Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Foreign Affairs

Iceland's Folk Constitution

Following an economic collapse and subsequent revelations of systemic corruption in the government, Iceland has decided to reinvent herself by drafting a new constitution. However, in what appears to be a prime example of the pendulum swinging too far in the opposite direction, the new constitution is to be drafted by ordinary, everyday bubbas. The only people who may not be elected to the drafting board are current politicians.

While the entire scenario is humorous and somewhat refreshing, perhaps it speaks to the underlying non-seriousness in political thinking which got the Icelanders into such trouble in the first place. Don't get me wrong, I fully concur with William F. Buckley assessment, "I'd rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University." Perhaps the people will elect thoughtful statesmen from among their midst. But this seems a perfect stage for demagoguery.

Chief Justice John Marshall wrote, "Let us not forget it is a constitution we are expounding." Iceland should take care to preserve the dignity due to such documents. The American Constitution is sacred secular-scripture, whereas the French constitution is a periodical.  Perceptions have consequences.

Here's to wishing our Viking neighbors the best of luck with their radically democratic shot at nation-building.

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Discussions - 1 Comment

Actually, they are simply recreating their own history -- it's the Althing. These are the people who actually lived by a semi-democratic system before democracy was "cool."

I applaud them. Let the bubbas rule, so long as they are the ones who must live with the consequences. Such direct democracy is the dream of all who value freedom.

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