Periodically, when the American federal government undergoes an especially grievous episode of gridlock, incivility, or general craziness, I am prone to wishing we could simply scrap our ancient and seizure-prone federal Constitution and turn Washington, D.C. into a theme park. Reason, however, tells us that just as Nature abhors a vacuum, so would human beings find it difficult simply to raze the American national government without building a replacement – and that nowadays a new federal constitution would be likelier to draw its inspiration from Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins than from James Madison and Alexander Hamilton. In the interest of providing an alternative to a Christian Dominionist government, I herewith offer, with tongue somewhat in cheek, my own outline of a replacement constitution. Comments are welcome so long as they amuse me.
1. All persons residing in the territory or jurisdiction of the United States are entitled to the equal protection of its laws.
2. All persons born or naturalized in the U.S. are U.S. citizens and entitled to the privileges and immunities thereof.
3. Neither the U.S., the states, nor any subordinate jurisdiction may abridge freedom of speech, the press, the rights of peaceable expression and assembly, and the right to petition officials for redress of grievances.
4. Neither the U.S., the states, nor any subordinate jurisdiction may abridge religious freedom or provide any legal or financial support to any religious entity.
5. No American citizen over the age of 18 may be deprived of the right to vote for any reason.
6. Neither the U.S., the states, nor any subordinate jurisdiction may infringe the right of persons to secure enjoyment of their homes, businesses, persons, and possessions.
7. The U.S. government, the states, and all subordinate jurisdictions guarantee the rights of habeas corpus, due process of law for those accused of a crime (including the right to an attorney and compulsory appearances of witnesses), and immunity from cruel and unusual punishment, including the death penalty, "stress positions," and waterboarding. Up yours, Dick Cheney.
8. The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall extend to all weapons invented prior to 1791, including smooth-bore, black-powder cannon. Private citizens owning wooden, sail-driven ships of war may not engage in privateering without a Congressional letter of marque and reprisal.
9. The old Ninth Amendment is pretty awesome, so let's keep that.
10. The executive of the United States shall consist of a president, elected by majority vote of the citizens of the United States every four years; a vice-president (ditto), who shall succeed the president in the event of his or her death or resignation; and such subordinate officers as Congress may authorize by law. All will be bound by oath to support this Constitution and faithfully execute the laws of the United States.
11. The vice president, just to clarify, is part of the executive branch. Up yours, Dick Cheney.
12. Any U.S. citizen (born or naturalized) may run for president or vice-president, provided they are at least 35 and have been a resident of the United States for at least 20 years.
13. The president shall have the power to veto federal legislation, but not to alter or amend such legislation.
14. The legislative branch of the U.S. shall consist of a single legislative house, the Congress of People's Deputies. The voters of each electoral district will elect one Deputy every two years, for a two-year term, with vacancies to be supplied by special election. Each Deputy must be a U.S. citizen and at least 30 years of age.
15. The legislature shall have the exclusive right to levy federal taxes, print or coin money, borrow money on the credit of the United States, and declare war. It may approve treaties, Constitutional amendments, or impeach and remove the president by 3/5 vote. It shall have plenary authority to regulate foreign and interstate commerce, up to and including the nationalization of American businesses.
16. It should go without saying, but corporations are not people.
17. The U.S. and state governments will provide free public education and health care to all U.S. citizens and permanent residents. The standard of health care service provided will be no lower than that afforded participants in the Medicare program before it was terminated by President Rand Paul.
18. All federal and state elections shall be publicly financed. No private money may be spent therein, except by George Will, who may spent $5.00. No, not five dollars a year. Five dollars period.
19. The judicial branch of the United States shall consist of a Supreme Court and such inferior courts as Congress may establish. All federal judges will be elected by the voters of their jurisdiction for a 7-year term, renewable.
20. This Constitution may be amended by a 3/5 vote of the Congress of People's Deputies, with the concurrence of a 3/5 plebiscitary vote of American voters, to be conducted by the states under federal guidelines.
21. The official anthem of the United States will be a mashup of Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the U.S.A.” with Notorious B.I.G.’s “Bullshit and Party.” This clause is not subject to the amendatory authority in 20, above.
22. The capital of the United States will be moved to Omaha, Nebraska. The capitol itself, along with the president's mansion and principal executive office buildings, will be located in Carter Lake, Iowa, which, being located wholly within Omaha's boundaries, accurately represents the duality of Man.
23. The official flag of the United States shall be a red banner bearing a portrait of Eugene V. Debs.
24. The official motto of the U.S. will be “Up Yours, Dick Cheney."