VOTER CONFIDENCE IN U.S. GOVERNMENT LOW? No one alive today signed on!
Published March 31, 2015
No one should be surprised that in 2014 Americans’ confidence in all three branches of our national government was at or near a record low. As reported by Emily Swanson of the Associated Press (The Chicago Tribune, March 12, 2015), results of a 2014 survey were recently released by an organization that has measured such issues for the last 40 years: NORC (National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago).
Specifically, the “2014 General Social Survey finds only 23 percent of Americans have a great deal of confidence in the Supreme Court, 11 percent in the executive branch and 5 percent in Congress.”
OUTDATED CONSTITUTION. As a 64-year old still in love with the words of the Declaration of Independence and the ideals of the Constitution’s Preamble, I am not surprised for the following eight reasons:
1. The U.S. government’s structure was adopted in 1788.
2. Those 227 years since have seen enormous changes in the conditions of human life, both In the U.S. itself and as a species, including American English.
3. All 17 amendments adopted since the original ratification and the Bill of Rights (adopted in 1791) have been proposed by a highly exclusive group called the U.S. Congress, not by a national convention, the more grassroots option for proposing amendments.
VOTER CONFIDENCE. More to the point of citizen confidence,
4. No American alive in 2014 has had the opportunity to ratify the U.S. Constitution as a whole.*
5. No American woman (in council with other American women) has ever agreed to live by the Constitution.*
6. No African-Americans have ever ratified the Constitution.*
7. No American Indian has ever had the opportunity to ratify the U.S. Constitution.*
*With the possible exception of a small number of Americans involved in statehood processes (e.g., Alaska, Hawaii) and naturalization.
American Indians are the original and long-term inhabitants of the American land. One would think that they would have been (and might still be) the best judges of whether the human structures proposed in the U.S. Constitution would facilitate the implementation of the Preamble’s goals for Europeans (and others) moving to this land: “to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”
IROQUOIS CONSTITUTION. There is scholarly indication that the Iroquois people of the late 1700s were actually consultants to the writers of the U.S. Constitution. Indeed, the U.S. Constitution — especially the Preamble — was partially modeled on the Iroquois Constitution. However, as ratified in 1788 and still in 2015, the U.S. Constitution does not include key principles and clauses of the Iroquois Constitution that might have ensured a high level of confidence in our national government for generations to come.
REGULAR RENEWAL. The final reason why I am not surprised at our collective distrust of our national government is:
8. Unlike the Iroquois Constitution, the U.S. Constitution includes no provision for any automatic and regular renewal that would keep timely pace with natural and human events.
Such a regular renewal — every 5 years (per the Iroquois Great Law of Peace), every 10 years, every ? years — would have made the U.S. Constitution a living document instead of the outdated, fossilized, cumbersome, exclusive, contradictory, and confusing burden that it is to 21st century Americans.
CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTIONS IN EVERY STATE. I for one hope to live long enough to see a rip-roaring Constitutional convention in every state to bring the law of this land up to date and expressed in 21st century American language. More to the point, I hope to live long enough to experience a “perfect union” — i.e., peace. Using traditional Iroquois language, I believe we are all hungry and aching to be of “one mind” — with each other and with the land.