Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 3:00 PM ET, 02/ 4/2011

'To form a government'

By Dylan Matthews

Matt Yglesias thinks the U.S. Constitution will cease to be operative at some point in our lifetimes. I don't know that I'd go that far, as Matt and I both have (hopefully) another several decades ahead of us, and predicting things sixty years out is a bit of a fool's errand. But the specific concern Matt raises (namely, the instability of the presidential systems of government combined with an ideological party system) gives me an excuse to link to my favorite item of the "senior administration official writes an op-ed/magazine article" genre, namely Lloyd Cutler's "To Form a Government."

Cutler wrote the piece for Foreign Affairs in 1980, when he was serving as White House counsel for Jimmy Carter. Cutler's worry was that the Constitution makes it impossible to "form a government" in the sense that parliaments do. The separate election of the president, Senate and House means that there is very rarely a set of elected officials in place who are in rough agreement on policy.

Cutler thought this was a debilitating weakness, and he had a fully Democratic Congress, a presumption against the filibuster and ideologically diverse parties (with a healthy number of conservative Southern Democrats and liberal Republicans) to work with. Where we are now, with divided government, a de facto 60-vote requirement in the Senate and parties cleanly divided on ideological lines, the situation is only worse.

Cutler didn't call for shredding the Constitution, but the sort of things he did entertain as solutions are pretty shocking coming from a Cabinet-level official. While not explicitly endorsing any one proposal, he did suggest amending the Constitution to elect the president, vice president and speaker of the House on the same ticket, synchronize the terms of the president, House and Senate, and give the president the power to dissolve Congress and call new elections. Basically, he was interested in refashioning the Constitution to make it more like a parliamentary system.

And now we find ourselves in 2011, with the House, Senate and presidency unable to function together as a government when national default is on the line. I'm actually a lot less optimistic than Cutler was, if only because of how much things have deteriorated since 1980. I'm of the view that at this point, throwing out the Constitution and starting again would actually be considerably easier than enacting changes as dramatic as the ones he proposes through the existing amendment process.

One scenario is that the political culture adapts to our institutions such that divided government is capable of producing real legislation again. The other scenario is that we reach the point of crisis, abandon the Constitution and start again. I suspect we'd make it through either all right (and I, like Cutler, would love to see an American parliament), but I don't see a third option.

Dylan Matthews is a student at Harvard University and a researcher at The Washington Post.

By Dylan Matthews  | February 4, 2011; 3:00 PM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: The case for government-funded journalism
Next: Wonkbook: Truce on Senate rules is holding; WH starts announcing budget cuts; Obama heads to the Chamber

Comments

Dylan,

Don't be so pessimistic. Just like Jimmy Carters failed presidency led to Loyd Cutlers Doom and Gloom editorial, Obama's presidency is leading to people like yourself thinking that America is heading down hill and requires constitutional changes. But America and the constitution is more resilient than you think. The people will recognize that something is wrong with our elected leaders, vote in responsible adults, and then it will be morning in America again. The process has already started with the 2010 elections.

Posted by: cummije5 | February 4, 2011 3:18 PM | Report abuse

--*And now we find ourselves in 2011, with the House, Senate and presidency unable to function together as a government when national default is on the line.*--

I don't suppose it would occur to Harvard Boy that "national default is on the line" because Congress and Prez worked *too well* together. A little more obstruction might have prevented a lot of misery.

Posted by: msoja | February 4, 2011 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Cutler's client was an incompetent politician who was incapable of working with Congress; of course he wanted to change the system.

Also, I think Dylan's perhaps just too young to realize that the fact that the Government does not enact his particular political goals does not mean that it is "broken."

Posted by: tomtildrum | February 4, 2011 3:43 PM | Report abuse

"I don't suppose it would occur to Harvard Boy that "national default is on the line" because Congress and Prez worked *too well* together."

By Prez, i presume is meant G. Bush, his 2 wars, massive pentagon waste, unpaid for, highly irresponsible tax cuts for the rich,
unregulated bankers gone wild and then bailed instead of jailed by taxpayers.

Posted by: rjewett | February 4, 2011 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Ever since FDR, the Constitution has been effectively shredded. All the left cares about is the 1st, 4th, and 14th ammendments. The rest is just sentimental pre-industrial hogwash.

