I love political science, and so for fun I decided to draft a modified version of the US Constitution to better reflect the new issues of a modern era. This project was not intended to be disrespectful to the current Constitution, it was meant as a tribute following in the same patriotic spirit.
The name comes from Gaius Gracchus, one of Ancient Rome’s greatest progressive reformers along with his brother, Tiberius. The header image for these posts comes from my love of rabbits. I thought a white rabbit would be an interesting symbol for a grassroots movement as a nod to Alice in Wonderland (“follow the white rabbit”), also rabbits eat grass (so grassroots), and are individually weak yet good at multiplying into something greater.
This is merely a first draft, and I’d love to get feedback for how to improve on it if anyone has any suggestions they’d like to share.
The United States Constitution is the pride of American history. As the blueprint for the first modern democracy, it laid the groundwork not just for our own future, but those of any society wishing to preserve the supremacy of the people against tyranny. These proposed reforms do not stem from any disrespect to this proud heritage; in fact, the goal is to preserve those ideals of the Framers and carry them into a new era. The fact is, 1787 is a completely different world than 2019 and beyond. While the Framers showed remarkable foresight, they had no way of knowing how the Industrial Age, digital technology, modern corporations and a globalized society would chip away at the self-determination of individual citizens which they had fought for. It’s time we acknowledge our Constitution, beautiful though it is, has been rendered anachronistic by these large-scale changes. This document will attempt to rectify our past and our future, creating a modern codex for a new generation as Thomas Jefferson had always intended.
The specific problems I want to address with these reforms are as follows:
1) The Inadequacy of our Election System: Plurality voting (aka First Past the Post) is the culprit behind the impossibility of Third Parties to gain any significant foothold in Congress, much less any prayer of winning the Presidency. This in turn means we only have two factions in government, who’ve proven time and again they’d rather spite each other than work towards our common betterment. Multiple viable parties would force coalitions and cooperation in government, as several parties coalesce around shared goals. Therefore, the first and biggest problem in American government today is our outdated election system. Once this is addressed, all other reforms become exponentially easier to solve.
2) The Unprotected Citizenry: Digital technology is a sword with two edges, as are the advents of Corporate Capitalism and Globalization. Digital communications bring us closer to those across the planet, and access to unprecedented knowledge (which was invaluable to the completion of this essay). Unfortunately, it also opens us up to unethical mass surveillance and manipulation. Corporations allow individuals to pool resources for mutual profit, however they also skirt tax laws at the expense of the public, and often treat laborers unethically. Globalization grants us cheap goods from afar, but also allows those same corporations to undercut domestic labor and exploit developing countries. We need a new, more accommodating set of Rights to safeguard against these abuses and others.
3) The Unaccountable Congress: There are too few Congressmen for how many citizens reside in America. In its inception, there were to be 30,000 people for every one representative in the House, which would grant us ~12,000 Congressmen today including the Senate. If this size isn’t practical for a legislative assembly, a sensible compromise might at least be based on the Cube Root Law, which would give us 700 representatives. What’s more, Congress does not represent the will of the people, if approval ratings and their counter-stance on popular initiatives such as net neutrality or universal healthcare are any indication. The people should have greater control over their representatives.
4) The Imperial Presidency: As Congress wallows in gridlock, or waffles on taking a stand on divisive issues, an increasingly dictatorial Presidency has filled the void. What’s more, we’ve seen with this last administration that at least one of our two parties has shown themselves reluctant to impeach their own even against overwhelming evidence of wrongdoing. Finally, with the advent of nuclear weapons, we have left our lone President as the master of all life on Earth. We must look to the majority of other developed countries, which overwhelmingly divide Executive power between two or more people.
5) The Increasingly “Activist” and Politicized Supreme Court: With Judicial Review, arguably something the Framers themselves never intended, the Supreme Court became the strongest branch by virtue of its lone authority to interpret the Constitution. On the surface, this might not be an issue in and of itself. However, combined with our unprecedented partisanship, we’re seeing this power, which must be used neutrally and sparingly, becoming politicized. Rather than select the best Justices, or allow a fair vote on nominees, we’ve shamefully turned court membership into a scoreboard. With this in mind, one single court, composed of a scant nine people, should not be the sole arbiters of judicial power in the country, nor should they serve life terms.
The inspiration for specific reforms came from a diverse body of research, including but not limited to:
1) The warnings raised and suggestions made by the Anti-Federalist Papers (particularly the writings of Brutus, Cato, Centinel, John DeWitt and Federal Farmer.)
2) The Constitutions of later democracies which built and improved upon the foundations that Publius and the Framers laid out so long ago (including Ireland, Germany, France, South Africa, India, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland and Australia.)
3) The greater Western Heritage (particularly the Declaration on the Rights of Man and Citizen as well as the Constitutions of the Roman Republic, Athens, Sparta, Carthage and the Iroquois Confederacy.)
4) The musings of experts on our political framework, (including President Woodrow Wilson’s advocacy for a Parliamentary system, President Franklin Roosevelt’s “Economic Bill of Rights,” and Justice Antonin Scalia’s advocacy for an easier amendment process.)
5) The principles of several ideologies in the political spectrum (particularly Technocracy, Syndicalism, Constitutional Economics, the Situationist International, Workplace Democracy and the overall tenets of Left-Libertarianism.)
6) The alternate voting systems as opposed to the First-Past-the-Post/Plurality Voting we currently use. (I weighed the pros and cons of Instant Runoff Voting, Approval Voting, Single Transferable Vote, Mixed Member Proportional, STAR Voting and more before settling on Range (aka Score) Voting as the best option.)
7) Failed Amendments to our Constitution (the first two amendments that were part of the original proposed Bill of Rights, Child Labor Amendment, Equal Rights Amendment, Ludlow Amendment, Every Vote Counts Amendment and the People’s Rights Amendment.)