A Constitutional Convention?

I’m not sure that John Dingell, the Democrat from Michigan who is the longest-serving Congressman in U. S. history, having served from 1955 to 2015, realizes it:

As an armchair activist, I now have the luxury of saying what I believe should happen, not what I think can get voted out of committee. I’m still a pragmatist; I know that profound societal change happens incrementally, over a long period of time. The civil-rights fights of the 1950s and ’60s, of which I am proud to have been a part, are a great example of overcoming setbacks and institutional racism. But 155 years after the Emancipation Proclamation and less than two years after our first African American president left office, racism still remains a part of our national life.

Just for a moment, however, let’s imagine the American system we might have if the better angels of our nature were to prevail.

Here, then, are some specific suggestions—and they are only just that, suggestions—for a framework that might help restore confidence and trust in our precious system of government…

but he’s calling for a constitutional convention:

The conduct and outcome of the 2016 presidential election have put the future of our country in mortal peril. After a lifetime spent in public service, I never believed that day would come. Yet it has. And we now find ourselves on the precipice of a great cliff. Our next step is either into the abyss or toward a higher moral ground. Since before the Civil War, we’ve been told that “Providence watches over fools, drunkards, and the United States.” Yet the good Lord also granted us free will. The direction we choose to follow is ours alone to make. We ask only that he guide our choice with his wisdom and his grace.

It’s up to you, my dear friends.

I know of no one who doesn’t believe that doing so would open an enormous can of worms.

It’s hard to write this without it sounding snarky but one of my priorities in a constitutional convention, higher than any of the measures he proposes, would be to prevent tenure in office of the sort that John Dingell enjoyed.

But I’d also divvy up big states like California into smaller chunks and institutionalize that process and force the number of representatives in the House to grow with the population.

7 comments… add one
  • Gray Shambler Link

    “The conduct and outcome of the 2016 presidential election have put the future of our country in mortal peril. ”

  • steve Link

    We are too polarized to have a convention. Not happening.


  • PD Shaw Link

    If I knew Dingell from only this piece (and its close!), I would have to conclude he was an awful politician. He refers to the Connectucutt Compromise without seeming to have given any thought to why it happened (Answer: without the compromise the status quo would have continued), or what the concerns were of the states he detests (they didn’t want to be ruled by outsiders).

    He should appreciate the concerns, since he doesn’t like “obnoxious asses” from small states to have control over him. He assumes obnoxious small-state asses are likely not to compromise their seat at the table, so his grand compromise is to destroy the Senate. They’ll agree to that? Are has he just decided to be an obnoxious ass when he can’t get his own way.

    (The obvious compromise would require more federalism, a new line btw/ what is of a local concern and what is decided nationally. But I’m fine with the status quo.)

  • PD Shaw Link

    Oh, I see Dave’s point. Junior is a legacy:

    John Dingell Sr.: Representative 1933-1955
    John Dingell Jr.: Representative 1955-2015
    Debbie Dingell: Representative 2015-present

    It’s a bleeding hereditary estate.

  • Guarneri Link

    I realize the thrust of Dave’s point is the ancillary effects and priorities, but PD shows the shortsightedness of Dingell’s “mortal peril” rant and, ahem, solution.

    Shortsighted, how’s that to avoid snark? I could have just called it directly – he’s a lunatic.

  • bob sykes Link

    It’s time to recognize the experiment of the Founding Fathers failed. We need to break up the Union. Failing that, the second best solution is to return to the Articles of Confederation. That would eliminate nearly the whole of the federal government and nullify generations of wanton Supreme Court usurpations.

  • Failing that, the second best solution is to return to the Articles of Confederation.

    it’s actually easier than that. Wickard v. Filburn could be reversed.

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