Change is kept minimal by building out from the Constitution instead of pasting onto it. This makes legislation and adjudication easier. The Constitution's text is only actually amended four times. All clauses consist with every word of the Constitution except the amended ones.
Section 4makes three exceptions to existing clauses (in Article I, section 2 and Amendment XVII) to provide for filling multiple vacancies if the House or Senate ever falls below quorum (for example, in a terrorist attack).
Section 2 repeals one clause (in Amendment XIV, section 2) to end the practice of stripping suffrage from eligible voters for crime or rebellion, the only text actually repealed.
A long amendment to the Constitution plus statutes!
Do we need all those changes at once?
Well, imagine passing:
The justice system would have been nightmarishly unjust for twenty years - and we’d have had to carry out Article V five times. And those are only half of the amendments in the Bill of Rights, passed together in 1791. When most people think of amendments they think of the trim paragraphs in the Bill of Rights but they add a lot of clauses to the Constitution.
This amendment alone ties together existing clauses
and bridges them
(with clauses that fit and express things the Constitution has been found to imply)
to form an entire article on the public’s role
in the political process.
It doesn’t just correct one erosion. Why not?
And this doesn’t include the public’s other governmental roles such as serving on juries or in the armed forces. If the public’s entire role in government were gathered together from all the clauses that express or imply it, it would make a large Article. We, the people, do a lot of vital work in our country!
(see sidebar, above).
The Constitution touches on the public’s political functions only lightly, often by implying them. We’ve paid the price with the erosion of several clauses, distorting each in ways that affect elections and governance. They all have to be addressed. Treating them as a system works - but to do that we have to bring them together.
Congress’ job is making laws. The President’s is execution and enforcement. The federal courts determine the legality and constitutionality of people’s actions and of laws.The Constitution is the people’s instrument and keeping it in good repair is the public’s responsibility.
Most of the clauses here are taken from some of the more popular proposals made over the last fifteen years.
Dozens of amendments attempting to address one or another have been introduced into Congress. Congress doesn't usually try to pass them, even when they would like to. Many are harmless but ineffective because they’re insufficient. These processes support each other. Fixing one clause by itself wouldn't work, wasting an amendment and making the others worse.
Others, especially when marketed as "small, achievable reform", aren't actually reform measures. Small reforms are just as hard to pass as large ones when government officers don't want to reform at all. Deliberately ineffective or unenforceable reform proposals are unfortunately rampant today. Quite a few have passed in municipalities and states (see Why Pay for Campaigns?)
This amendment doesn't rewrite any article, amendment or section.
It focuses on one thing:
repairing, restoring and safeguarding
the public’s effectiveness
in the political process.
We may find these tools useful enough
to address our major issues confidently
without more amendment in our era.
If not, we’ll clear political process error out of issues
to see more precisely what’s needed.
We can keep reason in control.
Images: Paper, George Hodan
We can't afford to settle for less because public control:
is a critical need
can't be done by statute, ruling or order
gives us tools to address all other issues
Our long experience
with corruption in the political process tells us which clauses have to be carefully spelled out.