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What would "The Father of the Constitution" think of us now?

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  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    Dutch Wrote: Guess where does it say in the Constitution that an President can on its own dictate "tariffs", on its own decide to have an two hour "alone" meeting with an Putin type without recording anything; just on its own have a meeting with Kim ( N.Korea) without doing your "home work" or preparation. Of course such should not be in the Constitution, but in an "mandatory operation manual" for the White House. Such is totally missing (or totally incomplete).

    The Constitution says nothing about the President being able to impose tariffs on other countries, but a number of laws Congress passed explicitly gave that power to the President.

    There's the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917, which allows a President to impose tariffs during a time of war. The law was written in a way that has allowed Presidents of both parties to use it even when we aren't actually in a time of war.

    Then there's the Trade Act of 1974, which says a President can impose tariffs on any country they believe are having “an adverse impact on national security from imports.”

    And then there's the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977 that gives the President the power to impose tariffs on any country during a "national emergency."

    But the one Donald chose to rely on is the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. This law allows a President to instruct the Secretary of Commerce to report to him (I know it sounds crazy, but it's true) that he should impose tariffs on countries if "an article is being imported into the United States in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten or impair the national security."

    This may be getting a little too weedsy for people, but our Congress has given the President massive powers when it comes to foreign trade and international relations. The Congress also has the authority to take many of these powers away, but I wouldn't hold your breath.

  • Brooks, AB
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    jaredsxtn Wrote:
    Schmidt Wrote: There certainly are some things that need to be fixed or scrapped (e.g. electoral college system), but our democracy and our Constitution has survived challenges much worse than Donald Trump. For those who advocate scrapping the whole Constitution and starting over, well you need to put your emotions aside and start thinking critically what that would entail.

    I 100% with you. The law of unintended consequences would rear her ugly head if we simply got rid of our Constitution and started over.

    If we scrapped the Constitution today then we would no longer be guaranteed the right to engage in debate on this or any website. We'd no longer be guaranteed the right to criticize our leaders without fear of reprisal. And we'd no longer be guaranteed the right to tell a military officer they can't seize our private property.

    We would no longer be guaranteed the right to have legal counsel if we were falsely accused of a crime and we'd no longer be guaranteed the right to proclaim that God doesn't exist. I can go on and on, but I'm sure you get my point.

    Our Constitution is certainly flawed, but scrapping it and starting over isn't the answer. The answer is to get the American people participating in our democracy again. The upwards of fifty percent of eligible voters who chose to watch "Dancing With the Stars" instead of voting need to look in the mirror when their healthcare is stripped away and their union is dissolved and ask themselves if they are part of the problem. The government reflects the will of the people...who actually get off their ass and vote.

    Sorry for coming into this discussion a little late. Just noticed it. And it was interesting to note that Jared put it up 6 years ago before someone taking notice.

    Lots of good points, I'll just focus on the unintended consequences--in relation to how we should transition from western democracy to the TDG.

    The start of the construction of the TDG will require 1% of the population (or maybe less) to recognize the 1787 no longer works for the 21st century------and are willing to invest a few hours a month to start building it. These early builders will write their local constitutions and apply them to their local TDG. Different localities will try out different things; some things will work well and should be kept; some things should be discarded. When a local TDG is operating well, it should look to adjacent TDGs to consider a merger. Because they have different constitutions, the merged are will need to write a new constitution.

    As the TDGs are merging, they are also gaining some new humanistic skills to make the future TDG work. They will need to abandon the culture of conflict (which is far too prevalent in today's politics) for a culture of consultation. If they can't make this change, then, for sure, the TDG will eventually fall flat.

    This constitutes the first of four stages of building the TDG. In essence the TDG will be built alongside western democracy. Initially teh TDG will have little power, but eventually it will gain credibility and indirect influence.

    The last stage is when the TDG-in-waiting gets a lot of credibility from the citizenry "to take over". When this is done, mostly the electoral laws and processes to pass new legislation will be changed out. All other laws will remain on the books until such a time the new breed of elected representatives with the new legislative processes will repeal the old laws.

    This is similar to Czechoslovakia (where I was living) during the transition from communism to western democracy. The old communist laws did not go away over night. While the country did split into two parts, neither part turned into a banana republic. If done right, the fear of "unintended consequences" should not be a serious concern.

    See Chapter 6 for more details.

  • Brooks, AB
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    Just a few more thoughts on this.

