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Reimagine and Rebuild Our Broken Democracy—in Time for the Nation’s 250th Anniversary


Reimagine and Rebuild Our Broken Democracy—in Time for the Nation’s 250th Anniversary

Tad Daley, Gregory Wright

“I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions,” Thomas Jefferson wrote. “Laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. ... [They] must advance ... and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”


YES! Jefferson taught Alexis de Tocqueville what has long been biblical for Western monotheists: a people without a vision shall perish. And, yes, following the current frustrations we all experience, the problems that have emerged from our ambivalent relationship with the Constitution as well as the Declaration of Independence (like too many Christians, Jews, & Muslims, instead of studying the holy scripture as we study our own narcissistic image, we hide our ignorance of it behind all sorts of stupidities that come from our narcissism and almost nowhere else). To re-discover the depths of all these supposedly guiding frameworks for our lives calls upon us to abandon our narcissism (and all other neuroses) through dialogue with others who can help us grasp who are are and are not. That we find repulsive, thus run from it.

Perhaps the existing regime must collapse entirely before we will realize it is collapsing from our having abandoned it to the thieves, liars, deceptions artists, spin artists, and prostitutes of every imaginable & metaphorical (tropical) description.


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"What kind of political system would we create if we were designing the American system from scratch today?"

rather than an attempt to reform and redefine the political system, we might consider putting our heads together to rewrite the constitution. we_the_people need to become more involved in setting our goals and values as a nation. how would some 300 million people come together for a 21st century constitutional convention? perhaps small study groups made up of concerned citizens could meet locally to discuss what's gone right and what's gone wrong. step one, i think, would be to go through the existing constitution with a fine toothed comb. we need to accept the fact that the u.s. constitution is not a divinely inspired document. it was written by a group of men who just like today's citizens bring our own preconceived notions and biases to the table. not one of the original signatories felt completely satisfied because "to get this done" compromises were made. the founders were land owners and for the most part slave owners who could afford to meet in philidelphia while their labor force maintained their agricultural businesses. ironically, title to the land came from a sovereign decree from the very king of england they wished to dis-empower on this continent. the labor force of slaves counted as 3/5 of a person, while indigenous peoples counted as uncivilized insurgents. that's not very democratic, is it?

some of the founders, like jefferson, felt women should be voting citizens, but compromised our vote. a while back i ran across a letter written by jefferson to thomas paine in which he agreed privately with paine that women should enjoy equal right, but cautioned paine to remain mum on such politically "hot button" issues.

in my opinion we should begin with the bill of rights as the foundation of our democracy with the first as our cornerstone and build from there.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

unfortunately, i find that most folks would rather discuss who we want in government than what we want.


oh, i meant to add that these numerous local discussion groups meeting in libraries and homes include a variety of times to allow for work differing schedules and step two would be sharing of ideas on the internet.


I fail to see how we can accomplish any of this in the absence of Civil War. Our rights to free speech and assembly have been shattered and our police have been militarized to make sure no dissent is allowed. The status quo has zero interest in modifying/reforming our corrupt systems. When Universities and States (NY) begin criminalizing free speech (BDS) how do we possibly make this happen peacefully?


good luck, wickland! let us know how it goes? i once belonged to a small group sponsored by a couple who were very spiritual by nature. they served each guest a glass of wine or a soft drink. then one of the hosts would ask, "who has a blessing to share?" or "who has a problem to discuss?" anyway, it was nice and we all went away feeling uplifted.


The Constitutions of most Countries on this Earth were created , not by the people or the commons , but by those ruling that Country at the time.

As such they are of the ruling class. To have a true peoples Constitution , the people have to be involved in making it and the people have to ensure it reflects their values and not those of the 1 percent. Iceland and Venezuela have Constituitons that were implemented or designed by the masses.

Part and parcel of any such Constitution is the need for a means by which the people, rather than a body of 9 such as a Countries Supreme court, can ensure the Constitution is followed along with a means by which the people can enforce such rulings. In the USA as example in violation of the orders of the Supreme Court one Andrew Jackson continued to deport Cherokee peoples from their homelands stating words to the effect of "yes they ruled against me now let me see them do something about it".

In other Countries the World over Constitutional rights granted have been deemed violated yet the only repercussion on those persons doing the same tends to be a fine which the taxpayer ends up paying. No Constitution ever written is of any good if there no consequences to ignoring its provisions.


I just began reading this piece but am already struck with disappointment to not see any mention of militarism.

War of aggression is the poisonous root from which spawn all other crimes; and when a nation is held hostage to its war profiteers and make-warriors, then precious little funding is left for things that matter.

Here is the comment that makes militarism conspicuous BY its absence:

"More and more Americans have a vague and increasing sense that our government is simply incapable of addressing basic challenges like immigration, guns, entitlements, trade, climate and environment, privacy and security, the federal budget, spiraling inequality, money in politics … or even a health emergency like the Zika virus. It is no longer hyperbole to say that American democracy is broken."

