If there’s been one common feature between the left and the right over the past decade, it’s that they all have an idea for what they want to see changed about the government. The specifics of those ideas depend on the particular ideological slant, but they all have a complaint with the way things are and “how it should be.” I’ve seen calls to abolish or restructure the Senate, change to a parliamentary system, changing birthright citizenship, gun ownership, balancing the budget, along with calls for a third party. Most of them come down to “we think we’re not getting our way,” and that a new form will get them that. It’s nothing new.
All of the various concerns are literally as old as the country. History is an interesting thing, in that it can tell you why things are the way they are. Urban versus rural areas? Big states versus small states? Those have been bones of contention for centuries. It’s why the Constitution is the way it is. It’s not “perfect,” it was simply meant to be “more perfect” – read “better” – than what came before. It’s a series of compromises to balance those competing interests. The most notorious one, the “3/5’ths Compromise” came about because southern states would lose out in the House if slaves weren’t counted as population, while northern states didn’t want to give up their advantage in population. The fact that we have a Senate with two senators for each state, and a House with the number of representatives determined by population, is a compromise.
What the calls for changes, particularly relating to the form of government ignore is that those competing interests are still there and are not going to go away. The biggest reason all the various proposals are problematic is not just that there will be opposition, it’s that they all require changing the Constitution. That is a difficult process, and rightly so. There are two ways to do so: Pass a constitutional amendment; or call a constitutional convention. To pass a constitutional amendment, you need to pass it out of Congress with a 2/3’rds vote, and then 3/4’ths of the states (38) must ratify it. It’s been done 27 times. To call a constitutional convention, it must be called for by 2/3’rds of state legislatures. That hasn’t been done, and it’s probably the most dangerous in that most experts think that it really can’t be limited.
Do you want to do away with the Senate or change the number of Senators from each state to reflect their population? Smaller states, whether they are “solid Blue” or “solid Red” are going to fight that. Want to switch to a parliamentary form of government? Same problem. Want to change citizenship definitions, or define gun rights? Urbanized and diverse states will disagree. Require a balanced budget? It’s considered to be a bad thing by most economists. Do away with the Electoral College? That might stand a chance. It made sense for a long time, considering the difficulties in counting the votes, tabulating the results, and communicating them nationally, but those difficulties have disappeared in modern times. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be opposition to it, though.
Why I’m pointing out the difficulties in implementing any of the various ideas for changing the government is not because I’m for or against them. It’s that far too often, those ideas are being used as an excuse for not working with “what is.” It’s easier to complain than to make the existing structure work, and ignore the difficulties in changing the system. If you can’t figure out how to deal with what is, none of the things you’re talking about will happen