Sunday, September 9, 2012

Time for a Constitutional Convention?

Every four years, for as long as I can remember, there's been discussion of the Electoral College — albeit there never seems to be anything done to reform it.  Two states, Maine and Nebraska, took a stab at it in that they distribute electoral votes by Congressional district, with the extra two going to the top vote getter, statewide.  It would go a long way towards solving the "swing state" problem were all the states to adopt the system, but it doesn't go far enough enough for my taste.

Something that always has bothered me is that a vote cast in Alaska (one Congressional district, three electoral votes) counts roughly three times as much as a vote cast in California (fifty-three Congressional districts, fifty-five electoral votes.)  Well, that's not going to change.  It would require a Constitutional amendment, and the states that benefit from the current system would torpedo the change in short order.

Also, don't expect any Constitutional amendment limiting corporate contributions to election campaigns — the corporations are just too powerful, and our Constitution is just too hard to amend.  Even though women are a clear majority of our population, the Equal Rights Amendment failed, even with an extended period of time for ratification by the states.

I know that the Constitution of the United States has many admirers, and quite a few countries used it as a model for their own constitutions when they got around to writing them, but its popularity as a model has declined rapidly in recent decades.  New nations, today, are far more likely to use Canada's constitution as their model.

Maybe our Constitution is just too old.  It always was most useful to those determined to maintain distinctions of class and wealth – and despite hard-won changes over the past couple of centuries, it continues to favor entrenched interests.

So, is it time for a Constitutional Convention to re-write the whole thing?  I think not.  The entrenched interests would only use the opportunity to further entrench themselves.

(PS: You may have noticed I had absolutely nothing to say about the final day of the Democratic Convention.  What was there to say?  I am old enough to remember when political conventions actually selected candidates.  Conventions were exciting back then.  Now, they're pretty much a bore.)

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