September 24, 2011

Righties and lefties get together at Harvard Law School to make common cause over the notion of a constitutional convention.

Boston Herald reports:
Speakers representing a broad swath of American political thought are coming from the Green Party, the Cato Institute, Progressive Democrats of America and the American Freedom Agenda, among others.

Agenda items will include term limits, expanding state rights and limiting private money in politics.

Attendees aren’t likely to agree on many of those issues, said keynote speaker Glenn Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law professor and founder of the influential conservative libertarian blog Instapundit. But, he said, “There is a widespread sense that things aren’t right and we should talk about fundamental changes instead of incremental changes — sort of like a reboot.”
That makes me want to dig out my favorite quote from Edmund Burke's "Reflections on the Revolution in France":
In states there are often some obscure and almost latent causes, things which appear at first view of little moment, on which a very great part of its prosperity or adversity may most essentially depend. The science of government being therefore so practical in itself, and intended for such practical purposes, a matter which requires experience, and even more experience than any person can gain in his whole life, however sagacious and observing he may be, it is with infinite caution that any man ought to venture upon pulling down an edifice, which has answered in any tolerable degree for ages the common purposes of society, or on building it up again, without having models and patterns of approved utility before his eyes.
Plus I'm having a flashback to 1980...

81 comments:

madAsHell said...

The problem isn't the constitution.

What we have is a lot of people realizing their liberal agenda is unsustainable....now, if we just change the rules, then we can make it better.

Obama being an utter incompetent doesn't help either.

Although, I have heard people state that Obama was the rational choice.

madAsHell said...

...and by the way....... FIRST!!

edutcher said...

I agree with the man my mother said is my ancestor.

But since the subject of term limits has been raised...

make them not just for Congress, but the Federal judiciary, as well.

traditionalguy said...

What was 1980...the ERA ?

ricpic said...

How about killing the "living" Constitution, for starters?

Quayle said...

No amount of structural change in our democracy will fix an apathetic, lazy, or immoral public.

Sorry, as the founders plainly said: it wasn't designed for such.

Ann Althouse said...

"What was 1980...the ERA ?"

There was a proposal for a constitutional convention then. Walter Mondale was handling the matter for Jimmy Carter.

Sorry, I had a hell of a time trying to dig that history out of the internet.

You can't even get a text of Mondale's speech to the Democratic convention.

In it, he accused Ronald Reagan of "conven[ing] a constitutional convention in his hotel room to weaken the office he's seeking."

I had to get this post up, so I interrupted my search for good material. It's out there though.

Quayle said...

And I would add 'intellectually dishonest' to that list.

No constitution will fix the problems created by public that lies to themselves individually and to their fellow citizens.

Bruce Hayden said...

The problem isn't the constitution.

Maybe not, but the U.S. Constitution does prevent states from implementing term limits on its Senators and Representatives. My view is that we term limit Presidents, and so why not do so for members of Congress?

There are a lot of reasons that I favor such, and the biggest being that it would lower the level of corruption and the rent seeking.

The problem though is that the left, in the end, will oppose such, as they always do. And, I would suggest that that is because part of their power is based on their longevity. If you look at the ranking members of the House committees, they were almost all committee chairs of those committees, and some before the Gingrich revolution.

I really do believe that the longer that members of Congress serve, the more corrupt they are. They become cozier and cozier with the lobbyists, and further from their constituents. Part of this is natural - many of those lobbyists were Congressional staffers, or even Members themselves. They are the ones that the current Members drink and wench with, and have for years. In contrast, the newer members tend to have much stronger ties with their districts or states.

SMGalbraith said...

Any amendments passed by the Convention will still have to be ratified by the states.

So, Burke's admonition is sort of built in to the process. There will be a period of reflection that a (runaway?) convention likely won't have.

In any case, self government requires the governing of the self. I don't see where any changes in the Constitution will promote that.

Bruce Hayden said...

Although, I have heard people state that Obama was the rational choice.

