Part 2: A New U.S. Constitution

In an 1849 speech to the Massachusetts Bible Society and at that time a twice elected member to Congress’ House of Representatives and later appointed House Speaker, his following words echoed several of the newly formed United States government charters and their Founding Fathers:

“All societies of men must be governed in some way or other. The less they may have of stringent State Government, the more they must have of individual self-government. The less they rely on public law or physical force, the more they must rely on private moral restraint. Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled, either by a power within them, or by a power without them…”

robert charles winthrop

We continue now from Part 1, A New U.S. Constitution

Our 18th Century Constitution Nurtures Political & Economic Inequality Today

Mr. R.C. Winthrop, a respected lawyer and descendant of Governor John Winthrop from the original 1630 Massachusetts Bay Colony, in his speech essentially repeated what several U.S. Founding Fathers and Constitutional framers believed, designed, and ratified six decades earlier in Philadelphia at the 1787 Constitutional Convention. It was the widely held belief that people, especially men and their innate predisposition toward unbecoming vices and selfish misconduct (sin?), had to be governed one way or another. Or they at least required protections, supervision against unfair and partial laws which might oppress particular segments of society, and vice versa.

One of those Founding Fathers was Alexander Hamilton. At the Philadelphia Convention he told its members:

Give all power to the many, they will oppress the few. Give all power to the few, they will oppress the many. Both therefore ought to have power that each may defend itself agst. [sic] the other.

And Hamilton was not the only one advocating for fair laws, supervisions, and protections for all classes of society. But it’s worth noting here too that human slavery and trafficking in America had been thriving for many, many decades and oddly enough, Hamilton’s words, his colleagues’ words, and even Winthrop’s words had little or no meaning whatsoever for non-whites or women. Nevertheless, what these great men sought was the promotion of maximum economic opportunity inside a dynamic and growing nation with some protections for legitimate wealth.

Signing of the Constitution, 1787 Philadelphia Convention — oil painting by Howard Chandler Christy, 1940

What was meant by legitimate wealth in the minds of our 18th and 19th century Founders? Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Paine, and a host of secondary Founders all agreed that hereditary wealth accumulation like what existed in Great Britain’s society and Parliament, was in fact a heavily corrupting factor on a Republic’s governing body which would inevitably cheat and oppress “the many.” As recent history had shown them with the collapse and/or overthrows of several imperial European kingdoms and monarchies in the 16th–18th centuries, to deter such tyrants or wild blood-thirsty mobs from seizing power, our Founding Fathers wrote Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8 of our U.S. Constitution, which states:

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

But here is the astonishing irony between what our Founding Fathers feared then, and what many Americans fear today and see has already happened.

In 1787’s Pennsylvania Convention and forward up to Winthrop’s 1849 speech, it wasn’t so much a foreign power’s aristocracy they saw as a serious threat. It was the potential for a powerful domestic oligarchy being created that they really feared. Several Founding Fathers were uneasy about the capability of private wealth, legitimate or not, to merge with government authority and legislation, thus destroying true republicanism. On this risk, the Constitutional framers vigorously looked to insulate government policy away from private wealth and its self-interests that, like Great Britain, had corrupted her and several other European imperial monarchies and aristocracies for several centuries or more.

One of these troubled framers was oddly enough Elbridge Gerry (left), born into a very wealthy American merchant family, of which the political practice of gerrymandering was named after, Gerry opposed the union of a central bank and a national army/navy. Why did he?

Because as had been shown in Europe, e.g. Ivan IV (the Terrible) and Oliver Cromwell to name the well-known tyrants of the time, the enormous amount of both could be used to seize total power. But the irony gets even better!

The Constitution that Congressman Gerry and the many Founding Fathers wrote in 1787, today protects a domestic oligarchy against the greater good, “We the People,” or the majority will, and does so in basic ways. A closer look at the Constitution’s original wealth protections will contrast what was meant in 1787 versus what has happened now in the 20th and 21st centuries in America. From Dr. Van Cleve and our Constitution:

The 1787 Constitution (and the Bill of Rights) protected the existing distribution of wealth in America using both legal and political means.  The Constitution contained various legal protections for private property.  For example, its “Contracts Clause” protected creditors against widespread efforts during hard times in the 1780s by debtors to reduce or escape their debts.

Van Cleve, George WilliamMaking a New American Constitution. Maroon Bells Press, 2020. Kindle Edition.

However, many other Founding Constitutional framers, mostly in the agricultural South, felt those protections did not go far enough, particularly with their mass wealth in private slaveholdings and its free labor. Southern plantation owners feared that northern interests might use their federal powers to divest or cripple their unpopular “property values,” or to be perfectly transparent, their slaves and free slave-labor. This one controversial debate over “property values” bled over into other heated arguments about fair taxation and state representation and therefore how much authority a federal government should or shouldn’t have over member states.

