Liberal Columnist: 'Throw the Entire Constitution in the Garbage'

"Throw the entire Constitution in the garbage."

It shouldn't surprise you to find out that this is the secret sentiment of some liberals. However, what is unusual is for them to state it right out in the open as Ryan Cooper did in his January 26 column in This Week. What is different about him is that he flat out stated that we need to get rid of it in America's Constitution is terrible. Let's throw it out and start over.

The truth seems clear: America is going to have to overhaul its basic structure of government, or eventually it will fall to pieces.

The major problem with America's Constitution is that it creates a system in which elections generally do not produce functioning governments, and there is no mechanism to break the deadlock (like calling snap elections). Most of the time, control of the House, Senate, and presidency is split between the two parties in some way. Bipartisan compromises to keep government functioning used to be common, but are near-impossible anymore due to extreme party polarization. So as Michael Kinnucan points out, during divided government "there is de facto no legislative body."

The major problem is that Cooper prefers a parliamentary form of government to our current federal system of sovereign states.

To fix the problem, America should aim to make itself more like a proportional parliamentary democracy, by far the most successful and road-tested form of government.

And this would involve neutering one of the two legislative branches:

Neuter the Senate. The Senate is an odious, undemocratic institution in which senators representing about 11 percent of the population can filibuster a bill or those representing about 16 percent of the population can have a majority.

The Constitution places high bars to changing the Senate, stipulating that no state can be deprived of its representation without its consent. However, it might be possible to pass an amendment making the Senate a House of Lords-style institution without real power. Senators could still be elected, but not be able to pass a binding vote on legislation.

And to make it even more like a parliamentary system, not only should we dump the Electoral College but choose the president via Congress thus ensuring that party bosses but no outsider such as Donald Trump would ever become the country's leader:

Elect the president from the House. The point of "separation of powers" was to create a check on tyranny, but it has ironically worked to increase tyranny and undermine democracy. The separate executive branch is a major factor behind the rise of the lawless imperial presidency in the United States, and most other American-style constitutions fell apart due to standoffs between the president and legislature.

In normal countries, the executive is simply part of the legislature. Such a system does not create a single powerful figure running the state who can also claim separate democratic legitimacy against the legislature. If the president were elected from the reformed House, the dangerous standoffs created by divided government would not happen. Instead, the leader of each party would be the implicit presidential candidate during each election, as happens in parliamentary systems.

And now Cooper's final recommendation that will make liberals everywhere secretly cheer:

Throw the entire Constitution in the garbage. One of the biggest problems with the Constitution as written is it makes changing anything nearly impossible.

Scratch just a bit under the surface of many liberals and you will find a similar hostility towards the Constitution for placing limits on the power of government.

The Week

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