Skip to comments.Harvard Elite Writing New Constitution- with the Tea Party
Posted on 10/09/2011 7:20:14 AM PDT by Kaslin
Last week the unthinkable happened. While you were distracted by the banal and only marginally important presidential primaries, the lion, Harvard Law School, publicly lay down with the lamb, the Tea Party Patriots. The long-term political implications are, potentially, far more potent than a mere presidency.
The SuperElite and the SuperPopulists convened at Harvard for a Conference for a Constitutional Convention. It was co-hosted by Lawrence Lessig, from Harvard, and by Mark Meckler, co-founder of the 850,000 member Tea Party Patriots.
Lessig is a leading figure on the social democratic left, the director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard Law School. Elena Kagan (then Harvard Law School Dean, now U.S. Supreme Court Justice) once said, Larry Lessig is one of the most brilliant and important legal scholars of our time . His work has recast the very terms of discussion and debate in multiple areas of law, ranging from intellectual property to constitutional theory. His new focus on questions of governance and corruption will be similarly transformative.
Lessig is also the author of canonical and subversive books on subjects as diverse as the Internet and copyright law. His most recent and most subversive work: Republic, Lost. Most scholars could (and do) retire on the job with much lesser accomplishments than this, happily disappearing into the status quo. So what the hell is this one up to, enduring a lot of hostility for showing respect to a vilified ideological opponent?
Mecklers biography is more laconic than Lessigs: originally from southern California graduating from McGeorge Law School credits his father with having passed to him a patriotic foundation and cowboy ethics. But his role, as co-founder and one of the national coordinators of the Tea Party Patriots, the largest and most authentic of the Tea Party groups, is all the credential he needs to stand in equal dignity with Lessig. Similar to Mecklers is the dignity of the Tea Party Patriots resident constitutional expert, Bill Norton, who also spoke at Harvard as a citizen scholar.
Lessig and the Tea Party, and its guiding spirits, are populists. Populism was forever redefined by Jeffrey Bell (a business partner of this columnist) as optimism about peoples ability to manage their own affairs better than an elite can manage them for them. Populism is neither left nor right wing. Populists of all stripes share in common a conviction in power to the people, a belief that in a republic citizen is the noblest office. And while Lessig and Meckler may disagree about just about every ideological issue, their respect for the wisdom and dignity of the citizens unites them in a realm far more important than the ideological.
They came together to explore a mechanism by which Americas government can be changed by, of, and for the people. Jefferson was unequivocally right when he wrote:
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
So. Are there insufferable evils?
Lets start with the federal government spending over a trillion dollars a year more than it takes in. This provoked the Tea Party. Many of us both on the right and in the populist rank and file consider the ballooning national debt to be an insufferable evil.
Congress persistently is refusing to stop spending money it does not have. Sen. Curtis Olafson, a state senator from North Dakota, has a solution. Hes gotten the ball rolling with support in 6 to 12 states for an Article V constitutional convention to prevent raising of the debt limit without state approval. He serves as national spokesperson for the National Debt Relief Amendment.
The left seems, mainly, outraged by the decision of Citizens United allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts in independent expenditures as is their clear First Amendment right. Lessig is a somewhat lonely figure on the left in not promoting a proto-fascist solution, censorship, to the problems being caused by so damn much money in politics. The core of Lessigs approach is that of making available optional (rather than coercive) public financing of congressional elections. This is not radically dissimilar to the system in place for matching funds for presidential primaries and, while unequivocally Progressive, falls far short of Leninism (much to the dismay of the Communist Party USA, which attended the conference to denounce Lessig and push for a new, communist, constitution for North America).
Lessig is heartsick about how campaign contributions have come so to dominate the attention of candidates and members of Congress that it makes problems insoluble and is sinking America as a republic. Lessig is evenhanded in pointing out the distortions. He shows how political contributions clearly interfere with the free market process contributions buying sugar tariffs leading to all kinds of degradations of the free market. Then he shows how campaign money destroys left wing priorities, mangling, perhaps terminally, the drive to get to sustainable universal health insurance. The current financing system also feeds popular cynicism, undermining our overall political health.
The corrupting effect of money in politics is more populist than left wing. The dean of the Article V convention movement, former Michigan Chief Judge Thomas Brennan, no left winger, attended the conference and blogged:
Money that flows like raw sewage from K Street to the Capital. Money that corrupts. Money that influences. Money that changes our nation from a democratic republic to a sinister oligarchy of career politicians, corporate fat cats, ward healing bosses, and the lobbyists who tie them all together.