Also, Zika has been around for decades and has NOT produced brain deformities. While it's being blamed for that, it's far more likely that Monsanto's GENETIC experiments with mosquitoes in the ONLY region where so many babies were born with deformed brains is the REAL culprit. But since when would the media-military-industrial complex blow the whistle on one of its most trusted chemical war producers, a company that has profited from the death of so many, the spread of Cancer, and the poisoning of lands and now entire banks of genetic seed stock?

I hope the rest of the article makes up for this serious lapse.

Okay. The matter was addressed here:

"What about the power to wage war—and lesser military undertakings like targeted assassinations by drone? Our Constitution gives the power to declare war exclusively to Congress. It has not done so since 1942. Want to know how to transform the United States from a republic into an autocratic empire, just like ancient Rome? Continue to indefinitely tolerate the current reality of American war powers: that once someone swears an oath “to defend the Constitution of the United States” on Jan. 20, that person is handed the keys to the Pentagon’s entire arsenal to employ at his or her sole discretion."

Glad to also see gerrymandering, the ridiculously askew style of state to state representation, and the wiser choice of instant run-off voting also mentioned.


I hardly see the relevance of your pro-patriarchal religions comment to the content of this article. Did you even read it?


That's a unique variation on the forum's common theme of either blaming the public/voters (for every evil under the sun) or projecting onto them the power, influence, and agency that have become nullified by the present Inverted Totalitarian Status of this nation. In short, it pretends there's agency where it's gone into default.

I'm pretty sure that you are aware of the findings of the Page and Gilens Study? To refresh your memory, the researchers found that U.S. citizens had virtually ZERO influence over current policies--domestic as well as foreign.

So it's nice to dream big about what "we" want and such... the fact is, until the political muscle is in place that respects citizens' wishes, will, and opinions... you're pissing in the wind.


I share your skepticism. The fifty states couldn't ratify an amendment granting equality under the law for women. So many things need to change and what I see changing is a move toward less freedoms for citizens. I don't like the idea of a police force putting an entire city on "lockdown." What does that mean? I get shot or arrested if I defy a "lockdown?" I give up on the political extravaganza: it's a lie, a manipulation, a mind f**k. if we can't even get along, how in the world could we ever change how we have been doing things "for generations"...not in politics, that's for sure.


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the fact is, until the political muscle is in place that respects citizens' wishes, will, and opinions... you're pissing in the wind.

'souix', if you choose to throw your hands up in utter despair, flop belly up, whimper and cast yourself as the powerless tragic but innocent victim unable to speak back against the injustice around you; that is your prerogative. my suggestion, that "concerned citizens" put our heads together to share ideas to educate each other about the true meaning of democracy recognizes that we who see the duplicity must step up and meet the challenge. in this election season voters can begin to weigh the differences between capitalism and socialism. yet how many people have a clear idea of what these two economic philosophies mean? the philosophy of capitalism states that Nature offers nothing of value until some human turns Gaia's vast and diverse resources into dollar wealth that enriches the capitalist. also, the capitalist sees the labor force as another resource to be used to amass his personal wealth. for this reason the capitalist fights labor unions and seeks the world over for the cheapest labor. capitalism, by definition, creates a hierarchical society which rewards the greediest, most manipulative and least compassionate ones. in other words capitalism and democracy are mutually exclusive concepts!

"Good government is no substitute for self-government."--Will Rogers

the philosophy of socialism, however, suggests that the people collectively own and share the profits of our work. i like the will roger's quote because in a few words he defines the essence of democracy. i wish we would redefine those who enter public service calling them neither leaders nor governors. to govern means "to exercise a directing or restraining influence over" and that presumes the political class to be of such high and impeccable moral fiber that they should monitor and restrain the base impulses of the masses. we cannot enjoy the rewards of democracy until the majority of us accept the responsibility of self government. the lesson of the soviet union teaches us that even under a socialist paradigm once a committee of authoritative men grab the reins of decisive power the people lose the right of self actualization. that's why we need to educate one another. our political class twists education into one_size_fits_all indoctrination. earth's natural resources are dwindling while the consumption rate grows larger. empire america robs u.s. citizens of wealth to maintain a warrior code to further empower and enrich the already extravagant rich.

so? your answer is to sit and wait until some extraordinary, altruistic, well-muscled, super hero politician magically appears in washington d.c. singing ♪♪here i come to save the day♪♪ that's highly unlikely--you're just pissing in your oatmeal.


"What kind of political system would we create if we were designing the American system from scratch today?"

Do you mean what the democratic public wants to create, or what politicians want to continue business as usual?


Great post hummingbird.

Direct democracy seems to be the antidote to oligarchy and hegemonic dictatorships, the natural consequence of rule by politicians.

Why let politicians decide for their paymasters when we the people can make the laws that concern us directly, like going to war or bailing out the banks?


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