A Proposal for a New Constitution
For the United States
By Brian Rush
Copyright 2011 Brian Rush
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America Needs a New Constitution
Thomas Jefferson was right. Mao Tze-Tung was wrong. Power does not flow from the barrel of a gun. It is derived from the consent of the governed.
All government is an exercise in arriving at the consent of the governed, in making and implementing collective decisions. All citizens must, directly or indirectly, by default if not otherwise, contribute to the decisions and give their assent or dissent to any proposal. Consent need not be unanimous nor even, necessarily, the will of a majority, but at minimum must have a sufficient gravity in its affirming portion of the collective will that the ayes carry and the people at least tacitly affirm the decision.
Our own American system of government – in theory – arrives at the consent of the governed by proxy. But it is also designed to weigh the votes of some citizens more heavily than those of others. The people could not govern directly, at the time of the Constitution’s ratification, due to the languid pace of communication, which traveled at the speed of a horse, or of a sailing ship. Also, the prominent citizens of the time feared an excess of democracy on the grounds that it might deprive them of their property and privileges. And so they crafted a complicated system of decision-making in which representatives elected by the people debated in one legislative chamber, while elite representatives of the state governments did the same in another, and both had to agree before any legislation was passed. The president was initially chosen by a body of electors who were uniformly wealthy and prominent men. We still retain the ghost of that system, although today the Electoral College is expected to conform to the will of the voters. It was all a put-together, a compromise between the people’s demand for democracy and the elite’s fear of it, between the interests of large states and small ones, slave-owners and slavery’s critics, planters and merchants.