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Sat Feb 11, 2012, 02:07 PM

Is the U.S. Constitution outdated?

Honestly, I think the U.S. Constitution is in serious need of an update. Our Presidential system of government is inferior to a Parliamentary system, our First-Past-The-Post election system if is vastly inferior to a Proportional Representation system. The list of rights guaranteed us are not nearly comprehensive enough. I'm sorry, but relying on a 200 year old Constitution is like using DOS in the days of Windows 7. I'm not saying the founders got it wrong, but the document is over 200 years old, it needs a serious update. Even Jefferson felt that the Constitution should be rewritten every 20 years.


Due to several posters below raising a few very good concerns, especially regarding the Establishment Clause, I thought I should reconsider my argument. Perhaps a complete rewrite isn't needed, but it does need a a lot of amendments. These amendments would drastically change our Congress and our electoral system, which is why I suggested a rewrite, but I do see merit in some people's arguments that it would be too risky.

Link to Jefferson's Letter to James Madison: http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=2220

48 replies, 6060 views

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Arrow 48 replies Author Time Post
Reply Is the U.S. Constitution outdated? (Original post)
white_wolf Feb 2012 OP
quinnox Feb 2012 #1
CAPHAVOC Feb 2012 #2
white_wolf Feb 2012 #4
CAPHAVOC Feb 2012 #12
white_wolf Feb 2012 #19
BeFree Feb 2012 #3
spin Feb 2012 #26
mick063 Feb 2012 #5
Journeyman Feb 2012 #6
mick063 Feb 2012 #23
Dreamer Tatum Feb 2012 #7
white_wolf Feb 2012 #9
CAPHAVOC Feb 2012 #15
white_wolf Feb 2012 #21
CAPHAVOC Feb 2012 #30
2ndAmForComputers Feb 2012 #8
white_wolf Feb 2012 #10
banned from Kos Feb 2012 #11
think Feb 2012 #13
white_wolf Feb 2012 #16
think Feb 2012 #20
banned from Kos Feb 2012 #33
markpkessinger Feb 2012 #14
cherokeeprogressive Feb 2012 #17
MineralMan Feb 2012 #18
white_wolf Feb 2012 #24
unblock Feb 2012 #31
MineralMan Feb 2012 #35
unblock Feb 2012 #38
MineralMan Feb 2012 #39
unblock Feb 2012 #41
MineralMan Feb 2012 #45
unblock Feb 2012 #47
Spider Jerusalem Feb 2012 #22
Initech Feb 2012 #25
Odin2005 Feb 2012 #27
AndyTiedye Feb 2012 #46
crazylikafox Feb 2012 #28
The Genealogist Feb 2012 #29
shraby Feb 2012 #32
unblock Feb 2012 #34
originalpckelly Feb 2012 #36
mrmpa Feb 2012 #37
provis99 Feb 2012 #40
white_wolf Feb 2012 #44
DonCoquixote Feb 2012 #42
lastlib Feb 2012 #43
libtodeath Feb 2012 #48

Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 02:12 PM

1. sure, but its been updated

 

that's what amendments are for. Having said that, the constitution is pretty damn special in its basic form, almost spookily good really.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 02:12 PM

2. Earth to White Wolf

 

Have you ever heard of constitutional amendments? Updates are included and expected in the original. They are hard to achieve. With good reason.

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Response to CAPHAVOC (Reply #2)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 02:16 PM

4. Wow what a condescending and useless comment.

Of course, I've heard of amendments, the fact remains the document is out of date and the entire system of government it creates is vastly inferior to other democratic systems. We might as well write a new Constitutions than amend it, because our entire system of government is outdated.

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Response to white_wolf (Reply #4)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 02:27 PM

12. That would be a constitutional convention.

 

If 34 states call for a convention. Congress has no choice but to convene it. I did not mean to be condescending and apologize.

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Response to CAPHAVOC (Reply #12)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 02:34 PM

19. It's fine. I may have been a bit rude in my response.

I edited my OP to reflect some of the concerns people have listed. It may be too risky, I just feel that some of our systems of government have proven inferior to European models of democracy.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 02:15 PM

3. The corrupted system makes it appear so

But were the people to rise up and wise up, the system would evolve and the constitution would change.

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Response to BeFree (Reply #3)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 02:43 PM

26. If the corruption was removed...

we might return to the basic constitution and find the guidance and wisdom that will serve us in the future.

