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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Do Those 27 Amendments "Prove" We Can Really Reform Constitution?

Whenever I bring up the antidemocratic and virtual reform-proof nature of the Constitution someone will invariably protest that we already have 27 Amendments... and this somehow "proves" the Constitution CAN be reformed. With 27 amendments over 223 years that's about one every 8 years. Sounds like there's plenty of flexibility. Maybe they have a point... or not. To which I counter NONE of these amendments reforms any of the core antidemocratic defects of the Constitution. Our system is so antidemocratic that it might never truly be reformed.

Here's a breakdown of amendments by category... feel free to break them down in other ways:

INDIVIDUAL & STATES RIGHTS: 1-10 plus 13th, 14th

FINE TUNING THE CONSTITUTION: 11th, 12th, 16th, 20th, 22ed, 25th, 27th


EXPANDING VOTING RIGHTS: 15th,  19th,  24th,  26th


The first ten amendments, aka The Bill Of Rights, were demanded by the states as the price of ratification. So that leaves 17 amendments over 223 years or one amendment every 13 years.

If we take away the 7 that I've put into the "FINE TUNING" category that leaves 10 amendments over 223 years or one, on average, every 22.3 years. These amendments cover things like presidential terms etc.

Take away Prohibition and its repeal... that leaves 8 amendments over 223 years giving us one amendment averaging about every 28 years.

That leaves 6 amendments that in some way make the Constitution more democratic... that gives us one amendment every 36 years. These amendments fall into two categories.

The first category is expanding the vote to groups who arguably should NEVER have been denied it: slaves (15th), women (19th), those who can't afford a poll tax (24th) and 18 year olds (26th).

The second category deals with some aspect of the antidemocratic structure of the Constitution itself. Here we have but TWO amendments... giving us ONE reform amendment, on average, every 111 years. Those reforms were allowing direct vote for the Senate... and giving EC votes to those in Washington DC. Given how antidemocratic the Constitution is, those reforms are minor tweaks.

The sad reality is NONE of those 27 amendments to date have reformed ANY of the core antidemocratic features of the Constitution all of which are connected with the antidemocratic concept of state suffrage... the EC, the Senate, the exclusive powers of the Senate to ratify judicial nominees or treaties, the amendment process, etc.

That's ZERO serious reform amendments in 223 years!

Which brings us back to my original point... is our system so antidemocratic that it can never truly be reformed? And if so... what are we who value democracy to do as demographic trends make the Constitution even more antidemocratic and more reform-proof?