How about a Constitutional Convention?


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A personal outcome of the other night's presidential "debate," is that it finally pushed me over the edge to wanting a constitutional convention.

In the past I've warned people who wanted a convention so they could fix the Constitution in the particular ways they want that "the other side will be there, too." I've always been amazed at how many, both left and right, are convinced their side will prevail.

It's not that I don't want to change our system. Indeed, I want a more radical change than most of those people do. But I don't think my preferences are likely to win out in the battle between those folks, and I've thought the Constitution as-is better than their alternatives.

But I've long argued that without substantive change, our Constitution cannot inhibit the slide toward the demagogic, and ultimately authoritarian, presidency. If we American fools would give up the allure of greater democracy via the presidential primaries and go back to letting parties choose their presidential nominees, perhaps. But that's not going to happen. The trend towards expansion of democracy has been a one way path in U.S. history, and largely for the good - but not completely so.

So my thinking has been at odds with itself. And I realize now that the proper comparison is not between the ideal-ish concept of our current Constitution and the likely alternatives, but between the future I think we're accelerating toward and those likely alternatives. And as bad as I expect them to be (from my perspective, not necessarily yours), I think there's a reasonable chance that they'll be less bad than the future I expect with near certainty.

So let's bring it on. Let's have that convention. Hopefully I or people like me can get in and make a pitch for a much more decentralized country with less control from and expectations of the center, and a prime minister easily held accountable by their party, or at least a radically diminished chief executive. But if not, I'll take what the left and right can manage to hash out, whatever they can agree on and get enough of the citizenry to accept.

I've finally come to accept that the risk is worth taking.


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