Sedona Amendment No. 1 HONESTY

In twenty workshops held to date in Sedona, Arizona, approximately 450 older, wealthier, white residents, fairly balanced by gender and political inclination, drafted the following constitutional amendment, and over 75% agreed it would make the single biggest difference in upgrading and strengthening—and restoring their trust and confidence in—the American democratic process.

They created this as their first amendment because they were convinced no other meaningful reforms could be accomplishment without first eliminating the fraud and deception, and requiring the truth, in our political process.

We hope to hold more workshops around the nation to increase the diversity of Americans included. These proposals are expected to evolve over time and you are invited to

  • Take our short survey where you can express your support or opposition to the following and provide constructions suggestions to strengthen the proposal
  • Host a workshop in your community
  • Join the team committed to ensuring the integrity of the convention process

The remaining two Sedona Amendments can be found here

Sedona Amendment No. 1: HONESTY

(rev 11/13/18 BCH) pdf copy

  1. WHEREAS, democracies fail when they lose the trust and confidence of the people, and
  1. WHEREAS, trust and confidence in the American democratic process is now at, or near, an all-time low, and
  1. WHEREAS, America now ranks 21st in the world in terms of actually being democratic[1] and of the Americans polled: [2]
  • More than 9 out of 10 the Americans believe they were subjected to false or misleading election information (91%)
  • Almost 7 out of 10 believe Members of Congress don’t tell the truth (65%)
  • Almost 6 out of 10 have little trust in the mass media reporting the news fully, fairly, and accurately (55%)
  1. WHEREAS, the American constitutionally protected freedom of speech does not extend to speech that injures others (exceptions[3])
  1. WHEREAS, there are hundreds of laws and regulations in America that prohibit fraud and deception and they do not violate the freedom of speech or the press
  1. WHEREAS, while it is a felony to mislead or deceive the federal government, 18 USC 1001, it is not illegal for a politician or other government employee to lie, mislead or deceive you
  1. WHEREAS, Abraham Lincoln[4], Thomas Jefferson[5], the U.S. Supreme Court[6], the U.S. Department of Justice [7] have all stated the need for honesty in the political process and the Permanent Mission of the United States to the United Nations stated to the world “…we underscore that the right to the truth is inextricably linked to the promotion of democratic ideals, human rights, and justice.” [8]

THEREFORE, the people of the state of ____________ hereby approve the following amendment to their state constitution as well as the U.S. Constitution

The people shall have the right to complete, honest, accurate and intelligible information on all matters of public policy—and it shall be unlawful for anyone, including public servants, political candidates and the media, to conduct any organized or official activities that tend to mislead or deceive the American people on a matter of public policy.

The Intention of the Drafters

To support those needing to interpret this section in the future, the drafters respectfully submit it is the Intention of the Drafters that

  • This section shall NOT apply to unofficial, unorganized, spontaneous communications between family, friends, and acquaintances i.e. “coffee talk”
  • Criminal and civil penalties shall be increased, based on the number of people exposed to the misleading or deceptive statement(s) and the degree of negligence, reckless disregard for the truth, or intentionality involved in making the statement(s)
  • “Intelligible information” is defined here as information that, standing alone, is completely and accurately understood by a jury of persons with the equivalent of an American eighth grade education
  • All communications related to public policy by any party that is longer than two pages or one thousand words in length shall be preceded by a complete, honest, accurate and intelligible (CHAI) summary of no more than two pages or one thousand words in length

[1] http://thepeoplesconvention.org/democracy-index-the-economist-intelligence-unit/

[2] http://ThePeoplesConvention.org/polling/

[3] Generally Accepted Exceptions to Free Speech in America
Incitement (inciting or producing imminent lawless action) 2. Defamation (libel, slander) 3. Fraud 4. Obscenity 5. Child Pornography 6. Fighting Words (insults of the kind likely to provoke a physical fight) 7. Threats 8. Speech Owned by Others (copyright, etc.)

[4] Abraham Lincoln“I have faith in the people. . . The danger is, that they are misled. Let them know the truth and the country is safe.” The Boston Journal July 1864 http://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/i_am_a_firm_believer_in_the_people_if_given_the_truth_they_can_meet_any_nat

[5] Thomas Jefferson“Wherever the people are well-informed they can be trusted with their own government; that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them right.” Letter to Richard Price, January 8, 1789, ME 7:253 https://founders.archives.gov/?q=Correspondent%3A%22Jefferson%2C%20Thomas%22%20Correspondent%3A%22Price%2C%20Richard%22&s=1111311111&r=9

[6] U.S. Supreme Court: “the ability of the citizenry to make informed choices . . . is essential”  Buckley v Valeo (1976)  https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/424/1

[7] U.S. Department of Justice: “The United States Supreme Court has explained that the, ‘basic purpose . . . is to ensure an informed citizenry, vital to the functioning of a democratic society, needed to check against corruption and to hold the governors accountable to the governed.’ . . . The Supreme Court stressed that ‘[t]this phrase should not be dismissed as a convenient formalism.’ Rather it, ‘defines a structural necessity in a real democracy.”  https://www.justice.gov/open/foia

[8] Permanent Mission of the United States to the United Nations“…we underscore that the right to the truth is inextricably linked to the promotion of democratic ideals, human rights, and justice.” http://geneva.usmission.gov/2010/03/10/right-to-truth/

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