Via Matthew Yglesias, here’s a sharply worded article by University of Baltimore law professor Garrett Epps in The Atlantic, entitled, “The Founders’ Great Mistake.” Well, that’s just catnip for us here at Publick Occurrences. Epps argues that the Constitution, in its current form, gives presidents appalling license to do the country harm.
One quote that struck me:
Intoxicated by the image of the hero-president, unencumbered by any direct political check, stubborn presidents . . . have no incentive to change course.
This gets at Jeff’s media criticism in the post below. It’s not just presidents who believe their own hype, but a media and public that feeds an almost monarchical conception of the presidency in all its majesty. Now, somewhere Brendan McConville is probably saying, “I told you so,” although that’s a gross simplification of his thesis.
Epps has a few suggestions for reforming the presidency. First, we should get rid of the electoral college, and shorten the “interregnum” period between the election and the inauguration. Secondly, the powers of the presidency ought to be specifically enumerated. Third (and here things get a little weird), if a president’s party loses seats in Congress, he should be forced to shuffle his Cabinet. Finally, the executive should be split—perhaps by separately electing an independent attorney general during the midterm elections.
Epps isn’t the first person to suggest a radical overhaul to the Constitution—there have been a number of books with that thesis in recent years. But heck, Epps’s article is shorter. Let’s have at it.
Which provisions of the Constitution would you change, and what features would you add?