Lindsay Newland Bowker

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Is Democracy Synonymous With Capitalism?

The Tea Party right wing view that any law not mandated in the constitution is invalid has log jammed our ability to respond as a nation to our serious economic crises. Though they may be wrong about their interpretation of the constitution they are right that we can revoke or alter by vote whatever is expressed only in law unless it has a specific constiutional mandate.

Some very new modern consititutions for free nations, Icleand and Brussels are including mandates for things like universal free education in their constitutions.

Should we do that? Are there core expressions of us as a people, as a nation that we want to create mandates for in our cosiution ..to define it as the business of federal govermemt to insure..eg free education?:

Modern constitutions have more built in ways for "we the people" to intervene when there's a log jam..mor eopportunities for people to jump over legilstaors ad have their own petitions heard or even made law. Should we have that?

Modern constitutions set up a separate consiutional court instead of combining them as we do in our supreme court.This provides a away of vetting bills and also oppoprtunity for direct access.

Iceland crowdsourced a new consitution in response to the financial collapse in 2008. It was written by 25 ordinary citizens meeting and exchanging on line

.http://www.participedia.net/wiki/Icelandic_Constitutional_Council_2011

Is this the response all free nations should take as we all stand collectively on this precipice facing great uncrertainty abot our own futures, our children's, of future earth?

Is it time for all of us to write new consitutions from scratch that express the values of our nation? Without the inclusion of shared values can we have a moral compass in our consitutions that will provide a check against corporatocracy and corruption?

Is your consitution strong enough, modern enough to be the core reference for the kind of governance you want now and for the future?

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    Dec 18 2011: I'm coming from France and our modern constitution date from 1958, yet it was mainly the result of de Gaule vision which is not a shared vision among the nowadays population of France. Since then we have kept this constitution with minor change like the fact that the "cour constitutionnel" (constitutionnal court) can be adressed on citizens request and can outrule government decisions on the ground that they are not in agreement with the constitution.
    However I think that the actual french constitution do not represent the value I have and with all the major events happening in the world now (financial crisis, middle east revolution) I believe that it is time for citizen to get more involved in the political process. All the western nation face different crisis with different impacts on everyday life but I believe that the solutions for these crisis is in closer link between politics and society.
    What is happening in Iceland is great since we all have certain areas where we have a deep knowledge so every one can give innovative solutions to long during issues that can't be resolved by classical politics procedure. This process is also beneficial for the society as a whole because each citizen will feel attached to this new constitution and so a bigger sense of nationwide community will be developped where every one will be included.
    Yet there still must be some safeguard against extremist parts of the society, even if they are in most of the case (at least in europe) a minority, they can still harm the project wether by giving it a false sense (loss of nation's identity) or by suceeding in passing "bad" bills.
    The experience of direct citizenship in Iceland must be closely watch and its success and failures analysed for likewise project in other country.
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      Dec 18 2011: Lionel,
      Welcome, hello and thanks so much for stopping by and leaving such a richl commentray. It invites further exploration on what are really separate sub topics here and I may try to break it out that way so we don't end up with one long thread criss crossing many separate streams. What I plan to do is strip out your quotes under different headings, if that is ok?

      I hope you will stay with us in these further explorations.

      I also want to establish a thread specifically on the French Constitutoin, its deficiencies and how these deficiencies turn up in its Constiutional Court Your reply touches on so many of the issues and opportunities of constiutional reform and the use of constiutional courts .

      We don't have one in the U.S. and I haven't seen much discussion of that here despite the obvious need for that witnessed in the trend of our Supreme Court and the crowning achievemnt, the Citizen's United Decision. Did that get press in France..our supreme court declaring that corporations are persons under our constitution and that money is freedom speech.ergo they make whatever donations they want to further their political views.?

      Some nations have adopted this process..Belgiums is a great example, very constructively engaging direct citizen particpation and a powerful check on legislative deviations with direct access for the people. In effect a possibility of citizen driven initiatives to keep continual alignment with the will of the peole, the values of the people as expressed in the constitution.

