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The last two weeks a radical right wing Supreme Court radically transformed American life in all the wrong ways across a broad array of issues: women's rights, environmental regulations, gun safety, immigrant rights, indigenous rights, housing, public health, and protecting people from police violence. The conservative majority made decisions to take away fundamental rights and in other cases the Court stripped away legislation and regulation that the overwhelming majority of Americans desire and demand. The Supreme Court fed every right wing ideological bent undermining their own legitimacy and with it, the foundations of our democratic republic. Our democracy does not consistently represent the will of the people in any branch of government creating a crisis of legitimacy in the eyes of its citizens. 

The ongoing January 6 hearings remind of us how razor thin close we were to a dictatorship. This reality is sadly reinforced by a Republican Party within which support for the outcome of dictatorship far outweighs the voices of reason fair and free elections. We are living in times when it is courageous and notable for Republicans to simply voice support for the basic tenets of democracy and the longstanding norms and functions of the Constitution. 

The moribund state of American political parties are not just an issue for one side.   We should be rightfully concerned about the fecklessness of the Democratic Party establishment that finds great difficulty in prosecuting traitors who led an insurrection and refuses robustly and politically to ostracize enablers and supporters of would be autocrats. The Democrats seem to look the gift horse of hold majoritarian positions on most issues in the mouth, failing time and again to advocate forcefully and to implement the will of the people.  

The challenges of our day require more than the political wrangling of normal politics, of the promise of winning the next election. The current situation requires a fundamental rethinking  Quite simply: a republic that consistently can not deliver what the majority of its citizens want must certainly be doomed. Fundamental change is required.  We must change the Constitution.

Organizing for Constitutional change will not be easy, but doing so will have much bigger, long-term payoffs. As future ancestors, we owe our children and their children to look beyond the politics of today to fix what is fundamentally broken in our democracy. Each successive generation of Americans have expanded the meaning of democracy and human rights in the foundational document of our government.  It is now our turn.

How do we make Constitutional change?

Article V of the Constitution provides two ways to propose amendments to the document. Amendments may be proposed either by the Congress, through a joint resolution passed by a two-thirds vote, or by a convention called by Congress in response to applications from two-thirds of the state legislatures. Then 3/4 of the convention or 3/4 of the states must ratify an Amendment. The barriers to Constitutional changes are high, but the pressing needs for this government to evolve are that much higher.  

I would argue that we need to combine multiple amendments focused on restoring and building a functioning democracy and extending the original Bill of Rights, equal protections, and other rights amendments to a more robust, modern view of human rights. Passing amendments is a laborious process, so let's have the states look at ten together in a new Constitutional Convention or series of votes in state legislatures to apply and then vote on the amendments.  

Here is a rough sketch of what the ten Democracy and Human Rights Amendments might entail. 

An Amendment That Already Passed (Amendment XXVIII) - Equal Rights Amendment (Join Our Organizing Group)

ERA has already been passed by the requisite number of states and needs Congress to pass an act that eliminates the original deadline which ended in 1982.  The amendment read as follows:

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

New Amendment 1 (Amendment XXIX) - Abolish Electoral College; Elect President and Vice-President by Popular Vote  (Join Inaugural Organizing Group)

This amendment would abolish the electoral college and make the election of President and Vice-President solely based on the popular vote.  Every state and every citizen would be equally important in electing the leader of the country. Five of the Supreme Court justices were nominated by a President who did not win the majority of votes so of course the Court will not represent the will and interests of the majority of Americans.

New Amendment 2 (Amendment XXX) - Washington DC Statehood Amendment (Join Inaugural Organizing Group)

Washington DC will receive statehood for representation purposes, including voting members of both chambers of Congress based on apportionment laid out in the Constitution.  Washington DC has a higher population than Vermont and Wyoming and is in the same range of states like Alaska and the Dakotas. We have a lot of Americans that are simply not represented in the political system.

New Amendment 3 (Amendment XXXI) - Term limits for the elected representatives, judges and officers of the United States Amendment (Join Inaugural Organizing Group)

Term limits are controversial, but the nation finds itself in a current state where the older generation holds much of the power and is making decisions that adversely affect the succeeding generations. To engender a more active citizenry we need some churn in positions of power and authority.  An initial take on term limits follows:

- House of Representatives - 12 years (6 total terms)

- Senate - 18 years (3 total terms), no more than 20 years for those who took office mid-term.

- Federal judges including Justices of the Supreme Court - 20 years in any one position.

These term limits allow qualified and responsive leaders to make their way through successive degrees of responsibility while not becoming entrenched in any one power center. In the legislative bodies, it allows leadership positions to be better tied to merit as opposed to seniority.  