Just witness the mental contortions the left goes through to evade the clear intent of enumerated powers, the 9th and 10th amendments, and the commerce clause. You have to go to an Ivy League law school to shut your mind to prevent the comprehension of plain language.

The Constitution was not designed to make big government easy. It was designed to make it nearly impossible. However, once FDR packed the court with his cronies, the fix was in.

Only the right cares about a constitution and limited government discussed in the Federalist papers. Judge Vinson hopefully fired the first shot that will lead to a repudiation of all the nonsense started by FDR.

Posted by: ElGipper | February 4, 2011 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Ever since FDR, the Constitution has been effectively shredded. All the left cares about is the 1st, 4th, and 14th ammendments. The rest is just sentimental pre-industrial hogwash.

Just witness the mental contortions the left goes through to evade the clear intent of enumerated powers, the 9th and 10th amendments, and the commerce clause. You have to go to an Ivy League law school to shut your mind to prevent the comprehension of plain language.

The Constitution was not designed to make big government easy. It was designed to make it nearly impossible. However, once FDR packed the court with his cronies, the fix was in.

Only the right cares about a constitution and limited government discussed in the Federalist papers. Judge Vinson hopefully fired the first shot that will lead to a repudiation of all the nonsense started by FDR.

Posted by: ElGipper | February 4, 2011 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Ever since FDR, the Constitution has been effectively shredded. All the left cares about is the 1st, 4th, and 14th ammendments. The rest is just sentimental pre-industrial hogwash.

Just witness the mental contortions the left goes through to evade the clear intent of enumerated powers, the 9th and 10th amendments, and the commerce clause. You have to go to an Ivy League law school to shut your mind to prevent the comprehension of plain language.

The Constitution was not designed to make big government easy. It was designed to make it nearly impossible. However, once FDR packed the court with his cronies, the fix was in.

Only the right cares about a constitution and limited government discussed in the Federalist papers. Judge Vinson hopefully fired the first shot that will lead to a repudiation of all the nonsense started by FDR.

Posted by: ElGipper | February 4, 2011 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Ever since FDR, the Constitution has been effectively shredded. All the left cares about is the 1st, 4th, and 14th ammendments. The rest is just sentimental pre-industrial hogwash.

Just witness the mental contortions the left goes through to evade the clear intent of enumerated powers, the 9th and 10th amendments, and the commerce clause. You have to go to an Ivy League law school to shut your mind to prevent the comprehension of plain language.

The Constitution was not designed to make big government easy. It was designed to make it nearly impossible. However, once FDR packed the court with his cronies, the fix was in.

Only the right cares about a constitution and limited government discussed in the Federalist papers. Judge Vinson hopefully fired the first shot that will lead to a repudiation of all the nonsense started by FDR.

Posted by: ElGipper | February 4, 2011 4:12 PM | Report abuse

This ignores why we consider our Republican form of government superior to a Parliamentary system, favored by the Anglophiles amongs us. We don't suffer from the tyranny of the minority which sometimes leads to astonishing rates of rises and falls among these type of governments.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | February 4, 2011 4:18 PM | Report abuse

One need only read the comment posts at this or any similar web site to realize that the current political situation is unstable in the long run. Each side is sincere in their belief that the other side is either batpoop crazy or hellbent on the destruction of the United States and all it stands for (I know I am, and I'm one of the calmer voices I've run into). There is more vitriol than debate. The only thing everyone is in agreement on is that only one of the two sides bases their arguments on the truth, the other entirely on fabrications, distortions and outright lies (they just disagree which side is which).

I'd go a step further and suggest that you young whippersnappers may live to see the actual fragmentation of the United States.

Posted by: DavidinCambridge | February 4, 2011 4:19 PM | Report abuse

A system where one party is totally in control for a set term sounds like it would work well but we could potentially get stuck in a system of constant change.

Picture this scenario: Democrats are in total control for 4 years and pass all the legislation they want. The public gets tired of them being in charge or upset about the flaws of their system and then vote the Republicans in complete power the next election. The Republicans undo everything the Democrats do and replace it with what they want because they are in complete control. Then the public votes back in the Democrats and the cycle repeats itself.

Our political system may not be good for passing legislation easily and quickly, but it does have the benefit of giving us some stability and keeping us from a constant state of change.

Posted by: DeanofProgress | February 4, 2011 4:19 PM | Report abuse

As has been pointed out by Ezra numerous times, our problems are on autopilot, the solutions are not. We seem unable to even address our problems unless a party is able to take the House, the White House, and a 60-vote majority in the Senate. That, my friends, is a broken system. While someone might think that the Brittish system doesn't have enough (any) veto points, our system clearly has too many.