      Constitutional Courts if well constructed can also respond well and dynamically to emerging issues if there is adequate foundation for that in the consttiution itself. Along with some shocking decisions of your Consitutional court that have ignited wolrd wide outrage and commentary ( the Burqa ban and the ban on same sex marriage)the French Consiutional Court recently made wise decions on home snacity and the liability of bloggers.
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        Dec 19 2011: I didn't heard about the Citizen's united decision, at first view it look quite worrying for me to allow without restrain lobbying by big corporation.
        Concerning the constitutional court it is indeed quite a powerful tool yet there are two major flaw to it in France. The first one is that this court only consider matters in the reguard of the constitution and when the constitution is outdated on certain subject the decisions made are useless. The second one is that members of this assembly are designated by the president of the government, and the two president of the assembly on top of that every old president is a lifetime member of this court. So the composition of the court is not representative of the society but is more a political result.
        In Belgium member are not politicians but judges and so they will have a radically different approach to the constitution. Yet I still think that the mode of designation is not an appropriate one, if we change our constitution and that every citizen work for this change then we want to be sure that the guardians of this constitution are chosen by the society and not by political tractations.
        I join your point that to be effective in a changing world constitutionnal court must be well constructed.
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          Dec 19 2011: So we are agreed, Lionel, that a constitutional court is a great innovation but is only as good as the unederlying constitution ..we are greed,it seems tht your country and mine have consiutions that are inadquate to meet the challenges of a global word world, inadequate to grow and be resilient against a rapidly changing technology or the inventions of the financial services sector which have brought us all to a precipice.

          We are agreed. it seems, that we cannot make sound laws, have a sound legsilative process or a sound judicial process unless the consitution is strong enough to keep a nation on a path that is the will of the people, unless the constitution contains a moral spine that is the moral expression of the people. When a Constitution is a complete expression of the nations people, of what they choose to govern themselves by , a Constiutional Court seems like an excellent idea when it also is focused only on the consiutution and thepeople have access to it by petition to initiate any action that claims its root in the constitution itself.

          Our people have not gotten to the leap that Iceland made in somehow recognizing that the failure of financial markets that have brought all of us to near devastationpoints to a defective constitution.

          Here we are trying to patch up the leaks in the dyke with a 28th constiutional ammendment to declare that corporations are not person but creatures of law whose operations are constarined by law to protect the public interestes. We are trying , with great opposition from our own legislature to put the regulatory constraints on banks and financial marlets back in place that our president Clinton signed away in his last days of office. We have the law, Dodd-Frank, but private interests have operated to to keep it from full implementation. We have a Congress that the majority would love to dump..right now..but no mechanism to check them.

          It seems to me now so clear that complete consiutional reform is the answer.
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    Jan 8 2012: The enumeration of rights and values in modern constitutions was visited in 1787 in the process of ratificatin of our U.S. Constitution.

    The point in not enumerating rights was that such a list would imply that everything not enumerated was the business of government which was the complete opposite of what the founding fathers intended in framing the constitution.

    The point of our constitution was to create a vehicle , Federal government, through which "we the people" could act as a sovereign nation.

    What was listed and addressed are boundaries on government The constitution is not a document which grants rights and freedoms to people..all people are deemed to born with unlimited freedoms which goverment cannot grant or withold.

    The purpose of the U.S. constitution is to limit the operation of goverment so that in its operations it does not in any way interefere with the vast and innumerable ways in which individulas might express and live into their limitless freedoms. Certain of these limitations on government are speciifically enumerated.

    So when the court is called upon to decide whether a law is unconstitutional the standard is whether the law limits indiviidual freedoms and rights not whether there is authority or mandate for tha law in the constitution.

    The U.S. Constiution also does not enumerate what Federal government's affirmative duties are. Through the legislature "we the people" can express what we want to be accomplished via our national government.To say a law is invalid because it has no constiutional mandate egee for like social security, the anti poverty program etc. makes no sense..that's not how our constitution works..we the people can authorize our federal government to do whatever we want it to do as long as it does not ureasnably limit the vast and innumerable personal freedoms our nation was founded to insure.