Main house, Destrehan Sugar Plantation, Louisiana, built in 1787-1790 — Credit: FlickrDestrehan Plantation | prayitno

Some Political-Wealth Protections Afforded by the 18th Century Constitution

  • Rigorous Limitations on Federal Taxation Powers — these prohibit taxes of “Capitation or other direct” taxes unless made by the states according to the decennial Census.
  • Indirect Wealth Protections — this is done so by rigidly fashioning large aspects of earlier generational hierarchal power, long established and in existence, thus significantly limiting its redistribution. By freezing these it greatly undermines the federal government’s sensible ability to tailor the distribution of resources and wealth fairly.

Under the 1777 Articles of Confederation—America’s first constitution—each colony or state had one equal vote in a one-house Congress. By 1786 all the Constitutional framers knew some states were substantially larger in population and wealthier than other states. As one might imagine then, this caused heated debate over fair, equal representation and how that would be defined! Even today this is a controversial topic.

Controversy aside, consider this… and study closely the following four data-tables. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey of 2021, these are the ten wealthiest states (💵) in America:

StateMedian Hsehld IncomeStateMedian Hsehld Income
10. Virginia$80,9635. California$84,907
9. Colorado$82,2544. New Hampshire$88,465
8. Connecticut$83,7713. New Jersey$89,296
7. Washington$84,2472. Massachusetts$89,645
6. Hawaii$84,8571. Maryland$90,203
Source: U.S. Census Bureau’s ACS at https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs (accessed Oct. 19, 2022)

According to World Population Review, here are the ten most populated states (🏘️) in the U.S. in 2022:

statePopulationstatepopulation
10. Michigan10,116,0695. Pennsylvania13,062,764
9. North Carolina10,620,1684. New York20,365,879
8. Georgia10,916,7603. Florida22,085,563
7. Ohio11,852,0362. Texas29,945,493
6. Illinois12,808,8841. California39,995,077
Source: World Population Review at https://worldpopulationreview.com/states (accessed Oct. 19, 2022)

Notice that of the two data-tables above, only one (1) state with the largest population is a Top 10 Wealthiest state: California. And here are the U.S.’s least populated states or smallest states:

statePopulationstatepopulation
31. Nevada3,143,99141. Maine1,354,522
32. Arkansas3,025,89142. Montana1,085,004
33. Mississippi2,961,27943. Rhode Island1,061,509
34. Kansas2,934,58244. Delaware990,334
35. New Mexico2,115,87745. South Dakota896,581
36. Nebraska1,963,69246. North Dakota770,026
37. Idaho1,900,92347. Alaska724,357
38. W. Virginia1,782,95948. D.C.714,153
39. Hawaii1,441,55349. Vermont623,251
40. New Hampshire1,388,99250. Wyoming581,075
Source: World Population Review at https://worldpopulationreview.com/states (accessed Oct. 19, 2022)

Now, in light of the three tables above, consider this data-table of the U.S. states with the most households of millionaires, billionaires, or trillionaires in 2021:

state% of Millionaire
households
state% of bill-trill
households
10. Alaska ⚛️➡️8.18%11. Georgia 🏘️1.28%
9. Virginia 💵8.31%10. Connecticut 💵3.88%
8. New Hampshire ⚛️ 💵➡️8.47%9. Pennsylvania 🏘️1.30%
7. California 🏘️8.51%8. Nevada ⚛️➡️5.41%
6. D.C. ⚛️➡️9.12%7. Washington 💵2.71%
5. Hawaii ⚛️ 💵➡️9.20%6. Illinois 🏘️1.72%
4. Massachusetts 💵9.38%5. Massachusetts 💵3.44%
3. Connecticut 💵9.44%4. Texas 🏘️2.14%
2. Maryland 💵9.72%3. Florida 🏘️3.17%
1. New Jersey 💵9.76%2. New York 🏘️6.19%
1. California 💵4.73%
Millionaires Source: https://www.gobankingrates.com/money/wealth/states-with-the-most-millionaires/Billionaires Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/krisztiansandor/2021/04/06/the-states-with-the-most-billionaires/?sh=79796e5a39ee

Did you notice how many least populated states or tiny states (⚛️) are listed in the Top 10 Wealthiest states and those with the most millionaires, billionaires/trillionaires (💵)? Look again. Do you see a 20th and 21st century pattern or imbalance between wealth vs. population, and therefore between fair, proportional federal representation from “We the People”?

