Essay talk:Second Constitution of the United States

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Second Constitution[edit]

Feel free to edit this document like any other. I'm curious to see what will result. It's the give-and-take of debate, of rational thinking, which can make this a better document. Plus, I have my particular draft here and I may take good ideas which spring from here and use them to modify my draft.--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 03:45, 22 November 2011 (UTC)

This document has so many terrible problems that I wearied of pointing them out. Why have you tried to clumsily retain the original trappings of divided government, when you appear to be simply eliminating it and instituting a bicameral parliamentary system?--ADtalkModerator 05:24, 22 November 2011 (UTC)
Pretty much what AD said. Before you try something like this again... i recommend you look at some of the original ideas proposed by the convention writers so you understand just what the current system was up against: Virginia plan, Pickney Plan, the New Jersey Plan, and Hamilton's "British" plan. --il'Dictator Mikalosa (talk) 06:21, 22 November 2011 (UTC)
Been there, done that. Are you serious about wanting me to re-read Hamilton's British plan? Let me ask this: are you happy with the current arrangement? Is it working for you? Do you feel that the architecture of government is well-suited for helping you thrive? If so, I bet you're in a minority. If not, then what kind of arrangement -- constitutionally -- would work for you? And that's what I'm trying to get at -- is there an alternative arrangement that would make it better for most people?--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 02:48, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
Sorry, just accidentally hit the bot-rollack button there. But anyway, I'd seriously recommend going for a parliament rather than president. From what I can tell the main problem in the US is that all the different branches of government are constantly smacking each other around making it impossible to get anything done. Scarlet A.pngsshole 02:56, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
Thats because our system wasnt MADE for parties to exist. And yes, i do like the current system, because it does still work, the problem is we have two political parties that care not a fucking damn about the people. and no, your version does jack shirt to improve things thomas.--il'Dictator Mikalosa (talk) 03:03, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
The current system works? Huge inequalities of wealth; congresspersons in office for life; Bush II; gridlock; a "SuperCommittee" that can't come to some kind of bipartisan way to deal with a huge impending deficit; inability to deal with social security, global warming, numerous other problems? America's foreign policy? I have trouble with anybody who says the current system "still works".--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 03:23, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
And your system is any fucking better? you tried to jam a parliamentary system and the current American system into one, when that DOESN'T work at all. --il'Dictator Mikalosa (talk) 03:28, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
Yes it would work much much better. Most democracies have chosen to go with parliamentary systems, with good reason: they work better. And I would not consider the proposed arrangement as "jamming" anything together, rather, it's a parliamentary system with an intelligent foreign policy architecture, leading to fewer stupid wars (Vietnam, Iraq II, Grenada, etc etc).--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 15:59, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
Change can be effected very easily: reform the filibuster and stop secret holds. This will help alleviate partisan gridlock to an enormous degree, requires no constitutional amendments, and could be done overnight. The only reason Reid didn't do it is the usual reason: he anticipates losing the Senate in 2012, and wants to use the same vicious tactics against the GOP as they have deployed against him.--ADtalkModerator 03:20, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
I'm more cynical. If change could be effected that easily, why hasn't it happened?--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 03:23, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
Because those in power fear change and not enough people fucking care to cause change. also, Being a cynic is stupidity, as is being an idealist. --il'Dictator Mikalosa (talk) 03:28, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
I'm a realist, which is a midler form of cynic so yah, it iwsnt always stupid, although idealism is even rarer correct. --il'Dictator Mikalosa (talk) 16:10, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
Agreed about powerful fearing change. About cynic => stupid, well it depends on whether one is right or not. Ditto idealist.--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 15:59, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
Did you read what I said? Each Senate doesn't do so because they anticipate needing the powers in the future. But note filibuster reform occurred only a couple of decades ago, so it can happen and could happen again. But there's no pressure on them to do it because their constituency is almost entirely ignorant of the problem (case in point here).--ADtalkModerator 04:03, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
Filibuster reform would be a step in the right direction, agreed.--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 15:59, 23 November 2011 (UTC)


I propose this essay be moved either to "Essay:Second Constitution of the United States (Thomas Wright Sulcer)" or "Debate:Second Constitution of the United States" to avoid the appearance of a RationalWiki endorsement. Blue Talk 04:20, 23 November 2011 (UTC)

