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Though I mostly completed “falling off the (northern) hemisphere” a few years ago, I’m still a US citizen, with a lot of ties to the US political and economic system, despite happily being a legal immigrant in Uruguay. From where I vote in US elections, by overseas ballot to the USA, something that unfortunately my Uruguayan friends in the opposite situation cannot do easily or in most cases, at all, if they live outside our little Southern Cone nation. Though I’ve rarely updated this blog (never mind the book manuscript not-very-progressing), I have been prolifically posting on social media, chatting wise, snark-tweeting current US politics (especially the great “reality show” debates in both parties – best drama/comedy on TV!). I’ve still got skin in the game, and an interest in improving the USA.

With that perspective, I hereby submit these “Modest Proposals” for 21 new Constitutional Amendments. I’d love to hear your thoughts on them, alternatives to them, support or horror at them, in the comments here (if you’re a political junkie you already have a Disqus ID, right? On lots of Left, Right, and other sites), or on the shares of this at my +MarkMercer Google+, my @mcmxs Twitter, or my marcoscristofo Facebook. (In that order of preference, for serious responses, but use your fav if you must.)

Likelihood of getting any of these enacted, of course, is damn slim. Just like all the other proposals for amendments over the past umpteen years. Unlike most of those folks, I do not have a “send money to join the crusade” link, nor am I using the abominable Change.org or the even-worse (now-for-profit) cellphone company Credo Action Network, or other meaningless feelgood (and Politics-as-Usual donation-harvesting) sites. (Nor the equally despicable equivalents of the “Right.”) Instead, I hope I can stimulate some thought and discussion. Then, you think about which of these do and don’t make sense to you, and do what you think you should do next.

I will almost guarantee that if you are any kind of “political partisan” of either the US Institutional Left Democrats, or the US Institutional Right Republicans, or of the Tea Party branch of the Right, or the Democratic Socialist Branch of the Left, or the Libertarians out on a totally different axis (don’t think unidimensionally), or a Green on another axis, there are things you will love, and there are things you will hate, in my list. For example, you might love, or hate, that I explicitly enumerate Education as a responsibility of the Federal Government (so much for the GOP’s big Oops and since-Reagan talking point), but if you hate that, you’re probably the type of person who’ll love that I make the right to keep and bear firearms explicitly an individual right that has no connection to any regulated militia. But will hate that in the same Amendment I mandate registration of firearms. While loving that I make permits “must-issue”. If you love my making Healthcare a universal right, you’ll hate something else, like how I restrict a lot of things to US citizens, legal permanent residents, and those in the process of legal permanent residency, rather than to anybody who happens to show up. But you’ll probably then like the mandatory extended early voting.

Which means I did my job, thinking hard about this, after four and a half decades of active voting, longer than that of being politically active (I rang doorbells for Gene McCarthy while in high school.) I’m not “partisan”, I’m passionate about things, I realize there’s no one party nor candidate with all the right answers, and the “other side” isn’t the Devil, just different. And, there whole concept of the “other” side is utterly false anyhow – some ways because they’re the same, other ways because there are a lot more than two “sides”, depending on issue and perspective.

I realize this is “hard”. You have to think, analyze, judge, totally ignore the party labels, slogans, propaganda, and “memes” (dammit those pictures-with-text are NOT MEMES, Dawkins would damn you if he believed in such things, and he created the term!) But keeping a Representative Democracy as the system of government in our Constitutional Federal Republic is hard too. (Please, if you’re one of those “We’re not a democracy, we’re a republic” types, just go away if you can’t learn. We’re both. “It’s not the sky, it’s blue” is what you’re saying when you say that, and yes, you sound just as idiotic. “Direct democracy” is just one type of democracy. And there are plenty of tyrannical republics with no representative governance at all. Learn!)

TL;DR (assuming you already got this far): Universal health and education. Easier private gun ownership but with more training, background checks, and registration. Stop all the Congressional nonsense like the filibuster, “Hastert Rule”, “Thurmond Rule” where bills and nominations can get blocked by a minority. Make marriage any combination of any number of consenting adult men and/or women of any orientation, under basic civil contract and partnership law with nothing special about it. Define “Natural-born Citizen”. Create the “Schwartenegger Amendment” exception. End tax benefits for religions. Corporations are NOT people, my friend. Oh, and I ban all the damn “flag pins” worn by politicians to create overblown patriotism. And mandate the Metric System, right away!

I’ve tried to keep these at the high-level of what should be in a Constitutional Amendment, rather than into the weeds of details that are best left to specific laws enabling said principles.

Ready for the specifics?

Here we go, “Mark’s Prescription for a Better America!” (United States thereof subset, but using “Murica” because, US politics!) (more…)

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