THE CONSTITUTION FAILED US
"I would not look to the U.S. Constitution if I was drafting a constitution in the year 2012."
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice.
I fully agree with the Justice because the framers of our Constitution, as wise and outstanding people as they were, were just human, which means: limited. They were unable to foresee the kind of self serving, ineffective, corrupt, money controlled our Congress would be, not to mention the Supreme Court blindness, ruling that Corporations have the same rights as individuals. And the childish game of the Electoral Vote? How can we accept for so long this archaic game that says you can not trust the people?
Congress has now the lowest public support in a long time. And rightly so, it is frozen in partisan politics and its votes are bought by wealth. However, we continue to admire the Constitution that created the failed Congress. Time to look with critical eyes at the Constitution because it has failed us miserably on a number of serious instances. How long did it take us to consider that women are equal citizens that can vote; and the extremely long subjugation of the African - American community?
I will focus here on the most critical issue we have ever faced: severe, rapid, global climate deterioration. Remember, all our lives depend critically on a reasonably stable, foreseeable, moderate climate.
Our Constitution was developed in the horse and buggy days, when it took days to travel between Boston and Philadelphia. It probably was the best achievable at that time. The rapid danger to human survival by global warming could not have been foreseen by any human, and even now it is beyond the grasp of our President, and the majority of Congress. President Obama ran on fighting global warming aggressively. He has done nothing of substance. When the outstanding, dedicated, hard working Congressman Waxman pushed through anti global warming (GW) legislation, nearly every member of the House that signed it forced special legislation into the bill that would benefit them resulting in an ineffective, confusing 1500 page law. And the President did not help at all.
Here is another serious example: A single House member, John Dingell, representing the Detroit auto industry stopped all attempts to increase car gas mileage [Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE)] for several decades. He did what every member of Congress tries to do, protect the interests of his district. The fault lies in the House of Representative that allows House Rules to extinguish a very critical national need- to lower our massive consumption of oil and the concurrent flow of immense US wealth to other countries.
"Oil price shocks and price manipulation by OPEC have cost our economy dearly-about $1.9 trillion from 2004 to 2008-and each major shock was followed by a recession." US Dept. of Energy.
When the highly dedicated Senator Boxer tried to develop anti GW legislation, she could not achieve it even with a Democratic majority since most senators looked for their own benefits, not the dire need of our country.
The Senate represents the least Democratic, the most distorted institution of our government. The Founders probably had to include a strong protection of state rights then, but the fact is that the 2 senators of Wyoming, for example, with about half a million people have the same power than the two senators of California representing close to 40 million people. Each citizen of Wyoming has the voice of 80 citizens of California! And this is distorted further by money influence. Because of the smaller population it is considerably easier to "buy" and manipulate senators of small states than of large ones.
And we accept this distorted power distribution as holy, "after all it is part of the Constitution". This is ludicrous. Simply, and utterly wrong and un Democratic. Where is the basic principle of one person one vote? We would scream unfair if a newly liberated country would allow this distorted distribution of power.
Even slow moving England was able to downgrade the power of the House of Lord so drastically that it is mostly a figure head now. "The powers of the modern House of Lords are extremely limited-necessarily so, since the permanent and substantial majority enjoyed there by the Conservative Party would otherwise be incompatible with the principles of representative government" Encyclopedia Britannica. However, we, the modern, liberated, Democratic US are frozen by a few hundred years old Constitution that has passed its time and is seriously damaging our ability to survive.
Our frozen Congress is unwilling and unable to act to slow down GW. Without powerful national laws we can do very little to reduce the catastrophic impacts that GW is bringing us, and all humanity, in an accelerated fashion in the coming years. Without US participation, the rest of the world will not move effectively against GW since we are in the best position to fight GW because of our national wealth.
Even most environmentalists are unable to grasp the gravity we are already in. They want incremental changes that will take decades to make significant impacts. We do not have this time. It is now or never. The greenhouse gases (GHG) already in the atmosphere last for hundreds of years and have already melted much of our summer sea-ice in the North Pole region and most glaciers on earth. This by itself will advance climate deterioration (by positive feedback), and every year we increase the amount of greenhouse gases that destabilize our climate by now some 35 billion tons per year!
We did not wait during WWII for Hitler and Yamamoto to destroy us. Thanks to the leadership of FDR, we jumped into a massive national effort, before and after Pearl Harbor, to help our allies defeat the enemy. Global Warming is a much more powerful enemy of civilization than Germany and Japan were, but we are taking decades just to discuss what should we do. All the effort to date to reduce GHG have been insignificant, too little and too late. Twenty years ago we might have had time to talk, not any longer.
We Americans believe that we are superior beings and most natural laws do not apply to us. We are the winners who conquered the wild American lands and created the most advanced civilization to date. We think individual rights are above community and national needs. We live on flood plans, modify river flow, and build inadequate levees ignoring the force of nature and create vast amount of human suffering. And we believe that with just a little time and technology we will continue to be the richest, most powerful nation on earth. What arrogance, what level of blindness, what level of distortion!
We do not accept reality we do not like what will constrain our personal freedoms. That is why we can not grasp fully how dangerous global warming is to human civilization, to human ability to live with some level of comfort and security.
How can we face reality? How can we overcome rapidly these restraining aspects of the Constitution?
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