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A Better U.S. Constitution

Our Constitution is a pretty good one. It helped form the first (modern) free nation on earth and set an example for the rest of the world. It rewrote the book on government and put free men on the map. But, our Constitution could use an update. Why you say? It turns out that 200 years of this democratic republic has revealed a few flaws unforeseeable by our founding fathers. Many countries in Europe and Latin America have learned from our mistakes and have implemented changes in their own democracies. I believe the following modifications need to be made to our Constitution in order to maintain the strength of our country and confidence in its beliefs and system of law. Call it Constitution 2.0.

No Confidence
A broken or dysfunctional senate or house should be dissolved and removed by the President. This is usually called a vote of no confidence. For example, the Swedish Constitution, under the Instrument of Government, Chapter 12, Article 4, at least 10% of members of the Riksdag (think house of reps) can request a motion for a vote of no confidence. In other systems the President or Prime Minister can request a vote of no confidence and usually an election is held to replace the ousted officials.

Removing Leaders From Power
It must be easier to remove elected officials from power. I'm not sure that our system is capable of removing a President or Vice-President from power if the general public requests it.

Also, if officials violate the tenets of our Constitution, they should be immediately be removed from power.

Right To Privacy
Under our law we are not granted a right to privacy. I call this out separately because of its importance.

Replace Our Current Voting System
If it isn't obvious, our voting system is broken. We've already had one president who didn't actually win the popular vote. If the people of this country do not elect their leaders, then it isn't a democracy! We need to convert to a direct democracy (for elections) whereby all the votes from all the states are summed together and then a win/lose decision is made. I'd be willing to keep the electoral system, but only if all the electoral votes are summed together first, before deciding the result of the election, although that does leave some room for error (but less than now).

Eliminate The 2 Party System
Our party system is hopelessly stuck with 2 parties. Current, there is no hope for a 3, 4 or n party system because extra parties will never garner enough votes to win an election. Typically 3rd parties sap votes from only one party while the other party retains its voting base.

In a 2 tier election, n parties participate in a first election, and the top 2 parties "won" and went to a second election where the winner is the one with >50% of the vote. I think this would give other parties (and the American people) an opportunity to be represented in government.

Our Bill of Rights was revolutionary. It's fairly general and provides protection of all our basic needs. But, it isn't comprehensive. The European Union ratified Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
which is a 22 page list of rights guaranteed to members of the European Union and I think the United States could benefit from a more complete set of rights.

If the Constitution is the supreme law and our law is righteous, then why does the president have the power to circumvent it? If there was any faith in the judicial system that justice will prevail, pardons would be unnecessary. This gives the president too much power and it must be revoked.

Limit Campaign Dollars
The total amount of money a candidate can spend on their campaign should be limited in order to level the playing field for smaller candidates. How can we know of our best potential leaders if they cannot compete with big corporate money?

Limit or Remove Lobbying
There is currently too much influence by rich companies. We strive for democratic republic but to anyone who's paying attention it's really a oligarchic republic. This is unjust (even if in America anyone can become an oligarch). Lobbyists should be limited in their scope and power.

Judicial Review of all Law
Laws passed by Congress should undergo judicial review before being sent to the President for ratification. Is this being done already? I do not know, but based on the laws passed in the last few years I do knot think so.

This and the next two items aren't Constitutional as such, but changes should be made none the less. Judges should not know or have connections to the Executive and Legislative branches. There should be more oversite.

The government process should be transparent. There have been great strides in making our governments finances, but at the very least the government websites should be made navigable. Currently they are an impossible mess.

These suggestions address real problems in our country. I think in order for our country to stay healthy, to grow, and to address the changes in modern society, the way our government is run needs to change and we need to address it on a very fundamental level, by modifying our highest form of law.

Note: Updated 17 Feb 2008.

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