Responding to Imperfection: The Theory and Practice of Constitutional Amendment

Responding to Imperfection: The Theory and Practice of Constitutional Amendment

Responding to Imperfection: The Theory and Practice of Constitutional Amendment

Responding to Imperfection: The Theory and Practice of Constitutional Amendment

Synopsis

It was a fundamental breakthrough in American constitutional theory, manifested originally in the drafting of state constitutions, that the 'rules of government' would be decidedly 'alterable' through a stipulated legal process.

Excerpt

My fellow Americans, we are in a bad way. We are drifting. Our leaders are compromising, compromised. They have lost sight of government's basic purposes.

It is past time for us to take the future into our hands. Each of us has gained so much from life in America. Can we remain idle while this great nation drifts downward?

No: We must join together in a movement for national renewal, even if this means self-sacrifice. We will not stop until the government has heard our voice.

The People must retake control of their government. Our representatives must act decisively to bring the law in line with the deeper meanings of American life.

Since the first Englishmen colonized North America, this voice has never been silent. We have never lived for long without hearing its diagnoses of decline, its calls for renewal. For good and for ill, there can be no thought of silence—no way to proclaim that our generation has reached the promised land. Americans have become too diverse, too free, to suppose their struggle over national identity will end before the death of the Republic. the voice will remain—calling upon Americans to rethink and revitalize their fundamental commitments, to recapture government in the name of the People. It is this voice that will concern us here, as well as the distinctive attitude Americans have cultivated in its exercise. While we have long since learned to live with prophets in our midst, we have not learned to love them.

Talk is cheap. the normal American's reaction to some politico's claim of a popular “mandate” is incredulity, not commitment. It is easy for a self-proclaimed savior to persuade himself to lead a movement for national renewal. It is quite another thing for him to convince others— millions and millions of others—to work together to renew and redefine the collective sense of national purpose in the name of the People of the United States.

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