COUNTERPOINT: Fix the political system; do not touch the Constitution | Columnists



In the lead up to the bicentenary of the Constitution, the late Constitutionalist Walter Berns was invited to deliver a speech on the Constitution in a Latin American country. After delivering his speech, an obviously agitated man addressed a question to the sponsors of the event: “Why, he asked, was this American lecturing us? After all, our country has had many constitutions, while the United States has only had one!

Humor aside, the United States actually had two constitutions, the Articles of Confederation (1781) and the Constitution (1788). Nevertheless, the underlying point remains the same: there has been remarkable stability in the basic governance structure of the country. Why?

The answer begins with the passage from the Articles to the Constitution. Dissatisfied with how the young republic worked, the founding generation devised a new structure that they believed would better protect basic rights and promote sounder policies. The goal, as they repeatedly said, was to create a national government that would help make Americans prosperous at home and respected abroad – a country strong enough to be able to control its own destiny in a monarchical world. unlikely to be friendly with his revolutionary. republicanism.

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While there have been struggles and setbacks to achieve these goals – most obviously and most damaging in the case of slavery and African American civil rights – the reality is that America has become a prosperous nation and remains the bulwark of the liberal world order. As a Marxist might say, “It didn’t happen by accident, comrade.”

It is true that much of this progress is due to the character and ingenuity of citizens. But, as we have seen throughout history, poorly constructed governmental institutions can prevent such virtues from being properly promoted or even exercised.

That’s not to say the United States doesn’t face political problems at home. “Internal tranquillity”, as the preamble to the Constitution puts it, is far from assured. However, the question that must be asked is whether this is a problem largely attributable to the Constitution or rather to the political system that covers it.

Take, for example, the state of American political parties. Parties originally aimed to ensure that candidates were governed by a set of principles articulated in a platform, and were held to and moderated by that standard once elected. Today, candidates routinely appeal to a minority in open primaries, taking political positions that polarize, rather than moderate, our politics.

This feeds our governmental institutions, especially the Congress and the Presidency. Instead of elected officials being pressured to develop a national consensus to deal with the problems facing the country and claiming their ability to solve the problems, they are pressured to promote an agenda that can only be put in place when a party controls both chambers. of Congress and the Oval Office. It’s the election equivalent of the children’s game of “capture the flag”. It’s all-or-nothing politics, with the result that senators filibuster to prevent the other side from enacting laws, members of Congress ignore their own budget rules to pass spending bills massive and that presidents use executive orders to pass policies that should be the prerogative of Congress to decide.

None of this is inevitable – nor directly related to the Constitution. Over the years, political parties have changed the way candidates are chosen. Over the years, Congress has changed its internal workings, giving more sway to leadership but less to the more deliberative work of committees, for example. Over the years, presidents have come to see themselves as “running” the country, in charge of everything from the economy to the health and safety of smaller communities. It is a mandate that they cannot respect and which inevitably leads to the frustration of the whole country.

Such frustration inevitably leads some to plead for this or that major change in our governance structures, such as the abolition of the Electoral College. Of course, we should never discount out of hand the possibility that a change in the Constitution is for the better. After all, there were 27 amendments to this document. Yet, before embarking on a path whose long-term consequences are not fully known, it would be wiser to first consider what smaller but nonetheless important changes can be made to the political system, without touching a constitution that has served the country so well. well for more than two centuries.

“Most people don’t know they’re actually six weeks pregnant,” said Planned Parenthood Federation of America President and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson. While abortion rights groups like Planned Parenthood lamented Wednesday’s ruling, anti-abortion organizations are hopeful, saying it is the first step to returning the abortion issue to states and their provides insight into the court’s thinking on another impending viability case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s health. This is where Mississippi implemented a ban on most abortions before the 15-week mark. “We are very encouraged that only the Trump-appointed justices, Kavanaugh, Gorsuch and Barrett, all sided with the majority.” Author and law professor Kim Wehle said: “This majority signals that we’re doing very well, with the impact this is going to have on women in the meantime. We wholeheartedly agree with the implementation of an unconstitutional law because of these procedural technicalities, which is why people say, you know, Roe vs. Wade is all but gone.” According to the Guttmacher Institute, 22 states have introduced early bans on ‘abortion. Most are caught up in the courts or have not been implemented. Except, of course, in Texas. Texas law does not provide for criminal prosecution, but allows private citizens to sue anyone involved in an abortion except the woman. It’s something President Biden weighed in on Thursday, saying the law “unleashes unconstitutional chaos and empowers self-appointed law enforcement.” abortion, Wehle suggests the implications could go deeper.” “If you don’t care about Second Amendment rights, we’re going to ban all guns. And we’re going to allow private citizens to enforce the gun ban,” she said. “And the Supreme Court said, you know, ‘We’re not going to protect our own precedent under this under the Constitution’.” the last two days and two-thirds came from women in Texas hoping to cross state lines to undergo the procedure. They also add that many women were not if even this was also illegal.

Gary Schmitt is a senior fellow in the Social, Cultural, and Constitutional Studies program at the American Enterprise Institute. He wrote this for

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