Only rational if based on limited information. I would suggest that the more accurate information that a voter had about Obama and McCain in 2008, the less likely they were to vote for Obama.

Of course, the problem there is called "rational ignorance", which means that it doesn't pay off to not be mostly ignorant about most subjects (there is only so much time in the day, and we all can't spend it following any subject, including for most politics, in depth). So, we depend on trusted proxies to compensate for this rational ignorance (said proxies being the MSM for many in the case of politics).

So, maybe I would agree, if you would rephrase it as Obama being the rationally ignorant choice.

Shouting Thomas said...

Yes, Althouse, destroying tradition just because it seems to serve a greater ideal is very dangerous.

Sort of like gay marriage.

Fred4Pres said...

The constitution is fine. If you disagree, pass an amendment.

Bruce Hayden said...

The other thing that might be nice as an amendment to the Constitution would be some sort of balanced budget amendment - though we may get that anyway, if the Republicans retake the Senate by a wide enough margin in the next election or two.

States have to live within their budgets, why not countries? Four trillion dollars of new debt since Obama took office cannot be good for the future of this country.

Maybe another might be to require that Congress actually passes budgets and the President sign them before money can be spent. We are now 800+ days since the Senate has passed a budget, and the half dozen or so that the House has sent them still languish there.

That said, actually requiring a budget may be too much detail to go into the Constitution.

Bruce Hayden said...

Oh, and while we are at it, why not repeal the 19th Amendment. After all, women, in general, showed that they were too emotional to vote rationally by electing Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

I will bet that if we were to vote here with the regular posters, we might just get a majority on this, given the sexual makeup of the commenters.

Carol_Herman said...

It's not the same "old harvahd." And, it ain't the same "old Yale."

Some voices from long ago ... who sat on our Supremes ... Argued their positions so well ... That like a tight container, they still hold water.

Maybe, what's left the field are those white shoes?

Remember those old buckskin shoes? Out of the box, an effort was made to make them look dirty.

Then? Along came high heeled shoes. And, cowboy boots.

But Harvahd wants a party ... toot. Toot. TOOT.

Maybe, soon people will remember the grandness of all of our GREAT DEAD WHITE MEN?

One can hope, no?

Shouting Thomas said...

I will bet that if we were to vote here with the regular posters, we might just get a majority on this, given the sexual makeup of the commenters.

Strawman to the extreme!

You win a prize on that one! Although I've got no idea what the prize might be.

Titus said...

I will be attending, natch.

Should be super, thanks for asking.

It's going to be 80 today!

Tits.

Carol_Herman said...

Obama is a weak candidate. This would be a consensus opinion, if you asked people who will vote for him. And, who will NEVER vote for a GOP candidate. Especially not a socially conservative one.

The real problems right now go the GOP contendahs ... who make Obama still look and feel good to a majority of American voters.

IF the debates were worth their salt? Sarah Palin would have jumped into the pool!

If Chris Christie jumps in? He's gonna land like a giant garden bug on the debates! People will tune him in. But he won't win. Not enough real experience. (He'd be called a quitter after only two years at the helm in New Jersey). And, he's so far to the left of anybody else running right now ... That just mindlessly celebrating a person ... Without attaching this to a workable record ...

Even gives obama the experience at the helm.

No change.

Bad times? Really no change.

Staying away from the exploding debris coming from Europe? He's doing that fine.

He even did it at Turtle Bay ... where sits the UN's Theater of the Absurd.

ONE CLUE: Unhappy obama voters who now say "Ron Paul looks interesting."

It's as if we're turning our political machinery into a jumbo religious experience! Ron Paul is just a nasty midget.

Bruce Hayden said...

While we are at it, why not limit the franchise to paying federal income taxes or having served honorably in the military?

Just finished (for the 3rd time) Heinlein's "Starship Trooper". Much better than the movie. In that book, full citizenship essentially requires an honorable discharge from the military, and they don't make that easy. Interestingly though, representation is based on the number of people, and not "citizens" in an area, so that some citizens represent a lot of non-citizens, and others, living in areas with high vet concentrations, represent many fewer.