    I've come across a few thinkers supporting the "Confederation of States" whereby the 50 states send representatives to write a brand new constitution. If 3/4 agree to this new constitution, there is nothing the president, congress, or supreme court can do about it.

    Interesting idea, but if this confederation cannot remove the institution of the political party from governance, the COS will not accomplish anything.

  • Independent
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    Dave Volek Wrote:

    Just a few more thoughts on this.

    I've come across a few thinkers supporting the "Confederation of States" whereby the 50 states send representatives to write a brand new constitution. If 3/4 agree to this new constitution, there is nothing the president, congress, or supreme court can do about it.

    Interesting idea, but if this confederation cannot remove the institution of the political party from governance, the COS will not accomplish anything.

    To put it bluntly, Dave, it would be a frigging mess. Not that some changes might not be in order but rather we don't have anywhere near any sort of agreement on just about anything.
  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    jaredsxtn Wrote:
    Dutch Wrote: Guess where does it say in the Constitution that an President can on its own dictate "tariffs", on its own decide to have an two hour "alone" meeting with an Putin type without recording anything; just on its own have a meeting with Kim ( N.Korea) without doing your "home work" or preparation. Of course such should not be in the Constitution, but in an "mandatory operation manual" for the White House. Such is totally missing (or totally incomplete).

    The Constitution says nothing about the President being able to impose tariffs on other countries, but a number of laws Congress passed explicitly gave that power to the President.

    There's the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917, which allows a President to impose tariffs during a time of war. The law was written in a way that has allowed Presidents of both parties to use it even when we aren't actually in a time of war.

    Then there's the Trade Act of 1974, which says a President can impose tariffs on any country they believe are having “an adverse impact on national security from imports.”

    And then there's the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977 that gives the President the power to impose tariffs on any country during a "national emergency."

    But the one Donald chose to rely on is the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. This law allows a President to instruct the Secretary of Commerce to report to him (I know it sounds crazy, but it's true) that he should impose tariffs on countries if "an article is being imported into the United States in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten or impair the national security."

    This may be getting a little too weedsy for people, but our Congress has given the President massive powers when it comes to foreign trade and international relations. The Congress also has the authority to take many of these powers away, but I wouldn't hold your breath.

    All of these are "Act's"; why have "Act's"; why have "case laws"; answer; because the Constitution is outdated. Act's never should be "laws" . Do it as other countries do: Make the base law an real "living document" as well "one" solid piece not surrounded with all kind of "Act's" or "amendments" or "case laws" etc. As well an "operation manual" for Presidents to clearly define what their limits are.
  • Brooks, AB
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    lonely bird Wrote:
    Dave Volek Wrote:

    Just a few more thoughts on this.

    I've come across a few thinkers supporting the "Confederation of States" whereby the 50 states send representatives to write a brand new constitution. If 3/4 agree to this new constitution, there is nothing the president, congress, or supreme court can do about it.

    Interesting idea, but if this confederation cannot remove the institution of the political party from governance, the COS will not accomplish anything.

    To put it bluntly, Dave, it would be a frigging mess. Not that some changes might not be in order but rather we don't have anywhere near any sort of agreement on just about anything.

    Lonely Bird

    I would have to agree that a COS is unlikely to work. Just think of Oklahoma and New York trying to create a new version of the second amendment. Even within these two states, there is deadlock of where to place the rights of firearms. Even if 3/4 of the states do find agreement, some of the dissenters may find the new document so objectionable that they just might declare their own independance.

    The first stage of building the TDG should stay away from such issues, focusing their efforts of the new electoral processes and building the culture of consultation. As the TDG matures, it will find a new way of resolving these issues--and these news ways will be attractive to citizens outside the TDG.

  • Brooks, AB
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    Dutch Wrote:
    All of these are "Act's"; why have "Act's"; why have "case laws"; answer; because the Constitution is outdated. Act's never should be "laws" . Do it as other countries do: Make the base law an real "living document" as well "one" solid piece not surrounded with all kind of "Act's" or "amendments" or "case laws" etc. As well an "operation manual" for Presidents to clearly define what their limits are.

    In 1867, Canada more or less adopted the Westminster model from Britain. It too has given a lot of power to the prime minister. The previous prime minister used the PMO (prime minister's office) to go around both cabinet and the parliament to get a few things done in a more expedient manner.

