My New Constitution
Do we need a new or different constitution in the United States?
The existing one, in designating how representatives were to
be apportioned according to population, excluded untaxed Indians
from the count, and counted black slaves as only three fifths
of a person each. Fortunately, that was modified by the 14th
amendment. It does show that it could have been better, and that
any constitution probably needs to be changed as we learn more
and progress as a people.
Perhaps it would be dangerous to entirely replace the existing
one, given the politics that would go into making the new one.
But in any case, if we were to do so, what should it look like?
Here are some possible articles to include, and the reasons for
Preamble to My New Constitution
This government has only the powers
specified in this constitution. The sole justification of these
powers is the protection of the rights of the individuals within
the borders of the country, both citizens and all others. Furthermore,
thought there is no duty to protect the rights of others, when
the government acts outside the borders of the country, it must
also act in accordance with this constitution, and refrain from
violating the rights of individuals anywhere.
This is meant to state the purpose of government, so there
will be a clear basis for future interpretation of the constitution.
It is also meant to make it clear that it is based on the idea
that rights are inherent in individuals, not "citizens."
There is no conferring of rights, no requirements, and no excuse
for violating those rights.
With the establishment of this constitution,
all existing laws will be voided in 2 years. Existing laws are
also immediately subject to the provisions and limitations laid
The idea here is to rid the country of all unnecessary laws,
and those that might conflict with the new constitution, within
a reasonable time. Two years should be enough time to establish
any necessary new laws that are needed and fair.
All legislative Powers herein granted
shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall
consist of a Senate and House of Representatives. Bills for new
laws will be presented by any member of the Senate or House of
Representatives. Each law proposed shall be on a single issue,
and must designate which clause in the constitution authorizes
it. Passage requires a yes vote from 2/3 of both the House and
the Senate, and then the signature of the president.
The president may not add anything
to a bill, but can remove anything included by putting a line
through it. The bill becomes law when the president puts his
signature on it. The President has no authority to create any
laws, except those that are then voted on by the congress, as
The "single issue" clause will make "pork"
and "earmarks" less likely, and provide a constitutional
basis to challenge legislation. The two thirds part is meant
to make it tough to create new laws, assuring us that there is
broad agreement and support for any new legislation. The "line
item veto" will further reduce the possibility of garbage
in new legislation. Designating the part of the constitution
that authorizes a law reminds all involved that their powers
are limited to those outlined in this document. Finally, this
part makes it explicit that the president is merely an executive,
not a primary law maker.
In recognition of the individual
rights of all people, this document clearly states here that
the governing principle of the United States shall not be democracy.
No rights of individuals are to be violated in the name of the
people nor their votes. Voting is simply to be used as a means
to elect those who the people wish to govern according to this
All residents (those who have lived
in the country for more than a year) and are at least eighteen
years old are eligible to vote in all national elections.
President: The president shall serve a term of four years.
To be put on the ballot for election, a person must be a United
States resident, and have signatures supporting the candidacy
from 1/20 of 1% (.0005) of the population of the United States,
as determined from the most recent United States census. Signatures
must be from registered voters. Voters are allowed to vote for
two candidates. The candidate with the most votes becomes president.
Party affiliations are not to be mentioned on ballots.
Senate: Each state shall elect two senators, for a
term of eight years each, their terms staggered to end four years
apart. To be put on the ballot for election, a person must be
a resident of the state, and have signatures supporting the candidacy
from 1/20 of 1% (.0005) of the population of the state. Signatures
must be from registered voters. Population is to be determined
from the most recent United States census. The candidate who
gets the most votes is elected. Party affiliations are not to
be mentioned on ballots.
House of Representatives: There are to be 200 members of the House of
Representatives, who will serve terms of 4 years. To be put on
the ballot for election, a person must be a United States resident,
and have signatures supporting the candidacy from 1/100 of 1%
(.0001) of the population of the country. Signatures must be
from registered voters. Population is to be determined from the
most recent United States census. Voters are allowed to vote
for four candidates of their choice. The 200 candidates who receive
the most votes become members of the House of Representatives.
Party affiliations are not to be mentioned on ballots.
Perhaps the most radical departure from the existing constitution,
this part does away with the two party system. It allows for
any number of political parties, but excludes mention of them
on ballots, to encourage citizens to think about positions on
issues rather than party affiliations. The qualification clause
allows small parties and lesser known candidates a chance to
compete. For example, given the current population of the United
States (about 300 million), any and all who could gather the
signatures of 150,000 voters (1/20 of 1%) would be on the ballot
for the general election. This would likely be more than a dozen
candidates, giving citizens more options than they currently
The "two vote" clause is specifically meant to allow
for political change. Under the current system, there is stagnation
because voters who may really want one candidate vote for a more
popular one, so as not to "throw away" their vote.
This new system allows "outsiders" a chance to visibly
grow their support from one election to the next, improving the
odds of truly changing the political choices available. The "residents"
clause recognizes that a person who lives in a place should have
some say in its laws.
Under this system, to be on the ballot for the senate in a
state like Michigan, which has a population of about eight million,
a person would need the signatures of 4,000 voters. This would
likely result in at least a dozen candidates in an election.
The senate would be the only part of the congress that has a
The House Of Representatives in this new system is smaller,
and has no geographical basis. This is an important change, because
it allows representation for those who hold unpopular political
beliefs. Under the current system, for example, libertarian or
socialist citizens will never be represented in the congress,
because they make up too small a part of the voting population
of any particular district. On the other and, there may be several
million libertarian voters (and several hundred thousand socialists),
enough to elect several libertarian representatives, and perhaps
even one or two socialists. This would be the first time that
those outside of the major parties had real political representation
in this country.
Let's look at how this would work. At the moment, 1/100 of
1% of the population is about 30,000. That's how many voter's
signatures a candidate would need to get on the ballot. Though
the resulting thousand or so candidates may seem to make the
election process unwieldy, modern tools (computers) will make
it possible. The top 200 vote getters would likely include those
with as few as 50,000 votes, making representation a real possibility
for those groups which share common political convictions but
make up only a small percentage of the population.
The general idea here is that geography is not the only important
criteria for representation, especially in a country that is
so mobile. We are better off having some representation based
purely on political beliefs without regard to where we live or
where the candidate lives. This also reduces the tendency of
representatives to "bring home the pork," since there
is no district to bring it home to.
This system allows a more true representation. For example,
suppose there are 150,000 people whose most important political
goal is to dismantle the standing military, in favor of a reserve
system. They would be a fringe group in the current political
climate, and could never get a representative elected. Under
this new system, however, the same group might easily elect one
or two people to represent them. Granted, those two congress
people might not get much done, but at least the people's voices
would be heard.
There are certainly many other good ideas for a constitution.
In general, I would favor those that create a true limit to the
power of government, and a clear vision of its purpose. That
purpose should be to protect the the rights of individuals within