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Monday, October 16, 2006

An Unread Scholar?

Today's LA Times has an interesting, though totally pointless Op/Ed piece "Our Broken Constitution" by Sanford Levinson.

The author has decided that the founding fathers were completely screwed up in how they set up our country. But he's got a few problems in his logic. First and foremost, he believes the US was founded as a democracy, which it wasn't, it's a federal republic. There is a major difference in those two types of government.

He's obviously either not read, or completely ignored the arguements in the federalist papers over why the founders set up our House, Senate, and Presidency in the way they did.

He laments the fact that the Senate gives equal representation to Delaware and California. Yet it was written that way for a reason, so the large states wouldn't get to rubber stamp anything they wanted, at the expense of the smaller states.

While he's right that it's caused problems at times, especially with the pork that is typically traded to get legislation passed. But the alternative would be the United States of Texas, California, Florida, New York and Ohio, and the rest of us could pack sand. Having a Senate also built on states population would make having two chambers redundant.

He obviously missed the point of having a Republic when he mentioned Barbara Boxer getting 6.4 million votes and Lisa Murkowski getting only 150,000. The idea is that each state picks their representatives, not a national election for state representation. In fact, I can think of nothing more fair than the majority of my state picking my Senator. The original system of the State Legislature picking Senators, now that was screwed up.

He's also disappointed that we don't have a way, other than impeachment, to get rid of an unpopular president. However, he ignores the reasoning of the founding fathers once again. They debated a number of things, but decided that having a government that could be constantly in flux was a worse option than four years with a poor leader.

All one needs to do is look at Italy in the 1980's to understand that reasoning. The country's economy basically stopped as one government after another collapsed due to infighting. While we had problems with Ford, Carter and Reagan as far as the economy went, things were still accomplished in the US. Italy still hasn't fully recovered from their constant experimentation.

He also doesn't like the idea of Supreme Court appointments for life, because it allows members to wait to retire until they think the President will pick someone similar to them as a replacement. However, by reading his tone, I wonder how he'd feel if George Bush got to pick John Paul Steven's replacement because he hit mandatory retirment age.

The court was set up how it is simply to prevent politics from becoming part of the court. Unlike states where judges run for re-election, at the federal level judges don't have to worry about campaigning. Anthony Kennedy is a great case in point of someone who's philosophy has changed over the years, but probably wouldn't have if he was worried about elections.

No, Mr. Levinson, I'll agree our Constitution isn't perfect. But I'll take it over what I've seen in the 20 some other countries I've visited. Yes, sometimes we get clunkers for President, and sometimes congress gets out of control with spending or other things. The truth is the solution isn't rewriting the document, the solution is better informed, more active voters. WE THE PEOPLE have the power to change our government every few years. When we exercise the priviledge with thought to the outcome, all of your arguements become moot.

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Blogger shoprat said...

I too have ideas on how the Constitution could be improved but I don't think he would like my ideas.

Does it bother him that Togo and the United States have equal voices at the UN. Probably not.

11:27 PM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

Shoprat, my guess is he wouldn't like them either.

As for the UN, we actually do have a bigger voice because of the veto stick, but not much when it comes to general assembly issues. Using his logic, though China and India should be the two biggest voices in the UN.

6:09 AM  

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