    The check-and-balance is the back bench members of the governing party. If the PMO gets a little too arbitrary, the back benchers can rescind their support of the governing party. Enough of them doing this would mean a loss of a majority, forcing a new election.

    However, the MPs are bribed with a very generous pension upon completing six years of parliament. The pension increases for each year after six. Forcing an election could mean losing that pension or reducing its benefits.

    Canada's system too is outdated---and is unlikely to change itself.

    ------

    Building of the TDG will create that "real living document" that can be amended as needed. THe elected representatives have to material interest in keeping outdated legislative processes.

  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    Yes Dave; I would think in this day with computers etc. it should not be to difficult to make straightforward documents. The biggest mistake is as you said is to copy what the Brits did. At least in western Europe they had so many wars that they at least tried different things. Here is that not the case; sorry to say anything the Brits did was because it was an stubborn arrogant "island" ; the US as well some things in Canada reflect that also. On top of that the zillion lawyers here don't want to loose their well paid jobs. Sorry to say, that I believe that things will not change here or in Canada; it will take an real revolution to be able to start with a clean slate. But history will always repeat it self, because at a given moment the "laws/rules" become so complex that no one can work with it , so you get an society in "chaos". We have just about reached this point with Trump; it is just about impossible to remove an total idiot like him, because of our government structure and half baked laws which you can twist and turn in all directions. Even an garbage man can become President and no one can remove him. So something must be wrong in this country.
  • Brooks, AB
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    Dutch Wrote: Yes Dave; I would think in this day with computers etc. it should not be to difficult to make straightforward documents. The biggest mistake is as you said is to copy what the Brits did. At least in western Europe they had so many wars that they at least tried different things. Here is that not the case; sorry to say anything the Brits did was because it was an stubborn arrogant "island" ; the US as well some things in Canada reflect that also. On top of that the zillion lawyers here don't want to loose their well paid jobs. Sorry to say, that I believe that things will not change here or in Canada; it will take an real revolution to be able to start with a clean slate. But history will always repeat it self, because at a given moment the "laws/rules" become so complex that no one can work with it , so you get an society in "chaos". We have just about reached this point with Trump; it is just about impossible to remove an total idiot like him, because of our government structure and half baked laws which you can twist and turn in all directions. Even an garbage man can become President and no one can remove him. So something must be wrong in this country.

    Dutch: Actually the Brits were on the right path towards democracy. All the colonies with teh British tradition have done a lot better than those with the Spanish tradition. The Europeans learned the good and bad from both the British and American models, and developed their PR systems. But there is no shrang-ra-lai there either.

    Our legislatures are increasingly incapable of crafting legislation for our modern times. But should we expect to run in the Monaco Grande Prix with a Model A?

    You might remember a popular show in Canada called "THis is the Law." It took obscure laws in Canada, put them into a skit, then had the panelists try to guess the law that was broken. The lesson from this series is that there are a whole whack of obscure laws that are on the books, but rarely enforced. It may be true that all of us a breaking lots of laws each day, but there is more to applying law than just the rulebook.

    As for Mr. Trump, I concede that he may last eight years in office. And we have to remember that 30% of Americans love him--and are unlikely to admit that they may have made a mistake. A lot depends on the November elections. With 50% of the population not normally voting, just 10% of those could swing Congress to hamper Mr. Trump and begin an impeachment process.

    And maybe the soft D support will stay home again. But the D's don't have a long term answer either.

    While I'm not too worried that Mr. Trump could turn USA into a dictatorship, there are probably forces watching this social/political movement that are much smarter that Mr. Trump and his minions.

    The question that opponents of Mr. TRump should be asking is: "Why are we insistent on keeping an electoral system that elected him?".

    I am going through Isaac Asimov's Foundation series these days. He has prophesized that democracy has a limited shelf life--and any democratic nation will turn back to oligarchy within 2 to 3 centuries. Hmmmmm.

  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    Dave, it is not quite what you said about British influence; most British colony's were the worst run in the world; Spain does not really count, except in S. America. Napoleon had the most influence in western Europe and most laws still originate from that time. Also the French colony's were run much better than the British one's. Since the Brits had their hands full because they had the most colony's, it became an difficult situation for them. The Dutch had quit a few colonies like Indonesia, New York, Suriname (later) and 6 islands like Aruba. The Italians had Somalia and made a mess of it.

