Donald Trump enters the White House with little knowledge or respect for constitutional law. But things must change to accommodate the times, says Richard Lutz.
With a maverick child ready to take over Washington, it is time to take a deep breath and call for two major changes to make the USA a safer more democratic nation. Both show how the country depends on aging creaking laws that are antiquated and inadequate.
First, there must be a major change in the second amendment which gives people… “the right to bear arms”. This law enshrined in the Constitution allows blood to drip into the streets on a daily basis , whether through nightly gang shootings or ghastly massacres in schools or malls.
It is a thorny problem. The 1791 enactment protects the rights of citizens to carry and own weaponry. Of course, life in the newly-independent states was radically different then. The republic’s residents were still jittery after a bloody revolution and were readying themselves for another British assault. Farmers had to protect their families and stock from roaming animals, native tribes whose lands were being slowly stolen and the additional threat of a rogue militia forcibly taking over home or farmhouse. It was necessary to be armed.
Politicians over the next 220 years grappled with this amendment, as recently as 2016 when the Supreme Count ruled that this contentious right to bear arms does include weaponry not in existence at the time of the Constitution’s creators. It just made things worse.
Times have changed. It is lunacy for the National Rifle Association to try to convince a stunned nation that the tenets of a 1791 law are still relevant today as a country reels from another school killing or a family lies shattered by a senseless street murder.
Trump is a friend of the second amendment and will probably side with the NRA. But the lobbyists must continue the fight to stop gun ownership unless it is needed – such as ranchers who need protection of stock, or rural communities who hunt.
Those in Britain today, with its relatively minuscule murder rate, understand what it means to live in a culture where guns are the exception, not the rule. Handguns in the UK? Simply illegal. Every revolver or hand weapon is against the law. Even at shooting ranges.
Hopefuly, when Obama leaves the White House in January, he will continue, with all his experience and connections, to try to get rid of this obsolete blood-encrusted second amendment.
Secondly, the Clinton/Trump election showed once again that a candidate can have more popular votes and lose the turkey shoot in the equally antiquated Electoral College. Clinton polled 200,000 more votes and Trump walked into the Oval Office.
The shambolic Electoral College system saw four previous candidates lose though they had more votes: in 1824, 1878, 1888 and more recently when Bush Jr beat Gore in 2000. The New York Times recently explained why this voting system was devised:
“The founding fathers sought to ensure that residents in states with smaller populations were not ignored. In an era that predated mass media and even political parties, the founders were also concerned that average Americans would lack enough information about the candidates to make intelligent choices. So informed ‘electors’ would stand in for them.”
The Revolutionaries had doubts about the capabilities of their equals. It wasn’t a case of all men are equal after all. Some were simply more equal than others. So create something that will vote for them. (Read the whole New York Times article: HERE).
With the United States such a world power, it is preposterous that a president is only indirectly selected by the voters. The final decision is ultimately up to 538 appointees in an arcane bodge job of gerrymandering, probably fine for a rural nation spread out and remote in the 1790s but hardly useful today.
In effect, it is time to scrap this bizarre system enshrined in the Constitution in Article 11 more than two centuries ago. It’s time that democracy stood for one vote, one voter.