October 27, 1787. My brother Publius asks us to undertake “a judicious estimate of our true interests, unperplexed and unbiassed by considerations not connected with the public good. ” The Federalist No. 1.
September 17, 2021. I renew his call for We the People to engage in “reflection and choice,” belatedly, for myself and without the review or approval of my fellow delegates, proclaiming “the causes that impel” the call for adoption of “a new Constitution for the United States of America.” Our goal: a document that will restore “the vigour of government . . . essential to the security of liberty,” free from the shackles of “accident and force” and capable of blunting the “obvious interests” of those who “resist all changes which may hazard diminution of the[ir] power.”
The delegates who participated in these new deliberations did not always agree on either the nature of the problems that now imperil our Nation or the choices necessary to be made to fashion “a more perfect Union.” And neither they nor you may agree with all that follows in this, a Declaration of Liberty 2.0. I trust nevertheless that all will consider with care this attempt to capture the “train of abuses and usurpations” that have brought us to this point of peril. And that together, united in our common cause, we will renew our commitment to “liberty, dignity, democracy, and equality.”
When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for We the People to dissolve the constitutional bands that have connected us, and assume the sovereign powers to which We are entitled by the Laws of Nature, a decent respect for the opinions of mankind requires that We should declare the causes that impel us to amend and improve the Constitution of the United States.
We continue to hold these truths to be self-evident: that all persons are created equal, and are endowed with certain unalienable Rights, among which are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, the protection of which remain keys to our success as a Nation and none of which can be realized in a system of government that contains the seeds of its own destruction.
To secure these Rights, We recognize that when a Government instituted by individuals who derive their just powers from the consent of the governed has become destructive of these ends, it is our right and obligation to alter it and institute a new Constitution founded on such principles, so that We may organize this Nation in such form as We deem most likely to effect our Safety and Happiness.
Prudence dictates that a Constitution long established not be changed for light and transient causes. And while experience has shown that We may be disposed to suffer, and that some evils are sufferable, We nevertheless must right Ourselves by abolishing the defective forms to which We have become accustomed.
A long train of abuses and usurpations, grounded in veneration of Parchment Barriers, has reduced us to unjustified and unjustifiable dependence on forms rather than functions, such that it is now Our duty to throw off such strictures and provide new safeguards for Our future security.
Such has been the patient sufferance of We the People, and such is now the necessity that constrains Us to alter our current System of Government.
The history of the present Constitution is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations that, if left unchecked, threaten an absolute tyranny over the People.
To prove this, let the facts be submitted to a candid world.
A document that was designed and has proven to be virtually unamendable has stifled reform and perpetuated abuse, imposing prohibitive procedures for proposing amendments and inappropriately severe super-majority requirements for securing approval of the same.
A then necessary bargain with the Devil of Slavery, embraced to secure the assent of the slave-holding states, created systems of discrimination and repression that persist even in the wake of the abolition of that pernicious and peculiar institution, making a mockery of the assumption that all individuals are truly equal and breeding a system of economic and social inequality that must be addressed and ameliorated.
An economic system and tax code riddled with exemptions and abuses has created a nation within which the gaps between rich and poor have become immense, with far too many individuals unable to secure the jobs and income required to attain the basic necessities of life.
The lack of a true commitment to the People as Sovereign has fostered a political system within which individual voices are lost and governments at every level are representative in name only.
Equal representation of the States in the Senate has created an inappropriate dependence on and subservience to the whims and unrepresentative needs of minority constituencies, creating a system within which the vast majority of the People find themselves impotent as entrenched minorities command the same power and influence as groups and communities several times their size.
The House of Representatives has become increasingly Unrepresentative, tied to an allocation of members that does not adequately protect the needs and interests of an increasingly diverse nation whose population has grown to the point where functional and effective connections between an inappropriately small number of representatives and an ever-increasing population has become virtually impossible.
An electoral system structured around and dependent on private funding has created and perpetuates a Congress comprised of individuals whose dependence on those who support their campaigns has distorted their priorities made them unwilling and unable to pursue the needs of We the People.
The outmoded and inappropriate reliance on the Electoral College has distorted the political process, creating artificial campaign incentives that have effectively disenfranchised vast numbers of citizens and fostered a system that regularly deprives the People of a true national choice for their Chief Executive.
Deference to a Supreme Court that has assumed an inappropriate primacy in our system of self-governance has created an unaccountable tribunal of individuals who serve far too long and are drawn from an self-referential body of academic and judicial elites whose life experiences do little to truly connect them with the needs and interests of We the People.
A static document has frustrated realignment or even secession, nurturing notions of “Perpetual Union” that are inconsistent with the immense geographic mass and needs of a nation that has expanded far beyond its original boundaries and has evolved into regional alignments that pose vastly different problems best addressed by vastly different solutions.
At every stage of these oppressions We have noted the problems and have contemplated how best to address them. Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated failures to enact effective reforms, defeated by structures and procedures that have outlived whatever usefulness they might once have commanded.
A Constitution whose character is thus marked by persistent acts that are the hallmarks of a failed state is unfit to be the fundamental law of a free People. As a union of We the People there is no Prince to whom We may petition for redress. Rather, the solutions lie in our own resolve and determination to fashion a more modern, adaptable, and responsive basic charter.
We therefore, as concerned representatives of the People of the United States, in Convention assembled, certain of the rectitude of our intentions, appeal to our brethren and to all who seek an even More Perfect Union to undertakes such steps as are necessary to amend the Constitution, perhaps even to dissolve and replace it. For these United States, and the People who comprise it, must have a system of true self-governance that will allow Us to do all Acts and Things that a Free and Independent Nation may of right do.
We accordingly solemnly declare that these United States ought adopt a new Constitution, absolved from all Allegiance to the current charter that initially served us well but has increasingly become the source of our problems rather than the means for their solution. As a Free and Independent People We have the right and full power to do those things to which a Free People are entitled: to foster and protect Rights, to establish Commerce, contract Alliances, levy War and conclude Peace, and do all other acts and things that a Free and Independent State must of right be able to do.
And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the justness of our cause, We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.