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Amending the Constitution

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Re: Amending the Constitution

Postby Francis Di Domizio » Fri Jun 21, 2013 1:45 pm

Henry Vilas wrote:The trouble with convening a constitutional convention is that it could propose changes to any part of the Constitution.


Can you please explain why you view this as a problem?
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Re: Amending the Constitution

Postby Henry Vilas » Fri Jun 21, 2013 1:49 pm

Wholesale changes in the Constitution, based on the whims of the day, might be regretted in the future. But of course, then a new convention can be convened to change them again. I see the value of slow changes. While the Founders thought conventions might occur from time to time, they haven't. Probably for the reason I mentioned above.
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Re: Amending the Constitution

Postby Stebben84 » Fri Jun 21, 2013 1:50 pm

fisticuffs wrote:I also think people tend to get better at jobs the longer they do them


I'd be curious to know which Senators or Reps fall into this category.

Herb Kohl was a perfect example why I feel we need limits. He kept getting voted in and voted in because of his money and name recognition. He became part of the establishment and no other Dem could run against him in the primary. Herb Kohl was a pointless Senator who didn't do a goddamn thing.

When I talk term limits, I'd say something like 3 terms for Senate, and maybe 10 or so with the House. 18 to 20 years gives you plenty of time to get good at your job and get stuff done. After that, you because part of the old guard with old ideas and a suitcase full of cronyism.

I also think knowing it's your last term might give someone incentive to get off their ass and get something constructive done.

fisticuffs wrote:Term limits would make it easier to buy our government.


I disagree. Lobbyist build relationships with life long politicians. It takes time to foster these and once their established, there's no turning back. Getting more new faces in their regularly makes it harder for the lobbyist foster a beautiful friendship with our lawmakers.
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Re: Amending the Constitution

Postby fisticuffs » Fri Jun 21, 2013 2:06 pm

Stebben84 wrote:
fisticuffs wrote:I also think people tend to get better at jobs the longer they do them


I'd be curious to know which Senators or Reps fall into this category.

Herb Kohl was a perfect example why I feel we need limits. He kept getting voted in and voted in because of his money and name recognition. He became part of the establishment and no other Dem could run against him in the primary. Herb Kohl was a pointless Senator who didn't do a goddamn thing.

When I talk term limits, I'd say something like 3 terms for Senate, and maybe 10 or so with the House. 18 to 20 years gives you plenty of time to get good at your job and get stuff done. After that, you because part of the old guard with old ideas and a suitcase full of cronyism.

I also think knowing it's your last term might give someone incentive to get off their ass and get something constructive done.

fisticuffs wrote:Term limits would make it easier to buy our government.


I disagree. Lobbyist build relationships with life long politicians. It takes time to foster these and once their established, there's no turning back. Getting more new faces in their regularly makes it harder for the lobbyist foster a beautiful friendship with our lawmakers.


Well the voters bear some responsibility as well. I don't like the 92 year old senators being wheeled in for votes very much either but the pay day happens when you leave office. The legal one anyways.

Publicly financed campaigns would go a lot further than term limits.
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Re: Amending the Constitution

Postby Francis Di Domizio » Fri Jun 21, 2013 2:11 pm

Henry Vilas wrote:Wholesale changes in the Constitution, based on the whims of the day, might be regretted in the future. But of course, then a new convention can be convened to change them again. I see the value of slow changes. While the Founders thought conventions might occur from time to time, they haven't. Probably for the reason I mentioned above.


I think the ratification process would prevent wholesale changes. Provided the convention submitted each change as a seperate amendment rather than as a single change. That said, I don't know that a complete review and overhaul of the constitution every 20-30 years would be that horrible a concept. Sno's example of the South African constitution is a perfect reason why. Something like a right to health care wouldn't have occured to our founding fathers. A new constitutional convention could consider defining new rights, as well as redefining or removing rights that no longer make sense. It would also allow us to experiment a bit more with methods of governing and selecting our leaders.
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Re: Amending the Constitution

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Fri Jun 21, 2013 2:38 pm

Francis Di Domizio wrote:I think the ratification process would prevent wholesale changes. Provided the convention submitted each change as a seperate amendment rather than as a single change.
That's not really a constitutional convention then, it's just proposing a bunch of amendments. A con-con would, it seems to me, entail creating a completely new document; literally scrapping the old constitution completely and starting from scratch, just as they did when they abandoned the Articles of Confederation and wrote The Constitution -- something which was done, by the way, pretty much illegally. The mandate for the gathering which produced the Constitution was simply to strengthen the Articles. Instead, the men in attendance -- completely at odds with what their state governments had sent them to accomplish -- adopted the position that The Articles simply didn't work and needed wholesale replacement. And the only way they were able to accomplish the task of writing a new Constitution was by keeping the proceedings completely secret, something which would never fly and is completely impractical in the modern age. The men who wrote The Constitution were revolutionaries. Honestly, I can't even imagine who in modern America has the courage, the intelligence, or the ability to reasonably negotiate for such a task.

