"We the Elites" is a new book about an old problem: the U.S. Constitution

Originally published at: "We the Elites" is a new book about an old problem: the U.S. Constitution | Boing Boing


Another great view of the US Constitution was “Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution”, by Elie Mystal.


The people who don’t understand that the Constitution was written by and for wealthy white male property owners are often those right-wingers who carry and wave around a pocket copy of said document. The only question is whether their ignorance is willful or genuine.


In my opinion Ovetz glosses over the dangers of populism and democracy unchecked by the constitutional impediments he considers roadblocks, and is a little hand-wavey about what would actually happen if we tore up the rulebook as he sees it. But it’s hard to argue with a lot of his central points and it’s an interesting book.

I think it’s time for more politicians on the left to be willing to say “the Constitution, as it exists today, is a piece of crap. We haven’t been doing the necessary maintenance required to keep it up-to-date”. That opens up the discussion on what changes should be made, and if we should make it easier to amend the Constitution.

At the same time, they can emphasize how the ‘founding fathers’ intended for the Constitution tho be a living document, which is why they included the amendment process. Conservatives have been getting away with promoting how the founding fathers were super geniuses, therefore the original text of the Constitution and the early amendments must never be modified.

Here’s a link to some of Thomas Jefferson’s thoughts on the subject: Jefferson on Politics & Government: Amending the Constitution.

This is one of my favorite quotes from Jefferson on the subject:

“We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.” --Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816


The constitution , as it existed when the country was formed, was a piece of crap. It was designed to favor the elites and the wealthy white males. It was absolutely built to keep them in power and control while giving the illusion of us being a fully free democracy. The founders were almost all extremely wealthy and privelledged people who built a system of government that might have been the best available, but also had a primary goal of keeping the status quo the status quo.

EDIT to Add:

The day I learned that the Boston Tea Party wasn’t about taxes, or high priced British tea, but instead about protecting the founding father’s smuggling operations was the day I started to really question what the founders were doing.

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When you consider that the Boston Tea Party was really about a bunch of wealthy business owners who were pissed that state-funded tea subsidies* were making it harder for them to exploit their neighbors for profits … you start to think that hey, maybe Libertarianism really IS the truest form of Americanism! In all the worst ways.

*state-funded tea subsidies accrued through Britain’s violent colonial occupations across the globe, but hey, broken clocks, etc etc


The reason the US Constitution isn’t working is simple- the documents matter less than the people who interpret them.

America doesn’t have a constitutional problem. It has a Republican problem. The fact that, after being ignored for centuries, the Supreme Court can suddenly come along in 2008 and interpret 2A in the Heller decision to mean “everyone gets all the guns they want with no rules” is proof the words on the paper have little meaning. Or that they can interpret 1A to mean “corporations can spend infinitely to skew elections” in Citizens’ United. It’s all meaningless with people like that making the laws.

To quote the great Australian stand up comic Jim Jefferies, “Guess what America- we all have constitutions. They’re all great”. The problem is who is making the laws, not anything to with the pieces of paper.

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