    Modern constitutions have included some of these things as consiutional mandates..e.g free eductaion. Should we?
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      Jan 8 2012: Ed

      I am so sad you are leaving..I always look for your light and your voice in all these discussions and I will miss it so much.

      Thank you or bringing a sensibiity to our sometimes awkward and stumbling explorations here at TED..for always being the honey in the cracks of brokenness, the light shining out from the cracks of brokenness.

      Is it too late to beg you not to leave??

      You know, if you temrinate your membership all your comments will be erased as well..that is part of resigning membership. So I beg you. if you choose not to speak further here at TED please leave your membership in tact so we will have what you have said here as part of our archive.

      And for this conversation I have bee meaning to and will look at Cannadas own modern constiution

      .A radiance of Blessings.I hope our paths will cross again

      .Lindsay
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    Jan 7 2012: the title has not much to do with the opening question. so i'm going to go with the title.

    they are not synonyms, more like antonyms. the very idea of capitalism is that people own the means of production, and they decide how to use them. capitalism is by its very nature not democratic, as one thing used to have one to a few owners only. if something is decided by public vote, it goes against capitalism.

    this is the decision a modern western society has to make. what is the extent of both, what are the territories that are best handled by freedom (that is, capitalism) and what fields should be controlled by public vote (democracy). there can be no overlap. either this or that.

    there is a link however. throughout the history of mankind, people chose freedom/capitalism. so capitalism used to form in regions where people had a say in public matters. that's why all democracies are capitalistic to more or less extent. and that is why we can hope that capitalism can not be destroyed in democratic systems. it can be severely damaged, choked, distorted, but at some point, people don't approve taking away more liberties from them.
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      Jan 7 2012: Dear Krisztian

      Welcome..glad to see you here ( a known champion of capitalism and free enterprise)

      .I thank you for the two very fruitul avenues for exploring the relationship between capitalism and democracy and how that relationship is expressed/supported in our U.S. constitution and modern emerging constiutions in free democratic western nations.

      My newly reframed title for this conversation is what has lead me to reconsider my own constitution and to admire what Brussels and Iceland have done with their new constiutions

      I. ARE CAPITALISM & DEMOCRACY ANTONYMS?

      I never would have thought to posit as you have, in the way you did, that capitlaism and democracy are antonyms but I think I understand your point..and I know you'll correct me if I mis state it.

      You mean I gather that capitalism in its purest form would want no interference at all from governance, from we the people. Is that correct?

      What I was getting at, I guess, is that our constiution was born from a philosophy that shared your view even if it hadn't pre figured capitalism as we now know it. Our constitution was born out of, and expresses a philosophy of individualism..un fettered uninterfered with personal freedom..the idea that government should not constrain the individual in the pursuit of happiness.

      It was born out of an age of discovering and commanding the market for natural resources and in an age of exploitation and domination of foreign countries to take control of their resources in global trade. So today when the far right is seeking to hang on to the gains made in 2000 with the complete dergeulation of banks and markets, our constiution actually serves those interests better tha it serves those of progressives and humanists who share the values expressed in the new deal, the anti poverty program, social security, medicare etc

      Those values are not expressed in our constitution. There is no mandate for those expressions in our constitution.
      .
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      Jan 7 2012: Part II

      THE HISTORICAL CONNECTION BETWEEN CAPITALISM & FREE NATIONS

      Your second point is the historic correlation between nations who choose individual freedom ( rather than monarchy communnism, socialism) and those whose economy is driven by capitalism..by free enterprise. (agiain, I know you are very precise and will correct me if I have mis stated your point)

      That point is exactly what got me going on this whole theme of looking at national values as expressed in constitutions. Listening to Hillary Clinton and others speak about bringinng freedom to the nations who control the world's oil supply, underneath I also heard this premise that capitalism is not well served by nations who choose to control the use of their own natural resources for the benefit of their own people.

