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Al Carroll

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Name: Al Carroll
Gender: Do not display
Hometown: San Antonio
Home country: US
Current location: VA
Member since: Tue Apr 22, 2014, 10:33 PM
Number of posts: 113

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A Proposed New Constitution

From http://proposednewconstitution.blogspot.com/

A Proposed New Constitution


America’s constitution is a sacred cow. Some cows should not be worshipped. For nothing should be so revered that one cannot question it, and blind worship is always to be avoided.

There is, among those on both the political left and right, what can only be called widespread constitution worship. Most on both sides hold up the constitution the way a vampire hunter in the movies holds up a cross to ward off vampires. Everyone from the most stoned pot smokers to gun toting militia groups calls on the constitution as support for causes, beliefs, and attitudes they hold dear.

This constitution worship is every bit as blindly enthusiastic as it is unknowing of the actual history of the constitution, and how and why it was adopted. For this, most people are blameless. People cannot be faulted for what they were not taught, or more often, falsely taught. I made the same argument in Presidents' Body Counts, and others, notably James Loewen in Lies My Teacher Told Me, argue likewise.

For the founders themselves did not think much of the constitution. Jefferson wanted a new constitution every twenty years. Other founders disagreed, largely because they were not sure the constitution would last twenty years. For the founders, it was a pragmatic even temporary measure, not holy or intended to be permanent. Constitution worship did not become a regular feature of American society until near the start of the twentieth century, in part as a way to assimilate immigrants.

I often tell my students that America is great not because of the constitution, but in spite of it, and especially in spite of the founders. The constitution itself is clearly at the root of many of our worst problems in American society today. If it were up to the American public, the following solutions would have become law many decades, even half a century or more, before today:

1. Abolishing the Electoral College.

2. Ending the buying of elections.

3. Limiting the time campaigning for office, as they do in Great Britain.

4. Ending wars quickly in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Each war continued over half a decade after the American public wanted to get out.

5. Reforming the office of vice president, widely regarded with contempt by most, and
producing candidates that even most voters of the same party as the presidential candidate did not want.

6. Ending corporate welfare and other wasteful spending.

7. Ending most foreign military aid, and support for tyrants and dictators around the world.

8. Limiting the power of the Supreme Court.

9. Ending the political monopoly of wealthy elites.

10. Guaranteeing privacy from government intrusion.

Each of these proposals have widespread bipartisan support and are hugely popular across the political spectrum by great majorities. But none of these proposals, not too surprisingly, have majority support among elected political elites, economic elites, or the leadership of either party.

The constitution itself is the biggest barrier to solving these problems. Not one of these problems have been, or ever could have been, quickly solved, precisely because the constitution makes it difficult. Most of these problems require a constitutional amendment, something made deliberately long and difficult by the founders. A few of these could be solved temporarily by ordinary laws, which could then be easily overturned next election.

So why not go to the root of these problems? Why not a new constitution?



Constitution worship is the reason. Most Americans have been so heavily propagandized to think of the US Constitution as undeniably great and downright sacred, something you just don’t question without being seen as un-American.

What is pretty comical is to see the most idealistic of leftists, who are deeply cynical of everything else that is elitist and coming from powerful and wealthy institutions, become like a fundamentalist when the constitution is brought up. What is equally comical is to see populist conservatives or libertarians become enamored of government power when it is enshrined in a document written by, after all, Deists and Enlightenment thinkers who did not trust organized religion or nobility. Both are smitten by constitution worship.

There are two obvious ways to deal with that. One is to challenge the holy stature of the constitution. Write the true history, which most historians and political scientists already know is not a noble one, but one of elitists hijacking a popular revolution.

The other solution is to keep what is best about the old constitution while adding to it. Propose a new constitution and a new constitutional convention, but make one of the first proposals to keep the best of the old document.

For the best of the constitution is not the original document at all. The best part is the amendments. The original document is not about rights and all about power, who has it and how they can wield it, and that it will always remain in the hands of elites. The amendments are what most rightly revere. Keep the amendments, and amend the original document of power to spread the power to the mass of people, and add more amendments to limit the power of elites, for good.

That is what this proposed constitution tries to do. It adds to the best of the document, keeping all the original constitutional amendments with Article 1. The rest of the articles serve the same purpose as amendments.



What of the first solution to ending constitution worship? Tell the true history of the constitution, uncensored, without the heavy doses of patriotic propaganda that leave out its elitist nature. That story has already been told many times in the fields of history, political science, etc. But to help the curious and open minded, and for the less patient, let me summarize the history of the adoption of the constitution. To do that, one has to go back to the American Revolution.

