Skip to comments.The Problem in Washington Isnít the Constitution
Posted on 01/06/2013 10:12:38 AM PST by Kaslin
Its easy to pity Kremlinologists. These are people who spent years, even decades, studying the Soviet Union. Their job was to explain why that country did the things it did, even though those actions so often seemed counterproductive. Suddenly, though, the USSR dissolved and the Kremlinologists were out of work.
Louis Michael Seidman hopes to join them on the unemployment lines. Hes a professor of constitutional law at Georgetown University. That means students pay more than $60,000 per year to hear him lecture.
Nonetheless, Seidman apparently wants to end his cushy teaching gig. Lets Give Up on the Constitution reads the title of his New York Times op-ed, published on Dec. 30. That sounds akin to a doctor declaring who needs anatomy? or a pilot asking what good is aerodynamics? But Seidman means it; he really wants to do away with the Constitution.
Our obsession with the Constitution has saddled us with a dysfunctional political system, kept us from debating the merits of divisive issues and inflamed our public discourse, he writes. As someone who has taught constitutional law for almost 40 years, I am ashamed it took me so long to see how bizarre all this is. Just imagine how all his former students must feel reading that. Can they get a tuition refund?
Seidman writes that he wants to replace our archaic Constitution with something that would allow for quicker response times. His new governing document wouldnt need to be a document at all; Great Britain and New Zealand are humming along without a written constitution. Hed also keep some of the practical bits, such as the length of the presidents term. After all, Some matters are better left settled, even if not in exactly the way we favor.
His essay seems to boil down to: Keep the stuff I agree with, do away with the rest.
So why would a Con law prof want to eliminate the document hes been studying for a lifetime? Seidman explains: As the nation teeters at the edge of fiscal chaos, observers are reaching the conclusion that the American system of government is broken.
Thats not much of an insight. American political observers have been complaining about our faulty system since the time of King George III. Its a key reason, as Seidman admits, that the Constitution was written in the first place: because the Articles of Confederation werent working well enough for many Americans.
Back then Americans revolted. Today, Seidman doesnt seem to think were revolting enough. Instead of arguing about what is to be done, we argue about what James Madison might have wanted done 225 years ago, he writes.
But our countrys problem isnt the Constitution. Note that Seidman seems to root his piece in the recently-concluded fiscal cliff debacle. Yet nobody involved in that debate relied on Madisonian arguments. It was all about taxing and spending, the sort of thing any government is going to have to do no matter how its organized. Thats practical, if not particularly forward-looking, politics.
President Obama, for example, has only one apparent policy: to force the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more in taxes. Thats a political decision that has nothing to do with the Constitution. In fact, since he cannot run again, Obama is, constitutionally, in a perfect position to think big and show real leadership. He could propose sweeping solutions to our fiscal problems. He doesnt seem to have any interest in doing so.
Instead, Obama refuses to concede that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are driving future spending and deficits, notes Robert Samuelson in The Washington Post. So when Republicans make concessions on taxes (as they have), they get little in return.
Obamas desired tax increases will have almost no effect on the budget deficit, which clocked in last year at $1,089 billion. We cant tax ourselves out of our $16 trillion debt.
There are answers. The Heritage Foundation has designed a comprehensive plan that would allow us to Save the American Dream. Getting there will require political leadership and difficult decisions, but it can be done.
The problem isnt the Constitution, its the people weve elected to govern. The Senate, for example, refuses to pass a budget. Thats a political decision made by Senate leadership. We could change the Constitution (some have proposed a balanced budget amendment), but smart, principled leaders could balance the budget without changing the Constitution.
The Constitution isnt perfect, but it creates a framework under which Americans can determine our own political future. Lets keep it in place, and maybe even actually read it. That might encourage us to elect different people to represent us in government. We dont need to go the way of the USSR, and Prof. Seidman can keep his day job.
It’s not the Constitution that is the problem, rather those that obstruct it.
This rubbish is what passes as intellectual discourse at one of our top universities. This man should be sweeping the floor in a grocery store.
The Constitution is a lot like paper money, its value is illusory.
No. The problem is the people who vote. Reaching a bit deeper, the problem is the government monopoly education system that teaches the people who vote.
” That means students pay more than $60,000 per year to hear him lecture”
Not to quibble, but the figure shown is the total amount students pay each year to attend Georgetown, inclusive of room and board etc. But even if it were the tuition amount alone, it would represent the amount the average student pays for ALL the courses taken, not just those of this professor.
However, what’s more important than what any individual student might pay for the privilege of hearing this professor is the total amount he receives to teach each year—an amount that likely is at least double or triple $60K (or possibly even more). The average full professor at Georgetown makes $167K http://chronicle.com/article/faculty-salaries-table-2012/131433 Law professors typically earn more than this average.
Chuck Schumer on a one party rule (FOX News Sunday, 4/10/05):
And again, you cant just have one-party rule here.
The point is that there have to be checks and balances here. A check and a balance does not necessarily always mean a majority vote. We have 60 votes before you can do certain kinds of spending increases. The Senate is always supposed to be, Chris, the cooling saucer.
The problem isn’t the Constitution, nor is most of the problem in Washington DC. Thanks Kaslin.
This piece of crap is a constitutional law professor?
We are living in bizarro world.
There was no mention of the fact that the Constitution can be amended. Nor was there a mention of judicial activism (the “living document” doctrine). What about making it a bit easier to amend the Constitution?
“What about making it a bit easier to amend the Constitution?”
Just to clarify, I meant amended by the people — not by activist judges legislating from the bench.
We haven’t had a Constitution in about 75 years, maybe even 150, so it can’t be that.
He’d probably be in favor of it now, when a majority of people might be on his side. If it had happened back in whatever Bad Old Days most scare him, or should popular opinion shift to the right, he’ll suddenly turn into a strict constructionist.
Its the Islamic infiltration dressed like wolves in another breed of wolves clothing to appear as communists.
Yes communism is alive in America and was very much behind Obama but its the Muslim Brotherhood that has infiltrated Washington and now controls the country.
reminds me of a scene from Men in Black where Will Smith crunches the small cockroaches to piss off big daddy space alien cockroach.
“When Tyranny Becomes Law
Rebellion Becomes Duty”
That arrogant pos occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave is supposedly also a constitutional law professor. What does that tell you?
Don’t fall for the “professor” business. Obozo was not a professor, he was a lecturer. He was neither tenured nor was he on staff. He was an adjunct instructor. essentially a “contractor”