The basic problem is that we are rapidly approaching a place where a minority of the people in the country will be paying federal income taxes. And, part of our fiscal problem is that so many don't have any "skin in the game". Many seem willing to vote for bread and circuses, since those expenses won't come out of their pockets.

chickenlittle said...

There is a widespread sense that things aren’t right and we should talk about fundamental changes instead of incremental changes — sort of like a reboot.

That reminded me of a line from my favorite book on Wisconsin geography:

Changes in scientific information have been remarkably few; for the most part they consist of a fuller knowledge of details rather than changes in basic concepts. It matters little whether the Lower Magnesian limestone is now called the Prairie du Chien Group, for names of individual rock units are always prone to change but the rocks themselves remain the same.

Lawrence Martin, The Physical Geography of Wisconsin (1965)

madAsHell said...

Bruce Hayden -

the rational choice

It's a phrase used by my favorite law professor, and our hostess. She has written about her reasoning, and it completely fails me.

Like our hostess, I have some experience teaching. I taught engineering courses. While teaching, I found some general patterns in student behavior.

Obama is the guy in the classroom that would barely make an effort, skid by with a gentleman's D, and then argue for an A after the school term concluded.

I can't believe our hostess hasn't seen the same patterns, and then failed to apply them!!

w/v: phoot - I have no idea, but it sure captures my feeling.

Leland said...

I'd like to see a legislature that met for a shorter time each year. Contraining legislative time reduces time available for trivial and insignificant legislation. At the same time, there needs to be tighter constraints on the ability of the Executive branch to create laws through regulation. And term limits would be good thing. It would also be great to clearly define federal and state jurisdiction, because apparently the 10th amendment isn't clear enough.

Bruce Hayden said...

Strawman to the extreme!

Not sure if I would call it a strawman, but I obviously did throw it out there to stir things up.

daddynoz said...

224 years and everyone is agreement as to the significance of the document. Where does that leave the unpleasant questions some have as to the more nuanced doubts regarding recent policy or allowances? Obamacare and the commerce clause, sure. Immigration and securing the borders as far as a mandated constitutional responsibility, sure. Folks readily accept these as worthy of discussion and of import to the national interest. Why not then, natural born citizenship as far as a criteria for holding presidential office? Last I checked there have only been two presidents born after the adoption who were the product of a non-American father (Arthur and Obama). Folks like me know that Mr. Obama is a citizen due to the Wong Kim Ark spin on the 14th Amendment that he was merely born in this country, but such is insufficient if you study history. Anyway, just wondered if anybody else noticed that everything constitutional was subject to debate, save one. Reminds me of AGW and the democratic notion that the science is "settled".

chickenlittle said...

@Carol_Herman:

Before maundering further, I wondered if you could please consider my question from last night: link

Thanks Carol!

Bruce Hayden said...

At the same time, there needs to be tighter constraints on the ability of the Executive branch to create laws through regulation.

I would agree in theory, but question how that could be accomplished at the Constitutional level.

It is a real problem, and has arguably gotten a lot worse under Obama. His Administration seems bound and determined to implement whatever policy they could not get through Congress through regulation. This includes gun regulation, union power, CO2 (along with other environmental concerns), etc.

Let me suggest that if the voters had been aware that Obama and his Administration would be trying to repeal the 2nd Amdt., give unions a major advantage in organizing, shutting down drilling in this country, as well as nuclear power (by, for example, shutting down Yucca Mountain), etc., that he may not have won the 2008 election. It was only because he was viewed as relatively harmless that he was able to prevail.

Bruce Hayden said...

I think though that one of the big reasons that we have not seen a Constitutional Convention, despite so many calls for one over the years, is that no one can predict in advance what would come out of it. Members of Congress might vote for one in order to get a balanced budget, and end up with a repeal of the 2nd Amdt.

David said...