I've just changed the attribution, so no need.--ADtalkModerator 04:34, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
What I'm saying is that writing an alternative constitution, well, it's beyond the ability of any one person, including myself, and I do not want my views to dominate any one particular draft, which unfortunately appears to be happening. I do not want to intimidate people from contributing, or be loathe to making a change simply because my name is on it. Maybe others here would like to start a new constitution -- fresh -- perhaps based on the existing 1787 one -- and if so I'd like to contribute to that. Still, I think the existing 1787 constitution did a great job of getting the US to this point today, but I believe it won't be effective in the next century or so, and so I think it is a good idea to begin serious thought about how to fix things. And, based on the intelligent comments and feedback on this page and the essay page, it's clear that you fine people are well qualified to do this.--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 12:04, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
The fact you argue everything in defense of what you wrote already sort of makes it look like its just yours, just saying. --il'Dictator Mikalosa (talk) 16:10, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
There have been many intelligent objections, and I thought it helpful to explain some of my choices that's all. And I nuked one of the lines based on what several RationalWikians said, and I'm prepared to nuke whole chunks or rejigger whole departments or whatever, to see what happens, as well as encourage others to do likewise. It's all exploration. And I sincerely would like this to be a community project, since I believe that many minds are better than one mind.--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 20:44, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
And people keep changing the attribution at the top -- they'll use my name if they don't like it and they'll use the RationalWiki community if they like it somewhat and possibly plan to make it better.--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 20:44, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
And -- while I am only a handyman from New Jersey of all places, some may think that I'm not up to the task intellectually, but my job is surprisingly somewhat of a help since I'm constantly fixing things -- I know how to fix stuff -- and here there's something broken -- the US Constitution -- and fixing stuff comes naturally to me. And since the solution is a rather coherent whole, maybe people are somewhat reluctant to tweak at the parts since they don't grasp how it all fits together? (Or: it's so beautiful like a new car that they're afraid of scratching the finish??? I'm joking).--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 20:44, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
See, I'm saying RationalWikians are savvy enough politicos to either improve my draft, or make another one perhaps from scratch -- and I encourage the community to do exactly that. What folks here may not realize is that much of the back-and-forth, working with other politically-related articles at this site -- and dealing with rationalism, science, demystifying stuff -- has steeped their minds into a fine tea. All that's needed is a bit of confidence, a slight push, that's all, and I bet this community could create a constitutional wonder.--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 20:44, 23 November 2011 (UTC)


Where are you actually intending to take this, TWS? Your stated purpose is "to have the best version ratified by the American people". Seriously? I don't think our site is a good place to start any kind of national revolution, & if you are planning to publish this more widely and/or send it to your Congressman/Senator or anything silly like that, I suggest that you avoid associating it with RationalWiki. This really doesn't fall within our missions. ŴêâŝêîôîďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 19:03, 23 November 2011 (UTC)