The last thing the incumbents in Congress will do is to change the rules in a way that might level the playing field between themselves and challengers, leading to an almost 100% reelection rate even though Congress, as a body, suffers from a pathetic 11% approval rating. Therefore, Lessig is proposing to call an Article V convention to end run the Congress. So is Olafson in his effort to take away Congresss credit cards.
To get there they need 34 states. There are pockets of strong resistance to such a convention, most notably the John Birch Society, Phyllis Schlafly, and Laurence Tribe, surely a strange bedfellows coalition if ever there was one. On the other hand, the most respected state-based policy institute in America, the Goldwater Institute, has fielded Nick Dranias, who there holds the Clarence J. and Katherine P. Duncan Chair for Constitutional Government and is Director of the Joseph and Dorothy Donnelly Moller Center for Constitutional Government, to make an ironclad case that such an Article V call can be useful while constrained.
Yes, Meckler was there in his personal, rather than in an institutional, capacity, did not speak for the Tea Party Patriots, and did not endorse Lessigs campaign finance reform. No, Lessig did not endorse Sen. Olafsons debt ceiling limit. All beside the point. For the first time in modern history the populist left and populist right came together to endorse, and seek a way to operationalize, a transcendent belief in citizens over government.
A ConCon would be a fatal mistake. No matter how it started, it would be hijacked by union thugs and and socialists. At the end, we would have a “constitution” like that of the old USSR, complete with a “right to a job” and the “fair” distribution of wealth.
I have a problem with this...don’t know who this Tea Party person is or who he represents. It’s not the Tea Party I know.
This is a remarkably bad idea.
Lets start with the federal government spending over a trillion dollars a year more than it takes in. This provoked the Tea Party.
I thought it was racism...?
That is what the left accused the Tea Party of
The TEA Party is being set up to be the fallguy for the violence that is coming.
If FREEPERS don't know who this is or what groups are ‘representing’ the TEA Party...it is propaganda. Pure evil propaganda.
ALL real Tea Party Patriots need to start taking steps to properly identify themselves. My God, I can't believe this is happening really. Of course there is the flipside to identifying ourselves which as this devolves...DHS will have a hey day.
Did not read the article. Posting from having read the headline. Wondering why anyone would think the original Constitution could be improved upon? Maybe there should be an amendment here or there, every once in a great while, but why scrap the original and expect a new and improved document? (imho) it would not be possible (a new and improved document) and any ConCon would be just as a ConCon implies, a ConCon.
I’m against any new Constitutional Amendments because the prospect of getting bad ones is real.
and thus one of the problems for liberals with the Tea Party. There is now command structure no National Leader of the movement to attack. So anyone can declare themselves a Tea Partier.....this can also be used against us. Uber libs are going to start identifying themselves as Tea Party leaders and saying Racist things and generally betrataying all Tea Party ideals! Working with Progressives to rework the Constitution is a HORRIBLE idea...Remember they believe that the Constitution is a document of Negative Rights. Stay vigilant the left will go to any length to retain power in 2012 and beyond!!!
I never voted for Mark Meckler to speak for me. Seems he thinks pretty high of himself.
It is a fact that the liberals don’t like the constitution. that is why they want to rewrite it. Many of them have never read the contitution
Amendment 1: The right of the people to be secure in their feelings and not have their emotional well being questioned shall not be infringed.
It is a fact that the liberals don’t like the constitution. that is why they want to rewrite it. Many of them have never read the constitution
Violence is always a bad idea. An equally bad idea would be a Constitutional Convention.
"Populism" is in many cases just another word for mobocracy. Much of the structure of our republic is designed to reign in the darker impulses of populist movements.
This is why I supported a unified Tea Party as opposed to a vague tea party collective with no structure or accountability. Anyone can call themselves a tea partier and at the same time support the destruction of the Constitution.
“Populist”? That’s a big warning signal to me. We are a constitutional Republic, founded on the recognition of the sovereignty of the individual, and dedicated to the rule of law. Not populism, which in action, is more appropriately equated with democracy and rule of the majority.
Meckler? Never heard of him and sure as hell didn’t vote for him.
Party who lay down with Harvard dogs wake up with pee in Tea Cup.