In light of those questions, let’s consider what a core Founding Father, John Adams, had to say along with several other Founders in July 1776 at the Continental Congress. These are the archived, later handwritten notes of Thomas Jefferson recorded for posterity (emphasis mine):

John Adams advocated the voting in proportion to numbers. He said that we stand here as the representatives of the people. That in some states the people are many, in others they are few; that therefore their vote here should be proportioned to the numbers from whom it comes. Reason, justice, & equity never had weight enough on the face of the earth to govern the councils of men. It is interest alone which does it, and it is interest alone which can be trusted. That therefore the interests within doors should be the mathematical representatives of the interests without doors. That the individuality of the colonies is a mere sound. Does the individuality of a colony increase it’s wealth or numbers. If it does, pay equally. If it does not add weight in the scale of the confederacy, it cannot add to their rights, nor weigh in argument. A. has £50. B. £500. C. £1000. in partnership. Is it just they should equally dispose of the monies of the partnership? It has been said we are independent individuals making a bargain together. The question is not what we are now, but what we ought to be when our bargain shall be made. The confederacy is to make us one individual only; it is to form us, like separate parcels of metal, into one common mass. We shall no longer retain our separate individuality, but become a single individual as to all questions submitted to the confederacy. Therefore all those reasons which prove the justice & expediency of equal representation in other assemblies, hold good here. It has been objected that a proportional vote will endanger the smaller states. We answer that an equal vote will endanger the larger. Virginia, Pennsylvania, & Massachusetts are the three greater colonies. Consider their distance, their difference of produce, of interests & of manners, & it is apparent they can never have an interest or inclination to combine for the oppression of the smaller. That the smaller will naturally divide on all questions with the larger. Rhode isld, from it’s relation, similarity & intercourse will generally pursue the same objects with Massachusetts; Jersey, Delaware & Maryland, with Pennsylvania.

Jefferson, Thomas. The Works, vol. 2 (1771-1779). New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1905, at https://oll.libertyfund.org/title/jefferson-the-works-vol-2-1771-1779

John Adams and several other Founders were clearly arguing in 1776 that it was exceedingly unwise and hazardous politically to have smaller tinier states be treated like the larger states, as economic equals and representative equals! More often than not the largest states will have different or opposing interests, let alone their voices unheard, drowned-out or disregarded, by the minority states, and thus by default, policies would be enacted against their state’s better, and possible long-term interests.

By the time of the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention in 1787 numerous delegates, both publicly and privately, had agreed with Adams’ mathematical logic, especially regarding state-equality. In fact, many of them viewed individual, smaller states as far too powerful to represent accurately or fairly the federal whole, or the supermajority or even the simple majority! James Madison was one such prominent delegate. He basically felt that if the infant United States were ever going to seriously join and influence the rest of the world’s major powers, they had to work as one nation rather than two, three, or four opposing, and hence weaker sub-nations. Other world powers just would NOT take America serious if we repeatedly behaved as several bickering, defiant children (states). Or to put it another way, mostly rural agricultural states pitted equally against urban, heavily populated states.

As a consequence and a massive compromise reached, the 1787 Constitutional Convention established one of the untenable core principles for our nation to this day: a major redistribution of governmental power between all states but far fewer people.

[The Convention] based states’ relative voting strengths in the House of Representatives and the Electoral College heavily on their populations.  (In the era’s predominantly agricultural economy, states’ populations correlated very strongly to their wealth).  Many of the most important new federal powers granted by the Constitution including taxation could be exercised by majority vote, not by a supermajority as the Articles [of Confederation] had required.  Unfortunately, at the 1787 Philadelphia Convention, obtaining essential federal powers became politically possible only after very substantial concessions were made to protect powerful vested economic and political interests.

VAN CLEVE, GEORGE WILLIAMMAKING A NEW AMERICAN CONSTITUTION. MAROON BELLS PRESS, 2020. KINDLE EDITION.

Anyone who still argues today that our U.S. federal government has the same equal power and representation as a group of tiny states, e.g. Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Nevada, Wyoming, and both Dakotas, as well as representing the simple majority of the American people is deranged. The data-tables above and the 246-year history of this nation simply does not bear out this notion.

Plain and simple, the 1787 Constitution did not establish a perfectly level playing field for a representative republic. On the contrary, delegates from the more rural colonies/states in the agricultural South with their generally smaller populations of white free-men forced two (2) enormous compromises, as described by Dr. Van Cleve:

[First], The Convention gave two Senate votes to each state, thus giving greatly disproportionate power to small states.  The Senate’s structure disregarded entirely the great disparities in states’ population and wealth. (At the time, for example, Virginia’s free population was roughly nine times the size of Delaware’s).  That meant that the six smallest of the original thirteen states, which at the time together had about 20 percent of the total free population, received 46 percent of the total Senate votes.