New Amendment 4 (Amendment XXXII) - Majority Vote Amendment and Rules for the appointment and confirmation of federal judges and justices of the Supreme Court (Join Inaugural Organizing Group)

In short, we have to make the Senate rules fair and representative of the majority of citizens. This amendment addresses the major deficiencies of Senate rules and norms, many of which have already been undermined by the current generation of Senators. Given the break of protocol and tradition that Sen. Mitch McConnell displayed with Supreme Court justices in not giving Merrick Garland a hearing in early 2016 and promptly reversing course with Amy Coney Barrett much later in the election year of 2020 and given some of the holding up of judicial appointments, the Constitution needs to spell out clearly the process and require that the Senate hold up and down votes on Presidential appointees to the bench within a certain specified period of time, perhaps a period of 3-4 months.  If that time overlaps with the next administration, the appointments should not be made or voted upon. Senate rules have already changed those votes to majority votes and its time to enshrine majority rule in the Senate and end the filibuster for all voting.  Super-majority voting means almost nothing gets done: good, bad, or otherwise. Returning majority rule to the "world's greatest deliberative body" would make the Senate a better legislative body.  

New Amendment 5 (Amendment XXXIII) - Congressional Apportionment Amendment (Join Inaugural Organizing Group)

It is time to more evenly base the Senate on population  On Senate apportionment, the issue is that we have a small number of citizens in the smallest states with much more power than citizens from larger states.  One way we might apportion Senators is that the smallest 10-15 states receive one Senator, that the bulk of states still receive 2 Senators and that the 10-15 largest states receive 3-5 Senators based on population.  We can maintain the ethos of federalism and the relative size of the Senate while being more representative of the people.  

This amendment would also outlaw gerrymandering that both parties have used and codify nonpartisan processes for states to establish Congressional districts.

New Amendment 6 (Amendment XXXIV) - Limit Money in Politics Amendment (Join Inaugural Organizing Group)

The Citizens United decision needs to be overturned through an amendment.  The unlimited money in politics means wealthy voices and the voices of corporations hold much greater sway in our politics than they should. Politicians spend much of their time fundraising and being responsive to these monied interests.  The Constitution should give Congress and the states full power to prescribe contribution limits and should take away corporate personhood for the purposes of campaign contributions.

New Amendment 7 (Amendment XXXV) - Voting Rights Amendment (Join Inaugural Organizing Group)

No Congressional act or state may pass laws that obstruct citizens from voting, including those who have been previously found guilty of a crime.  This amendment should also make Election Day a national holiday and should instruct Congress and the states to make laws to make it easy as possible to vote.  

New Amendment 8 (Amendment XXXVI) - Bodily Autonomy Amendment (Abortion Rights) (Join Inaugural Organizing Group)

With the overturning of Roe vs. Wade, we need to enshrine abortion rights into the Constitution so that the can be no legislation or judicial edicts that take away decisions that must be made by women and in cases of issues of health, with the health care provider.  

New Amendment 9 (Amendment XXXVII) - Health Care Rights Amendment (Join Inaugural Organizing Group)

The expansion of human rights must include the right to health care, not just emergency ambulatory care. "Promoting the general welfare" in the preamble to the Constitution and the principle of "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness" enshrined on the Declaration as natural rights that must be guaranteed starts with health and access to health care.  This amendment would give Congress and the states just the authority, but the responsibility to ensure that every American has adequate access to health care. 

New Amendment 10 (Amendment XXXVIII) - Life Amendment (Gun and Armaments Regulation) (Join Inaugural Organizing Group)

This amendment would clarify the well-regulated militia clause of the second amendment would state clearly that the Congress and the states do in fact have the power to regulate firearms and other weapons, that weapons of war should not be available for individual or local police use, and that the right to bear arms is not absolute. 

These Democracy and Human Rights Amendments taken individually and collectively could transform our country to be the kind of nation that most of us want it to be, where the Democratic norms of majority rules and fair representation are further enshrined in the Constitution and that we commit the government of the people to the people's 21st century collective understanding of human rights. Passing these amendments would better position the country to be the kind of place that we want our children and grandchildren to grow up in. Let's get to work in organizing for this desperately needed change.