It can't. What comes out might not in any way resemble the current Constitution.
Which is why, especially now, a Constitutional Convention would be incredibly dangerous to the Republic.
Yes, what he said.
I agree with you completely. The dangers of such an undertaking in the present circumstances cannot be overestimated.
In truth, we do not need to recreate our Constitution: we need to abide by it.
Garbage in, garbage out.
Clearly both of them have missed the essence of the problem, which is that the federal government has strayed from its legitimate purpose of protecting life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Coercing people into being subjected to ‘universal health care’ is not at all the business of the federal government. Looting the wealth of half of the citizens in order to hand out freebies to the other half is not at all the business of the federal government.
It’s crystal clear to many of us. Guess that you need to be a Harvard professor or a self-annointed tea party leader to be so easily confused...
We just need to abide by the original intent of the one we've got.
Meaning the federal government gets gutted back to its original enumerated powers.
This stinks so bad I can smell it here from OZ - beware Soclialists bearing gifts!
We have nothing to fear from a "hijacked convention". Whatever comes out of the convention must still be ratified by the states.
Bring on ConCon!
Elena Kagan (then Harvard Law School Dean, now U.S. Supreme Court Justice) once said, Larry Lessig is one of the most brilliant and important legal scholars of our time . His work has recast the very terms of discussion and debate in multiple areas of law, ranging from intellectual property to constitutional theory. His new focus on questions of governance and corruption will be similarly transformative.
The Liberals are trying to control the masses through propaganda and staged "bipartisanship."
A TRUE TEA Party Conservative would eschew the idea of a ConCon. Enforce it the way it is, and a lot of our problems go away overnight.
what, declaring it an enemy of the state?
What makes you think that some socialist claptrap of a constitution would have the slightest chances of being ratified by three-quarters of the states? This argument is a straw man.
There are only people they can pretend represent the "Tea Party."
Try that again. If they get the 38 to have a convention, what makes you think it won't? If 38 states think the current Constitution is unworkable, that's three fourths. Otherwise, Amend the one we have--and FOLLOW IT!
Like one obamaidiot told me as he bragged about voting for Obama, "We needed change".
There are still a significant number of people who still don't get it, and well over three fourths who don't have a clue about "freedom".
How many “Tea Parties” are there?
God guided the hands and thoughts of the Founders. Are there even men of their caliber around now? We need to follow the original not try to replace it.
“A ConCon would be a fatal mistake.”
Few are able to write a short, concise sentence, totally clear in meaning and allowing for no possibility of error. Congratulations, you did it. Anyone who disagrees simply does NOT understand the issue.
William F. Buckley, Jr.
There have been threads on this subject in the past and my quarrel with the idea of a convention is that we don’t abide by what we have now so why write something which will almost certainly not be as good as what we have and which won’t be followed anyway. Most of the proposed amendments amount to writing more constitutional law requiring that the existing constitution should be followed. It is like a physician writing a prescription calling for the patient to take the same medicine he has already prescribed but the patient refused to take it.
In my opinion the original constitution was imperfect as are all human efforts but it was written by some of the greatest thinkers of all time and there is little or no chance that we will improve on it greatly.
updating the u.s. constitution has been on the laundry list of to-do’s by leftists since i was in college.
If you want to keep money from corrupting the process, without terminating First Amendment rights, reduce government meddling and gratuitous regulations to the bare bones minimum necessary to maintain good civil order. If special interest money can't buy regulatory favors, including enabling legislation, it won't be there for long.
That is the key to solving the distortion caused by huge moneys, but I guarantee the Harvard leftwinger won't touch that idea with a ten foot pole.
Sure, half of the country wouldn't accept its validity, and there would be a Civil War.
Actually, that's the plot of my third novel.
Here is a long excerpt, giving a fictional take on the dire aftermath of a runaway ConCon.
Oh, I dunno. Read Amendments XVI, XVII, and XVIII to see what claptrap has already been duly ratified during a "progressive era."
Obama took advantage of that sentiment in red states last election.
Be careful of any force which would cut off credit...thus ending the capitalist system. That includes class warfare on the right as well.
Yeah, what I said, except with the substitution of "rein" for "reign". :-)
Unless there was a full coup I’m unaware of, this sounds like an academic exercise. Our current Constitution has an amendment process, there’s no need to rewrite anything.