Is The United States Constitution Broken?

Congress is dysfunctional.  Our federal government appears incapable of addressing the most pressing issues facing our country without repeatedly bringing the nation to the brink of financial disaster.  Many people ask themselves, “Why can’t our elected representatives rise above petty partisan politics and act for the public good?”  Respectfully, I think that is the wrong question. Rather, we should ask, “Why do our elections constantly seem to produce officials who can’t govern effectively, who can’t make the reasonable, rational compromises that make for a workable, functioning democracy?”  We should also ask, “Are there problems with the way our government is structured that contribute to its dysfunctionality?”  (I use the term “structure” here broadly to include not only the division of our government into three distinct branches, but also the structure, powers and rules governing each branch and the elected or appointed officials who occupy them.)  And because the structure of our federal government is determined by the United States Constitution–a document drafted in 1787, adopted in 1789, and amended only twenty-seven times since then (but really only seventeen times if you treat the Bill of Rights as one big amendment)–we must consider whether the Constitution itself is in need of repair. Read the rest of this entry »