    So due to all of this, the laws in western Europe are more French like due to Napoleon. I've been in a lot of ex-colony's and must say that especially the British are the worst, like Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda etc. I liked Cote d'Ivoire (French colony) In the far east like India and Pakistan it is still very much influenced by the British culture; but things are changing there rapidly; except the stupid British law system. The worst example is the old Burma (Myanmar now) it is like stepping back in time; I stayed there about a week and was glad to leave.

    So like I said so many times the "colony issue" actually did form the government structure of all these countries, just like Canada and the US; they both were colonies.

    Thus the only solution is to drop the old colony habits and adapt the laws for these countries to their present situation and no longer rely on old "colony" laws.

    The "base" of the Constitution is actually British law; therefore an disaster.

  • Brooks, AB
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    Dutch

    I would disagree here. By 1700, Britain had a system where the elected officials were accountable to the electorate, even with voting limited to the elites. In the British parliament, debates of both sides of any issue were allowed, and the majority vote carried the day. All this got exported to USA, Canada, etc. as a cultural trait.

    THe rest of Europe were still aristocratic. Aristocrats had to skillfully ply their political skills to keep their elitist positions. Sometimes these skills meant keeping one's mouth shut or siding with nefarious forces at times. A strong minority often had a bigger say than a less ferocious majority.

    For western democracy to work as it does, it requires the citizenry to be trained. Whatever training we currently have, it was mostly the British who trained us.

    As for the failure of Africa--even in the former British colonies--there are other forces. I read "The Sovereign Psyche". The author highlighted how the slave trade decimated the former systems of governance throughout Africa. When finally freed, the people had lost all their experience in governing in their old ways. I would say western democracy does not work in Africa--just as it does not work in Iraq or Afghanistan.

    I am quite adamant that TDG needs to learn a new culture to work well. The electoral reforms are not enough. All world cultures can learn the new ways.

    Regardless, I still regard the British system as the most advanced for its times. It vaulted Britain to top of the world. But this 18th century social engineering needs to be changed out.

  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    Dave Volek Wrote:

    Dutch

    I would disagree here. By 1700, Britain had a system where the elected officials were accountable to the electorate, even with voting limited to the elites. In the British parliament, debates of both sides of any issue were allowed, and the majority vote carried the day. All this got exported to USA, Canada, etc. as a cultural trait.

    THe rest of Europe were still aristocratic. Aristocrats had to skillfully ply their political skills to keep their elitist positions. Sometimes these skills meant keeping one's mouth shut or siding with nefarious forces at times. A strong minority often had a bigger say than a less ferocious majority.

    For western democracy to work as it does, it requires the citizenry to be trained. Whatever training we currently have, it was mostly the British who trained us.

    As for the failure of Africa--even in the former British colonies--there are other forces. I read "The Sovereign Psyche". The author highlighted how the slave trade decimated the former systems of governance throughout Africa. When finally freed, the people had lost all their experience in governing in their old ways. I would say western democracy does not work in Africa--just as it does not work in Iraq or Afghanistan.

    I am quite adamant that TDG needs to learn a new culture to work well. The electoral reforms are not enough. All world cultures can learn the new ways.

    Regardless, I still regard the British system as the most advanced for its times. It vaulted Britain to top of the world. But this 18th century social engineering needs to be changed out.

    No Dave; the Brits made a mess of it and always have; look at the Falklands debacle etc. Yes they made an huge mess and still is, in England and their colonies. Thus just stick to their "system" of inches, miles, gallons, and odd bolts and threads. The Dutch can't stand them, that is why they invaded England and put a Dutch king in charge in the olden days. Just like the US and partially Canada, they act like arrogant islands in this world. All the British colonies are falling apart because of it. Also look at the EU and the Brexit happening; it's a mess. Actually looking at these "islands" close together they lack all uniformity as is the case in the States. Scotland, Ireland, northern Ireland all are different. Go enjoy your clotted cream and pudding; ever eaten real British food?
  • Brooks, AB
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    Dutch Wrote:
    Dave Volek Wrote:

    Dutch

    I would disagree here. By 1700, Britain had a system where the elected officials were accountable to the electorate, even with voting limited to the elites. In the British parliament, debates of both sides of any issue were allowed, and the majority vote carried the day. All this got exported to USA, Canada, etc. as a cultural trait.

    THe rest of Europe were still aristocratic. Aristocrats had to skillfully ply their political skills to keep their elitist positions. Sometimes these skills meant keeping one's mouth shut or siding with nefarious forces at times. A strong minority often had a bigger say than a less ferocious majority.