In a second major compromise, the Philadelphia Convention agreed to give the five major slave states exaggerated political power through the “Three-Fifths Clause.”  That provision artificially increased the slave states’ populations in allocating House of Representatives seats and Electoral College voting strength. As of 1820, slave states received a premium of about eighteen seats in the House, or 8 percent of its total seats, due to the Three-Fifths Clause. That premium substantially influenced national policies in their favor by protecting both their agricultural export economies and their persistent efforts to expand slavery westward.

VAN CLEVE, GEORGE WILLIAMMAKING A NEW AMERICAN CONSTITUTION. MAROON BELLS PRESS, 2020. KINDLE EDITION.

This political advantage of ‘the few’ lasted for 81-years until the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted in July of 1868 after victory two-years earlier by the Union Army at Appomattox, Virginia, ending the American Civil War. However, the tiny states’ enormous voting premium in the Senate chamber still exists to this day.

Small State Influence Today Aids Republicans, Protecting Wealth Inequality

Over the last 154-years due to socioeconomic progress and change, these tiny states’ impact on our federal republic have actually grown even bigger since 1787 and 1868. As of 2021, the twenty-eight smallest states of the Union together have only approximately 20% of America’s total population. But they have at least 56% of the total Senate votes! And it is common knowledge that for Congress to make beneficial policies and pass laws for the betterment of the country, these actions require support from BOTH Congressional Chambers. Our ten largest states by population, meanwhile, where over half of the U.S.’s total population resides, possess only about 20% of the Senate votes.

The Last 6 Elections – cartoon from the National Popular Vote website

The Senate has become the tiny states’ fortress for protecting and maintaining wealth inequality and political power. For the last 2-3 decades or more the Republican Party has not only recognized this huge amount of leverage, but has fiercely strengthened its impact on federal policies which favor their political and economic advantage of ‘the few’. Their voting advantage also seriously influences the Electoral College during elections as seen by eighteen total unpopular Presidents winning the White House, i.e. they did not win a majority of the popular/general vote by the American people, but won the Electoral College votes. I will examine this Senate affect on the E.C. later in the series.

You may have heard at some point during your adult life or in your high school or college classroom that the United States was formed as a Constitutional democracy. True, but not entirely. The United States was also designed to function (in theory?) as a democratic republic. The two concepts are similar, but not identical nor are they any longer interchangeable in the 20th and 21st centuries as they were in the 18th and early 19th centuries. As shown earlier, the Core Founding Fathers of our nation, six of them, eventually aligned with John Adams’ definition of our new nation:

“ No determinations are carried, it is true, in a simple or representative democracy, but by consent of the majority or their representatives.”

Adams, john – 1784

This mixed concept of a democratic republic can also be inferred from Benjamin Franklin and James Madison on the Bill of Rights Institute’s website. However, what we have in the United States today is not what Adams, Madison, Franklin, and several other Fathers envisioned nor drafted; not at all.

Due to the Constitution’s small state biases it hands one party a systematic advantage in federal elections and legislation, and to most corporate and mega-corporate interests who, since the 2010 Landmark Supreme Court decision of Citizens United vs. FEC, now wield massive, unfettered funding to political campaigns of specific candidates or political party of their own legislative corporate interests instead of individual Americans within a representative republic.

Furthermore, both this one party and the mega-wealthy corporations are generally opposed to increased economic fairness and to limiting too much wealth (and thus, huge political power) concentrated in one ideology of ‘a few’ private American executives—which ironically is exactly what happened to 16th thru 17th century Great Britain. In those two centuries all the wealth and power rested only in Britain’s elite aristocracy (oligarchy), not the voiceless commoners.

One final observation. In 235-years not much has changed with the Constitution’s provisions. However, the essence of American society certainly has changed and drastically. In 2021–2022 greater than 80% of Americans live in urban areas. Let me repeat that: more than 80%! In 1787 though, 95% of Americans lived in rural areas. This colossal change is still not reflected today in our Bicameral Congress. Clearly, the modern United States is not a representative democracy by John Adams’ and the Founding Fathers’ definitions.

The Constitution’s “Separation of Powers Has Become Defunct

At the heart of our Constitution and its framers was the deep fear of too much centralized authority with one body or one tyrant, king, or queen, as was manifested in King George III and Britain’s Parliament between 1760 and 1820. Therefore, they created three different types or branches of equal power: the legislative, the executive, and the judicial branches. These three equal powers balanced the national government as well as making each monitor or check and balance the other two branches for appropriate and legal conduct. As noted, the framers did this for two primary reasons:

  1. Protection against tyranny (e.g. Richard M. Nixon and Donald J. Trump). Separation of powers was intended to divide the federal government’s lawmaking and law-enforcement powers and prevent them from becoming overcentralized and tyrannical.
  2. To Prevent Aggrandizement of Power by any one branch. In other words, these Separation of powers were intended to prevent any one branch from abusing its designated powers by equally empowering the other two branches to check-up on their competitor’s exercises of authority.