The American Revolution was not a real revolution at all. It was just an independence movement. In actual revolutions, elites are overturned, killed off, imprisoned, or forced to flee the country. America's elites, plantation owners like Washington and Jefferson, were actually strengthened. They no longer had to listen to British authorities. Many scholars, the best known being the eminent Charles Beard, argued the real motive for the founders' rebellion was economic. The British Empire was run by mercantilism, which required colonies to trade only with the mother country. The founders wanted primarily more profit from free trade, not political freedom.

But there were many in the middle and working classes who wanted a true class revolution. There had been class warfare in the earlier English Revolution, Roundheads who were middle class and anti nobility, and the Levelers, primitive versions of communists who wanted to level off the wealth anyone could have. In the American Revolution, there were anti elite groups like the Sons of Liberty, and populist rabble rousers like Samuel Adams, George Mason, and most of all Thomas Paine.

There was a populist wave of the American Revolution before it was hijacked by the largely elitist founders. The Massachusetts Revolution of 1774 happened a year before the Battles of Lexington and Concord. The public took control of Massachusetts courts, forcing judges and the Governor and Lieutenant Governor to resign. They overthrew every county government in Massachusetts. That is why the British were occupying Boston in the first place at the time of Lexington and Concord.

This was just the start of a populist revolution. There were over 90 Declarations of Independence before Jefferson's, from counties, cities, and states. Most were based on George Mason's in Virginia. Jefferson's was simply an elite attempt to seize control of a popular uprising. There were popular uprisings, attempted class revolutions within the elite-led revolution. There were mutinies within the US Army, in Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Congress was forced to use a draft, bounties, even the promise of slaves to gain recruits.

After the war, there were early experiments in anarchism, socialism, and other revolutionary notions for that time. For a year, Pennsylvania tried shutting down the government entirely. Pennsylvania also tried outlawing the collection of debt, a form of wealth redistribution. Slavery ended in seven northern states. One out of eight slaves in the US were freed. New Jersey even gave women the right to vote. Though first done accidentally in 1776, it stayed on the books until 1807.

Aristocracy and feudalism were ended in the US. Noble titles, primogeniture, and entailment (the wealthy being able to seize public property) all ended. There was enormous confiscation and redistribution of wealth during and after the revolution. (Try telling that to a Tea Party member.) Most British loyalists and many aristocrats, whether they sided with the colonists or with Britain, lost their property. Established state churches in nine of the thirteen colonies were abolished. These were all fairly radical changes, and many Americans wanted to go even further.

American elites’ fear of class warfare created the US Constitution. The most pivotal event was Shay’s Rebellion. Farmers in western Massachusetts tried to stop foreclosures on their farms, so they shut down state courts. Jefferson called this, “liberty run mad.” Washington called it, “anarchy and confusion.” What horrified the founders was not the size of the rebellion. It was minor, with few deaths. The fact that it took so long to break the rebellion worried them. And at the same time, the French Revolution was going on. They feared this minor rebellion might grow into a similar class revolution. All the radical experiments in wealth redistribution added to that fear. The founders called the convention in direct response to Shay's Rebellion.

The constitutional delegates had a low opinion of the public. They believe people without wealth were just one hungry belly short of becoming a howling mob, that working class people were selfish, unreliable, and easily misled. They wanted the nation to be run by “men of quality,” the very wealthy, and argued the wealthy must be protected from the general public above all else. “Those who own the country ought to govern it,” as John Jay argued.

The Constitutional Convention was secretive. There were no notes taken, except Madison's, done at the end of the day in his room, against the wishes of the convention. The public was barred. So were the press. The delegates, just like Colonial Congresses before them, took oaths of secrecy to keep debates from the public. There was almost no debate on expanding the power of the government. The elite delegates already agreed in advance on most questions.

The US Constitution was and is deliberately anti democratic, designed to look like a democracy without actually being one. Great power was given to the president. The assumption was Washington would be the first, and the clumsy Electoral College put in. Electing a president was deliberately made cumbersome to stop anyone not as admired as Washington from being elected. The founders did not want competitive elections, but presidents chosen almost by acclamation.

Ratifying deliberately excluded opponents of the constitution. Special state conventions, not legislatures or the public, ratified the constitution. Even so, as word leaked out, the public turned against this document that most were not allowed to vote on. Elites at the special state conventions began to get nervous. Votes against the constitution were highest in Massachusetts, New York, Virginia, North Carolina, and Rhode Island. The Massachusetts convention only ratified after Governor John Hancock was promised (falsely) he would be the first president or vice president.

