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Les Robinson writes:.
"I too am appalled by the spectacle in Congress, but I don't believe a system of government can be devised that will deal adequately with all human frailties and vindictiveness (Democratic and Republican) and their infinite capacity for creating crises. The success of any system ultimately depends on the maturity and restraint of the politicians. Let's please not get into the wrenching process of trying to write a new constitution; there are much more pressing issues at hand to exercise the sometimes petty minds of our politicians. For any changes needed in the Constitution, I prefer to stick to gradual alteration by the amendment process. Gradual, rather than wrenching, changes have characterized and represented the genius of the English system of government as well as our own, it seems to me. In any case, surely a constitution cannot anticipate all crises and specify how to deal with them. We must continue to rely on human judgement, no matter how flawed, to resolve our problems. And I suppose ideological stubbornness will always get in the way of sensible solutions."
My comment: I agree, but even amending the constitution is difficult (although the British plan to do it). It has proved impossible even to get through Congress an urgent law reforming electoral finances, one of the worst features of the American system.
A basic problem is that all most voters want to know is "Whate's in it for me?" As a result, very honest men like Presidents Hoover, Carter, and Bush are vilified or rejected because an economic downturn coincided with their administration, whereas few care about Clinton's character and behavior so long as they enjoy the present boom.
And this affects WAIS: A UCLA poll reports that the large majority of freshmen view the aim of a college education is to make more money, while only 25.9% think it is important to keep informed about politics. Probably only 5% have any interest in international affairs. From my dealing with the Stanford Alumni Association, it would seem that this is true of Stanford alumni. It is a national disgrace, and a Stanford disgrace.
Ronald Hilton - 02/01/99
More on US Constitution
Stuart Rawlings writes:
"I agree with Prof. Hilton's questioning of the term "misdemeanors" as used in relation to impeachment. If I could rewrite this section of the Constitution, it would read "high crimes which present a clear and present danger to the nation." This would prevent excessive stretching of the language, such as the Republicans are doing today with President Clinton."
My mugwump comment: A dangerous proposal. Suppose Clinton killed Monica to shut her up? It would solve the matter and not threaten the nation. He could not be tried until he left office. I have two concerns: the dignity of the office. Poor Herbert Hoover was a man of high principles, but that did not save him when the economy soured. If the economy collapsed, support for Clinton would too. Secondly, think of the people who have lost their jobs for the "misdemeanors" with which Clinton is charged. Would we resort to the old slogan that "The King can do no wrong"?
Ronald Hilton - 01/24/99