Monday, November 26, 2007

An Etch-a-Sketch Constitution

One of the most redeeming feature of the US Constitution is that it is really really hard to change. That way, when some politician tries to score points with the base by proposing some ham-fisted amendment, everybody knows there's no way it's going to pass, anyway. That's not necessarily true elsewhere:

Venezuelans go to the polls Dec. 2 for a referendum on a major rewrite to their 1999 constitution, which is the country's 26th. Ecuador has gone through 20 charters and Bolivia has ratified 12, yet politicians in both countries are busy drafting new constitutions.
It's easy to think of such shenanigans as just being part of the schemes of tin-horn dictators, but sometimes it actually works out:
When uprisings or elections succeeded in throwing the bums out, new leaders often promised to 're-found' their nations by drafting new Magna Cartas.

Colombia's 1991 constitution helped break the lock on power held by the liberals and conservatives by making it easier to form new political parties. Peru's 1993 constitution helped then-President Alberto Fujimori break government gridlock, resurrect the economy and defeat Shining Path rebels — though he eventually left office.
Still, it seems like it hurts more than it helps.

1 comment:

jedijawa said...

Hey! That's false advertising. I thought you were going to show me the Constitution drawn on an Etch a Sketch!