Do we really want to take our country back?
Let’s admit it. We hate this friggin’ country. Okay, maybe hate is too strong a word. We love it but it could stand for a serious renovation. Many of us think we have just the prescription to make this land that shining city on a hill, that indispensable nation. Everyone seems to have just the trick to turn this flaccid nation coasting on its past successes into the rock hard nirvana republic that millions of American exceptionalism Kool-Aid drinkers believe it can be.
We just a need to hold a new Constitutional Convention 2015-style. Yes, the old document needs some White Out and maybe a little cut and pasting and we’ll be on fleek for the entire world to see.
So what would happen at this new convention? The 1st Amendment would come under attack from all sides. Some would want certain speech curtailed, like the right of groups like the Westboro Baptist Church to protest the funerals of American soldiers. Or if we allowed their protests we would make it legal for members of the public to punch them in the face or something. Atheists, agnostics and religious peoples in favor of a separation of church and state would add language making a Great Wall of China between worship and the ship of state. Some Americans, angry over riots, might seek to put some kind of limitation on public protests. The Ferguson Amendment, if you will. And progressives angry about the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling would want to make sure to add language nullifying money as speech and aborting corporate personhood.
Did someone say aborting? A clear amendment prohibiting abortion and, in effect, ordering government-sanctioned compulsory motherhood would be among the first amendments pushed in the new convention. One could only hope that discussion of the impact on women’s health, government services and society as a whole would take place before such a rash…Oh, who am I kidding? Why start caring about what happens after children are born?
There’s no question there’d be a push by many to rein in the 2nd Amendment. It’s the most contentious of the enumerated rights. Gun control advocates would like an amendment that spelled out what the masses could not own while presumably gun rights supporters would seek to do away with that pesky “well-regulated militia” part that they usually ignore when quoting the current amendment. More regulation vs. less regulation. It’d probably be best to have a metal detector on the doors of the convention hall.
Can someone say Equal Rights Amendment? Do you remember that? It was some radical, far left wing, socialist, Communist, sexist idea pushed by a cabal of lesbians bent on taking our country and turning into some kind of quasi-matriarchal republic that would destroy gender forever. Here’s the shocking text of it right here: Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. See what I mean? Are you as shocked as… what? That was it? That couldn’t pass in America? We suck.
How about a living wage amendment? Working full time and still not being able to make ends meet at some subsistence level is wrong in a generous, wealthy republic. So pass the Bernie Sanders Amendment to the Constitution. Of course such an amendment would bring on the wrath of the Koch brothers, Roger Ailes and Joe the Plumber, desperate for his sixteenth minute.
Some would promote an amendment making marriage between a man and a woman in order the help constitutionally push millions of gays back into the closet. As if preventing gays from marrying would magically improve heterosexual marriages, making your spouse stop drinking, get a job and stop spending their free time on their Ashley Madison account,
Donald Trump supporters would push to overrule the 14th Amendment and outlaw so-called birthright citizenship. It’s one of those issues that make decent folks bristle at xenophobic terms like “anchor babies” but methinks if a secret ballot were held in that convention birthright citizenship would be deported from the U.S. Constitution.
Whenever there is a particularly heinous crime conviction in the court of public opinion is swift so I fear there would be some nibbling away at the 4th Amendment protections against search and seizure as well as the 5th Amendment right to avoid incriminating oneself. After all, these would-be law and order proponents would insist, “An innocent person has nothing to hide, right?”
While we’re at it, I think the angry hordes just might take an ax to the 8th Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishments. For child killers and molesters how come the punishments can’t be cruel, unusual and creative, the argument would go and unless you’re Sister Helen Prejean, the Pope or the Innocence Project I think they’d find broad support for unusually cruel punishments.
Yes, a 2015 Constitution Convention would pretty much shred what’s left of that tattered parchment we cling to as our bible of government. Maybe some changes would be a good thing. Clarification would be a good thing.
But you know what else is a good thing? The fact that the Founding Fathers made it so damn hard to change the Constitution. That way when we do change it, we know that arguments have been advanced, heard and debated and the wisdom and will of the majority of the people stands. Okay, even with that tough hill to climb we managed to pass the 18th Amendment prohibiting alcohol. Sometimes we’re too stupid even for serious safeguards.
So no, I don’t want to see a new Constitutional Convention. The document we have isn’t perfect but I’m afraid of what we’d do to it.