I learn from this column in my dad’s Sunday paper that political prognosticator extraordinaire Larry Sabato has a new book forthcoming this fall. In it, he offers 23 proposals for changing the Constitution.
Every fiber of my being protests in general against such a project, but I’ll try to keep an open mind as I consider his argument for amendments like the following:
• Because each state, regardless of population, elects two of the 100 senators, just 17 percent of the nation’s population elects a majority of the Senate. Sabato would expand the Senate by giving the 10 most populous states two additional senators, the next 15 most populous states one new senator and the District of Columbia its first senator.
• Expand the U.S. House to about 1,000 members (from the present 435) so representatives could be closer to the voters.
• Establish term limits for members of Congress to restore the principle of frequent rotation in office.
• Add a Balanced Budget Amendment to avoid burdening future taxpayers with an enormous debt.
• Establish a single, six-year term for presidents, but give them the option of requesting an additional two years. Voters would grant or deny it in an unopposed, yes-or-no election.
• Give the president a line-item veto.
• Eliminate lifetime tenure for federal judges and replace it with nonrenewable 15-year terms.
• Create a constitutional mandate that all able-bodied young Americans must devote at least two years to national service of some sort.
Sabato wants to start a national conversation. Let’s join him.