Constitutional Convention Debate
The American constitution provides rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but fails to mention the right to equality. The idea of “We the People” has lost its appeal not just in America, but around the World. The thought of a current and more relevant constitution is sparking conversations across the United States. Many argue that the rights guaranteed are stingy, narrow minded, and not widely protected.
The ideas of a right to education, free healthcare, and dumping the minority rule mindset we currently possess, is a very attractive possibility that many are working diligently to achieve. Convincing the majority of people to make changes to the constitution is not an easy task but ultimately is a necessary one. The availability of a revised constitution is at our fingertips, we just need to reach out and grab it.
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The author of, ‘What Belongs in a Constitution?’ gives a detailed explanation of what is found in constitutions all over the world. She lays out the basis of a constitution. First the basic governmental structures and the relations between the main powers and functions of government. Second, the basic values and commitments which include a statement of beliefs which guide someone’s actions. Third, the bill of rights which describe basic human rights. Like the American constitution, these three things can be widely interpreted and vary from country to country.
The author also discusses the importance of addressing enforcement mechanisms. In the article, it is mentioned that it is often preferred to solve any constitutional issues by regular laws or by convention to revise, and to let the original constitution stand. The purposes of a constitution are to create limits and authorize the powers of political authority, enhance the stability of political order, and to differentiate between politics and general rules to be followed. Constitutions are important because they directly affect the social and political aspects of a country but are often unclear, limited and hard to amend. I believe the author of, ‘What Belongs in a Constitution?’ is correct in the ideas of what should be included in the document.
The governmental structures are important because they lay out the executive, judicial, and legislative branches and provide a healthy balance of control. This document also demonstrates the relationship between central and state governments and how they support institutional stability. The purpose of this is to resolve issues between central government and state government. In my opinion, a bill of rights is necessary in every constitution because it voices that every human has basic rights. The author does mention however, that although it is important, she does not believe every constitution should have this, and that it is more important to focus on the nature of the enforcement agency and its powers.
I disagree in this instance because a bill of rights provides a sense of well-being and self-assurance. It is essential in a constitution because it sets the tone of beliefs of the people it represents. The basic values and commitments will demonstrate either strength or weakness. It is important to have an agreement on how to deal with conflict between the population to show an effective government. One thing that is mentioned that should not be included is specific descriptions that could make minorities feel like they are not full citizens of the country. The example given is the Israeli constitution where the term Jewish is used, citizens who were not Jewish felt ununified. It is important not to include this because unity is the backbone of a constitution.
In the next article, ‘Why Might People be Calling for Change?’ they discuss how the constitution is old, outdated, and doesn’t guarantee many of the rights that most other countries stand by. It includes comments of how our constitution is narrow minded and does not reflect current situations. It provides the information that on average, countries rewrite their constitutions every 19 years to stay relevant and updated, and that America is falling behind in basic human rights.
The next article, ‘States Likely Could Not Control Constitutional Convention on a Balanced Budget Amendment or Other Issues” discusses the potential harms of a constitutional convention, saying that change could be radical and harmful. A convention could write its own rules because the current constitution provides no guidance, and the convention could set its own politically motivated agenda influenced by powerful third parties.
A convention would not be limited to a specific set of issues and would be complete chaos because there would be no one designated person or group that would have authority over it. For a convention to partake, 34 states must make the request, then be ratified by 38 states for it to take effect and will not require a presidential signature. The majorities in legislature could select delegates that side with only their views, leaving many people at the control of the legislature.
This article specifically discusses a balanced budget amendment that would likely harm the economy by keeping the state from spending more than its allotted budget. It would cause our recessions to be far worse and would put a ceiling on federal spending. I think a convention where we dismember the building blocks of this country would be a mistake. Relevant amendments that are current in todays society are the way forward.
In the article, ‘Why Doesn’t the Constitution Guarantee the Right to Education?’ some very hard truths are learned. Every country in the world who outperforms the United States academically has some sort of statutory or constitutional amendment to this right. The United States has not established the rights of children regarding equal, free, and adequate education. If education was deemed a national value through an amendment, we would have a set of standards to stand for that would have legal protection. With this, the United States would have a chance to redeem their place in education globally. We have the resources to climb the list of 40 countries and prove that we can compete with the top countries in the world.
‘Should All Americans Have the Right (Be Entitled) to Healthcare?’ sheds light on the pros and cons of free healthcare. Free healthcare has the potential to save many lives, make medical services affordable for everyone, and improve public health. It is said in the article that this is the necessary foundation of a just society and that a right to healthcare is internationally recognized as a human right.
However, the opposing side believes that free healthcare will contribute to debt in the United States, lead to socialism, and raise taxes. They also are concerned for the quality of medical services that will be provided and the potential wait time that would increase. I believe both arguments are valid, but nothing is more important than human life. I think America has turned lives into poll numbers and tax dollars instead of people who are your family, friends, and neighbors.
‘Tyranny of the Minority’ touches the subject of popular vote and minority rule. 50% of the country lives in 40 of the 50 states, which means one half of the country is getting 80% of the votes in the senate while only 20% is getting the other half. This hardly seems fair but is considered just by the current constitution. Because a large majority of democrats live in urban areas, republicans have lost the popular vote but gained the presidency.
This has caused us to enter a minority rule mindset. This article also provides information on the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact which would agree to award all electoral votes to the national popular vote winner. It then discusses the Fair Representation Act which would change the way the house is elected and give political minorities a say while the resulting delegations would be proportional.
American’s see the downward spiral that our country has taken, and we are not pleased. We are ready for a change that will take the division of our country and unify us once again. It is not enough to sweep the pressing issues under the rug anymore, and that is why more and more people are supporting the idea of change. A congressional passage of amendments would be ideal. It would allow us to keep the foundation of our constitution that our country has been riding on, while also allowing us the opportunity to address current issues.
There are three important amendments that need to be passed; quality education, free healthcare, and the Fair Representation Act. Quality education is something that is imperative to the survival of our country. It has been shown by other countries the positive affects of making education a national priority. With the resources that we have in America, there is no excuse to not be at the top of The Learning Curve, which is the global ranking of education systems. A free healthcare amendment would show the world and the United States population the value that we put on American lives.
We would have improved quality of life and stop people from life crippling medical bankruptcies, and medical services that mean life or death would be available and affordable for everyone. Free healthcare has also shown success rates in other countries and I believe their ideas can help model this new U.S. amendment. The Fair Representation Act would mean that every vote matters. That just because you live in a red state, your democratic vote won’t go unheard. With the option to elect multiple house members to work directly with congress, everyone would have their share of representation.
Just because our constitution is difficult to amend does not mean it is not imperative and crucial to the growth of our country. Without change we will never be able to improve, only stay the same. As an American, I know that we are capable of so much more than what we are doing right now. We need to come together on these ideas that will show the rest of the world that we are united in the values of our people, and that we are willing to do whatever it takes to prove it.
We are better than our education scores have shown, and we need a healthcare system that shows how much we value human life because each person is not just another vote or tax dollar. We believe that everyone deserves to have a voice, and by doing so we allow our country to reach its full potential. By uniting on these beliefs, we are proving not just to America, but to every other country that we are willing to make the necessary changes to grow and succeed.