October 7th, 2009

Apollo 4 on column of fire

Not "the" answer

1. The freshman congressional class of 1994 shows that term limits are not ‘the’ answer. Would you run a small business by ensuring constant turnover? Come on, quit looking for easy answers.

2. Ross Perot, Jesse Ventura, and Ralph Nader demonstrate that third parties are not ‘the’ answer. Look at those three, each a self-absorbed clown with hints of paranoia and who were without persistence or, indeed, an interest in performing government. The only successful, persistent, interested ‘independent’ at the national level is Bernie Sanders, who ‘really’ is a Democrat with an unusual campaign strategy. (And I suspect that, if former Minnesota senator Dean Barkley were to be a ‘real’ senator for six or more years, he too would become a de facto Democrat.) Quit looking for a savior; instead join the metaphorical union.

The Constitution under siege

In the last 40 years we have had two ratified amendments to the United States Constitution. The 27th Amendment is trivial, and merely says that congresscritters have to face the voters before collecting their pay raises. Woo hoo! It was too trivial and stuntish even to be noticed. But the last ‘real’ Constitutional amendment was the 26th, guaranteeing US citizens of draft age the right to vote, and it was ratified in 1971, nearly 40 years ago.

What happened next is that reactionaries barely caught up with but then successfully attacked and killed the Equal Rights Amendment. Since that time they have held the Constitution under siege. We don’t even imagine amending it, for fear that barbarians will storm in and make the Constitution theirs. Being unable to amend the Constitution, we stop being ‘Americans’.

We are in desperate need of constitutional amendment. We need a constitutional amendment to limit the ‘rights’ of corporations. We need a constitutional amendment to control how campaigns for office are conducted. We need a constitutional amendment declaring health care to be a right. But we have lost our ability to amend the Constitution, because reactionaries have it under siege, and we have been struggling to keep its existing walls standing.

No more. It is time to strike out and drive off the attackers. Let us begin by ratifying the ERA and make that just the start. We have many walls to mend, and new defenses to build.