Given the way our current political class has handled everything else, I have no interest in giving them a shot at widespread amendment of the Constitution.

Right now our political-media-academic system is an endless swamp of bad ideas. Best to keep most of these at a theoretical level.

I am not big on litmus tests, but no true conservative should embrace broad amendment of the constitution.

somefeller said...

Meh. I remember people talking about doing something like this on campus at HLS almost 20 years ago. There are always people there who want to have a constitutional convention or some other Big New Idea to start from that venue. I remember when some of us got together one night and mapped out how to start a new political party while having pizza and beers. Nothing came of that, and that's probably better for America.

And as far as constitutional conventions are concerned, the Burke quote is apropos. Remember what happened when they called the Estates General in 1789. It's usually not a good idea to open up that box.

virgil xenophon said...

Ye Gods! Carol Herman on WHITE BUCKS! (And the "breaking in" thereof) NOW you've gone and done it, Carol, you've REALLY dated yourself now! I'm 67 and was only in Jr. HS when the mania hit, so you're AT LEAST 10 years on either side of me..lol

Shouting Thomas said...

Right now our political-media-academic system is an endless swamp of bad ideas. Best to keep most of these at a theoretical level.

Yes, this is the problem.

SMGalbraith said...

Sounds like a horse trading convention. The right pushes for a repeal of the 17th Amendment or term limits and the left pushes for banning of corporate funding of political ads.

Ugh. Constitutional conventions - like legislation - like sausage - being made.

In any case, unless there's a need for major changes in the Constitution, why the call for a convention (and, pace Burke's warning, any Amendments passed by the convention still must be ratified by the states)?

Carol_Herman said...

France is now so politically dirty!

Of course, back in the early 1800's, France was the "big attraction." You had the Louvre. Artists from America went there. And, the women's fashions were street shows.

You know, of course, about their revolutions. And, Napoleon. Who gets tossed. (Twice.) But his nephew ... his brother's son ... comes in about 1845 ... (give or take) ... And, he's a dictator who REBUILDS PARIS. Up comes all the slums. (You want to see them? You can't. But you could read Victor Hugo.)

Paris is a planned city.

Of course, Nephew Napoleon wants the french military to attack the prussians.

Anyway, take "today."

Take the case of DSK.

To give you an example of how down and dirty things are in france ... To the french ... "that arrest" was COOKED.

Could'a been. The police kept the illiterate maid away from the TV. So she had no idea about the journalists rushing to watch the "perp walk."

What did the managers at the Sofitel know? They're the ones who called in the cops. They're the ones who put their own maid into harm's way. WHY?

Here, in America, everybody got shocked that H&R Block filled out the woman's tax returns to benefit her with getting "a better refund." This caused Cyrus Vance to throw Nafi Diallo to the wolves.

While in france? The case is hot. Beause of Ms. Banon.

Believe what you want to believe.

Carol_Herman said...

You know what's odd?

Americans want to be on a steady ship. We're traveling through terrible financial straits. And, there's a "constitutional convention?"

What's cha want?

Overturn Roe.

Take away Executive Powers.

No flag burning.

And, do away with the electoral college.

As if lawyers aren't held in enough contempt ... they're gonna try to do a "doozy."

While the "doodle bug" Chris Christie saps some strength from the media ... to decide if he's gonna join the debating midgets.

No wonder Obama's stock just keeps going up.

Dad29 said...

Don't ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up. --G K Chesterton

Pogo said...

Burke and Chesterton couldn't have meant marriage, right?

SMGalbraith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SMGalbraith said...

I think though that one of the big reasons that we have not seen a Constitutional Convention, despite so many calls for one over the years, is that no one can predict in advance what would come out of it

Yes, but any amendments that a convention passes must stil be ratified by 3/4s of the states.

A runaway convention can still be stopped

William said...

