Why it's time to amend the Constitution

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It has been 44 years since our Constitution has seen a major amendment. On average, we amend the Constitution every dozen years or so, or about every twenty years for major amendments that restore liberty and justice. Only two times in our nation's history has our highest law been this dormant for this long: once during the antebellum, and again during the bloody violence of the labor movement of the Progressive Era before we entered World War I.

Amendments serve to refresh and restore our national creed. When we allow our Constitution to become stagnant, it causes political instability – particularly when we go without amendments to restore liberty and justice. When we refresh our Constitution with a major amendment, it's followed by growth and prosperity. The Civil War – the worst political instability in our country's history – came after a dry spell of over 70 years without a significant amendment to our Constitution. Afterward, we quickly added three of our most effective amendments to improve liberty and justice. When the dust settled and reconstruction was wrapped up, we saw a period of reduced corruption and growing prosperity. Amending the Constitution helped to restore stability. Later however, towards the end of the 19th century after decades without any significant amendments, the country began to fall back into more crime, corruption, economic disparity and political violence. Finally, after nearly fifty years without a liberty-and-justice amendment, the 17th Amendment (direct Senate elections) was passed and began to take effect, along with the 19th Amendment which further expanded the franchise to women in 1920. The prosperity and good times of the Roaring 20s followed.

The Great Depression and World War II again put the amending process on hold. To respond to the effects of the Depression, the president pressured the Supreme Court into short-circuiting the amendment process with sweeping Court opinions that shifted power to the Congress and the Executive. By 1960, after another 25 years without a significant amendment, the country had seen a reckless assault on civil liberties from McCarthyism, and was facing rising racial tensions. The 23rd Amendment (Electoral College for Washington, D.C.) and the 24th Amendment (elimination of the poll tax) helped to relieve the tension, but those amendments were narrow and insufficient; and the externalities of the Vietnam War along with continued racial injustices, extended tensions through the 60's and into the 70's. The last significant amendment to the Constitution was in 1971 when the 26th Amendment extended the vote to eighteen-year-olds.

The decades following the 26th Amendment saw mostly growing prosperity and a rapid acceleration in technological innovation. However, after another 25 years without an amendment, political tensions again began to grow. The campaign leading up to the 2000 presidential election was extremely divisive. The Supreme Court hijacked the election, stopped the counting of ballots and essentially selected the president. This cemented political divisions and destroyed the Court's credibility.

The beginning of the 21st century has seen continually growing political instability rivaling that which the country saw during the antebellum. The Supreme Court decisions that were made during the 30s and 40s that shifted power to Congress and the Executive in order to address the immediate problems of the times, have been abused by the leaders who have followed and have been used to suppress political participation. The result is a severe erosion of civil liberties and justice – and a stagnant Constitution. In order to restore stability, we need to restore liberty and justice by amending the Constitution.

But the Washington politicians are not up to the task so we're doing it ourselves. Three years ago, the careful process of writing an amendment to the Constitution was started. After a year of development it was placed on the internet to allow for full crowdsourcing of the document. The amendment, now commonly known as the Uniting Amendment, is the comprehensive amendment to the Constitution that addresses many of today's tough issues. The document establishes a stable foundation to help rebuild our country. The current draft of the amendment:

-Establishes a simple tax system with a low rate and no exemptions which provides more than enough revenue
-Ends poverty and hunger, and provides healthcare for those in need with a simple, single fund – at less cost than what we pay now
-Keeps guns out of the hands of violent criminals
-Preserves the Second Amendment with the right to carry, use, transport, transfer, buy or sell guns or other weapons
-Protects the environment and preserves threatened and endangered species
-Recognizes the right to privacy and ends illegal government intrusions
-Provides a strong defense for our country and prevents politicians from waging war for profit or personal gain
-Prevents discrimination based on sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, genetics, and other conditions
-Eliminates arbitrary regulation so people have the liberty to pursue their chosen trade or profession
-Establishes term limits for members of Congress
-Ensures that all of our veterans' needs are met
-Solves the immigration issue: those who wish to move here and become citizens are elected by the people
-Protects the right to learn and teach so curiosity and discovery will no longer be limited by political motives
-Provides a jury of citizens as a check on Supreme Court actions to protect our rights and freedom
-Protects the right to control your own body – politicians can't tell us what we can eat, smoke, drink and enjoy
-Defines a set of responsibilities and duties for all people
-Protects the right of religious expression and prayer
-Mandates fiscal responsibility and other limits on congressional power
-Mitigates corruption in government and encourages honest citizens to participate in government
-And much more...

Now, no one agrees with all of the provisions of the Uniting Amendment, but most people agree with most of its provisions and are willing to give on one area in order to see others incorporated into the Constitution. But the document is far from complete. It's still very rough in concept and execution, and it needs more input before it can be submitted. It needs your input. I encourage everyone who cares about the sustainability of our representative democracy to contribute ideas to make it better and provide a stable foundation to help rebuild our country.

Ronald Smith is the president of Egalib, Inc. The organization is facilitating the development of the Uniting Amendment from its headquarters in Orford, NH. UnitingAmendment.com.

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