I’m so far behind in my New Yorkers, I just caught up with the December 9, 2013 issue.
In which Jeff Toobin wrote an Annals of Law essay entitled “Our Broken Constitution: Everyone agrees that government isn’t working. Are the founders to blame?”
It’s an excellent piece in many ways. The central issue comes down to: if the Constitution isn’t actually a bible, inscribed by gods and held sacred forever, what has been and can be done to correct, i.e., amend, this document so that our government will be able to function. Not just better, but just … function.
I especially love Toobin’s last paragraph:
Moments after the Senate passed the filibuster reform last month, President Obama expressed his appreciation, but decried the tactics that made the change necessary. “Today’s pattern of obstruction, it just isn’t normal,” he said. “It’s not what our founders envisioned.” Obama was engaging in the politician’s customary absolution of the founders: the virtues of the system are all due to them; the defects are all due to us. This seems wrong on both counts. The compromises, misjudgments, and failures of the men in Philadelphia haunt us still today. But the founders also left just enough room between the lines to allow for a continuing reinvention of their work. On some occasions, as with race and gender discrimination, the Constitution is renewed and improved in courtrooms; on others, as with the Senate’s recent act of self-improvement, the government finds ways to repair itself. In all events, the roots of these changes are the same. The Preamble to the Constitution says nothing about judges or politicians. It invokes what should be the true and ultimate authority in American government: We the People.