My name is Blair Henry. I am the Executive Director of ThePeoplesConvention.org and a former corporate and prosecuting attorney, mediator, graduate school professor, delegate to BOTH Republican and Democratic state conventions–and I currently conduct workshops on strengthening the American democratic process.
In our workshops to date, we’ve learned a lot about what primarily older, whiter and wealthier Americans, balanced fairly across the political spectrum, believe would make the biggest difference in upgrading and strengthening our American democratic process.
The workshop participants also drafted, and over 75% approved, proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution or the various state constitutions, that they believed would to be approved by the required 75% of the state legislatures (38 states today).
A key common concern among these older Americans was to provide future generations of Americans with a stronger and more robust American democratic process than the workshop participants inherited.
Indeed, Thomas Jefferson was convinced our constitution should be re-written every 19-20 years to reflect the needs and concerns of every new generation of Americans that would be subject to it. Mr. Jefferson was convinced that forcing people today to live by rules created by people long since dead under completely different circumstances was a matter of force–NOT a democracy.
Based on our workshop results, I am NOT convinced that re-writing the entire constitution is necessary. Indeed, it appears that a very few, well-worded, widely supported, amendments would address up to 80% of the key concerns originally identified by our workshop participants.
I am convinced however that it is critically important that we provide every American of every age and background with an equal and fair opportunity to participate and be heard in designing the future of the democratic process they will be living into.
For these reasons, I propose conducting a Young American’s Constitutional Convention to provide all younger Americans with an fair and equal opportunity to be heard—free from the influence of special interests.
Most young American today, are unaware that some geezers in my age range today, during our teenage years, went to the streets and it resulted in the 26th Amendment entitling 18-20 year olds the right to vote—and it was accomplished 3.5 months!
With that in mind, I recommend the following.
First, while the title refers to “Young Americans”, let’s not get tied defining who is, and who is not, a “Young American.” I suggest that anyone who considers themselves a “Young American” is invited to participate. We will keep track of how people vote based on their age.
Second, while the title also refers to “Constitutional Convention”, that term typically refers to writing an entire new constitution. Based on the above information above, I suggest we begin with a relatively few, well-worded, amendments supported by the vast majority of Americans from across the political spectrum..
Third, our nation’s founders did their best under the circumstances of the day on creating out national rulebook—our U.S. Constitution. And yet, the founders also and acknowledged was constitution was not perfect and would need to be upgraded and strengthened over time as
• We learned what worked–and what didn’t
• Our circumstances changed, and
• Our values evolved
And things have certainly changed over the last 230 years!
Fourth, while the founders gave Congress a way to PROPOSE constitutional amendments, the founders also anticipated there would be times when the Congress would want to avoid various key concerns of the people. So, the founders provided two additional ways other than Congress to PROPOSE constitutional amendments.
The second avenue allows two-thirds of the state legislatures (34 states today) to call for a convention to propose amendments. While this kind of convention has never been successful in over 230 years, at least six efforts are currently underway to call such a convention, many of which are dominated by highly partisan interests.
The third avenue allows We The People to come together and propose our own constitutional amendments. As far we know, this too have never been done. And yet, with our terrific, modern communication technologies, this is certainly possible to do today–and in a fair, honest and respectful manner.
Fifth, 15% of amendments to the U.S. Constitution (4 of 27) were eventually, and importantly, supported by Congress when it appeared the state legislatures or the would be bypassing the Congress. This is commonly known as “the coercive effect”, in which Congress eventually acts when threatened with the possibility of losing their authority.
Finally, 26% of the amendments (7 of 27) were specifically designed to overrule decisions made by the federal courts.
If you are interested in participating in and/or supporting our nation’s first Young American’s Constitutional Convention, please contact me at Blair (at) ThePeoplesConvention.org.