New York Times Calls for an End to the Constitution

December 31st, 2012

In a shocking opinion editorial published yesterday in The New York Times, Louis Michael Seidman called for the United States to abandon its Constitution. In contrast with the mainstream view that the Constitution recognizes fundamental human rights, Seidman feels the government’s founding document is full of “archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions,” primarily because it prevents the Democrats from raising taxes on the rich without somehow stopping the democratically-elected Tea Party congressmen from voting on the issue.

He blames all of the nation’s current ills on its alleged propensity for following the Constitution, despite the fact that almost every bill passed by Congress directly violates it. To further disprove his own point, he spends the rest of the article pointing out several historical examples of situations during which presidents ignored the Constitution. Could it be, instead, that our problems come from the fact that we never follow the Constitution?

Seidman’s Complaint of “Evil Provisions” Is About Origination of “Revenue Measures” in the House

To refer to the Constitution as evil is an extraordinary charge, especially when the supplied example of evil is the fact that spending and taxation bills must originate in the House of Representatives. The Constitution was designed this way to ensure that the most responsive elected officials, congressmen, with their 2-year terms that are constantly subject to re-election, were the ones with access to the government’s purse strings. Given the fact that “taxation without representation” was one of the chief charges of the revolutionary generation against the British King, it seems more likely that this was motivated by democracy than evil.

“Why should a lame-duck House, 27 members of which were defeated for re-election, have a stranglehold on our economy? Why does a grotesquely malapportioned Senate get to decide the nation’s fate?” asks Seidman. In reality, if the Congress followed the Constitution, it wouldn’t have sufficient power over the economy to put any major stranglehold on it. Currently, it regulates virtually every type of economic activity, engages in price fixing, has delegated power over the US currency to a private central bank, taxes anything that produces prosperity, and spends more money than virtually any private organization in the marketplace.

In fact, if the founders’ original intent were being followed, there would be no income tax at all. If that were the case, there would be no fiscal cliff debate in the first place. The only reason we’re having this national tax showdown is because Democrats argued for sunset provisions on the tax cuts in question. If the Bush tax cuts had been permanent in the first place, December 31st, 2012 would have just been another day with regards to tax policy.

New York Times Op-Ed Argues for Dictatorship

Too often do commentators argue for historically-debunked, barbaric political systems from thousands of years ago by claiming that the Constitution is “archaic.” It’s true that the Constitution is a couple of hundred years old, but it has a perfectly good amendment system which has been used continuously throughout. It is not a permanent, unchangeable document. It has a specific process for updating it with the times.

On the other hand, totally ignoring the rule of law and allowing rulers to lead arbitrarily is not quite the new, cutting-edge, 2.0 political system that Seidman claims it to be. We’ve tried letting political leaders run roughshod over the rules for thousands of years. Dictators have continuously caused human rights atrocities at every turn. The fact that absolute power corrupts is now demonstrable even by science.

Ultimately, political partisans will find themselves calling for the Constitution to be tossed out every time it disagrees with their political agenda. In fact, this whole article reminds me of a George W Bush quote: “if this were a dictatorship, it’d be a heck of a lot easier.”

Yes, Seidman is right that it would be far easier for Obama and the Democrats to raise taxes on the rich if they didn’t have to pass a bill through the Congress. If one’s worldview is that the number one role of government is to raise taxes on the rich, then the Constitution may seem a little inconvenient right now. However, if a Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich were to become president in the future and take over the new absolute power caused by abandoning the Constitution to secure a 2% increase on wealthy Americans’ taxes, would Seidman still think it was worth it?

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About the Author: Barry Donegan

Barry Donegan is a singer for the experimental mathcore band Look What I Did, a writer, a self-described "veteran lifer in the counterculture", a political activist/consultant, and a believer in the non-aggression principle.