Are you worried that RationalWiki might get some kind of bad reputation through association with such a secretive suspicious-looking document like this one??? Hmmmmm??? And doesn't RW already have a reputation of sorts, from the fun but rather risque language bandied about here? (And people using handles such as Weaseloid???) I am wondering exactly what possible worries linger in your head. I had been worried a bit that the document was too clean for this site, and possibly adding swear words to the preamble.--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 20:30, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
I have published it elsewhere (on Google knol -- although there is word knol will cease next summer). It gets about 50 readers a week -- which is not much. And while I agree that sending the document to a Senator or Congressperson would be silly (since they don't read their mail and they don't listen to anybody without a checkbook), I think the project at its heart is not silly at all, but rather important, since it challenges the intellectual political status quo. But I wouldn't worry about any kind of "national revolution" since, as you probably are well aware, the American public is intensely apolitical and apathetic -- nobody cares -- everybody's watching TV and eating ice cream -- and there may be a few people, at most, interested in such a project, and I bet many of them are here at RationalWiki (that is, sharp folks such as yourself).--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 20:30, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
And I think a document such as this one -- evolving, changing, exploring -- is an excellent thinking tool which people here will sharpen their minds still further on, so it might be beneficial in that regard. If there is any possibility of this project becoming important, it will most likely work like this: to prompt reformers to put together a real Second Constitutional Convention possibly through prompting from state or local governments, and perhaps such a body might draw some ideas from RationalWikians plucked from what we do here, and if we were really lucky, they might invite a handful of us to watch from the bleachers and get free twinkies and beer while scholars scribbled away. But that's a long shot. I firmly believe the chance of a Second Const. Convention is extremely remote (there is a Harvard law professor who is urging state governments to call for one -- but that's about it). And the whole document is based on reason, on rationalism, so in a way some people might think it's a good fit here. Right now the document is rather rough, but if it gets honed and smart, then it might be something for RWians to brag about, or possibly serve as a homework assignment for ninth grade history students.--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 20:30, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
I very much doubt it. Your ideas are at odds with those of most RationalWiki editors and, I suspect, most Americans, so I doubt you'll find many people willing to collaborate with you on this. As for trying to get this recognised in real life (by anybody), it's a complete non-starter. USA already has a constitution, with a couple of hundred years of usage & tweaking. Aside from a few wingnuts, nobody is going to want to scrap it & start from scratch, especially with a constitution that's more preoccupied with ideological games than solutions to real problems & which would actually create unprecedented problems of its own (like millions of residents not being recognised as citizens). WẽãšẽĩõĩďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 21:20, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
Well it's up to the community I guess. I think it's a good fit. And, remember there are tens of millions of non-citizens in the US now -- who aren't recognized as citizens because they chose to be born in the wrong place. At least my arrangement would give them a shot at citizenship; the current system shuts them out.--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 21:50, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
But almost all of them are citizens of somewhere else. And unless you advocate an all-comers-welcome immigration policy (good luck with that), you will still be shutting many internationals out from citizenship; not to mention all those you are shutting out internally because they are too old, fat or disabled to serve in the military. WẽãšẽĩõĩďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 23:03, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
they chose to be born in the wrong place Facepalm.png Blue Talk 23:06, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
I am not advocating any particular immigration rules. In the proposed constitution, rules regarding whether foreigners, travelers or visitors possibly applying for citizenship would be essentially a question for the state department (it's foreign policy); options for persons living here illegally -- well that is not a question for the constitution but for the government and people to decide -- and birthright citizens living here or abroad could choose to apply or not apply for real citizenship. And the citizenship contract would only mean people need to promise to serve in the military, if summoned; so old people, fat people, disabled and others could make that promise, and if a war came, most likely they would not be summoned for active duty.--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 00:08, 24 November 2011 (UTC)
By the way, I don't mind alternate Constitutions as a theoretical exercise. I'm half planning on doing one myself. Of course we're not going to throw out the current Constitution anytime soon (though the best way to do that would be another constitutional convention, as stipulated in Article V). Blue Talk 00:01, 24 November 2011 (UTC)
Excellent. I encourage you to craft one. I want to see which choices you make.--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 00:08, 24 November 2011 (UTC)

Some thoughts of mine[edit]

I have two comments to make about this project:

  • If you compare, say, the Australian constitution to the US one, one thing you notice is how they structure amendments. The US approach is to leave the original text alone, and just wack on "Amendments" at the end. On the one hand, it makes it easier to follow the historical evolution, on the other hand, I imagine over time it could get pretty convoluted over time. By contrast, the Australian constitution (and I notice many US state constitutions are similar) is structured like ordinary legislation, with numbered sections, and with amendments inserting/deleting or changing those sections. Of course, this leaves to gaps and to things like section 53A, but one approach there would be to leave gaps in the numbering, e.g. section 100, section 200, to make it easy to insert new sections without needing to use letters, etc. So I think if the US was to adopt a brand new constitution, I personally think it would be better off integrating amendments into the text rather than tacking them on to the end. -- (((Zack Martin))) 23:58, 26 November 2011 (UTC)
Excellent idea. I'm leaning towards the section numbering approach rather than amendments whacked on the end, although the whacking process, itself, seems fun.--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 02:04, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Quite apart from any changing of the content, it would make sense to update some of the language, capitalisation, etc., which is getting rather dated

(((Zack Martin))) 23:58, 26 November 2011 (UTC)