And dismissing arguments due to the person's age or where they go to school are neither clever nor helpful, just as they weren't when every post by Ezra came with a bunch of idiots talking about how young he was.

Posted by: MosBen | February 4, 2011 4:21 PM | Report abuse

--*By Prez, i presume is meant G. Bush, his 2 wars, massive pentagon waste [...]*--

Dubya and Dubya's Congresses weren't niggardly when it came to social spending either, but you can go back to FDR and walk it all forward, right through the creations of Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid (and expansions of same), Dept. of Education, War on Drugs, War on Poverty, ethanol subsidies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (and all the "promoting home ownership" permutations), and a thousand other instances of government getting things done and you'd be staring at a pretty good approximation of the national debt.

Posted by: msoja | February 4, 2011 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps I'm a little too optimistic, but I figure if our constitution was able to survive a civil war it should be able to survive our current partisan bickering. Besides, would either side really trust the other to draft a new constitution? The Right wants a weak federal government like setup in the Articles of Confederation, and the Left wants a parliamentary system like many European countries. The only possible solution would be a compromise similar to what we already have now.

On another topic, I wonder what kind of country the FDR haters out there would like to live in. By pretty much all measures the 20th Century was a phenomenally good century for the USA. I would think that we must have done something right over the course of that century, but I trust that someone on this thread will help me understand why this great-grandson of a rural Missouri farmer would have been better off in 1920 than I am now in 2011.

Posted by: paul5280 | February 4, 2011 4:45 PM | Report abuse

"The other scenario is that we reach the point of crisis, abandon the Constitution and start again. I suspect we'd make it through either all right (and I, like Cutler, would love to see an American parliament), but I don't see a third option."

If this happens, then there probably won't be one country with a different constitution, but more likely at least two.

Posted by: jnc4p | February 4, 2011 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Third option:

Us defaults on obligations and is unable to provide basic services.

This could cause electric grid to go down, and in turn water infrastructure will cease operating.

Then disgusted governors from key states like Texas and California and others will secede at same time, and country will breakup into separate regions, each with new gvmts.

When at any time 50% of Americans hate their gvmt (as has happened since at least 1992), very strange things can happen.

Posted by: lauren2010 | February 4, 2011 5:33 PM | Report abuse

--*Us defaults on obligations and is unable to provide basic services.*--

Probably a good argument against having the feds trying to provide "basic services".

Posted by: msoja | February 4, 2011 5:59 PM | Report abuse

So now we know msoja does not believe in the constitution, as he does not care for the fed power of providing for the general welfare

Posted by: lauren2010 | February 4, 2011 6:14 PM | Report abuse

James Madison said the following in
referring to a bill to subsidize cod fisherman:

"If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare,
and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare,
they may take the care of religion into their own hands;
they may appoint teachers in every State, county and parish
and pay them out of their public treasury;
they may take into their own hands the education of children,
establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union;
they may assume the provision of the poor;
they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads;
in short, every thing, from the highest object of state legislation
down to the most minute object of police,
would be thrown under the power of Congress.... Were the power
of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for,
it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature
of the limited Government established by the people of America; and what inferences might be drawn, or what consequences ensue, from such a step, it is incumbent on us all to consider."

http://www.constitution.org/je/je4_cong_deb_12.htm

Posted by: justin84 | February 4, 2011 6:28 PM | Report abuse

"This could cause electric grid to go down, and in turn water infrastructure will cease operating."

I'm with msoja. Get these things out of the government's hands now.

If that's a real possibiity, then it would be an absolute disaster.

Posted by: justin84 | February 4, 2011 6:30 PM | Report abuse

I'm actually in favor of decentralizing electricity and getting it off oil.

Water, though, flows across borders.

Basic services from a fed POV include defense, CDC, energy, water, SS, Medicare, food inspections, NASA, etc

Another way of keeping services going is to stop sabotaging gvmt.

Posted by: lauren2010 | February 4, 2011 6:39 PM | Report abuse

"But America and the constitution is more resilient than you think." / "Just witness the mental contortions the left goes through to evade the clear intent of enumerated powers, the 9th and 10th amendments, and the commerce clause."