      The more I tried to understand what that was all about the more I came to feel that when our Secretary of State or our President speaks of supporting democracy and freedom in these nations..they are really saying that nationalization of oil. for example, does not serve global capitalist interests. In other words, our national policy of foreign relations is premised exactly on your point about freedom being fully compatible with capitalism .And our constitution serves that point of view very well by not speaking to, or interposing any constraints on, our pursuit of domination of other countries resources

      .Interestingly, the new western constitutions are also a bit light in speaking to or clarifying that.They speak to certain values on which our constitution is silent: human dignity, freedom from want or hunger,the states duty to provide education free to all,etc. but I'm ot sure they speak to or clarify what the role should be between free enterprise and the state.

      The new deal stated that "banks are affected wit a public interest"..meaning the operations of banks affect all our lives and our economy.

      Is it harmful to state that constitutionally?
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    Jan 7 2012: Here's an example of how our constitution is invoked and batted around like a badminton birdie, mostly in service to an agenda that is anti-99%

    http://www.nrtwc.org/obama-nlrb-actions-unconstitutional/

    Here the issue isn't the substance of Right To Work Laws ( a very confused and confusing terrain in its own right) but the the National Right To Work Committee, whose agenda is union busting, OSHA busting, Fair Labor oaw busting using the constiution in a flimsy and irresponsible way to claim that the President's recess appointments are unconstiutional.

    The entire pro-corporate extreme right wing agenda that has us log jammed is about a particular view and reference to the constitution..basically that anyhting not specifically mandated in the constitution is unconstitutional...that is all of the new deal, social security, labor law, child protective law, enviromental law, the aniti poverty program, pro-consumer banking law and oversight of stock markets..all according to them "unconstitutional" because there are no mandates for these things in the constitutuion.

    Our constitution was designed to serve a capitalist system..a free market system..it is deliberately absent an inner structure that expresses our cultural values,our spirit and values as a nation.

    New modern western constitutions, especially that of Brussls, are expressing these values and giving clearer guidance, standards and mandates to governance in free democratic nations

    .They are saying, in effect, democracy is not synonymous with capitalism...
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    Dec 20 2011: Lindsay,

    The Japanese concept of "burning down the temple" and recreating it together comes to mind. It employs past construction knowledge, lessons learned, new contexts and evolving understandings to co-construct scaffolding for a contextually re-enlivened reality to rebuild civil life.

    This respects the original orienting principles while interpreting these in relation to previously inconceivable consequences that evolved from it. The core essence, thus, can and often should remain. The materials, however, must be reconsidered, perhaps even modernized, to sustain the original intention, future interpretations and outcomes.

    Think of this essence as the core vision. The "Who, What, Why and Where," Not the "How." The vision of the US can be construed in it's preamble created by the Framers of the Constitution, thus:

    Who: We the People and our posterity (future generations)
    What: Establish and ordain a Constitution
    Why: To form a more perfect union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty.
    Where: United States of America

    The Constitution, the framework government uses to sustain civilization is in some cases obsolete; in others so kluged by iterative amendments that perceiving the Founders original vision is impossible for policy PhDs, let alone citizens to translate.

    Which leaves the structure/scaffolding of government like a Rube Goldberg contraption, weakened by "patch jobs" and questionable methods and construction materials that set it up for inevitable collapse.

    Citizens United, semantically aligned with the Founders "We the People" vision, is a troubling example. Akin to painting over black mold to sell a foreclosed house. It looks "right," and is easier for brokers to sell.

    But beneath, lurk uncontainable hazardous materials that erode the entire structure. This odoriferous mess must be abated before it's too late.

    Andrea
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      Dec 21 2011: Andrea,

      How wonderful to have you here!!! Thanks for stopping by. I know you have been very involved in the "We the People" national effort to re engage citizens and thoroughly enjoyed your "We the People" conversation here at TED to which I refer readers and those who will hopefully join us here.

      Your reference to the Japanese tradition of "burning the temple" is an interesting one. I just saw something about that and was struck by its aspect of collective rededication, recommitment, collective collaborative updating of shared values. Our 4th of July, Bastille Day and other sovereign equivalents don't quite get there.

      your powerful language is awkening like an old fashioned bucket of ice cold water on someone who is in shock:,our laws a Rube Goldberg patchwork, our attempts to fix it now with patches like the 28th amendment movetoammend is putting ward in repsonse to Citizens United just masking the odiferous mess underneath.