I don't think we need to start from scratch, but I do think we need to get over the idea that The Constitution is some kind of Holy Word when parts of it are clearly at odds with the issues we face in a more modern world than the Founders could have envisioned. Some kind of campaign finance reform amendment seems pretty necessary to me, as does the right to health care, fixing the 2nd Amendment*, and perhaps something to address marriage rights (although I'd rather just see the government get out of the marriage business entirely.)

*And I mean "fix" in the sense that, as written, it's far too open to opposing interpretations. While I personally would like to simply see it repealed, a fix could also mean exactly the opposite: just rewrite it to clearly state what the NRA claims it means. Basically, just clean up the language so it makes fucking sense, already.
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Re: Amending the Constitution

Postby Huckleby » Sat Jun 22, 2013 8:29 am

Within the universe of amendments that have any chance at all of passing, I would say eliminating the electoral college and getting a direct vote is at top of list. Republicans no longer benefit from the electoral college, and I think the public is ready to ditch it.

I was thinking a year ago there might be something possible on campaign finance, but looking at the list of recent proposals, that turf is hopelessly partisan. I see Jesse Jackson and Bernie Sanders each proposed making constitutional rights applicable to real persons and not corporations. Why corporations and not unions or other organizations? Partisan dead end.

The right would dearly love to end birth citizenship, and probably they could get some support from across political spectrum. But probably not enough support.
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Re: Amending the Constitution

Postby Henry Vilas » Sat Jun 22, 2013 8:45 am

Huckleby wrote: I see Jesse Jackson and Bernie Sanders each proposed making constitutional rights applicable to real persons and not corporations. Why corporations and not unions or other organizations? Partisan dead end.

Unions are incorporated. MTI, for example, stands for Madison Teachers Incorporated.
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Re: Amending the Constitution

Postby Huckleby » Sat Jun 22, 2013 9:12 am

Are all unions corporations?

also, is Sierra Club a corporation?

You would have to get rid of the partisan word "corporation" and replace with "organization" to have a serious proposal.
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Re: Amending the Constitution

Postby Henry Vilas » Sat Jun 22, 2013 10:12 am

Huckleby wrote:Are all unions corporations?

Don't know. Maybe you can find me one that isn't.

Huckleby wrote:also, is Sierra Club a corporation?

Yes.
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Re: Amending the Constitution

Postby wack wack » Sat Jun 22, 2013 10:13 am

Stebben84 wrote:
fisticuffs wrote:I also think people tend to get better at jobs the longer they do them


I disagree. Lobbyist build relationships with life long politicians. It takes time to foster these and once their established, there's no turning back. Getting more new faces in their regularly makes it harder for the lobbyist foster a beautiful friendship with our lawmakers.


Bingo. Lobbying is about relationships; term limits would largely end lobbying abuses, not strengthen them.

"Politician" was never meant to be a career; the regular flow of current knowledge and experience into and out of government is critical to the function and success of government.
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Re: Amending the Constitution

Postby Huckleby » Sat Jun 22, 2013 10:35 am

Henry Vilas wrote:
Huckleby wrote:Are all unions corporations?

Don't know. Maybe you can find me one that isn't.

Huckleby wrote:also, is Sierra Club a corporation?

Yes.


Not all unions are technically corporations, nor are all civic and political organizations corporations. Same could be said about individual people, some people incorporate themselves, if we are playing a silly sematics game.

The word "corporation" is understood in general usage to mean businesses. The Supreme Court treats unions differently than corporations in its rulings. For instance, unions are not granted personage status.

The reason Jesse Jackson and Bernie Sanders used the word "corporation" rather than "organization" is that they are grinding a political axe against corporations; it is disingenuous to pretend they are referring to some accounting legalism.
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Re: Amending the Constitution

Postby Henry Vilas » Sat Jun 22, 2013 10:48 am

Citizens United gave free speech rights to unions as well as business corporations. Looks like the USSC treated them the same.
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Re: Amending the Constitution

Postby Huckleby » Sat Jun 22, 2013 11:05 am

I don't have interest in delving into how unions are treated differently than corporations, but for instance:
http://www.sfbg.com/politics/2012/06/21 ... ions-arent

The word "corporation" was very deliberately used by advocates of limiting the political spending and activity of corporations, as that word is commonly understood. They are grinding an anti-corporate axe. That language is partisan and indefensible, IMO. Corporations are fundamentally not different from other organizations, when it come to free speech. If you are going to restrict GM, you also ought to restrict PETA.

Use the word "organization" and you have my support. But I doubt there is interest is capping free speech of all organizations.
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