, we are a republic, not a democracy. In addition, we are the "united" states, not an amorphous federal blob. Hence the reason for the "undemocratic" aspects of the US Constitution. We have an amendment process, that is sufficient, we don't need to scrap the whole thing.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Reply
    • Tony

      He hasn't suggested scrapping the whole thing. Might want to open your eyes and read this again. He's against throwing the whole thing out, just looking for revisions. Or perhaps you were just giving a knee-jerk reaction?

      June 20, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Reply
    • Alfred Nye Jr

      I disagree. I think that in reality we have neither a Jeffersonian democracy nor a democratic republic here. I think that actually, throughout most of our history, we have had a Hamiltonian plutocracy–a system whereby the rich run our government with relatively little influence by most of the population. Of course, the plutocrats want us to believe that we have some kind of democracy. In that way we remain much easier to control. Given this, most likely little meaningful change will occur until nature forces the changes on us as the environmentally-based economic collapse now well under way continues.

      June 20, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Reply
  19. Joe Pendelton

    It does not matter if you revise this U.S. Constitution, if you do not follow it in the first place. Our Government and President and Congress and Senate and the Supreme Court all need to take heed to this document and realize just what it say's and allows for all. It should not be revised to benefit the few and effect the masses.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Reply
  20. weallgotone

    Let's throw away the constitution and start speaking a different language. We could even change the name of our country and chose a different flag too.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Reply
  21. Ray

    I would propose the commerce clause be scaled back to near non-existence as it has bent, twisted, manipulated, and stretched whenever the Federal Government wants to expand its reach. Secondly, I would propose a balanced budget amendment wherein the Government must balance its budget each and every year. Lastly, like was previously mentioned, I would propose doing away with the electoral college; it is a relic reflective of a time when it would have been impossible to collect and process votes of every citizen across an expanding country; this is no longer the case.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Reply
  22. Ben in Chantilly

    Mr. Zakaria,

    You wrote "..... set up in 930 A.D. The rocky ledge on which they gathered represents the beginnings of representative government in the world."

    Uhmm, all except for the Greeks, Romans (from whence we get the term "Senate") and several others that preceded them by oh, say, anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 years ?

    Such galling lack of editing quality or knowledge of human history would tend, on it;s surface, to disqualify you entirely from any role in commenting on the history or applicability of our Constitution.

    Honestly, I think CNN pays you to write such drivel, because they know it will generate blog posts in response, and that's about the only thing justifying the advertising dollars spent on the CNN web-site these days.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Reply
    • Tony

      Neither the Greek nor Roman bodies survived more than a few hundred years. The Icelandic Althing is nearly 1100 years in continuous operation, eclipsing even what the Greeks and Romans used for a comparatively short duration. Perhaps you should learn to think in historical context before displaying your ignorance.

      June 20, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Reply
      • Fred Manning

        Good God.Name a famous Icelandian of antiquity.Name an invention!!!!!!!!!!!!

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

      You have taken the quote out of context. Its intent is to describe the length of time the longest existing legislative body has been around. Last time I checked the Roman Empire was no longer around.

      June 20, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Reply
      • Fred Manning

        Didn't all the banks close last year.Oh I remember,Iceland put a "sardine" in orbit one time.Hey,I got it,they do have Bjork and until she showed up as a swan,I loved her.

        June 20, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  23. scriptfoo

    If the politicians were to recreate the constitution, they're likely to abolish the idea that our government is, as Pres. A. Lincoln eloquently stated, a government of the people, for the people, and by the people. And while they're at it, they'll also purge that pesky comment in there about providing for the general welfare of the states. They'll create a constitution that is less a guide and more a bible of micromanagement. Let the constitution stand as it is, let it be continued to be modified as the people see fit. If we instead opt to scrap it and start over then it really shouldn't be called a constitution; it should be called "something we'll use for now until we don't like it anymore".

    ...

    June 20, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Reply
  24. Howie

    You can't fix perfect. We have the most perfect system ever proposed. As far as constitutional convention by internet social media, I cannot imagine a dumber idea. Talk about sinking to the lowest common denominator.

    We have a system specifically designed to prevent tyranny of the majority, which in today's terms means protecting us from the stupidity of the ignorant masses. That is why RI and CA have the same clout in the US Senate.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Reply
  25. NoConstitutionalConvention

    what would be the three amendments you would put in? How about this ... Fiat money would be illigal. No income tax. Protection of privacy.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Reply
  26. Pastor Evans

    Why update a document that many in this country don't honor anyway? People (politicians and lawyers) convenient use this document only when it is beneficial to their own evil agendas, intenetions, or desires. So it doesn't matter what document mankind draws up in this world, the only document that stands forever is the "Word of God"!!! Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words stand forever!!! Glory to Jesus Christ forever!!!

    June 20, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Reply
  27. The Jackdaw

    1. Outlaw lifelong political careers.
    2. Outlaw lobbyists.
    3. Make it legal for health insurance companies to transcend state lines so that their prices lower through competition.
    4. Institute a fair tax.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Reply
    • Fred Manning

      He has no shame.A month ago,he was in Eygypt with 4 young activists.He tried to lead them into singing"Hosana's" for the Prez.All four declined!!!!!The Bill of Rights is the document of influence.The actual constsitution is "gobbledygook".Hey Fareed,who wrote the Bill of Rights">?

      June 20, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Reply
  28. matt

    Who would be in charge of this and at what point to we stop updating? This would be a very slippery slope that could be done with good intentions but with dire consequences.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Reply
  29. abidingdude

    A few from my wish list: term limits for every Rep. and Sen., all campaigns for federal office are publicly funded with a limited budget (not bankrolled by corporations and hedge funders), shift electoral college "winner take all" aspect from state level to voting district level (i.e.majority of voting districts wins – not whoever takes CA, NY, TX, and FL), those on unemployment report to work detail (highway trash pickup, community service, etc.) or lose handout, &c, &c.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Reply
    • oldgulph

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

      The congressional district method of awarding electoral votes (currently used in Maine and Nebraska) would not help make every vote matter. In NC, for example, there are only 4 of the 13 congressional districts that would be close enough to get any attention from presidential candidates. In California, the presidential race is competitive in only 3 of the state's 53 districts. A smaller fraction of the country's population lives in competitive congressional districts (about 12%) than in the current battleground states (about 30%) that now get overwhelming attention, while two-thirds of the states are ignored Also, a second-place candidate could still win the White House without winning the national popular vote.

      June 20, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Reply
  30. moosh

    our country is a skyscraper and the constitution is the foundation. over the past 200+ years, we have slowly added level upon level we now have the tallest skyscraper seen by mankind. you suggest we completely destroy the foundation and hope we can replace it with something better? if it works, we can continue building higher, but nothing points to our ascent being limited by the old foundation (not yet anyway). if the replacement fails, the whole thing comes crashing down. that is one hell of a risk with way more downside than upside.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Reply
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