      But do I hear you saying that our consitition and our underlying structure are fine and don't need an overhaul? Or have you too come to my place of seeing that our stsructure from the outsetnever contained all the right elements?
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        Dec 21 2011: Lindsay,

        What I'm suggesting is the many permutations of our Constitution undermine its (and our) collective or cumulative orientation to the Founding principals the preamble articulates.

        I'm not sure scrapping it entirely is practical, but I do think the theoretical exercise of considering such a stretch can be constructive--particularly if this occurs via intentional, convivial co-reflectio by cross-partisans. In the act of co-engaging and reflecting the document in its entirety, useful connections can be made that address contexts, patterns, politicized and cultural interpretations and outcomes of all.

        I ran this idea of scrapping the Constitution by Jeanne Massey leader of FairVote Minnesota, at a celebration for our Secretary of State's (Mark Ritchie) 60th birthday last night. Mark and I have discussed the importance of careful, collective, public and cross-partisan engagement that seeks to develop shared understandings of the Constitution.

        To consider the possibilities, Mark, a Democrat, and I joined a Republican businessman who will seek a Senate seat in 2012. Our shared conclusion was a the belief that the Founder's voices are being lost in the "whose Constitutional read is correct?" shuffle as it is co-opted by all sides, sometimes for good, other times not-so-much.

        This informed my interest in Jeanne's response last night. She pointed out work-arounds, like ranked choice voting, can and do address some of the deficits of the Constitutional iterations like Citizen's United.

        And, in fact, she pointed out, it pays to remember the Constitution, as our democracy, is a "living" entity. By design democracy is iterative, which helps explain the two-steps forward, one-step back effects

        That said, Jeanne also noted the possibilities a "Big Amendment" can achieve, such as amendments related to Civil Rights of 1964 legislation. Which, while Citizen's United remains a civic mold, gives hope abatement is possible.

        Andrea
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          Dec 22 2011: Right, I quite understand Jeanne, Mark's and your own caution on the idea of starting over with a more complete, more resilient living consitution. 18 months ago I would have considered it a radical and extreme idea. But I pose it here not as a theoretical excercise at all. My path to that view was not a straight line and I didn't start with the question I pose here. It was more a process of observing, seeing and understanding what has actually been at work in the court, at work in our law and what that means, ultimately about our consitition and what our founding fathers intended.

          We have been taught all our lives that our founding fathers were wise and had given us a perfect, complete and enduring foundations stone from which we could govern ourselves and thrive forever. That it is somehow a pure and true touchstone..

          Where in our constitution is there a clear and unambiguos mention of income inequality?Where in our Consitution..the part our forefathers left us is here a clear and umabiguous mention of slavery, child labor, child abuse, equality of gender, equality of races, etc etc..the long list of 27 chnages we have made because what was there lacked this "inner compass". If the consition is a proper foundation, how do you explain the huge gap beyween the will of the people and the relaity of our reality of our supreme court, the reality of a legsilative proces that disenfranchises the overwhelming majority to serve the business elite?

          When all of this is viewed "in situ" over our entire history it has all really been about the corporate elite, the plutonomy wanting and securing for themselves freedom to exploit natural resourcess, compete for control and domination of these resources, to produce goods at the cheapest possible costs and sell at the highest possible price.

          What is secured only in legislation is not secure at all if it has no clear foundations in the constitution.
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          Dec 22 2011: The original consitution that existedfrom 1776 until 1789 when our present consitution was drafted and adopted was found to be "unwieldy":

          "Ultimately, the Articles of Confederation proved unwieldy and inadequate to resolve the issues that faced the United States in its earliest years; but in granting any Federal powers to a central authority–the Confederation Congress–this document marked a crucial step toward nationhood"
          ( http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution.html_

          We too are at that place now. Our Constiution is no longer adequate to resolve the issues we as a people struggle with; the issues we as a people confront.

