Is the US Constitution In Desperate Need of an Update?
We expect our iPhones to be updated every month. Why shouldn't (or should) we update our constitution?
Trump's win in his race for president of the United States is a victory that says volumes about American politics in general. For conservatives, it signaled the end of the ACA, an end to business regulations, and the end of politically correct speech.
For liberals like myself, Trump's victory signaled the beginning of a long path of destruction for all the civil rights we worked so hard to attain, the end of a country which placed science over religion, and a terrifying reminder of how many people out there can't stand to see others enjoy a lifestyle different from their own.
As almost everyone knows, Trump did not win the country's popular vote. It was only because of a strange loophole found in the electoral college that he was able to win over Hillary Clinton. For most of us, it's a sign that there is something very, very wrong with the way that our political system is designed.
What I'm trying to say is that our Constitution needs to be updated in more ways than one in order for our elections and our democracy to work.
"Voters must have faith in the electoral process in order for our democracy to succeed." —Blanche Lincoln
The problems with our electoral process are manifold, the biggest of which happens to be the electoral college. By having the electoral college present, the power of the individual voter is greatly reduced in a number of different ways.
With the way that the electoral college works, being in the minority political party in your region means that your vote won't technically be counted towards the actual presidential election. That same vote, in a different part of the country, would still be counted.
Moreover, even if the entire state votes for a certain candidate, that doesn't technically mean anything. The representatives you elected to Congress make the final call on who to elect. So, even though they are supposed to follow the wishes of the people, they technically have the option to vote for someone else.
Needless to say, this alone can dissuade people who obviously don't mesh with the local political scene from voting—and therefore silences them. For many disenfranchised voters, they probably don't feel like their voices will end up being heard regardless of whether they vote or not.
The electoral college also causes political platforms to move away from moderate leanings.
With the way that the current electoral college is structured, certain states give individual voters more power over the election's results than others. This is why major swing states like Florida get so much more attention from would-be presidential candidates, and it's also why many political platforms tend to be skewed towards a very small minority of voters in the party.
Many swing states like Florida and Ohio have pockets of voters that are single-issue voters or political extremists. By catering to these people, politicians hope to grab the votes they need in swing states.
This obviously puts the political wants of more moderate people in the backseat. Sadly, since swing states are important, this means that seeing moderate politicians is becoming an increasingly rare occurrence in the United States.
The Constitution also doesn't give maximum terms for Congress, and this, too, is an issue.
A good way to avoid corruption on a large scale level would be to limit the amount of time that any single politician stays in power. This is, after all, the reason why we have an amendment that prevents presidents from serving more than two terms.
So, why is it that there are dozens of senators and representatives that have been in office for decades? Even Donald Trump noted that making it impossible for Congress members to serve more than a dozen years or so would reduce corruption—and even leftists would be inclined to agree.
Unfortunately, with the way that the Constitution is written, that's actually impossible to do without a Constitutional amendment. Considering how many congresspeople have been accused of corruption over the years, it shouldn't be surprising that they regularly shoot down this suggestion. (And, yes, they would have to be the ones to agree to this.)
"We have the best government money can buy." —Mark Twain
The electoral college isn't the only election-related issue that the Constitution has. Thanks to a the "Citizens United" Supreme Court case, there is no limit to how much money a Political Action Committee can donate to a single cause. The end result is the runaway use of Super PACs to fund political campaigns.
Politicians didn't require too much time to catch on to what this was. With more money comes more incentive for politicians to push forward legislation that may or may not benefit the American people. Additionally, major corporations also hire lobbyists to fight for their interests on a legislative level.
Regular Americans don't have the money or time to be lobbyists. Unfortunately, with all the money being involved in our politics, this basically means that our government has become a government "by the people, for the corporations, of the shareholder board."
In order to fix this, all that would have to be done would be a single Constitutional amendment that would remove corporate influence and money from the political process. Sadly, we can't trust our politicians to ever push this through.
Yes, we have a problem.
I don't think I'm alone in thinking that our Constitution is in desperate need of an update, and I don't think that it's just liberals like myself who feel this way, either.
If we want to have a government of the people and for the people, we need to ensure that our Constitution makes it impossible for politicians to take power away from the individual voters. As of right now, no one can say that the Constitution does that, can they?