Any particular wordings strike you as particularly dated -- like the bills of attainder? That sort of thing?--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 02:04, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
I think "bills of attainder" isn't too bad, since that is a case of a phrase becoming rarer due to the concept it refers to becoming rarer, not really a case of language changing. Capitalisation, and some spellings, is something obvious, also some grammar, consider e.g. art. I s. 4: "The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators." I think more modern wording would be: "The time, place and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations, except as to the places of choosing Senators".(((Zack Martin))) 02:17, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
Yes, when I took the original constitution, I had to go through it and de-capitalize much of it, but perhaps I went too far and de-capitalized words such as "state" and "legislature" and "congress".--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 02:36, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
Also, one should be aware of some ways in which the meaning of some of the wording may have changed, see e.g. Eugene Volokh's blog post on the meaning of "free press". Whether one tries to update the language to mean what it originally meant, or let the evolved meanings stand, I suppose comes down in part to whether one subscribes to originalism or living constitutionalism. (((Zack Martin))) 02:17, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
Yes.--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 02:36, 27 November 2011 (UTC)

something i just realized[edit]

I cant remember if it was a troll at CP or somebody at WIGO who suggested the rewrite of the constituion to make it more conservative but... this reminds me of the CBP and that proposal.--il'Dictator Mikalosa (talk) 05:18, 27 November 2011 (UTC)

What's CP? Conservapedia? And what's CBP?--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 22:23, 29 November 2011 (UTC)
He's talking about The Conservative Bible Project, which has no relevance to this. Blue Talk 21:02, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

Constitution drafting contest[edit]

Winning constitution's crafters get an all-expenses-paid two-week trip to the Caribbean? Great Anse Beach in Grenada.

I have been mulling over the idea of challenging the faculty of prestigious U.S. law schools to craft a better constitution than the one evolving here at RationalWiki. Can they draft something better? And I would try to get the editors of a newspaper, possibly, to judge the contest and pick a winner. Perhaps a month long at most? The contest could feature multiple constitutions -- each school coming up with their version to compete with RationalWiki's -- and even at RationalWiki, we could float alternative constitutions too (if people disagree too much with the one I started, they could float a different one and enter it). And the current Constitution could be entered as well. The contest would be transparent such that everybody could see what everybody else was doing (ie no secret deliberations, no last-minute switches, no infiltrations of other sites to mess things up). Like, each law school that responded to the challenge might have their own essay page here at RationalWiki, or perhaps at another visible online site (possibly WordPress or maybe even Google Knol before it ends May 2012). And it would be a learning experiment for everybody. And maybe there should be some provision for length (ie no constitution longer than say 10 pages or X number of words.) And the only prize so far is bragging rights, that's it, although a Caribbean prize for contributors would be much more fun. (Would be cool if we could get a grant subsidizing a prize, perhaps from the Gates Foundation.) Wondering what people here might think about such a challenge.--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 22:22, 29 November 2011 (UTC)

Please don't. ωεαşεζøίɗWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 23:43, 29 November 2011 (UTC)
Question from the press pool: WHEN did rational wiki get any sort of significance so that a law school of any reputation would give a fucking damn what we wanted to do?--il'Dictator Mikal (talk) 20:19, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
It depends on how you see it. Law schools have reputations of varying extents; at the same time, to maintain these reputations, they have at times to fight for it, to respond to challenges. RationalWiki, by the very act of challenging them along the lines of: can they write a better constitution than volunteers here -- puts them in a position where they may feel required to respond. If they don't, they may look snooty, aloof, trying to rest on their laurels of past success and image. Do not forget that RationalWiki has an excellent web presence with substantial readership which law schools lack. I see no problem in posting a list here of law schools that ignored the challenge. Overall, there's nothing to lose. :) Only way to go is up.--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 20:56, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
Also, any project along these lines would surely build more traffic to RationalWiki.--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 21:00, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
Plus, we'll kick their butts.--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 21:36, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
Law schools don't maintain their prestigious reputations by responding to challenges & threats from nobodies at obscure websites. This 'taking on the experts' stuff is the sort of thing we sneer at people on other sites doing (see e.g. Lenski affair, Conservative Bible Project), so let's not go there ourselves. Add that this is clearly your project more than it is RationalWiki's. Please don't co-opt the site for your own folly. When RW gets some wider recognition, it should be for the things that we do best as a community, not some drive-by vanity project. WẽãšẽĩõĩďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 21:46, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
Seems you have a low opinion of me ("nobody"), yourself ("Weaseloid"), RationalWiki ("obscure website"), a constitution redrafting project ("drive-by vanity project"). Are you always this negative? Or, is there anything you see positively? We've been having a spirited intelligent debate about an important topic -- constitutional reform -- with arguments, counter-arguments, with creative and at times insightful thinking. I have learned new things and I think others have too. The back-and-forth discussions have prompted another user to put forth a thoughtful counter-essay, and these pages are getting considerable attention in terms of page views. And the benefit to our discussions is that we can all grow intellectually, become smarter and better informed, since intelligent comments help us to think through our positions and arguments. I fail to see how discussions on a few pages here might possibly "co-opt" RationalWiki. If anything, perhaps it is "you" trying to co-opt RationalWiki with your dismissive way of seeing people here. And it is just this sort of project -- crafting a new constitution -- which is beyond any one person but which is ideally suited to debate and counter-argument in a wiki-style venue. It might be unfair to prevent law schools from having a chance to test themselves against us in free and respectful debate, since professors and students there are in many ways like us -- not knowing everything -- and hopefully open-minded as we should all strive to be. It is the exercise of a challenge which can stir interest, and a contest further might help challenge all of us. The mind, like a muscle, gets stronger when we challenge it. And ultimately it does not matter who wins or loses since everybody will grow as a result. It's only a win-win as I see it, and will result in greater traffic and possibly more users here at this site, and possibly people have more respect for RationalWiki as well as themselves.--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 23:14, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
We are a wiki, who's original purpose was to go at conservapedia, mock it, and judge it from the real/Rational/whatever point of view. We have expanded, but only to go at other things in the same way. We are not wikipedia, nor are we something awful, a news website or anything important to anybody. Why should we be, we are (with some exceptions, such as me) a bunch of nobody atheists/secularists (I'm a nobody YEC). Why would a law college look elitist and snobby for rejecting some "remake the constitution contest!" proposed by nobodies, most of whom I doubt actually have gone to law school or have any real training in the field (no offense to fellow RWians). If you want to rewrite the Constitution, all power to you, but find a better place then RW to do it at if you actually want anybody to know about it or care--il'Dictator Mikal (talk) 23:27, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
I think you're a somebody. :) And perhaps you do not value RationalWiki, but I do -- reason is an excellent thing, much under-rated, the underpinning of much excellent philosophy. And I don't think it's fair to give up before even trying; half the battle is just trying, that's all, and there's nowhere to go but up.--Thomas Wright Sulcer (talk) 23:32, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the inspiration, Soundbite Man! Tomorrow begins today! Where there's a will, there's a way! The glass is half full! Hang in there baby! ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 23:46, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
(Edit conflict; reply to previous comment by "Thomas":) Am I always this negative? No; I am negative about things I have negative opinions or feelings about. I have no idea why you think I am being negative about myself. Anyway, I do not see discussions on a few pages here as co-opting RationalWiki, but when you put something on the site & then try to elicit responses to it from outside the site, that's a whole different ball game. You should only go down that road if there is very widespread support from the community. I doubt that there will be, but by all means prove me wrong. If you go ahead with this contest thing without community support (first), then frankly you would be abusing the site's hospitality. ЩєазєюіδWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 23:35, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
Molossia is a real banana dictatorship and has been at war with East Germany since 1983, and for the 7 years when east Germany existed they had no idea such a country or this war existed. That is the situation you have for using RW as a platform to propose a change to our government. Like I said, all power to you, but go find a more well known and cared about website to do it from.--il'Dictator Mikal (talk) 23:41, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
Or your own blog. ЩєазєюіδWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 23:43, 30 November 2011 (UTC)


Obviously, the US isn't going to get a new constitution any time soon. This is almost exactly how I want the United States of Europe's constitution to be some day, though (obviously with a few words substituted to make it specific to Europe instead of America.--Orcris (talk) 3:00, 11 March 2013 (UTC)


Just a few suggestions/questions after having read the proposed constitution:

Reword certain things (such as the 1st and 2nd amendments) in order to clarify certain issues. For example, rewording the 1st amendment so that it more clearly separates church and state?

Clarify whether corporations are considered "people" (or citizens)

Clarify if spending money on candidates, advertisements, etc. is considered free speech covered under the first amendment (given modern controversies concerning lobbying)

Under which situations, if any, can a state secede?