This sort of lazy faith in some holy text version of the Constitution is typical of the right. It's the basis for executive power (as an projection of a party focused on powerful interests), but it seemingly always shows that elected legislators are the villains. For people obsessed with "freedom," this is really weird.

But that's how it goes. We had an AOC that *actually* screwed over people's liberties, then a Constitution that did much the same thing. Each improvement to our social contract has given us *actual* liberties against the state -- which are quickly sanded down and made less effective.

On the other hand, the things that give the executive the most power -- the 4th-6th and 8th Amendments -- are totally ignored by the Tea Party. But, it makes sense -- they want to move backwards toward less actual "freedom," where the 14th Amendment means nothing, where the state has absolute power, and where other powerful interests can dominate.

So the lecturing about the Constitution by these comments and the right end up sounding "family values"-ish, totally based on one side's biases without any basis in fact -- and I mean zero acknowledgment of the historical struggles of those without freedoms here or elsewhere. It's always an exercise in reading the minds of the founders, as some weird, sorta religious-y exercise, and it's frustrating because you can't really argue someone's "faith."

Posted by: Chris_ | February 4, 2011 6:51 PM | Report abuse

I suspect the federal government as we know it may collapse in March, under the impacts of sudden, severe budget cuts due to a continuing resolution, combined with a general shutdown due to Congressional showboating over the debt limit.

The military will of course continue to function, at least for a time.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | February 4, 2011 6:58 PM | Report abuse

--*So now we know msoja does not believe in the constitution, as he does not care for the fed power of providing for the general welfare*--

Are you misunderstanding "general welfare" on purpose, or are you inadvertently revealing more about yourself than you might wish?

Posted by: msoja | February 4, 2011 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Yawn

Posted by: lauren2010 | February 4, 2011 7:15 PM | Report abuse

@msoja: Dubya and Dubya's Congresses weren't niggardly when it came to social spending either.

Well fully 1/3+ of the debt is the direct result of the bush tax cuts, the 2 unfunded wars, unfunded medicare part d. Only part d qualifies as social spending...

still waiting for the repubs to present a plan to eliminate the mass of debt they stuck us with while driving the economy off a cliff...all while the top 2% saw their incomes and net worth skyrocket.

Posted by: srw3 | February 4, 2011 7:33 PM | Report abuse

"I suspect the federal government as we know it may collapse in March"

The GOP certainly hopes so.

Posted by: lauren2010 | February 4, 2011 7:41 PM | Report abuse

"I'm of the view that at this point, throwing out the Constitution and starting again would actually be considerably easier than enacting changes as dramatic as the ones he proposes through the existing amendment process."

- I do not know Dylan which world you live in. When the whole premise of Tea Party is Constitutional Nativism with so much electoral success; I am amazed by your disconnect here with American Political Reality.

"One scenario is that the political culture adapts to our institutions such that divided government is capable of producing real legislation again. The other scenario is that we reach the point of crisis, abandon the Constitution and start again. I suspect we'd make it through either all right (and I, like Cutler, would love to see an American parliament), but I don't see a third option."

- Why would not our Politicians be forced to adopt to the system and solve the problem? That is what electoral pressure is and that is 'true politics'.

2 years back no one would have imagined that ObamaCare would be opposed in this manner. But Teat Party did (though I think wrongly but right answer there is to defeat it politically).

So stop reading too much into American System. Since we do not form government, 'the kind of consensus' is there across the board (they call it third rail for that in America); that is unique to American System and that is good.

When I was in College in India, Indira Gandhi loyalists talked lot about bringing Presidential System in India and a way to resolve India's problem. I remember passionately arguing for that. But as you grow, you realize Politics is about taking people together and showing foresight of a leader. System is secondary there.

If not on national level, look at State level leaders like Christi, Cuomo, Bloomberg and Jerry Brown; how they are trying to solve the problem. That is admirable. It is the political failure at Federal level which is a problem. Just that Obama does not want to handle 'hard stuff' nor GOP wants to 'grow' in terms of proposing real solutions to address our current and long term needs is sensible manner. In other words, we have got 'incompetent batch' of politicians right now.

Posted by: umesh409 | February 4, 2011 9:20 PM | Report abuse

BTW Dylan, national default is NOT on the line. NO ONE is predicting this will happen.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | February 4, 2011 9:32 PM | Report abuse

--*2 years back no one would have imagined that ObamaCare would be opposed in this manner.*--

Unless one had an attention span that went back to HillaryCare, etc.

