The Weiner Component V.2 #47 – Modernizing the Constitution of the United States

The Constitution of the United States was written during the period of May 25 through September 1787 at the Philadelphia Legislative Building. The State Legislature had taken their summer vacation and the building was available through the summer.

 

This was toward the end of the 18th Century, when ships moved in the oceans through the use of current, wind power blowing against sails, or muscle power being pulled in a becalmed sea by one or more large row boats.  Communication was very slow and most people spent their lives within a few miles from where they were born.  It was a time totally different from the 21st Century where national and world communication is almost instantaneous and people fly in jets across the oceans in hours.

 

The Constitution is the basic Document of Government in the United States from which all laws and powers are derived.  It consists of a statement of purpose or authorization by the then male, property owning population of the new country.  It consists of 7 Articles, the names of the founders, and, at present, 27 Amendments, the first 10 being the Bill of Rights, most of the rest made basic changes to the Constitution to meet the needs of the times.  This document was written in 1787 and was voted into existence shortly thereafter.  With  changes through the amendment process this Constitution is still the basis of the Federal Government of the United States.

 

It is past time to edit this document, to take out the remaining sections that still pertain to the preindustrial world of the 18th Century and those areas which limit the functioning of a true democracy.  In content the basic document is as pertinent today as it was then.  Those sections no longer pertinent today could be easily edited out making the document shorter and more precise.  Other issues such as the unfairness of the bicameral legislative body and gerrymandering which tend to make the document undemocratic could also be adjusted.

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Article 1 deals with the legislature:

It authorized that the laws be made by a bicameral Congress.  The legislative bodies meet regularly because the changing conditions within the country require a continuing flow of legislation to meet the ever-changing needs of the country.  The Congress’s major job is to meet the ever-changing needs of the nation with new needed legislation.

 

The reason for the bicameral houses of Congress was because there were both large and small states among the original 13.  In the Senate every states is equally represented by two Senators elected by each of the State Legislatures while in the House of Representatives each state is represented by legislators elected directly by the people; their number being based upon the population of the state.  In order to be elected to the Senate for a six year term one has to be 30 years of age or older while to be elected to the House for a two year term one has to be 25 or older.  People then generally did not live as long as they do today.

 

The Electoral College is a group of elected officials chosen every four year to elect the President of the United States.  The number of Electors for the Electoral College that each state has is based upon the number of their representatives in both Houses of Congress.  This measure is now out of date and can allow, as it did in Trump’s case, a candidate who does not have the majority vote of the people the ability to achieve the presidency.  As the independence of each state, large and small, is no longer dependent upon their independence the Electoral College by an Amendment to the Constitution should be done away with and the choice of the new President should be directly dependent upon the majority of votes by the voting population of the United States.  This would be much fairer than the current system.

 

In point of fact people in the actual election vote for their candidate.  The political parties choose the electors who will then vote for their candidate.  Doing away with the Electoral College will just allow the initial votes to count directly for the choice of the Presidential candidate.

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Originally the Founding Fathers never visualized political parties.  Instead they believed the “wisest,” best educated men would make up the two Houses of Congress.  The State Legislators chose the two most mature men in the State for their Senators and the male, property owning citizens chose from the best of the younger well educated men or man within the voting District or State for the House of Representatives..

 

In 1913 the 17th Amendment to the Constitution changed the Election of Senators, making the people within the states responsible for them, direct election of Senators by the citizens of each state.  The reason this came about was the rise of the corporations and monopolies from the post-Civil War on.  The new super-rich executives were able to bribe the state legislatures into appointing their lawyers to the Senate, which. In turn, became a body representing the monopolies rather than the states.  The 17th Amendment was a part of the Progressive Movement that was a reaction against the rise of the monopolies.

 

Even though a minimum number of people is needed for each Representative in the House at least one Representative is chosen from each state regardless of how small the population of that state is.  Eight states have so low a population that they have only one member in the House of Representatives while California has so large a population that it has 53 members there.  Originally and still the Senate gives each state equal representation in the Congress regardless of the population of that state while the House of Representatives is based upon population.  The representation in the House is adjusted every ten years when a census is taken of the entire population.

 

Is it reasonable for the states with very small populations to have the representation they have in the Congress?  As a group their votes count more than those in the larger states in the choice of the President.  It might make more sense at this time to limit them to one Senator.

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Alexander Hamilton organized the Federalist Party.  Hamilton saw the mercantile class, the businessmen, as the growing group and these people were the major beneficiaries of his policy. The first President was George Washington.  His Secretary of the Treasury was Alexander Hamilton while the second Secretary of State from 1790 to 1793 was Thomas Jefferson whose vision of the new United States was different from that of Hamilton. He favored the small yeoman farmer. While Washington was apolitical he did tend to favor Hamilton’s policy.

 

Washington served as president from 1789 to the beginning of 1797, two terms.  The second president was John Adams who served for one term.  By 1800 Thomas Jefferson had organized a second political party, the Democratic-Republican Party and, in a dramatic election, won the presidency in 1800.  His policy would change the focus of the new government.  In fact he believed that the purchase of the Louisiana Territory would supply land for the small farmers for the next one hundred years.  The Federalists were never able to mount a successful Presidential Election again.  They went out of existence after the War of 1812.

 

On April 40, 1789, the first inauguration of George Washington occurred.

On May 29, 1790, Rhode Island became the 13th state to join the Union.  It was voted in by only three percent of the population.

In 1791, the Bill of Rights, the first Ten Amendments to the Constitution was ratified.  James Madison wrote Twelve Amendments, of which ten were passed.

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In terms of editing the Constitution:

Article 1 pertains to the legislature, Section 2, Third paragraph: “counting slaves as 3/5s of a person for reasons of representation or taxation” can be excluded.

Section 9, Paragraph 1: Pertains to importation and taxation of slaves.

Article 2 deals with the Executive, Section 1, Second, Third, and Fourth paragraphs deal with the Electoral College.  If the Electoral College were to be done away with by having the people directly elect the President these paragraphs can be dropped.

Article 3 has to do with the Judicial System of the Country.

Article 4 details State rights.

Article 5 explains the process by which the Constitution can be amended.

Article 6 deals with prior debts, laws, and a required Oath or Affirmation to support the Constitution by all it officers.

Article 7 pertains to the ratification of the Constitution.

The second paragraph can be omitted.

This is followed by the names of the signers and the Amendments to the Constitution.

 

We are now in the 21st Century.  Do we really need the extraneous material that was included in a preindustrial document?

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While major changes to the Constitution are difficult to do at one time it is past time to do away with the Electoral College.  In 1876 the Republican, Rutherford B. Hayes, won the election with the majority of the popular vote going to the Democrat, Samuel J. Tilden.  In 2000 the Republican, George W. Bush, won the Presidential Election with the Democrat, Al Gore, getting the majority of the popular vote.  If Gore had won there would have been no unnecessary war against Iraq and the probability is that the Middle East would not have become as disrupted as it became and is still today.  In the Election of 2016 Hillary Clinton had three million more popular votes than Donald J. Trump but Trump won the Electoral College vote and became President.  So far his Presidency has been a disaster disrupting conditions in both the United States and the world.  For the first time since the Cold War and the Missile Crisis under John F. Kennedy the U.S. is facing the possibility of an atomic war with North Korea.  It seems that both countries have thin-skinned egomaniacs as leaders.

 

It is certainly time to get rid of the Electoral College.