In Virginia, George Mason and Patrick Henry successfully pushed for the Bill of Rights as a condition for ratifying. The first presidential election was planned without New York, North Carolina, or Rhode Island. New York actually prepared to secede and become their own country. Federalists in New York City then threatened to secede from New York. The New York convention backed down and narrowly ratified.

North Carolina's convention defeated the constitution and held out a year before a new convention ratified. Rhode Island was the only state to hold a “popular” vote. (Not only minorities and women, except in New Jersey, were barred. There were property requirements to vote in every state.) The constitution was defeated in the state by a 10-1 margin, a good indication of what most of the public thought. Washington was actually elected without Rhode Island voting in the presidential election.

Ratification took three years of enormous elite effort *against* the general public. Ben Franklin owned most newspapers in the US. An economic boycott was used by wealthy elites to shut down many of the other papers opposing the constitution.

The original US Constitution, minus the amendments, has a deliberate *anti* democratic structure.

1. The Electoral College means there has never been a direct election of presidents. Originally it was intended to be a veto by elites vs the general public. If they elected the “wrong” person, the electors were there to overrule the public.

2. The US Senate is the most undemocratic part of the system. Wyoming has 75 times greater representation than California. Until the 20th Century, senators were chosen by state legislatures, not voters. (Some Tea Party leaders want to return to that.)

3. The Supreme Court almost always defends wealthy elites.

4. The winner take all/majority rule system is less democratic than parliament systems in most other nations. It leaves small groups unrepresented, cripples newer or smaller parties.

5. There is no mention of rights in in the original constitution whatsoever, except a stricter definition of treason.

And the US Constitution was illegally adopted. The Articles of Confederation's Article 13 states “…Articles of this Confederation…shall be perpetual; nor shall any alteration at any time be made in any of them; unless such alteration agreed to in Congress of the US & confirmed by legislatures of every State.” On both counts, the constitution is illegal. Neither Congress nor state legislatures ever confirmed it, only special state conventions.

Obviously I am not suggesting resistance to the current constitution, or ignoring it. That argument leads to chaos, and only militias and sovereign citizens on the fringe embrace that. There is a legal concept which says even if a law was adopted by faulty means, it remains the law if it has been in force for a good length of time. My point was simply, when one hears that this is a nation of laws, remember that the founders ignored the highest law in the land, the Articles of Confederation. Being elites, and very elitist, they just went ahead and did it.

Imagine a modern parallel to what the founders did. Imagine the wealthiest elites writing a document only they had any say in, and only allowing themselves to vote on it, and then declaring it the highest law in the land. That is what the founders did, and this is precisely why the original constitution deserves no reverence.


Instead, let us resolve to craft a new constitution that preserves the best of the old, the amendments, and adds to it with a far better system of government and drastic limits on elite power.

Unlike the original convention, any new constitution deserves, needs, and requires as much popular input as possible. While the proposals that follow were written by me, many of these proposals have been made in other forms before. Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia, proposed some parts of several of these articles, as have others. It is depressing, and proof that reform is needed more than ever, that none of his proposals were adopted in spite of public support. The call for a new constitutional convention is ongoing.

These proposals, and any proposals, need to come from you, the general public. Send in your suggestions, criticisms, counter proposals, arguments and debates. Spread the word anywhere and everywhere you can. This cannot be done without you.


The only real arguments for continuing the current constitution are stability, and a view of the American system based more on romanticism than actual history.

These are the proposed new article titles. In the coming weeks, I will post one article a week in full, with explanations and arguments for them.

Article 1- Continuing and Expanding the Original Constitution and its Amendments

Article 2- Insuring Greater Democracy

Article 3-Guaranteeing the Right to Vote

Article 4-Ending the Buying of Elections

Article 5-Voting Guarantees Benefits

Article 6- Limiting Corporate Power

Article 7-Ending Colonialism

Article 8-Renouncing War

Article 9- Referendums and Recalls

Article 10- Nonprofits for the Public Interest

Article 11- Ending Institutional Support for Hatred and Discrimination

Article 12-Ending Class Bias in the Law

Article 13-Ending Special Treatment for Wealthy Elites

Article 14-Limiting Idle Wealth

Article 15- The Right to Privacy

Al Carroll
Assistant Professor of History
Northern Virginia Community College
http://alcarroll.com
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