Saving the Last Best Hope of Earth: Reforming the U.S. Senate and Ending the Imperial Presidency

Lincoln Memorial, (Photo: National Park Service)
Lincoln Memorial, (Photo: National Park Service)

This article is the conclusion of a six-part series, “Constitutional Changes to restore American Democracy: Reforming the U.S. Senate and ending the Imperial Presidency.” Click here to read Part One: “The Undemocratic U.S. Senate.”

Due to continuing population shifts between the states, the United States has fundamentally ceased to be a democratic country. The U.S. Senate is the most flawed part of the Government. Indeed, its existence is preventing the United States from responding to many existential threats confronting us.

The only effective way to restore democracy to the Government is to reform the U.S. Senate by taking away its power to block legislation, or control the government. In addition, the president must no longer act as an emperor, but as a servant of Congress.

Desperation is the Mother of Invention; Exasperation is the Father of Action.

These proposals are radical because they cut to the root of the problems, and remedy them. Of course, these proposed reforms assault the privileges of powerful special interests; those that benefit from the Senate being powerful and the presidency being imperial will not relinquish their privileges easily. Indeed, I would not call for reforming the U.S. Government so completely if Joe Matthews had not called for constitutional reform proposals so directly.

Critics will likely insist that Congress would never approve a constitutional amendment this radical, nor will 37 states ratify it. However, Matthews asked for proposals to “fix America,” without regard to their acceptability. These proposed reforms are intended to be the price California demands to remain a state. Judge these proposal on the basis of their effectiveness and justice, not on their feasibility.

Democracy is at stake in America

Transforming the U.S. Senate into an advisory body and ending the imperial presidency may seem like a rash “power grab,” but it is really only a demand that every citizen in every state have equal influence upon the making of law and the operation of the government. If Democracy is not an acceptable form of government in the United States, California and other states whose citizens who do value democracy and justice, should have the right to leave our benighted sisters, and depart without further obligations.

That goes double for California since she was effectively independent from Mexico when the United States invaded her in 1846. Since her statehood was involuntarily imposed, California can give it up voluntarily.

After four years of Ukraine-Gate, the Floyd Protests, Charlottesville, and COVID, it is right to ask: Is Trump and his MAGA gang an aberration from, or the result of, the U.S. Constitution? At the bottom line, either the United States will be a democracy, or it is time to make a democracy out of our parts of the United States.

#GetTheCalOutOfHere: The Movement toward CalExit and Blue Exit

Having established the need to reform the Constitution to restore democracy, I have also effectively explained why – as Gwyneth Paltrow illustrated in the Netflix series “The Politician” – millions of Californians want California to leave the Union and become an independent state. This pull toward independence does not rise from an inflated conceit for California, but from a sorrowful disappointment in the U.S.A. Where once we saw the “last best hope on Earth,” there now appears the antithesis of what we value and a dark heart growing darker. Alas Babylon!

¡Vete Yanqui!

Statehood, what once we cherished, now feels like captivity. Over the past several years, and decades, we Californians have tried to persuade our fellow Americans to fight for democracy and justice; we were rebuffed and insulted. We have tried to strike the mystic chord of American patriotism; we are called deviant, subversive; and even “socialist.” In justice, we can read the Psalms and smile wrly:

O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us.

Psalms 137:8

With this warning in mind, let us act to rescue democracy as I have proposed. Let us act not as citizens of a state, be its population large or small, but as citizens of the United States, filled with love for democracy and justice. For only then can we save both, and make the United States fit to meet the challenges of this most challenging century.

We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it.

We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth.

Other means may succeed; this cannot fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just — a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.

Abraham Lincoln, 1862

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