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NY Times Opinion Writer: ‘Give Up’ On The ‘Archaic, Idiosyncratic’ And ‘Evil’ Constitution

Georgetown University constitutional law professor Louis Michael Seidman has just about had it with the focus of his 40 years of academic study. As he writes in the New York Times on Monday, it is the Constitution itself which has allowed for the series of legislative follies that finally resulted in the “fiscal cliff.” Seidman says that it is time for Americans to realize what lawmakers have known since the constitution’s inception – it is okay to ignore it.

“As the nation teeters at the edge of fiscal chaos, observers are reaching the conclusion that the American system of government is broken. But almost no one blames the culprit: our insistence on obedience to the Constitution, with all its archaic, idiosyncratic and downrght evil provisions,” Seidman writes.

Our obsession with the Constitution has saddled us with a dysfunctional political system, kept us from debating the merits of divisive issues and inflamed our public discourse. Instead of arguing about what is to be done, we argue about what James Madison might have wanted done 225 years ago.

He goes on to detail the number of American politicians who have used every opportunity to sideline the Constitution; from John Adams to Abraham Lincoln to Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

“In the face of this long history of disobedience, it is hard to take seriously the claim by the Constitution’s defenders that we would be reduced to a Hobbesian state of nature if we asserted our freedom from this ancient text,” Seidman adds.

He says that the freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights are time-tested and should be preserved, but the system of established powers. Seidman says that there is a real threat that American dysfunctional governance could rend the republic sunder, and it is far more preferable that the Constitution be junked than the Union.

Seidman concludes that, though Americans will probably not give up on Constitution any time soon, his recommendation is the best of a series of bad choices facing the nation:

If even this change is impossible, perhaps the dream of a country ruled by “We the people” is impossibly utopian. If so, we have to give up on the claim that we are a self-governing people who can settle our disagreements through mature and tolerant debate. But before abandoning our heritage of self-government, we ought to try extricating ourselves from constitutional bondage so that we can give real freedom a chance.

Read the full op-ed in the New York Times

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An experienced broadcaster and columnist, Noah Rothman has been providing political opinion and analysis to a variety of media outlets since 2010. His work has appeared in a number of political opinion journals, and he has shared his insights with television and radio personalities across the country.