Past generations have found a way to make the Constitution work, and their problems and challenges were no less than ours. I don't think people of our era are more stupid or venal than in times past, but there is a good chance that we are more hubristic.....Even if our current generation were much brighter than the founding fathers (yeah, right) and they produced a more balanced and efficacious blueprint, it would be an unhallowed document, subject to further change upon further whims.

Calypso Facto said...

Quoting Althouse: "My preference is always: do nothing. That's the presumption you need to overcome. It's good for government and it's good for your individual life too. (For decades, my personal motto has been: Better than nothing is a high standard.)"

I agree with Fred too: Don't like the Constitution? You're already free to propose an amendment.

Chase said...

Bruce Hayden said

Ithink though that one of the big reasons that we have not seen a Constitutional Convention, despite so many calls for one over the years, is that no one can predict in advance what would come out of it. Members of Congress might vote for one in order to get a balanced budget, and end up with a repeal of the 2nd Amdt.

Nail head hit perfectly center, Sir!

Leave well enough alone. If you can't get an amendment passed, then imagine the mischief, compromise and possibly evil rsults from a Constitutional Convention. It really would be a crap shoot, decisions made not at all rationally, instead almost completely emotionally.

I look at how well Congress is working and the idea of a CC scares the shit out of me.

Mick said...

I would never want this group of cretins present in Congress to have access to the lockbox of the US Constitution. Nor would I want clueless "law profs" like Reynolds (no wonder uS lawyers know nothing about the Constitution) helping them.

Bender said...

Re: limiting private money in politics

This from the land of John Hancock? This in the context of a constitutional convention, which harkens back to revolutionary times, when the entire Congress pledged their fortunes, together with their lives and sacred honor, to effect political change?

gerry said...

The Harvard Crimson doesn't want "reactionary" conservatives gaining legitimacy from participating in the conference.

Bender said...

imagine the mischief, compromise and possibly evil results from a Constitutional Convention

We effectively have a standing constitutional convention in the Congress, which is empowered to propose amendments, and see what mischief, compromise and most definite evil results from it.

frank said...

I'm in favor of a ConCon if, and only if, Titus and Carol are ConConCoChairs. Sorry for the hip-hop.

Richard Dolan said...

Most of the gripes focus on items that, even if they had merit and commanded super-majoritarian support, would be appropriate for an amendment. We've had plenty of those over the last 200 years, without ever convening a constitutional convention. Even the radical changes brought about by the Civil War were handled constitutionally by amendments.

The idea of convening a constitutional convention is the antithesis of the conservative point of view (Ann's quote from Burke captures the idea perfectly). Presumably most of the players at HLS (certainly Glenn R) realizes how dumb that idea is, even as they have fun playing with it.

SunnyJ said...

So the generation that has been steeped in contempt for the constitution, spent 30-40 years indoctrinating our citizens in public schools to see only it's perceived failures, and has now been party to the dismantling of the economy based on these progressive unconstitutional policies...this group thinks they are now ready to talk fundamental change of the constitution?

As others have said, the intellectual dishonesty of this suggestion is astounding: we don't like it, we stopped following it, our methods have made everything worse...so now we think we should fix it! Let me know how that works on your plumbing first, then I'll consider letting you use that algorithm on my country and my life.

I'm having a cocktail early on this one...truly truly truly ignorant and lacking rational thinking.

caseym54 said...

There needs to be a middle ground. Perhaps an amendment could be proposed by identical resolution in 2/3rds of the states and then ratified by a supermajority in either the Congress or the electorate.

The problem currently is that Congress has an absolute veto, so certain things just cannot pass.

Bender said...
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Bender said...
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frank said...

As an alternative to a ConCon may I suggest the Badgers vs South Dakota, 2:30, Big Ten Network, channel 610 on Direct TV? Party convenes at 1:00PM

Bender said...

And, frankly, amending the Constitution is absolutely pointless if our overlords refuse to comply with it. In the end, it is just a piece of paper, a piece of paper that does not magically make us a nation of laws, rather than a nation of men (and women).

