Considering Constitutional Rewrite

We need to rewrite the Constitution of the United States. It was created so long ago that little which vexes us today is covered by a document written by land- and slave-owning guys long before anyone could imagine life in the 21st century.

But can we rewrite the Constitution? Think of the political gridlock if we tried to come to grips with our state-by-state arguments with federal law.

It is forcing every federal judge to interpret ancient language and apply it to modern circumstances. What did federal power over our welfare and commerce really mean in 1787? How could anyone have thought about national health insurance or blocking illegal immigrants back then? Or same-gender marriage?

And the venerable document never mentioned powers of the Supreme Court or how many justices. Congress could say, “Take your health care decision and stuff it.”

We need a new Constitution but we’d be wrestling with that for years and not get a document to send to the states for ratification – and it’s unlikely we could get even 10 states to say OK.

So we stay with the no-longer-relevant document.

We’re not happy because some think we should stick with the ancient words and some say not. I go with the “nots.” Did the “well-armed militia” phrase mean arming community-security watchman George Zimmerman? Or packing heat while quaffing at Starbucks?


Even Hawaii’s constitution of 1959 has trouble dealing with 2012 issues and yet we’d never attempt to rewrite it.

Amend it? Yes. But look how divisive that gay rights issue is.

Imagine Republicans and Democrats, Tea Party hard cores and progressives wrestling with a new guidance document for the United States.

It’s outdated but nobody’s brave enough to call for a new Constitutional Convention.

Reading a recent story about the success of the town of Sandy Spring, Ga., I was reminded why I wish we’d talk about changing our City Charter to install a manager-council government instead of our mayor-council one.

Forty percent of American cities of more than 2,500 population use the former system. They hire a professional manager who knows transportation, sewers, garbage, recycling, etc.

A city manager doesn’t have to run for office or collect campaign money. He just has to do a damn good job so the council will renew his contract. He might even suggest more privatizing of services. Sandy Springs has done that with everything but police and firefighters.

Consider the upside: We would not have a city run by somebody who’d never even been on the City Council and whose only garbage experience was putting his own at home on the curb.