Wednesday, February 02, 2011

My Egypt tis of thee

We must fight the urge to rebuild the systems that have failed us. Halla

Thanks be to Mrs. Parker (or some other literary godlike figure) that I live in the age where information is flowing at such a rate that one can hardly stop listening and learning. Watching the attempt to overthrow tyrannical governments in 2 nations this month has been exhilarating. Scary too waiting to see who influences those in the streets...

If we could just go back in time and sit with those founding fathers of ours or any other and tell them to watch a few things while they built a new system of government.

Let me say to begin that my own beliefs are against long term national government structure, and therefore I (underlined heavily) would tell them to go home and work on creating town meeting framework with no one representing more than 2000 people. Each would be elected by direct vote majority, serving 3 years, and each person only one 3 year term every 15 years. That person's work is then to canvass their 2000 people, bring forward the simple majority opinion (and minority opinions).
Then the FF could come back to create a simple annual convention for those people. I know- the country is so large it would now mean a convention of 150,000 people!
I think its possible to legislate what would be needed with this group-it would keep the work at the federal level to infrastructure and defense, as needed, and with a GREAT deal of argument as needed also. And what a cool collection in the capital every year, huh? I envision those 150,000 coming in, going to different meetings to hear and speak on the few issues, and then voting booths set up all over town to cast their vote on behalf of their 2000 people.
But here's also what I would whisper in their ear:

1. Clearly state in the documents that they are meant to be changed by a popular majority when needed. As Benjamin Franklin said at the time,
"Sir, I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other....
Thus I consent, Sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure, that it is not the best. The opinions I have had of its errors, I sacrifice to the public good."

2. Try to understand your own era's evils and leave them out of the stuff.
Also from the Constitution
(Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.)
The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person
No comment needed.

3. Take your time.
If our articles of government have allowed a mostly peaceful transition of power every 4 years, then we can thank the 11 years it took those guys to get as much right as they did. But if they had provided for a Constitutional Congress to meet again every 50 years, think what might have been.

4. Be clear that you should amend as needed (see above). Our Constitution calls for a popular majority to amend when needed. haven't done that successfully since 1992, but that was for an amendment proposed in 1789 to restrict Congressional pay raises! The 1970s was the next successful amendment era; where is our era's constitutional progress? Unchecked corporate freedom?
Which brings us to the next point:

5. Make it necessary to evaluate and calibrate the balance of power as needed.
In the beginning, Congress (and therefore the states) held the most power. In the 19th century, starting with Andrew Jackson through the end of the 20th century with Ronald Reagan, we saw the expansion of power in the executive branch. Now, we must contend with a judicial branch that is using its safe seat to legislate their own personal agendas.

6. Make it the responsibility of every citizen to spend scholarly time to learn about their government and other forms of government, NOT in a formal school. Allow those between the ages of 7-10 to spend 1 summer reading or visiting governing bodies which would earn them a half year credit (semester) for community college or vocational training at age 16.

All in all, I wish those forming governments well. I know flaws will be a part of the process, as all human endeavors must be. But with time, empathy and logic one might write the new form that affords even more rights and possibilities for their next generations.

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