The political book of the year, from the acclaimed founder and director of the Center for politics at the University of Virginia.
A More Perfect Constitution presents creative and dynamic proposals from one of the most visionary and fertile political minds of our time to reinvigorate our Constitution and American governance at a time when such change is urgently needed, given the growing dysfunction and unfairness of our political system . Combining idealism and pragmatism, and with full respect for the original document, Larry Sabatos thought-provoking ideas range from the length of the presidents term in office and the number and terms of Supreme Court justices to the vagaries of the antiquated Electoral College, and a compelling call for universal national serviceall laced through with the history behind each proposal and the potential impact on the lives of ordinary people. Aware that such changes wont happen easily, but that the original Framers fully expected the Constitution to be regularly revised, Sabato urges us to engage in the debate and discussion his ideas will surely engender. During a presidential election year, no book is more relevant or significant than this. The founder and director of the renowned Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, Larry J. Sabato has been called "the Dr. Phil of American politics." He has appeared on every national television and radio program, including 60 Minutes, the Today Show, Hardball, The O'Reilly Factor, and Nightline. A Rhodes scholar, he received his doctorate in politics from Oxford, and has been on the faculty of UVA since 1978. He is the author of countless articles and some twenty books, including Feeding Frenzy: Attack Journalism & American Politics, The Rise of Political Consultants: New Ways of Winning Elections, and most recently The Sixth Year Itch: The Rise and Fall of George W. Bush's Presidency, and he co-anchored the BBC's coverage of the 2006 elections. In 2002, the University of Virginia gave him its highest honor, the Thomas Jefferson Award, given annually to one person since 1955.
Larry Sabato is increasingly alarmed at the growing dysfunction and unfairness that he perceives in our political system. To solve this, to restore the equity for ordinary citizens that is at the core of our democratic society, he believes that a radical step must be takento revise the Constitution, the document that guides our countrys political process. He suggests that its outmoded provisions are holding the United States back and that those elements of the document must be reformed and updated in order for positive change and progress to take place.
The original framers fully expected the Constitution to be regularly revised by succeeding generations to reflect the country's changing needs; yet, apart from the ten amendments in the Bill of Rights, it has only been amended 17 times in 220 years, and most of those amendments had minor ramifications. Today, partisan gridlock dominates Washington; 17 percent of voters elect a majority of senators; the presidency has assumed powers that are unprecedented and likely unintended by the original authors; politicians spend as much time campaigning for office as they do governing; and average Americans feel more and more disconnected from the political process so that half or more don't vote in many electionsall of which would most likely have horrified Jefferson and Madison.
A More Perfect Constitution presents twenty-three dynamic proposals to reinvigorate American governance at a time when, Sabato argues, such change is urgently needed. Combining idealism and pragmatism, and with full respect for the original document, Sabato's thought-provoking ideas range from the length of the president's term in office and the number and terms of Supreme Court justices to the structure of Congress, the vagaries of the antiquated Electoral College, and a compelling call for universal national serviceall laced through with the history behind each issue and their potential impact on the lives of ordinary people.
Sabato is aware that such changes won't happen easily, but he urges us nonetheless to engage in the debate and discussion they will surely engender. "As Sabato navigates through his literary renovation of the three branches of government, the reader can't help but hold out hope that maybe someday, some of these sweeping changes could actually bring the nation's government out of its intellectual quagmire . . . his lively, conversational tone and compelling examples make the reader a more than willing student for this updated civics lesson."The Hill "Without a public discussion of proposals like this, too many American citizens will be unable to understand the virtues and problems of our Constitution and how it might be improved."The New York Times
"Some of Mr. Sabato's suggested amendments are quite sensible and, according to a poll he commissioned, quite popular . . . but other amendments are more extreme . . . The obvious question is whether America's political system requires such radical surgery. Mr. Sabato would reply: That's for a constitutional convention to decide. Fair enough."The Wall Street Journal
"As Sabato navigates through his literary renovation of the three branches of government, the reader can't help but hold out hope that maybe someday, some of these sweeping changes could actually bring the nation's government out of its intellectual quagmire . . . his lively, conversational tone and compelling examples make the reader a more than willing student for this updated civics lesson."The Hill
"It's tempting to blame the nation's problems on one or two people in particular, or to make the blame far too general, attaching it, say, to the collective gullibility of half of the voting public. Does anyone else suspect that something more intrinsic might be wrong? One person who does is the political pundit Larry J. Sabato, [whose] book calls for a new federal Constitutional Convention. Here is optimism lightly tempered by realism, but optimism nonetheless."American Scholar
"Just in time for the presidential elections, in which the argument of constitutional originalism will raise its head in regard to Supreme Court judicial appointments, comes the paperback release of A More Perfect Constitution . . . Sabato makes good arguments that even if you don't believe in his suggestions, change is not only needed, but intended by the original framers. If you didn't pick it up then, this new paperback release is worth picking up by anyone interested in the future of our nation's constitution."Sacramento Book Review
"An ambitious project. Sabato seeks to create a national discussion about changes needed to create a better Constitution, one suited to the needs of a 21st-century superpower that spans a continent . . . These are controversial proposals, worthy of debate."The Charlotte Observer
"Sabato, founder of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, takes on the most sacred of American political cows, the U.S. Constitution. Noting that the Constitution has been amended only 17 times in 220 years, Sabato argues for the need for revision, not radical change, to reflect the needs of a nation that has changed substantially since the founding fathers pondered our system of government. Indeed, Sabato argues that the framers fully intended for the Constitution to be revised to ensure its basic principles. Among Sabato's suggestions are to increase the number of senators and house members; to modify their terms of office, and codify term limits; to change the term of office for the presidency to one six-year term, subject to referendum for an additional two years; to increase the number of Supreme Court jurists from nine to 12, changing their terms from lifelong to one 15-year term; and to create a regional lottery system in scheduling party nominations to offset the front-loading of primaries. Sabato's thought-provoking book provides insights for an important debate."Vernon Ford, Booklist
"Interesting and well conveyed . . . This is food for thought deserving a place in public libraries."Library Journal
"Sabato, founder of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, ventures bravely into the controversial waters of constitutional reform. Sabato argues that the founders never intended the Constitution to be timeless, but rather understood that government structures, ossified by constitutional neglect [can] become fundamentally unfair and tilted to those already in power. Sabato's reforms are consistent with the values he believes underpin the Constitutionfairness, idealism, pragmatism and focus on the needs of the present and the futurewhile attempting to mitigate social inequities. His lucid if unorthodox suggestions include a single six-year presidential term that could be extended another two years by referendum; limiting federal and Supreme Court justices to a 15-year term; a larger House of Representatives that would, among other benefits, allow for greater diversity in Congress. His reforms encompass the entire citizenry, who would be required to perform two years of national civilian or military service in what he calls a Bill of Responsibilities . . . Sabato makes strong, cogent arguments."Publishers Weekly
Sabato, founder of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, ventures bravely into the controversial waters of constitutional reform, arguing that the founders never intended the Constitution to be timeless.