    For western democracy to work as it does, it requires the citizenry to be trained. Whatever training we currently have, it was mostly the British who trained us.

    As for the failure of Africa--even in the former British colonies--there are other forces. I read "The Sovereign Psyche". The author highlighted how the slave trade decimated the former systems of governance throughout Africa. When finally freed, the people had lost all their experience in governing in their old ways. I would say western democracy does not work in Africa--just as it does not work in Iraq or Afghanistan.

    I am quite adamant that TDG needs to learn a new culture to work well. The electoral reforms are not enough. All world cultures can learn the new ways.

    Regardless, I still regard the British system as the most advanced for its times. It vaulted Britain to top of the world. But this 18th century social engineering needs to be changed out.

    No Dave; the Brits made a mess of it and always have; look at the Falklands debacle etc. Yes they made an huge mess and still is, in England and their colonies. Thus just stick to their "system" of inches, miles, gallons, and odd bolts and threads. The Dutch can't stand them, that is why they invaded England and put a Dutch king in charge in the olden days. Just like the US and partially Canada, they act like arrogant islands in this world. All the British colonies are falling apart because of it. Also look at the EU and the Brexit happening; it's a mess. Actually looking at these "islands" close together they lack all uniformity as is the case in the States. Scotland, Ireland, northern Ireland all are different. Go enjoy your clotted cream and pudding; ever eaten real British food?

    I think it's easy to armchair quarterback and find the flaws of the British system even back then. The country was undoubtedly still run more for the benefit of the elite than the common man. But it was still far ahead of its competitors of 1700 in terms of building a better society. Even the common people had more prosperity and opportunity than their counterparts in the rest of Europe.

    The free press and periodic elections to throw out politicians who govern too ineptly or too corruptly creates a better society than an aristocracy.

    It's all relative!

    And yes, it is falling apart. Whatever glue that used to hold things together is not working any more. What is going to replace it?

    -----

    I was on another forum that was able to attract a wide spectrum of viewpoints. On one article supporting Donald Trump, I facetiously made a comment that we should just do away with democracy and set up Mr. Trump as a king and he could appoint his children as successors. The surprise was how many people actually agreed to that idea.

  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    Dave, sorry to say in 1700 the Dutch ruled the seas as well fought England and succeeded. They even founded New Amsterdam (New York) which still have Dutch names like Harlem, etc. But after that the Brits fell back in their old ways, even today. Brexit will be again an isolating matter, so then they can play again with their oddities.

    By the way there is an huge difference between the Dutch royalty and the British. The Dutch King has no say at all in governing; but more or less has an traditional role. Royalty in the Netherlands has little protection; they mingle with the crowds with hardly any protection etc. I was at a dinner with an Dutch Princess when they visited Washington D.C. this was a lot of fun. British royalty are a bit "stiff" anyway. But yeah no wonder, when during Trump's visit he put his fat ass just about into the Queen's face.

  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Kenosha, WI
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    jaredsxtn Wrote: There are some modern day pundits that often decry how far we have veered off of the original meaning of our Constitution and how our Founding Fathers never meant for us to interpret the Constitution the way that we have come to interpret it. How dare we veer off the exact language of our Constitution? The answer to this question is: it's not easy, but our Founding Fathers developed a system of governance that allowed us to do exactly that. The original Constitution was never meant to be the end all and be all. That's why the Founding Fathers set up a system that allows it's citizenry to change the Constitution when it sees fit. They didn't make it easy to change, but they surely foresaw that as time goes on there may come a time when the Constitution would need to be amended to address that change.

    James Madison, also known as "The Father of the Constitution," knew all too well the need create a document that can last through the ages. If America had any chance of succeeding at all, the colonies would need to come together and form a union of states. What is often lost when pundits speak of our "Founding Fathers" is that this was a group of men with a massive disparity of interests and ideas. After the Constitution was ratified, Madison went on to be the first leader of the House of Representatives and cemented his place in history as the author of the Bill of Rights and played an important role in setting up the system of amending the Constitution when we saw the need to do.

    What would the "Father of the Constitution" think of what America has turned into? Did Madison foresee the system governance that our country has turned into? Corporations have nearly all the power, the separation between Church and State is blurry at best, and "We the People" seem to have a smaller voice than ever. Is this what Madison envisioned?
    The founding fathers faces would look like Gene Wilder meme's.