But this original Constitutional design depended heavily on one single factor: whatever the authority given on paper, they can only remain equal when federal leaders of all three branches seek equally to uphold the distinctive powers of their own institution or branch. This is part of their sworn vows when taking office. Over the last three decades or more this has not been happening. In fact, it has gotten worse, lopsided in power toward two branches, if not one branch. In 1788 James Madison explicitly warned about this very risk:

“ The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”

Madison, jamesFederalist paper no. 47, feb. 1788

The fact that over approximately the last sixty-to-seventy sessions of Congress—dating back to Ronald Reagan—Congress has “passed the buck” of legislative political responsibility over to the Executive Branch or the Judicial Branch far far too often! Case and point. If Congress was originally given the authority of investigation, a form of checks-and-balances like the current January 6th Committee Hearings, but never exercises this power or only does so when it benefits their own party’s ideals, then those leaders are not protecting, much less validating their own institution/branch. What then, will incentivize these leaders to do their under oath, sworn jobs? What will light a fire under their asses? Dr. Van Cleve wisely asks several questions about the intent and purpose of the Constitution’s “Separation of Powers” to show why it is integral to protect against too much centralized authority—or more bluntly, against dictatorship and tyranny—while simultaneously providing unified power and authority when needed. These are his questions:

Why is it desirable for a president to have authority to send troops into a distant country such as North Korea, and ask Congress for approval only after they invade?
Why should members of Congress be able to serve for an unlimited number of terms, particularly if they are elected from districts or states in which there is no political competition?
Why is it desirable for Senators to be eligible to run for president after one six-year term in the Senate (or an even shorter time), if that damages the Senate as an institution?
Why should Supreme Court justices be able to serve for more than twenty-five years?
Why should the Supreme Court have the power to decide presidential elections, or to decide whether the United States can have a national healthcare insurance system?

VAN CLEVE, GEORGE WILLIAMMAKING A NEW AMERICAN CONSTITUTION. MAROON BELLS PRESS, 2020. KINDLE EDITION.

Should any one branch or one man/woman have all of those above powers? Should one branch or one man/woman not have at least one of those above powers? Of course, in Constitutional theory these are rhetorical questions. Imagine the indecisive chaos and internal bickering that would exist during hard, challenging times demanding swift action if these above conditions were not spread out evenly, equally among our three different (opposing) branches. But today this power balance no longer exists in its pure original form. Why or why not?

An Imperial U.S. Presidency

In his personal notations called Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787, James Madison wrote that remarkably the delegate’s discussions or debates about the office and function of the President were quick, timid, and made with broad strokes.

That timidness was odd and quite contrary to several Founders and delegates who had often voiced their deep fears of giving too much centralized power to one office or branch. Part of the reason for their timidness was the undeniable large presence of presiding officer of the Convention, 6-ft 2-in George Washington (above, next to his Arabian horse Magnolia). Even when quiet, Washington’s demeanor demanded utter respect and caution before speaking up. Very few Convention delegates dared to go up against the tall authoritative presence of General Washington. He was quite literally the walking, living standard of military and political leadership seemingly equal to Moses in the Old Testament.

As a result of this generally unspoken fear of George Washington, the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention of 1787 gave the Executive Branch more power than even individual state governors of the time AND total command of the entire U.S. military forces. They gave the office the power to veto Congressional legislation unless two-thirds of both the Senate and the House of Representatives overrode the President’s veto. They gave to the Executive Office the authority to virtually nominate ALL major federal officials and judges, though subject to Senate confirmation. And lastly, the President could only be impeached from office by a supermajority vote of Congress, something near impossible to achieve today.

This level of power and authority for the President deeply troubled Madison, Franklin, Mason, Adams, Wilson, and other delegates. Its power thrilled Alexander Hamilton though. After all, Hamilton promoted the idea that the U.S. President should serve in office for his entire life, name Cabinet members without any Senate approval, have absolute veto on Congressional legislation, and choose when and how to wage war on foreign nations.

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I will stop here for now because Part 2 has become somewhat lengthy; lengthier than I had intended. In Part 3 I will finish this section about how imperial the U.S. Presidency has increasingly become starting with Franklin D. Roosevelt, and more so, with the presidents of the 21st century. How did this happen, then culminate on January 6th, 2021? Secondly, I will examine how Congress has essentially become a dysfunctional institution, enabling members of Congress to be inactive or near non-existent, yet paid to be millionaires by our taxpayer dollars. This is unfortunately caused by our bicameral system and congress members being grossly overpaid for doing too little. And finally, due to our broken Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court has by default filled the power vacuum created by our dysfunctional Congress. Furthermore, later in the series I will also explore how a sizable American conservative population actually believe that our Charters of Freedom—particularly the Declaration of Independence and our Bill of Rights (or the first 10 Amendments) of the Constitution—are somehow, by some paranormal superstition, “divinely inspired” on the level of the Greco-Roman Judeo-Christian gospels or Greek New Testament! Yes, though there is no evidence whatsoever to support this claim, they really do believe this. 😖

I hope you will stay tuned for the next installment of how badly we, the U.S., need a 21st century Constitution, not an antiquated 18th century one. Until then, please feel free to join in the discussions below.