We are only a nation of laws if our rulers consent to it, inasmuch as it is no longer seemly to adopt the measures to implement self-governance that the founding fathers used. And people like Obama and Reid and Anthony Kennedy do not consent to it -- the laws and the Constitution are whatever they say they are, period, regardless of what the actual words say.

The Constitution ALREADY does not permit the government to do 80 percent of what it does. The entire ediface of administrative law hangs on a slender specious thread of constitutional justification. And multiple areas of "constitutional law" are made up of whole cloth as part of the exercise of raw judicial power.

Merely adding more words to the Constitution to be ignored is an exercise in delusional thinking. Look what has been done ever since passage of the last Amendment (27th), dealing with compensation for members of Congress -- they have simply gone around it and claimed loopholes permit them to shovel as much money into the pockets of members as they want.

Until we have people who are respectful of the rule of law, it is pointless.

Bruce Hayden said...

The problem with money in politics (and the inherent rent seeking that goes with it) is a hard problem to solve. For one thing, the source of the problem is seen very differently on the right and the left. On the right, it is seen as unions, government workers, rich liberals, and cheating. On the left, it is seen (I think) as rich corporations and rich conservatives. Throw in the controversy of cheating versus barriers to voting, and you get an almost unsolvable problem.

Besides, the problem goes much beyond money. For one thing, most Americans have no real idea about the power of lobbyists, and how money intrudes there, until they have gone up against it, as we did recently for Patent Reform, and, being outspent $50-$100 million to essentially zip, lost badly. We would fly to Washington, D.C. every couple of months and visit as many Members of Congress as we could. Meanwhile an army of 500 or so paid lobbyists would be in their offices on a daily basis (and those 500 lobbyists are a good part of where that $50-$100 million went). They also bought endorsements by the ABA and the AIPLA, and a number of papers published by prominent academicians, which are just now, too late, being debunked.

How can we solve the problem of crony capitalism combined with lobbying? Mere campaign finance limitations aren't going to touch that problem - the army of lobbyists for hire to the highest bidder is still going to be there on K Street (as well as on J, L, etc. streets). The only viable solution I can see is a low yield nuclear device detonated in that area of our capital.

Bruce Hayden said...

Let me add that lobbying and crony capitalism/socialism is inevitable as long as the federal government directly controls 1/4 of our GDP. Solyndra is just the most recent and visible example of this phenomena.

Hugh Mackie said...

"To be conservative, then, is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to utopian bliss." Michael Oakeshott, "On Being Conservative" (1956).

Steve Koch said...

Love InstaPundit but the idea of having a constitutional convention is insane. Glen needs to be much, much, much more humble. Our current political leadership is not to be trusted with such an awesome responsibility.

cubanbob said...

The amendment that is needed is to limit the vote at both the federal, state and local levels to net taxpayers.
Those paying the freight ought to be the ones deciding what ought to spent on.

Bruce Hayden said...

Let me suggest that, from the right, the major push for a constitutional convention is, as a recent poster pointed out, that certain things just cannot make it through Congress, but would likely make it through the states, despite having high approval by the American public. Probably the most obvious is term limitations - many Senators as well as the remaining Democrats in the House would oppose such with their last dying breath. Why? Because they are the ones who would be term limited (Democrats in the House right now tend to have been there much longer than their Republican colleagues for a number of reasons, including the 2010 elections).

A balanced budget also is unlikely to survive Congress for somewhat similar reasons. A lot of those in Congress really like the fact that they get to directly allocate 1/4 of GDP, and indirectly even more of it. Besides, that allocation is part of how they can go to Washington, D.C. poor, not get paid that much while in Congress, given the cost of living there, and come out of it rich. And, if they aren't rich enough when the leave Congress, they can just get an office on K Street, and get rich through lobbying their old colleagues.

Tom Perkins said...

"In that book, full citizenship essentially requires an honorable discharge from the military, and they don't make that easy."

I really, really hate it when people repeat this falsehood. Right in the book Heinlein makes it clear that only a very small fraction of the people doing Federal Service to qualify for the franchise are in the military in any way.