We have the ability to pass amendments to our constitution. Hopefully we can eliminate the corruption that has occurred over the years and avoid a revolution. It's not an easy process for good reason but it has been done in the past. Violence should always be the last alternative. The people can indeed rise up in nonviolent ways and force change. That is the beauty of the document.





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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 02:18 PM

5. No

 

The reason any "living document" is not outdated is because there is a process to change it.

It is called a constitutional ammendment.

The real question should be, "Is it time for some constitutional ammendments?"

I would agree that there are.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 02:18 PM

6. Yes. I want Boehner & Cantor, Ryan & Coburn, McConnell & McCain to write me a new one. . .

Who do you expect would attend a reconvened Constitutional Convention? How do you know one in 2017 would act with any more regard for the people and this land than the present Congress has shown for extending unemployment benefits or raising the debt ceiling?

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Response to Journeyman (Reply #6)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 02:38 PM

23. Definition of radicalism

 



Definition for radicalism:

Web definitions: the political orientation of those who favor revolutionary change in government and society.

Many living Americans have fought in wars and been permanently scarred because of it. Many other Americans have lossed loved ones. Many Americans have died in such wars.

The common denominator for all:

They swore an oath to defend the Constitution. As did I a long, long time ago.

No one, in their right mind, would publicly ask if such a document is no longer needed.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 02:19 PM

7. Yes, as of January 20, 2009, it became outdated.



Good grief.

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Response to Dreamer Tatum (Reply #7)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 02:20 PM

9. No, it's been outdated for a very long time.

I'm not sure what you are trying to imply here, but if you think this is an attack on Obama it isn't. It's a a critique of our outdated model of government.

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Response to white_wolf (Reply #9)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 02:31 PM

15. Are you familiar with the writings of John Rawls?

 

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Response to CAPHAVOC (Reply #15)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 02:36 PM

21. Not yet...

However next semester I'm taking a philosophy of law course and the professor is an expert on Rawls, so I'm looking forward to learning about him. If you have any works of his you'd recommend in the mean time, I'll check them out.

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Response to white_wolf (Reply #21)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 03:06 PM

30. Me too

 

He is mentioned in a class I am taking and I am also going to check it out.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 02:19 PM

8. Any Constitution is only as good as the Supreme Court allows it to be.

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Response to 2ndAmForComputers (Reply #8)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 02:21 PM

10. Fair point and this current Court hasn't done very good at all with it.

I can't wait for some of the more hard right wingers to retire. Especially Scalia, I don't know what it is, but I just can't stand him.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 02:23 PM

11. The Constitution was written by liberals and still favors liberals - even with its flaws.

 

Imagine the fight over the Establishment Clause today. Conservatives would reject it outright.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 02:28 PM

13. Thank you for the link to Jefferson's letter. It certainly deserves consideration.

It would be wise to consider such things as we have basically thrown it out the window since 9/11. Personally I'd like to see the bill of rights expanded and respected by those who are charged with enforcing laws.

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Response to think (Reply #13)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 02:31 PM

16. Indeed.

I'm still shocked the Patriot Act wasn't stuck down within a year of its passage.

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Response to white_wolf (Reply #16)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 02:36 PM

20. Agree 100% The Patriot Act makes a mockery of the constitution

Yet we pretend the constitution is still the true law of the land. It needs to be restored and protections put in place to prevent further erosions of civil liberties.

IMO

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Response to think (Reply #20)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 03:13 PM

33. Also the Controlled Substances Act (1970ish) did as well.

 

It was Prohibition #2 without the Amendment.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 02:31 PM

14. Here's something to think about, though ...

. . . the outcome of a constitutional convention is NEVER a sure thing. We could conceivably wind up with something worse.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 02:31 PM

17. Nnnnnnnope.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 02:34 PM

18. DEL *.*

DOS was good for some things, like deleting large groups of files. I miss that capability, sometimes. I also liked DOS batch files for doing some operations that acted on large groups of files.

That said, Windows is a far easier OS to use on normal application tasks.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #18)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 02:38 PM

24. I'm nostalgic about DOS because it was my first OS.

I have fond memories playing the original Warcraft on it when I was 5 or 6.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #18)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 03:08 PM

31. just for the record, dos was the worst os ever in history bar none.

it was minimally functional, so if you compared it to not having an operating system at all, sure, it was great.

but if you compared it to any other operating system, it absolutely sucked.

just as windows is by far the worst "windows"-based operating system.

