If any topic deserves its own thread, it's this one. Should we have a constitutional convention, or not?
Of our regular commenters, @truth and Anastasios are for it due to a range of issues including the current dysfunction/gridlock in government and the many unsettled questions that have built up. I'm highly opposed because I fear the unintended consequences of changing a form of government that has evolved over time and served us well.
Here's a review of most of the comments so far, starting with the comment that raised the issue.
Truth > Spin
"I now think we need to address structural issues before we can
effectively deal with policy matters in a manner befitting their
seriousness. The system has too many points of leverage that are
captured by fragmented interests and they have every incentive to
maintain the status quo. It used to be that gridlock eventually gave way
because the benefit of action outweighed inaction. Today, it is more
the case that the benefit of inaction is greater.
I don't think
replacing the current crop of people will do the trick. The problems are
too endemic and part of how we nominate and then elect Members of
As such, I think we need to have a serious national
debate over some changes the Constitution and think it is time that a
convention to do so be convened.
The other thing I'll add to what
you wrote is that not only does someone willing to work with the other
side risk being betrayed by the other side later, but they also risk
being attacked by purists from within their own party for the heresy of
such efforts. I recognize that this has more recently been true within
the GOP, but the same thing occurs on both sides.
* For the most part, this criticism is aimed at the House, although the Senate could use a good tune up, too."
"Hold it right there!!! I learned something very long along--that a
constitutional convention is VERY risky, and I don't want to be messing
with those risks right now.
I am very risk averse, particularly
downside risks. I don't know what what we have to gain with
constitutional changes, but we have a lot to lose, namely checks and
balances. There is no way I'd call for a convention without some
blueprints available and a strong belief that it will be better. The
change that I'll be convinced without seeing those blueprints--zero."
"...I agree with Truth that the Madisonian system is dysfunctional and
ultimately unworkable, and we would be far better off with the much more
intelligent Parliamentary systems one sees in Europe and Canada."
"I don't want to monkey with the Constitution and add in things that were
never there. That would be horrible, and we know who does that..." [a joke]
Truth > Spin
"So are you a Strict Constructionist then in interpretation? Or do you
want the document to live only via the readings of Senate confirmed wise
men (and Latinas)? ...Don't you think we could all benefit from
deciding for once and for all (until next time) whether the Constitution
protects the right for private, individual citizens to own firearms and
to what degree, if any, that can be curtailed?
Or how about whether indefinite detention of suspected terrorists or evil doers is allowable?
Or whether a fetus can be terminated, and under what conditions?
Don't you think we could all use some black and white on those and other matters? ...
I understand the risks, but my view is
that the risk of continuing as we are is greater. I'd accept some bad
outcomes from my perspective in order to gain some certainty and the
chance to gain positive outcomes. I think too that the process of a convention itself could be a boon to civic engagement and thought."