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Obama's Zakaria: Update the Constitution   June 20th, 2011
Just another prong in the attack on America       

 
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Usually I don't care what some guy at CNN says. But when it's Fareed Zakaria--who apparently has the ear of the president--suggesting we consider "updating" our Constitution via social media, I care.

In May, Fareed Zakaria claimed that he has shared his "wisdom" with President Obama in meetings that were normally organized by Obama's National Security Adviser. Of course, that created a firestorm and he later retracted his earlier statement. But the cat was out of the bag. And regardless of whether his "discussions" with the president and the National Security Adviser were "advice" or something else, it's clear he has the ear of the president.

So when I see Zakaria babbling dangerous nonsense about the Constitution that ignores history, I'm worried. And I'm even more worried in the context of a president that complains that the Constitution is a "charter of negative liberties." Essentially, Obama complained about the fact that the Constitution limits the federal government rather than empowering it. And it's even more worrisome when we have increasing social unrest throughout the world that is leading to misguided attacks on freedom and capitalism.

First, Zakaria praises Iceland for deciding it needs a new Constitution and soliciting ideas from its citizens via Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. After all, if social media can be an effective way of spreading news, organizing protests, and commenting on the latest episode of American Idol, it's certainly perfect for constructing a Constitution, right? Of course he implies that that Iceland's social-networking-constitution should be some kind of inspiration for the United States... despite the fact that Iceland has a population of about 320,000 which is just slightly larger than the county in which I live and about 1/1000th the population of the United States.

Zakaria then essentially promotes the openness of the Iceland social media model as compared to the apparently now-inappropriate and backwards way in which our Constitution--which he calls "one of the greatest expressions of liberty and law in human history"--was written:

The United States Constitution was, as you know, drafted in a cramped room in Philadelphia in 1787 with shades drawn over the windows. It was signed by 39 people.

America at the time consisted of 13 states. Congress had 26 senators and 65 representatives. The entire population was about one percent of today's number - four million people.

America was an agricultural society, with no industry - not even cotton gins. The flush toilet had just been invented.

These were the circumstances under which this document was written.


As it turns out, the concerns about an over-reaching powerful government are just as relevant today as they were back in the days when flush toilets were invented.

And I for one would rather have a Constitution formed from the careful and deliberative input of a few dozen wise patriots two centuries ago than by the whims and political pressures of a million people joining a Facebook page in 2011.

Zakaria then continues with his list of grievances of our Constitution:

The electoral college, for example, is highly undemocratic, allowing for the possibility that someone could get elected as president even if he or she had a smaller share of the total national vote than his opponent.

The structure of the Senate is even more undemocratic, with Wisconsin's six million inhabitants getting the same representation in the Senate as California's 36 million people. That's not exactly one man, one vote.

And we are surely the only modern nation that could be paralyzed as we were in 2000 over an election dispute because we lack a simple national electoral system.


The merits and values of the electoral college are significant and numerous. Many articles have already been written on the topic and I know I'll be writing one in the future. The electoral college is under constant attack by liberals and this is just the latest example. Since the topic of the electoral college deserves its own article, I'll leave the particulars for later except to say that attacking the electoral college is an attack on federalism. Eliminating the electoral college would be one more usurpation of power from the states by the federal government.

Then Zakaria goes into the "undemocratic nature" of the Senate by bemoaning the fact that California gets the same number of senators as Wisconsin--not exactly "one man, one vote." Is Zakaria completely ignorant of the Great Compromise that led to the bicameral legislature consisting of the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate? This was an historic compromise reached between patriots far more wise and cautious than Mr. Zakaria.

I'm also not particularly interested in seeing a "national electoral system" where a few percentage points of fraud in Chicago could overwhelm a margin of victory in Colorado. Nor do I want to see recounts across the country rather than in just one or two "close" states. Again, this goes back to the merits of the electoral college and federalism.

As Zakaria has again demonstrated, liberals place little value on either.

He then continues:

So we could use the ideas of social media that were actually invented in this country to suggest a set of amendments to modernize the Constitution for the 21st Century.

Such a plan is not unheard of in American history.

After all, the delegates in Philadelphia in 1787 initially meant not to create the Constitution as we now know it, but instead to revise the existing document, the Articles of Confederation. But the delegates saw a disconnect between the document that currently governed them and the needs of the nation, so their solution was to start anew.

I'm just suggesting we talk about a few revisions.


A few revisions? He's suggesting that we throw out what's left of federalism, nationalize elections, and apparently eliminate the Grand Compromise of 1787.

And as he points out, the last time delegates got together to make some minor tweaks, they threw the whole thing out and started over. That worked out well in 1787 by creating a federalist system with a weak central government, but I don't have anywhere near the faith in current politicians to do the right thing today. Especially with the "few revisions" Zakaria has in mind overturning some of the most important parts of our federalist structure.

Anyway, what do you think? Should we do this? And if we were to revise the U.S. Constitution, what would be the three amendments you would put in?


No, we shouldn't do this. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube aren't the appropriate mediums for debating issues such as constitutions. While Iceland's county-size exercise in drafting what might as well be a county charter is cute, it's a joke and an insult to everyone's intelligence for Zakaria to suggest that this is something the United States should pursue.

In any case, how about we start by observing and enforcing the amendments we already have on the books--especially the first ten.

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