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Response to unblock (Reply #31)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 03:24 PM

35. At the time, it did the job.

I also used CP/M, from which it evolved. In 1981, DOS was just fine for personal computers. It soon became outmoded and was replaced. But, it started all of this, and that's just fine. It did what it was supposed to do, and ran that generation of applications OK.

It was what it was, and that's all it was. I switched to Windows when 2.1 came out, but had a DOS machine long after that. It wasn't until Windows 3.1 that I did away with all use of DOS, except to perform some global functions. You can still run a version of DOS, but I never bother any longer.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #35)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 04:00 PM

38. yes; as with most microswift products, it was minimally sufficient

just clarifying that i'm not saying it was sucky compared to what came later.

i'm saying that it was sucky at the time. i could have, AND DID, write a much better operating system my junior year in college, 1983. not saying i'm special, pretty much everyone in the class succeeded in this simple project.

just as one example, there was absolutely zero merit in the "8.3" file naming convention. that convention was a thorn in the side of microswift developers and users until, what, windows nt, i think is when they finally broke (mostly) free of that.

it could have easily been made better but the bill gates business model proved that there's more profit to be made by leaving improvements to later versions.

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Response to unblock (Reply #38)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 04:10 PM

39. Oddly enough, I miss the 8.3 file naming convention.

I use longer filenames these days, of course, because I can, but I managed to do all I wanted to do with the old system.

Bad as it was, MS-DOS made the PC revolution happen. It wasn't that hard to learn, and most people just used it as a platform for running applications, anyhow. Now, I used the OS itself a lot to do things, but most people didn't want to learn anything about it, really, except how to run the applications they needed.

The personal computer has always been about applications, not operating systems. That's why Linux can't get a strong user base. Most people don't give a damn what OS they're using. It's the applications that matter to them.

Today, I don't care what OS I'm using. I recognize and use any of them. I use applications these days, not operating systems, too. That's what the PC is about, whoever built it.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #39)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 04:53 PM

41. but the applications would have been developed faster, with fewer bugs, and working better together

had they developed a better platform to put them on.

unix had a much better framework and eventually microswift realized this and adopted much of its features, but by then much of the scope for application interoperability was lost.

saying it's all about the application is a bit like saying it's all about the train, no one cares about the tracks, signals, and points. sure, true enough, as long as they get you there. but behind the scenes, the tracks, signals, and points have an awful lot to do with the speed, safety, size, schedule and performance of the trains.

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Response to unblock (Reply #41)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 09:06 PM

45. Was MS-DOS unsuccessful?

That's really the question, you know. And we both know the answer. It's gone, now. And people are still just using the applications, no matter what OS they run on.

You're talking about something that only matters to less than 10% of people who use computers. It's irrelevant.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #45)

Sun Feb 12, 2012, 03:06 PM

47. nonsense. ms-dos was commercially successful because of factors having nothing to do with quality

ms-dos was minimally, and i do mean absolute bare-bones minimally competent.

beyond that, it was successful because of bill gates' money, connections, commercial savvy, power, negotiating skills, and anti-competitive tactics.

i'm not arguing that it was a huge commercial success, that is plain and obvious. but it could have easily been sooo much better.
the result matters to EVERYONE because we'll never see what could have been had the platform been made cleaner, more flexible, and with each iteration, less buggy, and so on.

microswift has the usual advantages of the monopolist -- no shortage of defenders because they supply what no one else does.
it's harder to see what they have prevented others from providing, but that has affected all of us.

100%.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 02:37 PM

22. Quite honestly? Yes

The Constitution and the form of government it prescribes were the result of compromises arising from the political environment of the late 18th century in the period immediately after the war of independence, and of the tension between Federalists and anti-Federalists. The US's quasi-monarchical Presidential system, its overly powerful upper house of the legislature, its basically flawed and broken national election model, are all results of those compromises. Part of the problem is that people treat the US Constitution as though it were a religious document and that the Framers were somehow divinely inspired. Quite honestly the US would probably be better off with a parliamentary government, with proportional representation, and with a legislature in which the upper house acts as a revising body in the manner of the British House of Lords or the Canadian Senate.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 02:41 PM

25. I. Hate. This. Idea.

Our constitution isn't perfect but it's the best we've got. I am 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000% opposed to the idea of a new constitutional convention. Because you know who really wants to change our government to suit their needs? The Christian right. It won't be us. If this happens they will install a totalitarian theocracy as the new system of government, it won't be what you think it is.

