Liberal Pipe Dreams About Remaking the Constitution Pick Up Steam in New Congress
As Democrats took the majority in the House of Representatives last week, they wasted no time in drafting legislation to remake the U.S. Constitution, shifting the rules in their favor. One bill would abolish the Electoral College. Another would make voter registration automatic, repeal voter ID laws, drastically limit free speech in politics, and create a system where the government funds particular candidates — all in one bill!
Democrats push these bills in the name of good government, but they are attempting to fundamentally shift the playing field of American politics permanently in their favor. In 2008 and 2012, when Barack Obama won the Electoral College, liberals sang the institution's praises — because it represents the will of the states as well as the people. Only when Republicans win by the same rules do Democrats advocate the abolition of this American institution.
A rising chorus of liberals has begun to advocate "reforms" to the Supreme Court — not in order to apply the laws, but to check the influence of President Donald Trump's more originalist justices. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (R-N.Y.) made no bones about her plan to "pack the Supreme Court," as Franklin Delano Roosevelt threatened to do. Yet the Right's focus on the Court stems from liberal justices using the judiciary to force liberal change on the country for decades, most notably on abortion and same-sex marriage.
As Republicans held onto their Senate majority in 2018, a rising chorus of liberals in the media lamented that the Senate was not representative of the direct will of the people. Readers of the Federalist Papers would counter that the U.S. Senate was never intended to represent the direct will of the people, but rather that of the states. Indeed, until 1913, senators were nominated by state legislatures.
Democrats, so insistent that their policies represent the will of the majority of the people, desperately push for changes to the political system so that "majority will" can override everything else. This is fitting for a movement that considers itself "Progressive" in the same sense as reformers in the early 20th century. These activists also argued that the Constitution wasn't democratic enough — that it made radical change too difficult. The founders considered that a strength, not a weakness.
There is no guarantee that higher voter turnout will lead to Democratic victories, but liberals often present a kind of conspiracy theory that suggests the levers of power are unfairly weighted against "the people" (i.e., Democrats) and in favor of "dark money," "corporations," and the "evil oppressors" (i.e., Republicans). The reality is far more complicated, and radical alterations to the government far less popular than Democrats believe.