Progressive Constitutional Amendments

The many attempts on the part of conservatives to amend the U.S. constitution are well known. In the early nineties, conservatives sought to pass amendments defining life as starting at conception, to define English as the national language and, (snicker) another requiring a balanced budget. John Ashcroft himself introduced a "tax-limitation" constitutional amendment while he was in the Senate. There has been an attempt to pass an amendment stating that the first amendment shall not be interpreted to prohibit saying the pledge of allegiance in schools. There has been a attempt to pass a so-called "religious bill of rights," that would, among other things, allow for prayer and the display of the ten commandments in public schools and buildings. There has been a nearly fifteen year attempt to ban desecration of the flag that has come close to ratification on several occasions, and may still yet become law. As we all know, there is also the new hate amendment, although it may in fact just be a symbolic gesture on the part of the Bush administration to mollify his evangelical base. However, considering how many states have already passed laws that outlaw gender-neutral marriage, it is not inconceivable that one day soon the requisite number of states (38) will have passed the amendment, and only Democrats in congress will be able to prevent its passage.

While these attempts to amend the constitution are the most famous because they are the most recent, since 1789 there have been more than 10,000 attempts to amend the constitution (warning: PDF file). Lately, conservatives have come to dominate these proposals, to the extent that it would appear any bill Republicans attempt to pass in Congress takes place only after they first tried to pass it as a Constitutional amendment. However, conservatives did not always hold sway over this type of activity. The Equal Rights Amendment was a particularly famous example of liberals attempting to amend the constitution. In the early twentieth century, progressive reformers worked not only to pass an amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote, but also the right of Congress to regulate labor for those under the age of 18, and to ban any state from funding parochial schools. More recently, in 1985 a constitutional amendment working to give full congressional representation to the District of Columbia failed, perhaps marking the end of an era of liberal attempts to amend the constitution.

Perhaps because amending the constitution has been branded as a conservative idea, when progressives (or John Kerry) talk, for example, about health care as "a right of every American," this discussion rarely, if ever, leads toward the idea of a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right of health care. When we talk about gender-neutral marriage, equal access to adoption, inheritance and protection from legal discrimination in the workplace for homosexuals as equal rights, we rarely, if ever, talk about amending the constitution to guarantee these rights. When we complain about the legal status of corporations as individuals, once again changing this situation rarely, if ever, leads to a discussion of amending the constitution to redefine the legal status of corporations.

My question is, why not? Are we on the left just so damn opposed to anything conservatives do that we refuse to even use their perfectly legal tactics both in articulating their platform and attempting to enshrine that platform in law? Perhaps it is time for progressives to fight back on the constitutional amendment front. Proposing amendments to the constitution would help clarify the progressive agenda to the rest of the country. It would also provide us with a long-term vision for where we would like to take the nation that would serve as a powerful contrast to the conservative view of the future (which, more often than not, is an attempt to reinstate some mythical version of the past). If nothing else, proposing new amendments could go a long way toward raising the level of public debate in this country.

In his book, A More Perfect Union, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. proposes eight new constitutional amendments. They are:

  • The right to vote
  • The right to public education
  • The right to health care of equal and high quality
  • The right to affordable housing
  • The right to a clean, safe and sustainable environment
  • The right to employment
  • Equal rights for women
  • Guaranteed progressive taxation
A few days ago, Brad DeLong commented on how much he liked the idea of the Democratic Party being labeled the party of muddled good intentions. However, come election time, such an image is most likely dangerous. Proposing these eight amendments strike me as an excellent starting point in a new progressive strategy. Combined, they list most of the domestic goals of the majority of the Democratic Party, if not the nation. They may not pass, but they do at least serve as a concise description of the contemporary progressive movement.

Kerry to Announce VP Pick In "Days"

While this could also mean that Kerry will announce his VP pick in 50 days, according to Inside Politics and Judy Woodruff, Kery will announce his VP pick in a "matter of days." Since it happened on live television, I do not have a link yet. Considering his short list, I hope he chooses Edwards, simply because I believe Edwards will do the best job helping Kerry win in November.

Obligatory, and possibly final, VP poll follows.