Posted by: msoja | February 4, 2011 10:31 PM | Report abuse

--*Well fully 1/3+ of the debt is the direct result of the bush [...]*--

No doubt, and the other nearly 2/3 is someone else's fault. While you want to blame one guy, I see a system playing farther and farther out of bounds no matter which person or which party is at the helm. The country is increasingly factionalized, with a large chunk of the population increasingly willing to use the force of the state to achieve its ends. That trend is not going to end well.

Posted by: msoja | February 4, 2011 11:00 PM | Report abuse

We Democrats flirt with parliamentary government from time to time when we get frustrated. But we ignore the likely problems parliamentary government would bring in a large, diverse (demographic, geographic, etc.) country such as the U.S.

The presumption of those advocating a parliamentary system seems to be that the two-party structure would survive the establishment of a parliament. The evidence, from other parliamentary countries of considerable less diversity than our own, is that it would not.

What we would likely have is coalition government with all the instability that portends. (See post-war Italy.)

What we have now is a two-party system in which coalitions are formed within the parties. (Not so at the moment within the Republican Party, but that's likely temporary, judging by history and demographic trends.)

We Democrats' frustration is that our coalition party could not agree to reform Senate rules. Does it make sense to toss the entire Constitution because of momentary frustration?

The solution to a dysfunctional Senate lies within the Constitution. And Dylan, remember Occam's Razor.

You're young, Dylan. Learn to be patient, to think about unintended consequences, and to co-exist with imperfection. Self-government was not intended to be efficient. It was intended as a bulwark against tyranny. So far, it's worked pretty well.

Posted by: fredbrack | February 4, 2011 11:14 PM | Report abuse

"You're young, Dylan. Learn to be patient"


it seems that when there is no other way to support an opinion,insecure, older people, guarding their place, in the hierarchy of things, love to patronize young, smart people, holding a disparate opinion, just for being young, smart people!
be patient, and one day, you will be smart and wise, and patient:-) like many older people, dylan!!
in the meantime, we are all justified in holding your youth against you!


because you are young, you couldnt possibly be smarter or wiser than anyone chronologically older than yourself:-)
"you are young, be patient, dylan"....although we all think you have the emotional wisdom to withstand the horrors and instant life or death decisions, of fighting in a war for us!

"you are young, be patient, dylan..." although if you happen to be pro-life, we encourage you to father a child, and are sure you are perfectly capable of doing that!

and when you are older, dylan....and if you remain patient, you will understand the wisdom in all of this.



Posted by: jkaren | February 5, 2011 3:09 AM | Report abuse

"BTW Dylan, national default is NOT on the line. NO ONE is predicting this will happen"

National default is indeed on the table, and there are many people predicting that it will happen.

And if we soon do not reduce our deficits and DoD budget and health care costs and start weening ourselves off oil, we will certainly default in a big way and it will happen sooner than you think.

We have two choices ahead of us:

1) piss off bunches of doctors and hospitals (as we cut their profits), and wealthy people (as we raise their taxes), and DoD contractors (as we slash their weapon programs and close most foreign bases), and bankers and wallstreeters as we heavily regulate their predatory practices, and oil companies as we ween ourselves from their milk, and transnational corporations (as we re-erect trade barriers that Reagan and his successors unwisely took down) in order to restore our manufacturing jobs.

2) piss off EVERYONE as the national economy utterly collapses of its own weight and mismanagement by the corporate owned fed gvmt.

Option 1 will involve a great upheaval, and much pain. I equate it to using a defibrillator on a patient whose heart has just stopped. It will hurt at first. But in the long run it is the only course to health. The pain will be less than what will happen if we let the status quo (option 2) run its course.

Ok, this is where all you nut jobs protest about whatever it is that you ideologically adhere to (i.e. low taxes, keeping gvmt mitts off of wallstreet, drill baby drill, keep your gvmt hands off my medicare).

Posted by: lauren2010 | February 5, 2011 7:03 AM | Report abuse

"Basic services from a fed POV include defense, CDC, energy, water, SS, Medicare, food inspections, NASA, etc"

NASA is a basic service?

"Another way of keeping services going is to stop sabotaging gvmt."

In reality, there are 25-50 million saboteurs, and they have representation in Congress. There's really nothing that can be done about that.

