What do you wish they knew about the future when they wrote the Constitution?
In the summer of 1787, 55 Delegates from the newly independent American colonies attended the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia to debate how the government of the new United States should be organized and operated. In just three months, they crafted the Great Compromise creating the House and the Senate. They compromised on the election of the President with the Electoral College. They also reached a compromise to count three-fifths of the slave population for determining direct taxation and representation. In contrast, today’s Congress is constantly in gridlock.
Imagine you could travel back in time to that Constitutional Convention and were given the opportunity to give a speech (no PowerPoint) to the entire assemblage of delegates. What one topic would you tell them would be the most important thing over the next 250 years that they did not foresee? Would it be:
- Executive and Legislative Branches. You might tell the Delegates about disproportionate representation in House because of population growth; failure of checks-and-balances attributable to partisan political parties; intransigence fostered by career politicians; and the enormous influence of lobbying by corporations and foreign governments.
- Law and Order. You might tell the Delegates about how the Constitution is rarely updated because of the complexity of the Amendment process; how the Supreme Court is crippled by partisanship and political reluctance to reform it and the rest of the Federal courts; how the Constitution’s checks-and-balances have been ignored and evaded; and how all levels of government abuse their law enforcement and judicial authority by police brutality, asset confiscation, warrantless government surveillance, excessive bail and detention, and the death penalty.
- Fair and Secure Elections. You might tell the Delegates about problems presented by partisan political parties such as gerrymandering; the ineffectiveness of the Electoral College; disenfranchisement of voters by unjust laws, taxes, and fraud; control of candidates by corporations and wealthy donors, and the unwarranted prohibition of long-time citizens who weren’t native-born from becoming president.
- International, National, and Personal Defense. You might tell the Delegates about the inevitability of a large, Federal, standing army superseding State militias; the confusion caused by the wording of the Second Amendment; advances in weaponry that couldn’t even be imagined in 1787; continual periods of war including a great Civil War, and the ever increasing spending on defense leading to the birth of the Military-Industrial Complex.
- Equality and Human Rights. You might tell the Delegates about how 200 years in the future, society will be working hard to achieve a society that recognizes that everyone is created equal under the law, regardless of race, origin, ethnicity, sex, gender identification, religion, physical and mental limitations, economic standing, and any other human characteristic, condition, choice, or circumstance. The change in attitudes has not been easy and the country fought a Civil war over the issue of slavery. Income inequality and economic opportunity are major issues.
Or, might it be some other topic that you would tell them about. Leave a comment if you think of something else. Now select the topic you would tell the Convention Delegates about in the poll.