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A New U.S. Constitution

The Framers intended our U.S. Constitution to be a fundamental framework of law. They did not want the Constitution to be changed in response to transient whims. However, they also recognized that American society and conditions would change over time in ways they could not predict in 1787.

George Mason said “Amendments, therefore will be necessary and it would be better to provide for them in an easy, regular, and Constitutional way than to trust in chance and violence.” Article 5 of the Constitution lays out the Amendment process, and since 1787 more than 10,000 proposed Amendments have been introduced to Congress. Only 33 Amendments have gained enough votes to be submitted to the States for ratification and just 27 have been ratified.

Roy Young – President/CEO, James Madison’s Montpelier

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What exactly no longer works in our 18th century Constitution? For many Americans today that would be a shocking, disturbing question. Some would be appalled that it was even suggested. While on the other hand, for many other Americans the question would illicit just the opposite reaction, frustration perhaps, but not shock. Yet, today the chasm of heated emotions within our split and splitting, polarized politics is quite real. It is undeniable by any foreign observer. Like it or not, in today’s U.S. of A., the battle-lines are rapidly drawn and battle-cries shouted “you’re either with us or against us” as President George W. Bush once proclaimed to the world in the wake of 9/11. Only today, that line drawn in the sand describes acutely our current prognosis of U.S. society: it’s American against American. It’s do or die to the bitter end for our two political parties, nothing less. How on Earth did we arrive here?

Oldest known photo of the restored U.S. Capitol Bldg, 1846 – Library of Congress; photo by John Plumbe

Our 18th century federal and state governments can no longer keep pace with our ever fast-moving, evolving 21st century nation, with its people, its industry, or the ever-changing world. This has become ever clearer over the last two decades. Consequently, does this ailing condition mean after 240-years it is too difficult to amend our Constitution, and if so, can we change that? Can necessary reforms be achieved to fix our lethargic, indecisive, incumbered, often grid-locked bicameral Congress so that another January 6th Assault on our Capitol and democracy—by seditious American insurrectionists—never happens again? We came very close to losing everything this nation was built upon those 3-4 weeks leading up to January 6th, 2021. We were a lot closer than most realize. More importantly, in a post-Jan 6th America do the qualified lovers and protectors of a lawful Constitutional democracy still have a choice? This is what I want to explore and examine in this multi-part series.

The Best of Times, Now the Worst of Times

Throughout all of human history the records of civilizations, from the Bronze Age through the Classical Age and up to the current Modern Age, have all shown one consistent, repeating pattern: Ignore your subjects, the peasants, the working masses and their fair and reasonable well-being, then by doing so those leaders, nobility, or the Sharif/Ashraf do so at their own peril. Whether leadership is morally just or not, time and time again throughout human history, civil revolutions by fed-up commoners do rise up and often overthrow their snobbishly isolated, unfit tyrannical rulers. This is the final chapter of many an ancient empire or modern nation the Ages of history always bear out.

What are a few of the malignant cancers manifested by our nation’s declining health? What are the signs and diagnosis of a sickly United States? What is our actual and honest State of the Union over the last 3-4 decades? Here’s a brief summary:

  • Economic Inequality is the worst it has been since the post-WW2 years.
  • Growing Political Inequality – that is, much less republic representation for all individual voters as opposed to corporate business-owners and their personal special interest groups.
  • Continued Collapse of America’s Middle Class.
  • Failing Public Education, particularly beyond a high school diploma.
  • Chronic Racial and Income Segregation.
  • Ever Emerging Technologies Causing Declines in Social Cohesion – i.e. social-media addiction.
  • A Failing Retirement System – Social Security benefits for retirees under persistent threat.
  • America’s Middle Class Facing Heavier Taxes, particularly for social programs and domestic infrastructure.
  • The Burden of Increased Taxes Are Not Shared Fairly by the Wealthy.

And these are just nine (9) of the nation’s biggest chronic problems over the last 3-4 decades. I will be exploring and examining these nine U.S. festering ailments throughout this series. What is apparent these past several decades is that the final demise of our precious republic democracy cannot be solved through “politics as usual.” Why not?

The general yet correct answer is that our antiquated 18th century Constitution and the 21st century Supreme Court’s interpretations of it are the primary infections sources of our dire illness. Period. But it isn’t enough to simply generalize the obvious, is it?

