Debate  |  Volume 157

Democracy, Political Ignorance, and Constitutional Reform

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Last updated: Apr. 2, 2009

Debate - Democracy, Political Ignorance, and Constitutional Reform






In Democracy, Political Ignorance, and Constitutional Reform, Professors Ilya Somin and Sanford Levinson discuss the constitutional implications of a federal government whose “size, scope, and complexity” are far beyond anything that the framers could have possibly imagined and an electorate that is more likely to be able to name the Three Stooges than the three branches of their government. While both professors agree that the situation is problematic for our democratic form of government, they offer very different solutions to address the issue. Professor Somin argues that given such political ignorance, there is no guarantee that opening the door to large-scale constitutional reform would be able to provide a government that is any better. Rather, the best solutions would be aimed at “reduc[ing] the overweening power of government over society.” Professor Levinson, on the other hand, asserts any efforts to radically reduce government are akin to “swimming upstream, perhaps against a waterfall.” Instead, he offers three Constitutional reforms to adapt our founding document to better match the complexity of the modern state. Through these three modest changes, Professor Levinson asserts we can take significant steps toward a “more perfect Union.”


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