What we need is an amendment to overturn Citizen's United and get money *COMPLETELY* out of politics. It may not happen overnight but when it does our government will change for the better and maybe slimebags like Newt Gingrich and the Koch Bros. will go away and shut up.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 02:48 PM

27. It is time for the states to call a National Convention.

I don't agree with the fears that it would be taken over by RW nuts.

IMO the German constitution would be a good starting point to work with, Germany is also a federal republic with strong regional differences, like us.

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Response to Odin2005 (Reply #27)

Sun Feb 12, 2012, 04:01 AM

46. NOOOO!!! Teabaggers Control Most of the State Governments

So they'd get to pick the majority of the delegates to the convention, and ratify what comes out of it.

We'd end up with a constitution written by the Koch brothers.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 02:52 PM

28. Yes. Abolish the Electoral system and the House of Lords... err, I mean the Senate

And for once, my post contains no sarcasm. I mean it. It's time for democracy.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 02:56 PM

29. Outdated? Yes, in some ways. Change it right now? NO!

The constitution is the product of rich white men, very liberal for their time, but in many ways conservative. Lots of planter culture was written in, though amendments have wiped out at least some of the planter culture from the original.

I think too many people today are far too uninvolved in the life of the country to make a new constitution really good. Too many are more concerned with Dancing with the Stars, or screaming chefs, what time a Kardashian goes to the toilet and other such things. The people who are going to show up at a constitutional convention are going to be people who are interested in politics and have serious concern for how we as a nation are governed. You will get intellectuals and liberals, but the screaming, yelling, Paul Revere wannabes are going to be there is just as great, if not greater, numbers. You are going to have large numbers of theocrats and corporatists and corporatist theocrats. You will have libertarians. I shudder to think what a constitutional convention would yield in the present political culture.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 03:09 PM

32. With all the nut-jobs running around in congress and in state governments right now, it would

be a total disaster for the protections the constitution gives we the people. Bite your keyboard and don't even entertain such a thought

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 03:16 PM

34. only in the sense that we don't abide by it closely enough.

the problem is the institutional corruption that lets government-in-fact diverge from government-in-principle.

we have many instances of each branch of government violating the constitution yet they fail to properly check each other.

changing a document they're ignoring (while giving lip service to) won't in and of itself fix anything.

we must root out the corruption, and in all likelihood, voting out the corrupt is likely to be our most effective option.



besides, parliamentary systems, while they have their advantages, also have their disadvantages. nevermind that as long as bribery is effectively legal, it hardly matters. the money is still in charge.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 03:32 PM

36. Very much so.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 03:58 PM

37. Yes, amendments only, my reasoning for this is

the right wing, states rights, etc. I think that a constitutional convention would not be settled as a legal matter, but as a special interests only getting what they want.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 04:37 PM

40. Madison, the writer of the Constitution, thought Jefferson was too radical.

 

Madison thought the Constitution should be scrapped and rewritten every 40 years, not every 20.
(The upshot being that even the "conservative" Madison didn't think much of permanent constitutions)

We are enslaved to the ideas of dead men, who themselves did not want us enslaved to their ideas.

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Response to provis99 (Reply #40)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 08:20 PM

44. It's very interesting to see how the Founders really viewed the Constitution.

They certainly didn't view it as perfect. Hell, Paine didn't even really like it at all.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 05:17 PM

42. here is what I dislike about parliament

Take what happened in Canada, where 60 percent of people wanted to get rid of Stephen Harper...however, since they could not agree, Harper was awarded the win. No system that alllows someone to lead the nation with 40% is good.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Sat Feb 11, 2012, 05:21 PM

43. Probably, but I shudder to think....

...what a constitutional convention would be like in the days of C-SPAN, FOX Nooze, Twitter, etc. The right wingnuts would scream bloody murder if they didn't get everything their way, and it would probably never get ratified. Personally, I would like to see midterm elections eliminated, all Congressional terms coincide with Presidential elections, and a few other things, like the outdated second amendment removed. But right-wingers would be screaming for a balanced-budget rule, no abortion, and corporate rights protected, and their usual other bullshit, and it couldn't get done. I think we're stuck with what we've got, so we'd better make the most of it and work to re-elect Democratic liberals who will get supreme court justices who will interpret it like it's meant to be.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Sun Feb 12, 2012, 03:15 PM

48. Yes

but unlikely to be changed for the better with the evil that is the gop so best it be left alone.

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