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In my next installment of the series I will address how 1) our outdated Constitution has been continually misinterpreted and thus extrapolated by politicians and the Supreme Court to unfairly protect America’s wealthy oligarchs and their corporations, as well as their special interest groups and favored political campaigns. And 2) how our once basic foundation of Separation of Powers no longer functions. Also, I will be referencing an outstanding expert in U.S. Constitutional history and law, PhD graduate of the University of Virginia and JD from Harvard Law School, Dr. George William Van Cleve and his recent book: Making A New American Constitution. I will also be referencing and citing other related sources.

A heads up. I must also beg your patience for the timely, or untimely delivery of these installments. If you are unaware, my life took a major turn or setback (in August 2021) from my previous ability to publish blog-posts on a regular basis due to my Mom’s progressing severe dementia. Therefore, I most likely won’t be able to publish each installment in a normal time-frame. That said, please watch this space and your WordPress notifications for the latest continuation. It would be greatly appreciated! I very much look forward to your participation in discussions below in comments. Thank you. ❤️

Live Well – Love Much – Laugh Often – Learn Always

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For American Pro-Gun Pro-Violence Originalists

“The question Whether one generation of men has a right to bind another, seems never to have been started either on this or our side of the water. Yet it is a question of such consequences as not only to merit decision, but place also, among the fundamental principles of every government.” […]

“This principle that the earth belongs to the living, & not to the dead, is of very extensive application & consequences, in every country…”

thomas jefferson — in a letter to james madison, sept. 6, 1789

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Thomas Jefferson, as most of you know, was one of the six (6) Core Founding Fathers of our nation in the late 18th century. James Madison was as well and these two great scholars—Jefferson and Madison—contributed enormously to the idea, the drafting, writing, and ratifying of our U.S. Constitution in 1787–1788.

Early Colonial American Flintlock Saddle-ring Carbine – price: $15,000.00

In his letter of September 6, 1789 to Madison who was back in the American colonies, Jefferson was witnessing firsthand the start of the French Revolution. What he saw and interpreted from the French people was not unlike he and his American colleagues, the other five core Founding Fathers, and American colonists had also recently lived: revolution and independence from tyranny.

Now let’s jump to a modern enigma. What or whom is an Originalist? According to the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, PA, Originalism is a theory of the interpretation of legal texts, including the text of the [18th century] Constitution. Originalists believe that the constitutional text ought to be given the original public meaning that it would have had at the time that it became law [in the late 1700’s].

Prussian “Hessian” type Jaeger rifle – price: $15,575.00

As you might infer from his 1789 Madison letter, as well as his 1816 letter to Virginia lawyer Samuel Kercheval, Thomas Jefferson would have undoubtedly and adamantly opposed this view of our nation’s rule of law if he were alive today for comment. Yet, his many letters to friends and colleagues amply demonstrate his position on Originalism vs. Living Constitution. And Jefferson was not the only Founding Father who would most certainly oppose this controversial political theory of Originalism. Edmund Randolph, also an attorney and Constitutional delegate from Virginia, wrote in his draft of a constitution:

To insert essential principles only; lest the operations of government should be clogged by rendering those provisions permanent and unalterable, which ought to be accommodated to times and events.

edmund randolph — july 1787
Brass barrel English Boxlock Flintlock Blunderbuss Officer’s Pistols – price: $10,775.00

There are also historical precedents from our Supreme Court Justices referencing the Eighth Amendment in their 1958 decision on Trop v Dulles and evolving standards of decency. With this historical background in mind, I would like to propose an idea, a compromise for our modern American Pro-gun, Pro-violence advocates and fanatical Constitutional originalists.

French & Indian War Period “Watkin” Brown Bess musket – price: $17,575.00

Let’s suppose for a minute that Originalism is an infallibly correct political, legal interpretation and application of the U.S. Constitution today and its first eleven Amendments up to the Twelfth Amendment of 1804. Let’s also suppose that the Second Amendment, written in 1791, should stand exactly how our legislators of the late 18th century explicitly meant its content between 1787 to 1791 regarding state militias and their arms/weapons of the time. Because those 18th century law-makers couldn’t have known the unspeakable level of carnage and lethality brought on targets in a matter of a few minutes by an armed 20th or 21st century shooter with specialized weapons or armaments, let’s see where this leads. Let us follow to its conclusion, for the sake of fairness or argument, the modern Originalist’s logic.

