Last week, I participated in an unusual event — a conference on the prospects for a federal Constitutional Convention at Harvard Law School, co-sponsored with the Tea Party Patriots and Fix Congress First.
A wide variety of participants from both the left and the right mixed with surprising comfort and cordiality, and found numerous points of agreement. Something’s just not right with the country, all agreed, and my comment that America has by far the worst political class in its history drew universal applause.
It’s certainly true, as even a brief glance at the news will illustrate. When the country was founded, we had Jefferson, Madison, Washington and Franklin, among many other giants. Now we have ... well, a bunch of greedy pygmies.
But, of course, that in itself poses a problem for any new Constitutional Convention. The Constitution we have now is the product of Madison and those others. Would we get a better one from the likes of Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner? Probably not. On the other hand, anything new that comes out of a convention will have to be approved by three-fourths of the states.
We may find out, given that dissatisfaction with the current situation continues to grow. According to an August Rasmussen poll, only 17 percent of Americans think the current government has the consent of the governed, and in a Gallup poll from last week, 49 percent of Americans thought the federal government poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens.
At any rate, in the spirit of the discussion, I have a few amendments of my own to propose:
If voters focus on the kind of government they want, and don’t fall for the distractions that the political class routinely deploys, we won’t need a new Constitutional Convention. And if voters aren’t up to that, then a convention probably won’t do any good anyway.
Glenn Harlan Reynolds, a law professor at the University of Tennessee, hosts “InstaVision” on PJTV.com.