If the government defaults and this default leads to the chaos you suggest, then no one's going to get his essential services.

Posted by: justin84 | February 5, 2011 9:35 AM | Report abuse

lauren:

Ok, I can't account for every media yahoo and what they say, so you may have me there.

Perhaps we are quibbling over definitions. Sending the SS checks out late is not default. Failing to respond to Treasury obligations and other financial instruments is default. That is not happening under any conceivable circumstances! Trust me.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | February 5, 2011 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Is it just me, or does it seem like the only pieces Ezra actually writes himself these days are the health care ones, and those dealing with his incredibly awful taste in music?

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | February 5, 2011 10:00 AM | Report abuse

justin

I should have said "fed services" not "basic services"

"basic services" implies a subset, and that was not what I intended in my initial post.

If the US gvmt fails to meet its obligations, than ALL fed services are at risk, and there will be ripple down effects even to local services, including utilities, transportation, food, electricity, water, etc..

Posted by: lauren2010 | February 5, 2011 10:56 AM | Report abuse

hope you are right john

But if we fail to extend the debt limit, all bets are off. Anything could happen once we allow chaos to take root.

There were yahoos in the USSR who said it wouldn't collapse.

Posted by: lauren2010 | February 5, 2011 10:58 AM | Report abuse

I'm not really worried, even about the debt limit. Boehner is not a fighter by nature. You saw what happened last time, even when the pugnacious Gingrich was in power.

There are VERY heavy money interests onboard the GOP that will act as a counter weight to the Tea Party in influence.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | February 5, 2011 12:13 PM | Report abuse

The only thing we should expect elected officials to be aligned on is fairness and we've removed such opportunity through our failure to react to escalating costs of mounting political campaigns.
Nothing, either great or catastrophic, occurs without great participation by we the many, even if our greatest participation is a failure to react.

Posted by: reenie10 | February 6, 2011 9:11 AM | Report abuse

"Matt Yglesias thinks the U.S. Constitution will cease to be operative at some point in our lifetimes. "
----------------------------------------
Cool. That means that the States will be free to go their separate ways if they wish.

Posted by: illogicbuster | February 6, 2011 10:22 AM | Report abuse

the hatred of the left by the right is proof there is only one way to think. Group think is the way.

with such idiocies ruining our society since Nixon, we are seeing the result of this "us vs. them" theft, highlighted by the Banksters.

i can hardly wait for the proverbial crash that hits the right wingers in the face. for that i want to be alive.

after all these years of their lies, propaganda and theft, the devolution of America is but a sad result of their untold ignorance and hatred.

but you reap what you sow. somehow the Bible is used only when it furthers the Right wing stupidity.

Posted by: Beleck31 | February 6, 2011 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Divided government isn't a bug, it's a feature: checks and balances!

Posted by: adaplant | February 6, 2011 3:15 PM | Report abuse

America is definitely in need of a new constitution, and there is nothing wrong with that.

The Constitution was a great thing. But we've out grown this one, and are in need for a change. It doesn't mean that this wasn't a great document for it's time, it just means that we've come to it's inevitable conclusion.

Max Weber is a social theorist famous for creating the term "bureaucracy", and the people who touted the term were very proud of it because it was the inevitable evolution from other, less liberating systems. However, that was because they knew that they would never have to face the inevitable demise of what they created. The dark underbelly of bureaucracy is that it is prone to exponentially expansive amounts of red tape, which would strangle a system to it's inevitable demise.

The good news is that doesn't mean that we die. It means we get a new system once this one's life span has been spent. Even if we don't have anything better than a new bureaucracy, it's a bureaucracy with a new life span. It means a new government capable of having a fresh, adaptable organization that can do what it needs to do without the confines of the old world dragging it down.

That's a good thing.

Retiring our old constitution for a new one will be a good thing and it will neither be a blight on the old nor an unnatural death sentence for the new. Sometimes things have to change, and everything has to die. Just because something's time has passed doesn't mean that it's time wasn't amazing, nor does it mean the future will be less without it.

Posted by: DmetriKepi | February 6, 2011 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Part of the problem is that we have devolved into this petty bickering. It has been invigorating watching Egypt over the past few weeks and thinking about how minor most of our disagreements actually are. In some ways, Obama has the perfect demeanor for this. He seems pretty recalcitrant to the daily he-said/she-said crap that passes for a national crisis these days.

Posted by: willows1 | February 7, 2011 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company