In keeping staunchly with the spirit of originalism and the original 2nd Amendment, and since it seems they all must have various high-capacity military weapons in their possession for their personal pleasures. So let’s say all modern-day Pro-gunners and Pro-violence advocates in America can choose from these 18th century (only) flintlock rifles and pistols to your heart’s content and their large private arsenals. Here are some of your choices; get your original 18th century firearms now and show-off your (asinine) stubborn commitment to original 1770 — 1799 laws, amendments, and flintlocks and their so-so not so rapid reloading! 😊 Footnote, notice the sale prices on each firearm by antique dealers.

If I were to follow to its end the logic of modern-day Originalists in the U.S., then I can argue my own ‘right to bear arms’ gives me the equal right to own a nuclear weapon or bomb. After all, nuclear weapons are an armament or arms as defined by the 18th century Second Amendment, and just as important, nor are nukes explicitly banned in writing by the Constitutional framers of 1791. Voilà! Me and my good ole boys all get nuclear arms; it’s our God-given Second Amendment rights! Let’s unload our 30- and 60-round AR-15 magazines in the air in wild celebration!

Pffft! I’ll grossly understate: ludicrous logic, right? By the way, as of the 185th day in 2022, the U.S. has had at least 314 mass shootings or massacres and more than 22,750 Americans have died due to gun-violence this year.

Now, back to reality.

How many Pro-gun, Pro-violence, 2nd Amendment defenders, and Constitutional Originalists—and probably Anti-abortion lovers too—like Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh and all other legislative, law-enforcement, and pro-gun American citizens do you think would gladly give up all their 20th and 21st century firearms for original late-18th century firearms that our Founding Fathers and Constitutional framers knew of back then when drafting our Laws of the Land? It really begs the question, Is Originalism even a tenable position today, legally or theoretically? Hah! 🙄

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Intrusive Intruders

Given the events in America over the last two to three weeks with our January 6 Select Committee Hearings—another one today unexpectedly announced late yesterday—the Supreme Court’s extreme radical decisions into every American’s intimate privacy as well as disregard for public safety on so many levels, and finally their decision about public praying on a football field’s 50-yard line on public property at a public school’s campus, i.e. favoring one religion over others, thus violating the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause… I thought Gary Numan’s song and lyrics below, from either side of the arguments, was terribly appropriate for this unprecedented time in U.S. government history. After reading and listening to his song, you might agree:

I could listen to you scream
Pretty music to my ears
I could listen to it all day
If you want me to

I could talk about my world
How you brought about ruin
I could talk about your greed
If you want me to

I could look into evil
See a heart just like mine
I could throw away reason
If you want me to

I could walk into darkness
Find the hole you crawled into
I will be the intruder
If you want me to

You can whisper your Lord’s prayer
And pretend that it matters
But don’t you wish you’d just listened more?
You can hide in the shadows
And pretend I won’t find you
But don’t you wish you’d just listened more?

I could listen to more lies
About promises you kept
Will you walk on water
Like you said you would?

I could make you my prisoner
But you were dead man talking
When you burned the oceans
Like you said you would

You can beg for God’s mercy
And pretend that He hears you
But don’t you wish you’d just listened more?
You can drown in your sorrow
And pretend you were helpless
But don’t you wish you’d just listened more?

This was always your one life
I won’t pretend that it matters
But don’t you wish you’d just listened more?
This was always your one home
I won’t pretend that I’ll miss you
But don’t you wish you’d just listened more?

Share your thoughts and opinions below if you’d like, about Numan’s song or whatever else. I certainly have many of my own, but will reserve them, for now, unless otherwise required. Such dark days in this country now and ahead for the foreseeable future. Why are Originalists forcing us back to the 17th and 18th-centuries!? 🤦‍♂️

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A New Pledge of Allegiance

“I pledge allegiance to Lord Trump
of the United Republicans of America,
and to the MAGA for which He leads,
one horde, under Trump, indivisible or death,
in captivity or banishment,
and mob-justice for all.”

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Now the previous Pledge of Allegiance, changed in 1954 by Republican President Eisenhower to include under God, is the pledge most of us Americans are familiar with today and memorized all through our elementary and middle school grades. Many may not know, however, that the Pledge of Allegiance went through another change in 1923 from the original pledge written by socialist minister Francis Bellamy (1855-1931).

After watching sworn testimony today by loyal, Conservative, life-long(?) Republicans who finally remembered late, late in tRump’s four-year term—too late really—their sworn oaths they vowed to uphold which includes the Constitution and its Laws, its legal, checked-and-rechecked and hence accurate elections representing our democracy in action, the eerie thought crossed my mind that the 68-year old Pledge of Allegiance might already be changed by and within the deluded tRump allies and supporters!

Admittedly, I have no proof of this claim as many loyal tRump-lawyers are testifying to the same in the seven (or more) January 6 Select Committee Hearings. Furthermore, with this blog-post I hope you found the humor in my political satire. 😁

Or in the bigger picture is it political satire? 🥺

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