Americans Should Seriously Consider Constitutional Reform

The system is broken. Don’t wait for an even worse crisis before fixing it.

View of Washington DC with the United States Capitol in the distance, February 17, 2015
View of Washington DC with the United States Capitol in the distance, February 17, 2015 (Matt Popovich)

I completely agree with Timothy B. Lee: Americans should seriously consider constitutional reform.

This weekend’s federal government shutdown — despite Republicans controlling both houses of Congress as well as the presidency — is further proof that the system is broken.

Extreme partisanship, polarization, the politicization of the judiciary, government-by-crisis, legislators’ inability to tackle major issues like entitlement reform and Congress’ unwillingness to execute its proper spending and war-declaration powers all argue for an overhaul of the American political system.

Lee fears it will take an even bigger crisis before Americans accept the need for change.

But he is also optimistic that widening the “Overton window” on this might improve the chances of fixing the problem before a catastrophe occurs.

Some ideas

To that end, let me reiterate some of the ideas we’ve thrown around here at the Atlantic Sentinel:

European-style parliamentary democracy, with a cabinet that answers to lawmakers, would rein in the imperial presidency and lower the bar for impeachment.

Matthew Penn has made an even more ambitious proposal: consolidating all fifty states into seven new republics. That may be a bridge too far, but it’s worth questioning if existing political boundaries accurately reflect cultural and economic realities?