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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Constitutional Conventions and Oaths

George Phillies ( a candidate for the Libertarian Party presidential nomination) announced his position of taking the Presidential Oath of Office on the Constitution instead of the Bible jogged my memory and fired off a few neurons.

No criticism of George. He can take the Oath on the Constitution or Man, Economy and State. Nothing in the Constitution requires the use of any book to administer the Oath of Office. I recall when being sworn into the USAF no Bibles were used.

No what troubles me is swearing to uphold the Constitution just isn't good enough. The Constitution as a practical instrument has failed. Swearing on the Articles of Confederation would seem to be an odd thing to do for a Constitutional officer. But I think the Articles would be a more realistic political aspiration.

Bill Moyers interviewed Stanford 'Sandy' Levinson who is advocating a constitutional convention be called in his book 'Our Undemocratic Constitution: Where the Constitution Goes Wrong'. I haven't read this book yet, but I have thought about how the American people could extract themselves from the present oppressive regime of government - I have thought about reform within the framework of the present system; I have considered how the people themselves in the states might convene a convention in each state to propose a new national instrument of government and then take 50 proposals and boil them into a series of run-off plebesites to get a final national plebesite head to head with the current regime constitution and an alternative.

I might advocate such a procedure because I am highly suspicious of a centralized convention with a winner take all outcome without the intermediation popular input - elections between all the proposals. Instead of a two-party election.

But I long ago lost all fear of so-called runaway conventions. In fact, a centralized convention would almost certainly be a deadlocked convention which would be a manipulation to support the status quo regime. A very negative waste of time and aspirations.

On the other hand, I see the holding of 50 simultaneous conventions as the opportunity for a genuine popular consensus to be revealed. It would be most illuminating to compare and contrast those 50 proposals for a national constitution. The result might well reveal a pattern which would argue for a national confederation rather than a unitary system - which is what we now have in the costume of a federal system. Federalism has been discredited by the Constitution we now don't have.

Facing the facts, we really have no Constitution at all. We have a system of complex customs of governance in collapse into a fascist dictatorship.

The best of the culture of the American people and the ideals of the original revolution could best be served by a new confederation of states, perhaps even more than just 50 such states with a new document built directly on the foundation of the Declaration of Independence.

You may follow the discussion of a new constitutional convention at :

Happy whichever Holidays.

1 comment:

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