Is It Time to Sunset the Constitution?

The Independent Voter Network is a great resource for all of us that are tired of the two-party system. It allows for various dialogues and debates on a variety of topics, and gives voice to every point of view – while holding to a 4-point etiquette that governs all conduct on the site. It provides a platform for civil discourse on a multitude of concerns that so many of us share.

I read the vast majority of comments on various articles, as I am interested in acquiring the pulse of the IVN readership. In a minority of cases, some are calling for an overhaul of the entire system and for sunsetting our Constitution — a throw-it-out and start over with something new mantra.

One reader suggested to me in a private email that we should have an online system of voting on every issue. The sunset concept is a particularly interesting concern as I mull over various problems we face.

While I realize most IVN readers are historically literate, it bears a quick look back as we debate the start-over-new concept.

Our Constitution, which was ratified 227 years ago on June 21, 1788, has extraordinarily served Americans. In just over 3 1/2 years from its ratification, it was followed by the Bill of Rights (the first 10 amendments to the Constitution) on December 15, 1791. James Madison was the chief architect behind the Bill of Rights, and utilized incredible negotiating skills and determination to get it adopted.

In a few short years, this nation’s Founding Fathers delivered the basis for the future of our great nation. That foundation led to what is undeniably the most successful nation on planet Earth, building upon the freedoms and liberties that allow us to prosper and set one of the highest standards of living on the planet.

Many do not realize that our current Constitution was actually a “Take 2” to its failed predecessor – The Articles of Confederation. Even the Founders of our nation realized very quickly that the constitutional progenitor was not going to cut it.

As society evolved, our nation has added an additional 17 Amendments – the last being adopted in 1992. Many dealt with the sins of society – such as slavery and denying women the right to vote. Of course, it is not a perfect document, and we had some very serious bumps along the way.

The debate from day one was Federalism -vs- Anti-Federalism. Big central authority versus local control. That same debate rages onward today.

As we begin to celebrate July 4, the day we celebrate the anniversary of the our Declaration of Independence from the British monarchy, some have an extreme desire to overhaul the system – a top-to-bottom revamping with an entirely new system put in place.

The vast majority of these individuals want a more top-down centralist government, giving more power to a national government – akin to European Socialism. They posit the model of government in France or Spain is more chic and effective than our existing framework, and that a very small group of people in Washington, D.C. should have even greater influence over our lives.

Socialism is anything but chic. It is the greater empowerment of a small group of people over the lives of everyone. Ceding personal liberties for the greater good is a slippery slope. Allowing anyone greater control of the individual in favor of the group has historically never ended well.

Our framework is a constitutional republic, where democracy is engaged at the individual state level, and the representative government (Republic) is in effect at the Federal level. The basic idea of our system is to allow the individual states to freely govern themselves, while having a federal/centralized government to argue/resolve disputes between states.

Our Founders knew that some level of self governance was necessary, but limited nationalized oversight was also required. The balance between the two components is the key.

Ceding personal liberties for the greater good is a slippery slope.
Steve Hunyar, IVN Independent Author
That oversight was strongly tested during the Civil War. It is also being strongly tested today, as we are very polarized as a nation. Our Executive Branch is wielding excessive authority. Our Judicial Branch continues to write laws instead of constitutionally validating them, and our Legislative Branch has become completely impotent.

Balance needs to be restored to the three co-equal branches of government.

Our current framework has served this nation and Americans exceedingly well, and is the longest living Constitution on Earth.   Nonetheless, our system has been gravely abused by the people we have entrusted with its care. There is rampant corruption and abuse by politicians who are being financially coerced by corporations and union benefactors.

Do we blame the system and start-over as many would suggest, or do we continue to adjust the system and electorally punish the abusers?

Many want more government, which frankly befuddles this author. Exactly how in any world is more of the same a good idea?  Turning over more of our liberties to a single, centralized authority is the exact opposite of what we should be considering.

Yet there are those who would apathetically put more faith in people that have proven time and time again that they cannot be trusted.

I am a first generation American whose parents escaped a Communist nation under cover of darkness with my sister in tow, to come here legally for the best possible lives — and they have made the most of the opportunities granted to them. They literally put their lives at grave risk for the opportunities America has to offer.

When I was young, I visited that Communist nation and I can tell you unequivocally, a large centralized government is not chic and has rarely worked out well for the people that have entrusted their lives to it.

Let’s not start over. Let’s work together to fix the system. Most comments I have read agree to such ideas as congressional term limits, or an amendment that demands 535 members of Congress, 1 president, 9 Supreme Court justices, and the entire government bureaucracy live on the same programs they foist on we Americans – i.e. Obamacare, Social Security.

These are ideas the vast majority of Americans will support, yet our apathy and political isolationism is preventing these ideas from coming to fruition.

In a little over 15 years, our Founding Fathers declared their independence from a totalitarian autocracy thousands of miles away, and formed a country that would set the global platinum standard for personal liberties. And they did so without email, without the Internet, and without a post office.

It may appear easier to throw up our hands and start over from scratch. Yet I can think of no one I would entrust to build a new framework that would serve Americans as well as our current Constitution.

The answer is to stop enabling our governments by giving them more power over our lives.  Less is more.

Enjoy your freedoms. Never take them from granted. Millions upon millions have sacrificed for all of us.

Happy 4th of July.

Photo Credit: David Smart / shutterstock.com