Bruce Hayden said...

"To be conservative, then, is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to utopian bliss."

Let me suggest that this is significantly outdated. I would rather suggest that to be conservative today is to prefer what works over what doesn't and can't, and to prefer logic over emotion in determining what to do.

Hugh Mackie said...

To be conservative is not to prefer logic, but to prefer history and tradition. A constitution is not a geometry theorem.

Bender said...

How about we just pass an Amendment that the federal and state governments be required to follow the Constitution?

Bruce Hayden said...

To be conservative is not to prefer logic, but to prefer history and tradition. A constitution is not a geometry theorem.

That may be the classical definition, but these terms have shifted over time. While progressives today may be just an enamored with Utopias today as classical liberals were earlier, most of them have very illiberal views.

The big move to the right right now, and to conservatism, is not really because we want to move back to how things were in the past, but rather, that current liberalism, etc. fails miserably. Its solutions do not work, and cannot work. Keynesian economics, as practiced by the 111th Congress and the Obama Administration failed miserably, as it had to. Strength through pandering to our enemies and abandoning our allies failed miserably because it also had to. Both ignore basic human nature based on some Utopian dreams of how humans should be when they are perfected.

Hugh Mackie said...

Bruce Hayden, I agree with most of your last paragraph, but it seems disconnected from the larger point. The left lacks a dcecent respect for the beliefs and opinions the customs and behaviors of ordinary people. So the left wishes to reorder things -- everything -- root and branch to better reflect its own view of how the world ought to be. That's how we got Obamacare, and the shambles that is our middle east policy.
I don't want the left's hubristic engineering, and I don't want the same infernal meddling coming from some unconservative logician on the right, either.

Bruce Hayden said...

I really, really hate it when people repeat this falsehood. Right in the book Heinlein makes it clear that only a very small fraction of the people doing Federal Service to qualify for the franchise are in the military in any way.

But, in the book, you don't get to choose where you go. If you wanted to work with inner city children, and the government thought that you should go Mobile Infantry, then you went MI, and if you quit, which was easy to do, then you were out, and never given a second chance.

Moreover, while Heinlein states in one place that 95% of civil service vets were non-military, there is also significant evidence to the contrary throughout the book, starting with the fact that Rico's father assumed that he was joining the military when he was told of his son's decision.

Bruce Hayden said...

Hugh,

I will be one of the first on the right to oppose something pushed by "conservatives" if I cannot see how it will work, but rather, see how it is likely to fail. Which is why I have become somewhat ambivalent about gay marriage, and very supportive of domestic partnerships.

The place where culture and tradition come in, for me, is that they have worked in the past. Why replace what has worked in the past by something that likely won't, just to make a change? - which is how I view most progressive ideas. Keep in mind that our culture and government are somewhat the result of cultural Darwinism - much of what we have in government and culture is because the alternatives have proven to be worse in the long run.

Probably didn't answer you question, so may try again later.

Bruce Hayden said...

p.s. As to "Starship Trooper" - the movie is only loosely related to the book, and does not do it justice. It isn't that long, and I think is worthwhile to read, esp. since our military seems to like it - being on official reading lists of the U.S. Marines and Navy.

sorepaw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cedarford said...

Most countries do not treat their Constitutions as Divine Parchment, all but immune to substantive change by the people and subject only to revision and update by a few elite lawyers that had the connections to get a black robe.

They are just national operating manuals.

The Model T was a great car. Yet we saw a need to keep revising and improving on it, not seeing it as a mechanical Qu'ran that only calamity would arise from working to make better.