          When our Founding Father Met in 1787 it was with a view to hashing out some amendements that would patch up the constitution and solve the diffculties in governance they were experiencing:

          "Through discussion and debate it became clear by mid-June that, rather than amend the existing Articles, the Convention would draft an entirely new frame of government. "(http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution.html)

          It was not primarily to an expression of cultural values they addressed themselves but to the issue of tyranny under a central government and ". Among the chief points at issue were how much power to allow the central government, how many representatives in Congress to allow each state, and how these representatives should be elected--directly by the people or by the state legislators."

          Out of that came our original Consiution and the Bill of Rights..intended not to express the moral compass of our new nation but to insure central government did not overpower states rights or indvidual rights.

          None of which address the quality of life commited to by this new nation for all of its people.

          Other nations followed us and made the same mistakes,now they are building a clearer inner compass into their constitutions..

          We are in the same place now they wer in 1787..our consitution is unwieldy..It's can't be patched
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        Dec 22 2011: Lindsay,

        This piece from Harry Boyte on the new DemocracyU/American Commonwealth Project gets at the challenge of the Constitution and how the Bill of Rights addressed it.

        http://democracyu.wordpress.com/2011/12/15/democracy-then-and-now/

        Andrea
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          Dec 22 2011: Thanks Andrea,

          I will take a look at it.I do mean this to be an exploration, a diligent and thoughtful exchange of ideas..not a sell on my idea that we are in a constiutional crisis and the only answer is a new constitution. I went through a very interesting excercise last evening..I took the legislation we have in place that is most important to me back to our constiution to see where there was a clear specific suuport for that.. a clear mandate that law be created to chieve the ends sought in legislation. Our Constituions failed 100% on everything I took back to it. Other new constiutions of other countries scored much higher for me as an individual than our own did in provideing clear consituoon protection for legislative initiaves on election reform, enviornmental proects. equal right ( more than voting), anti poverty, new deal, child protection, on and on. I ask you to do that same exercise.As we learned with Citizens United the Supreme Court has usurped a power that was supposed to be ours alone..that of guradians and inrepreters of our constitution and our efforts to take our rightful place back, including our right of petition have failed because the consution itself has failed us.Everything that is in legislation now that you value is at risk..just like citizens united effectively revoked legislation on campaign reform that spoke my will,,so it any member of the plutonomy can do as they did on Citizens United and simpley use the court to revoke laws we have worked so hard to put in place.is at risk of being revoked. This is a consitutional crisis..we cabbot afford to take the path of consitutional amendments. and there is no point to adding new laws that can simply be revoked by the supreme court.These new consituions have a very interesting new elemnt that does all you are working for all I want our country have through a consituional court separate from a high court of law.
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          Dec 26 2011: Finally got a chance to read about Henry Boyte's essential work a tthe link your provided and outward from there. As Henry has said if we want government "by" the people not just "for" the people we have to recereate or pehaps build from scratch civic egagement.. even a new constitution is not safe or useful except to the extent that citizens continually stay engaged and use the avnues it might create for direct check and balances through "we the people".

          I gather they no longer teach civics in most schools..is that correct? And I am not sure that right off the bat without sound guidance I would want my grandchildren being taught civics in public schools.I love the work "We the People" is doing because it is planting seeds within adults in community which can include children in the learning, exploring discussing process which is so essential to wisely informed civic action.

          It as to be a habit of living in any free nation..to be continually, wisely. responsibly connected and engaged. At some point ,when I catch up a bit, I am going to contact our Maine branch of "we the people" and see what we can bring to our neck of the woods.Thank you for pointing me to Henry Boyte's very important and very essential work in civic education .
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          Dec 27 2011: Here is a link to thhe Consitutional Accountability Center(CAC) whose entire purpose is to use the long history of the Constitution to ward off both attempted political abuses of the consitution ( I.e. declaring children born here as not U.S. citizens) as well as the Supreme Court's historically right wing "orginalist" interpretation of the constitution

          http://www.theusconstitution.org/issues.php?id=5

          CAC believes that the constitution as written, for example, provides adequate protection for envionmental law in the takings and commerce clauses of the constitution.Their approach, as I understand it , argues that consitutional history overcomes any ambiguity in the original meaning and interpretation. In other words..our constitution is more than the plain text and the original story around that text (e.g. the issues that were brought to the 1787 Consitutional Congress).