Update: Kerry campaign denies this claim. CNN has also retracted. That will teach me to run right to my computer after seeing something on television.

I have now changed the VP poll to "when should Kerry choose his VP?" Offhand, I think he should choose during the convention itself, so as to guarantee the highest ratings possible.

The Liberal Elite

The Liberal Elite are agnostic and arrogant.

The Liberal Elite are planning another civil war.

The Liberal Elite consider the average person to be "their tool" for achieving more power!

The Liberal Elite are hypocrites.

The Liberal Elite are confused and educated beyond their intelligence.

The Liberal Elite are liars.

The Liberal Elite slant the reporting at CBS, NBC and ABC.

The Liberal Elite have weak logic.

The Liberal Elite are self-righteous, sanctimonious and prejudicial.

The Liberal Elite are the most two-faced group of people the world has ever known.

The Liberal Elite are disdainful of those they deem lesser than themselves.

The Liberal Elite are responsible for the fall of America.

The Liberal Elite are fond of labeling marijuana use a victimless crime.

The Liberal Elite are refined Communists.

The Liberal Elite controls the establishment and is today's tyrant.

The Liberal Elite only honor Democrats.

The Liberal Elite are flummoxed and clinically insane.

The Liberal Elite are both morally blind and diametrically opposed to traditional morality.

The Liberal Elite trash talk and inaccurately race-bait.

The Liberal Elite are driven by contempt for conservatives, America, capitalism, and rank-and-file liberals.

The Liberal Elite feel uncomfortable.

The Liberal Elite are not quite as smart as they think they are.

The Liberal Elite do not believe in tolerance.

The Liberal Elite don't get it.

The Liberal Elite has rolled over and died in the face of Bush's sophisticated manipulation of the press.

The Liberal Elite can afford to live in exclusive neighborhoods with armed security guards to protect them from vicious anti-social types.

The Liberal Elite are from Boston and Los Angeles.

The Liberal Elite have no vision and cannot be trusted.

The Liberal Elite have no problem with the elite status quo.

The Liberal Elite hold Pat Tillman in contempt and love Martha Stewart.

The Liberal Elite are entrenched in the media and academia and hold power well beyond their numbers.

The Liberal Elite manage to pass laws.

The Liberal Elite have money and power flow to them.

The Liberal Elite believe they can continue to repeatedly state falsehoods and inaccuracies because the rest of the country is great unwashed stupid people.

The Liberal Elite approves of inner-city, crime ridden culture.

The Liberal Elite supports murderers, has corrupted our culture and obliterated our values.

The Liberal Elite exerts its influence through institutions that live by the word: the universities and public schools, the media, the liberal clergy, the bar and bench. Its dominance results from its command of the information that words convey and the attitudes that words inspire.

The Liberal Elite is anyone who does not agree with the right.

What if Dean had Won New Hampshire? (Part 3)

Read Part 1
Read Part 2

Through April 26, the hypothetical race stands as follows:

Red is for Kerry, green is for Dean, blue is for Edwards, gray is for Clark, and purple is for Kucinich.

Estimated Delegates, including Super Delegates, 4/26
Kerry: 1337
Dean: 1333
Edwards: 851
Other: 97

Tonight, I present you with the third and concluding chapter of this story.

There's more...

What If Dean had won New Hampshire? (Part 2)

Read Part 1 here, "The New Comeback Kid."

When we last visited our Hypothetical Primary season, Super Tuesday was almost upon us, and the campaign stood as follows:

	    Pledged Delegates			 National Poll #
Dean	       312				       36
Kerry	       303				       35
Edwards 	       180				       21	      
Other	       77					       8
Gephardt, Lieberman, and Clark had dropped out on the same days they dropped out in the real primary season. The primary map looked like this:

Red is for a Kerry victory, green for a Dean victory, blue for an Edwards win, gray for a Clark win, and purple is for Hawaii, where Kucinich somehow pulled out a victory.

Terry McAuliffe had tried to engineer a short primary season, but with Dean and Kerry neck and neck going into Super Tuesday, and Edwards still in the game, his plan is on the verge of failure. Click on "read more" to find out what happens next.

There's more...

Diaries

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