Editor’s Note: As Independence Day approaches, the members of the FreedomWire team began thinking about how it would be possible to improve on the US Constitution without trampling on the framework the Founders created. What amendments could be added, what text could be removed or clarified to make our founding document a basis for a more perfect America?
The following is FreedomWire lead editor Connor Walcott’s response to that question, serving as Part 3 of our four-part FreedomWire Fixes The Constitution Series.
In 1787, when the Founding Fathers gathered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the First Constitutional Convention, it’s likely that very few of them realized just how historically significant their actions were…but even so, the legacy of that gathering has echoed through the centuries.
The gathering was intended to reform the failing Articles of Confederation, which governed the fledgling nation from 1781 to 1789 (and had even been overseen by seven presidents who served for one year each—historical fun fact of the day). But what eventually emerged from that first convention was far, far greater than a rewriting of the Articles. Instead, what was produced was a foundational document that would shape not only the United States but the world as a whole for nigh on two centuries to come. The Constitution they created would go on to serve as the backbone of America’s effort to “form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” (Thanks to “Schoolhouse Rock” for that one.)
Two years later, at the Second Constitutional Convention, many of the same delegates gathered once again to amend the document they had created, codifying the Bill of Rights to secure the freedoms of the citizen and shore up the contract between the government and its people. Acting in defense of the natural, God-given rights of men and women everywhere, they further established a system of limited, enumerated government power, state’s rights, and the dignity and liberty of the individual.
The system that emerged from that Convention laid the groundwork for America’s rise to international greatness in the coming 200+ years, and it served as the inspiration for other democratic systems around the world…but it was far from perfect.
Notably absent from the amended Constitution were, among other things, proposals abolishing slavery or establishing voting rights for women. While attempts to address the slavery subject were actually present in rough drafts of several founding documents, objections by only a few states prevented the issue from being unanimously resolved. There were also many gaps, gray areas, and otherwise unspecified or unrefined areas of government policy left unaddressed, whether purposely or accidentally.
But even back then, the Founders were well aware of this. That’s why they implemented a system by which further amendments could be made, allowing future generations of Americans to improve on their work.
So, in that spirit, I’d like to propose two suggested amendments that, in my humble opinion, might help make the America of 2021 a better place. Some of these may have been totally overlooked by the Founders, some may have been deliberately omitted, and still others may not have even been issues within the realm of possibility back in 1789…but regardless, using everything we’ve learned since then, I say it’s possible to continue the Founders’ mission of making this country great.
1. Reforming Congressional Bills
This suggested amendment is simple: all congressional bills should address a single issue or subject, be written in plain English, and be no longer than 50 pages.
Were this amendment passed, gone would be the days of thousand-page legislative packages filled with pork-barrel spending and unrelated legislation slipped in under the radar, and gone would be the need to have an advanced law degree and a team of staffers and assistants just to keep tabs on what the government is doing.
Take, for example, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which served as a merging of a $900 billion COVID stimulus package and the $1.4 trillion omnibus spending plan for the 2021 fiscal year. This monster of a bill came in at a mind-boggling 5,593 pages, becoming the longest single piece of legislation in US history.
Now, let’s be honest with ourselves: even the most concerned of citizens is likely never going to take the time necessary to read through all 5,593 pages of that document. And even if one were sufficiently motivated to make the attempt, how many among us would be able to fully understand the complicated legalese being used?
But were an amendment made to mandate that all legislation passed by Congress be fully accessible and understandable to the average American, it would be a great stride towards increasing government accountability.
Or maybe we should just keep going with the “we have to pass the bill to find out what’s in the bill” plan, right Mrs. Pelosi?
2. Election Day Reform
As the nation learned (quite painfully) during the 2020 election, ensuring that the voting process is safe, fair, secure, and honest is of the utmost importance to our country’s future.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the decision to open up mail-in voting, ballot drop boxes, and early/remote voting options at an unprecedented level three things into chaos. Regardless of whether you think the outcome of that election was legitimate or not, most people can agree that something needs to be done to stop the mistakes of 2020 from repeating themselves.
To that end, I propose the following: a ban on all early, mail-in, or absentee balloting for all voters with the exception of a) active-duty military, b) voters over 75 years old, or c) anyone with legitimate medical exemptions. In return, Election Day would be declared a federal holiday and provisions would be made for local precincts to make public transit to and from polling stations free on that day.
The goal of this correction is to ensure that all ballots are collected and counted on the same day, to eliminate chain-of-custody issues, and to reinforce the idea of voting as a civic responsibility without making it an overly-burdensome task.
No more voting weeks out from the election, no more mass mailing of ballots even to people who didn’t request them. Just one single day for voting, made as easy as possible by steps taken within federal and local government’s purview.
And though I’m sure many in Democratic Party leadership would disagree with me, not getting out to cast a vote under these conditions would essentially constitute a decision not to vote…and that falls squarely on the shoulders of the individual voter.
While there are many other suggestions that could be made—and many have been over the last 200 years—there’s only simple fact that’s worth mentioning: just because there’s room for changes and updates doesn’t mean that those of us who propose them hate the Constitution in its current form. I wholeheartedly believe that America is the greatest country in the world, and I believe that the Constitution that guides it is among the finest foundational documents written in human history. The modern Left seeks to trample on everything our nation has built, ripping up the Constitution and replacing it in its entirety. But for those of us who love our country, making our foundation even stronger can only serve to improve our way of life…and that’s what the Founders dreamed of from the beginning.