          In use and reference in modern times the constitution includes the entire history.of interpretation and application...each major case building upon the next.I don't know though that that argues against a totally new and modern democrcatic constitution. I don't know that that is serving us well or ideally .I think that what we are up against now..the extreme right attempting to ignore 200+ years of ammendments and application in taking down enviornmental law, the new deal and anti-poverry legisilation.It is very clearly a consitutional crisis at its heart.

          It will take more that the Move to Ammend 28th ammendment to right it and the unwieldiness of the the "living consitition" feels unbearable.It would seem to me that a new constiution referring more dircetly and clearly to this 200+ year of texts and decisions would provide us with a more resilient and dynamic constiution which preserves and still leaves as relevant that 200+ years of interpretation.A new constiution also allows new instiutions like constiutional courts
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        Dec 26 2011: Lindsay,

        These new constitutions are very interesting.

        And, benefit from the circuitous (double-entrende intended) route our and other democracies have taken. They also benefit from the inherent idealism of "youth," so to speak, as well. Much as we did here in the US when we wrote ours.

        This mix provides good grounding for innovation. In essence, they are adapting "prior art" democracy concepts, improving them by editing out extraneous parts and kluging on post-modern methods.

        Perceivable is the statistically likely challenge of unintended consequences. Two to stay alert to are: perspective- catalyzed reactivity and situational translation.

        So regardless what a Constitution stipulates clearly or not-so-much, counter-energies and erroneous interpretations are likely.

        In any and all cases, linear adjudicative options can be helpful. But nothing trumps the holistic model for culture change, which engages a mix of institutional rules of engagement and informal efforts.

        While navigators and captains must be engaged in turning the ship around when the ice berg becomes evident, these things can take time.

        Meanwhile an "all hands on deck" culture change effort has to be undertaken, to steer around whatever of it possible.

        Andrea
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          Dec 26 2011: Hi Andrea.

          a pleasure to continue this with you.

          here is one of thousands of quotes I could point to to explain why I am convinced that if we all put our hearts and minds together on only legislative initiatives.trusting in our consitution as it exists, we will fail.

          This is a quote from a Politico article on Ron Paul. It points right at the heart of why the courts have been able to usurp our role as ultimate guardians of our constiution and why the right, through iys allinace with the court, will be totally successful in keepin the new deal torn in shreds, dismamtling what remain sof th John anti-poverty programs..and so much else we beleive in

          "Fox News’s Chris Wallace: You talk a lot about the Constitution. You say Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid are all unconstitutional.Ron Paul: Technically, they are. … There’s no authority [in the Constitution]. Article I, Section 8 doesn’t say I can set up an insurance program for people. What part of the Constitution are you getting it from? The liberals are the ones who use this General Welfare Clause.Technically, he’s right: None of those programs are explicitly laid out in the Constitution. But even as many in the party are looking to reform entitlements and slash spending, almost no one takes it as far as Paul did in this March 2011 appearance on “Fox News Sunday.” His position is not only ripe for devastating ads, it puts him at odds with a constituency that turns out to vote in high numbers"

          Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1211/70798.html#ixzz1hePzGt3m

          The new constiutions of Iceland, Brussels and Ecuador recogize that the people's hold on self g overnance is via the constitution and that our consitutions have not weathered this century of major change well and cannot navigate us saefly through what lies before us now..
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    Dec 19 2011: It occurrs to me that in framing this question and inviting the TED community to explore it together I didn't do a good job making the connection beween our current global economic crisis and the constitutins of the nations who created this crisis.

    It fell on me like a ton of bricks about 12 years ago when the dismatling of all that had been put in place in law bgean to fall apart.the New Deal and its vision, .Glass Stegall, the Community Reinvestment Act, Enviornmntal Protection , the Johnson Era reformsl..all secured only by legilsation without specific affirmations in the Constitution..