My list:

1. End lifetime appointments of federal judges. Many could end up serving for life, but only with Congress voting to "renew" them every 12 years.
2. As with them, term limits for Congresscritters to hold down on pork, corruption, and the stranglehold "limetime" pols have on committees.
3. A far better definition of Presidential vs. Congressional War Powers in an instantly connected, nuclear weapon filled world.
4. End Roe v/ Wade. Send that to the States as a medical matter each state decides.
5. Set the limits - what is the line the Feds cannot cross in usurping powers from the States, parents, etc.
6. End birthright citizenship for the children of illegals and any spawn of an invading foreign power, on US soil.
7. Shed all the outdated dross - archaic sections of the American operating manual that are obsolete, no longer of any use. Define revisions, and put the Constitution on a 50 year update scheduling time...similar to times and methods used by most nations and most US states on their Constitutions.
8. No regulation that causes financial hardship on people or businesses greater than calculated benefit save by Congressional Vote.
9. Balanced budget Amendment - not as absolute as right-wingers want - but for sure, no more "free" wars or "free" drugs put on our IOUs to China.
10. When the political Elites are impervious to agreeing to changes the unwashed masses want (like ending affirmative action, controlling the Border), or it is held up by one or two Senators or blocked by a dubious judges ruling - allow We the People a National Referandum by including that in the Constitution. By supermajority (60-66% to cut down on people launching zillions of referanda intended bypassing Executive, Congress, Courts on more contested matters).

Cedarford said...

I'd add, on allowing an American Referandum, it would be only at time when regular Federal elections are held (biannually) and could not be used when there was specific language in the Constitution blocking it. (Presidential age limit, voting age defined as 18, for citizens only...etc)

questroark said...

Chesterton, again, as the pithier Burke: "That which need not be changed, must not not be changed."

Indigo Red said...

Since the first ConCon worked out so well for the proponents of a second ConCon, what makes them think it will go any better now? Since there are no limits on what can be changed, the same grievances will be on the table - everything - with no guarantee the result we be as good as what we already have.

Hugh Mackie said...

Congratulations, Cedarford,
with your term limits for judges and legislators, you will have handed even more power to the unappointed, unelected bureaucrats who populate the rule-making agencies that actually run the government. Forgive me if I prefer what Madison, Jefferson, Adams, et al. gave us to your version.

Jon said...

Hey guys I read an interview with Heinlein that indicated that he left citizenship kind of blurry on purpose because he didn't really resolve it in his own head.

rcocean said...

This never occurs because stupid people think a CC can amend the constitution. It can't. Any amendment passed by a Constitutional Convention would have to be ratified by 3/4 of the states - just like regular amendments.

So unless you think 3/4 of the states would ratify a lot of c-r-a-z-y amendments, there's nothing to worry about.

Joe said...

While adding suggestions, how about banning all pensions for holding elected office?

Bruce Hayden said...

While adding suggestions, how about banning all pensions for holding elected office?

This is actually a bigger problem with local state governments, esp., it seems, in CA, where pensions are bankrupting the cities, counties, and state.

While I agree with your suggestion, I would like to point out that the real money is made as a lobbyist after leaving office. Clinton managed some $100 million, but a lot of Members of Congress have become quite wealthy after being first elected, and often even more so after leaving office.

That said, the pensions for former member of Congress are quite lush, and shouldn't be - which gets us back to term limits - no politician should be allowed to spend his career in Washington, D.C.

Jim in St Louis said...

Interesting to see everyone's own personal ideas for how they would tinker around with the big C, but I would be more worried about the convention producing something that no one was predicting. I am also concerned about basic democracy- Can't everyone of you here remember an example of a stolen election?

Who knows what mischief these bastards would come up with if they had the power to propose amendments- The states are so weak now and so dependent on DC for funds that I'm worried they would ratify whatever came out of the convention.

LarryD said...

Term Limits for not only Congress, but the civilian bureaucracy as well. And time spent in Congress should count against the civil service limit.

I'm willing to discuss Term Limits for the Judiciary.

On a related issues, all who serve on the civilian side should get a 401(k) style "pension" (I think that's 453, I know there is already an equivalent). No "defined benefit pensions", though I do think that one should be able to roll over between 401(k) and the government and non-profit equivalents according to where you find employment.