We the People of the United States

We have a new U.S. Constitution to consider! I’m happy to announce the conclusion of the 2020 mock Constitutional Convention at the U.S. Constitution Center in Philadelphia. Highlights of the new (mock) Constitution include:

  • Caps on Federal spending, debt and personal taxes
  • A national voter registry, and greater protections for provisional voting
  • Birthright citizenship requires at least one parent was a citizen
  • Apportionment and redistricting based on citizens who are registered voters, not population

We ask you to judge this (mock) constitution in its entirety. There’s something here for everyone. Partisans will attack specific provisions. But recall many compromises were made to reach consensus.

This constitution represents the will of the American people: it was crafted by delegates from a broad cross-section of America, as chosen by lottery and merit.

Their stated goal was to build a mock constitution that had the best chance of mock ratification. As chairman of the U.S. Constitution Center I think they’ve achieved their goal. They deserve your sincere thanks and respect as you debate the merits of their work.

Contents

  1. We the People of the United States
  2. Why a Mock Constitution?
  3. Differences from 1787
  4. Selection of Candidates
  5. Education
  6. The Essays
  7. Selection of Delegates
  8. The Convention
  9. Closing

Why a Mock Constitution?

This is Civics 101 for the nation. We execute a mock convention with most of the trappings of the original constitutional convention, and televise it as part of a national debate on our nation’s future.

The convention is held, a new (mock) constitution is written, and states use their legislated ratification procedures to approve or reject the mock constitution.

The goal is to dominate the news cycle for up to several weeks at each constitutional milestone:

  • Call for volunteers (unlimited)
  • Selection of candidates (1000’s)
  • Selection of delegates to the convention, and their alternates (150)
  • The Mock Convention
  • Release of the New Mock Constitution
  • Publication of The New Federalist Papers
  • Mock state-by-state ratification votes

We educate the public on the genius and subtleties of the work by our founding fathers, as seen through the eyes of those who try to replicate their feat in modern times.

We contribute 100’s of knowledgeable celebrities to the public discourse on today’s hottest political topics. They speak to America in our own voice, not filtered through partisan politics.[1]

Differences from 1787

The 1787 convention was designed to correct failures in the Articles of Confederation. Undoubtedly the mock convention will be informed by perceived shortcomings in the current constitution.

The intention here, however, is to open up all options, to not have a proforma agenda or limited set of proposed amendments. Convention delegates will argue from first principles (i.e., what is best for the nation) looking at the entire constitution.

Selection of Candidates

We randomly select thousands of candidates from an unlimited number of volunteers. We solicit diversity in geography, ethnicity, age, sex, occupation, educational achievement and religious backgrounds.

Education

All candidates receive a 4-year paid education in constitution building (weekends & evenings). Candidates are expected to pursue courses as toward a college degree. Successful candidates receive a final GPA, a college transcript and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science.

Courses are offered (remotely) from diverse schools: Ivy League, liberal arts, community, private, religious, etc. Each candidate crafts their own curriculum from a large catalog of courses. Candidates are expected to keep their day jobs while pursuing their education.

Can you imagine the thrill of being selected for the actual convention? We expect to see that level of enthusiasm in the students for their education.

The Essays

Scores on a final comprehensive exam carry the greatest weight in selection of delegates to the convention. It’s an essay exam. The essays are designed to test a candidate’s depth of understanding in the purpose and mechanics of constitution building.

Essay topics are also key to public engagement. Thousands of essay topics are solicited from the public. Answers are debated publicly. Think Essay-of-the-Day segments on major news commentary programs.

Essays are open-ended. There is no one correct answer. Consider the essay topics as kōans: used as lenses through which to consider key aspects of a new Federal constitution.[2]

A sample essay topic and its answer can be found here.

Select a random essay topic and test yourself here (requires MS Excel, macros enabled).

Sample Essay Topics
Sample Essay Topics

Selection of Delegates

Candidates are selected based on education and exam scores, with an added touch of randomness to make sure we include some smart individuals who perhaps were not well-suited for book learning.[3]

Delegates are assigned to states, two to a state, based on current residence, past residence, relatives in residence and as a last resort, volunteers or random assignment. Delegates are expected to work with elected State officials to best represent the interests of their (adopted) state.

The Convention

The convention is held in Philadelphia and runs 8 weeks. The final vote takes place in Independence Hall.

Closing

We hear a lot of gripes about today’s constitution: the Electoral College, the undemocratic nature of the Senate, gridlock, etc. But these complaints are more polemic than substantial, pushed by ideologues with an agenda.

Here we see what a representative sample of well-educated citizens can come up with by looking at the needs of the nation in toto. How do we address the perennial problems of a fractious nation having a common desire for unity?

It may be our mock conventioneers decide we need greater democracy and fewer checks & balances. My guess is they (and the public) will come away with a greater appreciation for the genius of the existing constitution, as refined over the centuries, and which is now ingrained in our culture.

Who will emerge as our modern-day James Madison?


1. The alternate is to leave this education up to elites or ideologues on tv, radio or the blogosphere.
2. Do not answer the essay topics as questions. For example, “Why do people resist change” is not to be answered with a thesis on stubbornness. Rather, imagine how someone else would use your essay to guide their thinking in the design of a new constitution.
3. Experience trumps education but this is intended as an educational project, hence our emphasis on education and testing achievements.
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