    Legsilation is not forever.

    The only place that the specific affirmation that banks are "afffected with a public interest" existed was in the preamble to Glass Stegall, an FDR Era Act that separated Banking from speculation and said that banks had an obligation to conduct themselves accordingly and that there shall be regulation ad oversight to insure that. It was on this affirmation in Glass-Stegall that all the hard fought, hard won banking consumer protections were put into law including the Community Reinvestment Act which said that banks should riebvest a reasonable amount of the deposits that take from a community back into that community and thatthey are obligated to serve th ecredit needs and convenience of thos communities.If that statement "Banks are afffected with a public nterest....tec." had been not in legislation but in the consitution, then itwould not have been consitutional to do what was done in 2000 and just remove all regukation and oversight. If we had a Consiutional Court , as many nations now do, all of the laws that flew into existence as Clinto wlaked outthe door could have been revoked y the consiutional court and we could have spared ourselves this calamity.The Move To ammend 28th amendment in response to Citizens United includes labguage about all corporaions,not just banks that partial;y fills this gap . But is that enough?
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    Dec 18 2011: Constitutional Failure: Cause of BreakdownConsitutional Reconstruction :A Way to Radically Rebuild and Rediretc

    Iceland's response to its total financial collapse in 2008 was to recognize that ultimately it was a constitutional failue,not an abuse of the constitution they had in place,not a deviation from it, but a constiution that was inadqeuate in the first place to guide iceland's political, legislative,economic and cultural life within an overall structure of freedoms and liberties

    I have come to see, to understand, the crisis we face in my country, United States, not as a failure to honor and uphold our constitution, but an inevitable extension of exactly what our forefathers valued and believed in.(perhaps not our people at the time but the values of the framers themselves ) I see it now as defects in our constitution itself, in particular its failure to fully express the moral fabric, the moral spine of the freedoms we value and celebrate that are in fact the moral values of America

    .Lionel Dupond in his post here this morning sees the same thing in France

    ".. I think that the actual French constitution do not represent the value I have and with all the major events happening in the world now (financial crisis, middle east revolution) I believe that it is time for citizen to get more involved in the political process. All the western nation face different crisis with different impacts on everyday life but I believe that the solutions for these crisis is in closer link between politics and society. What is happening in Iceland is great since we all have certain areas where we have a deep knowledge so every one can give innovative solutions to long during issues that can't be resolved by classical politics procedure. This process is also beneficial for the society as a whole because each citizen will feel attached to this new constitution and so a bigger sense of nationwide community will be developped where every one will be included."
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    Dec 17 2011: Iceland's crowd sourced new constitution, drafted by 25 ordiary citizens in a fully transparent online process to which anyone could contibute, povides that 10% of the population can call for a for a national referendum...that would be 68 million in the United States.

    Would you like to see a citizen's referendum provision in the U.S. consitution/in your consiution?

    Should it be on any matter for any cause deemed worthy by 10% of the populace:

    removal of a legislator or the president himself from office?

    revocation of a law or section of law?

    adding a constitional ammendment or change?

    or should it just call for a national vote as Iceland's Consitution provides?

    The forced new election in canada was by a vote of no confidence in Harper by the legislature ? is that correct? not by poular vote. Does Canads also recently revised constitution refer in any way to citizens referendum? It sounnds to me like a great way to hold Congress accountable to the people but a national vote is a costly and slow way to go.

    Is it even remotely feasible to consider something more immediate..i.e forcing a cloture vote up or down on a citizen initiated bill.In Solon's original democracy in greece this citizens veto was very operative. Solon actually did all the law writing but the citizens decided what the law should accomplish and his draft had to be approved I think by the citizens.

    Is that posisble in a large democacry and what would that look like? For example, could there be an annual citizens agenda listing actions they wanted that session to undertake which if approved by 10% of the population would become what the legislature had to write law for.? ( That is actually closer to Solon's original design for the world's first democracy thatn exists in any constitution now. Would such a process keep citizens more engage in the legistative process?