Rewriting the Constitution.

Photo Credit: Kim Davies / Flickr.

Photo Credit: Kim Davies / Flickr.

Imagine if the U.S. Constitution barred the EPA and Department of Education from existing. All union protections are dead, there are no more federal workplace safety standards, and even child-labor laws are struck down, along with a national minimum wage.

Imagine that the Constitution makes it illegal for the federal government to protect you from big polluters, big banks and even big food and pharma—all are free to rip you off or poison you all they want, and your only remedy is in state courts and legislatures, because the Constitution prevents Congress from doing anything about any of it. The federal government can’t even enforce voting or civil rights laws.

To add injury to insult, the federal government has to shut down Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, because all of these programs (along with food stamps, housing supports and any programs that help the middle class, the less fortunate or disabled) are “beyond the reach” of what the federal government can do.

A few years ago, it would have been a thought experiment; now it’s nearly reality. Billionaires and the groups they fund are working to rewrite our Constitution to provide corprations and the rich with more and more protections and benefits, and chop away at anything smelling of “socialism” like Social Security or child labor laws.

The fact is that they’re just a few states away from meeting their goal, and have already held dress rehearsals in Washington D.C.—with representatives from all 50 states—for a Constitutional Convention that would change America forever.


On April 9, 1944, at the height of the war against fascist Germany and Japan, the New York Times published an op-ed by Vice President Henry Wallace discussing explicitly the issue of very wealthy people setting out to take over our government.

Wallace spoke directly to the danger of multimillionaire and corporate power, defining right-wing industrialists as people “who in case of conflict put money and power ahead of human beings.” He added that “in their search for money and power [they] are ruthless and deceitful. … They… follow power and the dollar wherever they may lead.”

In his strongest indictment of that day’s equivalent of today’s billionaire class, Wallace wrote, “They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.”

As Wallace’s president, Franklin D. Roosevelt said when accepting his party’s re-nomination in 1936 in Philadelphia, “out of this modern civilization, economic royalists [have] carved new dynasties…. It was natural and perhaps human that the privileged princes of these new economic dynasties, thirsting for power, reached out for control over government itself. They created a new despotism and wrapped it in the robes of legal sanction.”

We stand at the same crossroads Roosevelt and Wallace confronted during the Great Depression and World War II, only this time the Supreme Court (in 1976 with Buckley, 1978 in Bellotti and in 2010 with Citizens United) has given American billionaires the power to spend virtually unlimited amounts of money to own politicians and demand behavior from them so outrageous that they’d even lie on live TV and deny science itself.

The billionaire right’s behavior today eerily parallels the day in 1936 when Roosevelt said, “In vain they seek to hide behind the flag and the Constitution. In their blindness they forget what the flag and the Constitution stand for.”

President Roosevelt and Vice President Wallace’s warnings have come full circle. It’s critical that we call out these economic royalists for what they’re doing, and not let them and their minions rewrite our Constitution.

Thom Hartmann’s full article is at AlterNet, and very scary reading, but it’s important reading. Highly Recommended.


  1. Kreator says

    I wish I could say that I’m surprised that rich people could hold this much power, but I did live all my life in this world and never buried my head in the sand. By the way, as I talked to my parents about this, my mother started singing part of a song, which coincidentally had been in my mind for some time already: León Gieco’s Five Centuries the Same. I hope you don’t mind me plugging it here.

    Loneliness over ruins,
    Blood on the wheat,
    Red and yellow.
    Spring of poison,
    Shield, wounds,
    Five centuries the same.

    Freedom without a gallop,
    Broken flags,
    Hubris and lies.
    Medals of gold and silver
    Against hopes,
    Five centuries the same.

    In this part of the Earth
    History fell down;
    Just as stones fall,
    Even those that touch the sky
    Or are close to the Sun
    Or are close to the Sun.

    Unlove, dissension,
    Forgiveness and oblivion,
    body with mineral.
    Hard-working peoples,
    Childhoods in poverty,
    Five centuries the same.

    Loyalty over graves,
    Sacred stone,
    God didn’t get to cry.
    Long dream of evil,
    Children of nobody,
    Five centuries the same.

    Death against life,
    Glory of a people
    that has disappeared.
    It’s beginning, it’s ending,
    Lost Legend,
    Five centuries the same.


    It’s darkness with flowers,
    And though many people are missing,
    Nobody ever considered
    kissing your feet,
    Five centuries the same.

  2. Ice Swimmer says

    All hail Emperor Donald John the Terrible and Orange, Czar of the Great America and the Zemsky Sobor of the Capitalist Boyars! *spits*

    Seriously, this is very scary. Right-wingers are in the process of unmasking themselves.

  3. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    And this is why I constantly call for wealth redistribution programs for the express purpose of wealth redistribution. Differences in money is differences in power, and the vast differences in power in our society is dangerous to the continuation of our free democratic society. That is why I call for wealth redistribution programs. Currently, I favor ludicrously high progressive inheritance taxes, in the neighborhood of 99% taxes on inheritance for those who would inherit more than 100 million USD. Also progressive property taxes (including bonds, stock, etc.), and progressive personal income taxes.

    Concerning the extremely high inheritance taxes in particular, it’s surprising that I stand in good company with most of the founders, and even such disparate historical economic thinkers as Adam Smith and Karl Marx.

Leave a Reply