From here on, this website, We The People, is dedicated to building a movement to passing these and other democracy and human rights amendments to the Constitution that emerge from the movement.  If any of these amendments speak to you, join those individual groups. If you have ideas about what should be included in those amendments, or want to suggest others, please do so. If you would like to work to organize states to have conventions and to put pressure on Congress, please join the overall Organizing Group for the Democracy and Human Rights Amendments 

Added a post  to  , votingrights

It is Election Day!  Since the day Trump was swept into office with Republicans in control of all three branches of government, the majority of the country that voted for Trump's opponent has wanted to have their say.  Thousands of protests of Trump and GOP policies have occurred including record-breaking protests like the Women's March and the March for Our Lives.  Mass movements like the Poor People's Campaign and have launched.  New tools and organizations like Swing Left, resistbot, and Indivisible have sprung up around the country.  Hundred of smaller organizations and efforts have sprouted up in every town in the country.   There is so much positive activity from folks seeking justice and to save our democracy from descent into fascism.  All of this will continue, but today is a singularly important day: Election Day.

In the last few weeks, a number of social justice activists noted that voting is only part of the change is necessary.  They are correct as can be seen by so much organizing and activism happening.  Others have taken this point to an extreme claiming that voting is ineffectual.  They are wrong.  In a democratic republic, the primary influence that any citizen has on the political process is their vote. Political parties organizing principle is gaining the most votes for their party in order to win because winning means power, power to affect changes in policy and in the composition of the courts.

Is There Any Difference Between Parties?

Let's state a truth about the Democratic Party.  Democrats have long taken the votes of African Americans and others for granted and there has too often been too little return to black communities and others for the investment.  This morning, I voted for moderate Democrats on my Philadelphia ballot with Tom Wolf and Bob Casey at the top of the ticket.  Am I assured that they will enact the type of progressive change I'm seeking?  Not really.  But I know that both is heads and shoulders better in terms of policy and temperament than their opponents.  Scott Wagner, Republican candidate for Governor, mansplained climate change to a young activist claiming that we don't really know what is happening and blaming human body heat for at least part of the issue.  I just can't...

In my city of Philadelphia, there are certain parts of the city that have not gotten any better despite decades of Democratic rule.  This is unacceptable, and its changing.    Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney has instituted universal pre-k with money from the soda tax and Democratic DA Larry Krasner has taken affirmative steps to end mass incarceration and hold police accountable.  Real stuff is happening here.  Real differences are being made.  And activists are organizing to hold elected officials accountable and to lay the groundwork for more progressive candidates.  

There is stark difference nationally in public policy delivered by the parties.  Obamacare dropped the number of uninsured African Americans by a third.  I still think we need universal healthcare, but nonetheless that’s a real difference that Republicans have insisted on eliminating and Democrats have fought like hell for.  There are lots of other examples including GOP attempts to dismantle any sense of the social safety net including universal programs like social security and Medicare.  One side wants to spend more money on war.  The other one wants free college, universal health care, and expanded voting rights and protections.  The differences are stark and real, especially with younger Dems coming up in this election in House races all over the country.  

Why are we even asking "Do Elections Matter?" in the Age of Trump?

Blatant voter suppression against African American voters is happening in places like Georgia and Native Americans in North Dakota.  In Georgia, there is an African American woman gubernatorial candidate, Stacey Adams, who is clear about addressing issues of mass incarceration and a progressive agenda in general.  Is the advice to Georgians don’t even try to vote?  John Lewis is on the stump this week talking about how he bled and went to jail for folk to be able to vote.  Such admonishments seem out of tune with his plea to the community.

They also seem completely out of touch with what we've witnessed under Trump.  Almost every week, there has been a need for mass protest to confront some evil from the Trump administration and his Congressional enablers.  I don't want to see more tax cuts to rich people, immigrant families being separated from their parents, immigrant in the migrant caravan threatened with being gunned down, racist and anti-semitic attacks that go virtually unanswered by the nations's leadership.  I want to protect Obamacare, voting rights, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and other social safety net measures that make our country a more perfect union.  I want to push for a higher minimum wage, free college tuition, student loan forgiveness, rich people paying their fair share, and many other policies that progressive Democrats are running on.  

In this election in particular, we have a party that is using pre-civil rights era blatant racism and voter suppression in attempt to hold on to power.  Changing party control of one or both houses is vital to stem the tide of the licensure that Trump has given to his base of largely older white voters to act upon their racism.  The midterm elections is one of the few ways we have to start pushing back with a Congress that can investigate corruption and voter suppression and enact changes in law.  

Voting and Organizing Go Hand in Hand to Bring About Change

The Democratic Party should be held accountable but not voting is not the way to do so.   Also, voting is no substitute for organizing and movement building.  Voting and organizing go hand in hand to hold elected officials accountable.  Voting is only one part of dismantling systems of oppression, but it is a vital part.  I encourage all to take that responsibility seriously today, to hold it sacred because of the blood spilled and courageous activism that it took to gain and maintain the franchise.   Vote, and then let's get right back to the organizing and movement building in order to bring about a more just country and world. 

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