We should be grateful to Ryan Cooper for acknowledging so forthrightly in The Week what has been obvious to conservatives for a long, long time—liberals really really hate the Constitution, because limited government is an impediment to their endless dreams of ruling over us more completely and fixing every human problem: “America’s Constitution is terrible. Let’s throw it out and start over.”
Cooper makes five main points, some of which merely expose his constitutional illiteracy. Such as:
1. Get rid of the Senate filibuster. This would at least allow a party that got the presidency plus both houses of Congress to govern, and could be passed by a simple majority vote in the Senate.
Of course, the filibuster appears nowhere in the Constitution. It is a rule the Senate adopted for itself, and can change by itself. It is not necessary to change the Constitution at all to change this.
2. Radically change the way House members are elected. One major engine of political extremism in America is the partisan drawing of district boundaries. The United States has the most entrenched two-party system in the world, partly a result of “first past the post” voting, and partly because the parties have locked themselves into place behind enormous legal barricades to third parties.
Separately I am going to write sometime about the total hypocrisy of liberals currently attacking gerrymandering as a veritable constitutional crisis, because back when they did it they couldn’t be bothered. I recall Democratic Rep. Phil Burton of San Francisco, whose gerrymander of California in 1981 was thought to have cost the GOP up to five House seats, boasting that the map was his “contribution to modern art.” Now that the shoe is on the other foot, liberals are suddenly outraged! Sorry: not buying it.
Beyond that, Cooper’s fondness for more parliamentary, proportional style representation ought to be put on hold until we see if Germany can form a government—four months after the last election left things a mess. More effective? Germany’s eventual coalition, if it ever comes together, will have very little latitude to make much policy. And I wonder if Cooper has ever heard of Weimar?
Most of the essay is similarly lightweight and forgettable, but point 5 should be taken in:
5. Throw the entire Constitution in the garbage.
I often like to say that “our Constitution may not be perfect, but it’s better than the government we’ve got!” (Or, as I like to say about how the Supreme Court made the Commerce Clause a general writ of central government power: “If only Stalin had had a Commerce Clause. . .”) It is a funny thing how a century of the “living Constitution” still leaves liberals unsatisfied, such that they still want to trash the Constitution and write a new one that has as its central feature more power for the government.
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