Constitution Cafe: Jefferson's Brew for a True Revolutionby Christopher Phillips
Energized by the optimism surrounding Obama's presidency and, conversely, the fierce partisanship in Congress, Christopher Phillips has set out to engage Americans in discussions surrounding our must fundamental rights and freedoms, with some help from Thomas Jefferson. A radical in his own day, Jefferson believed that the Constitution should be revised
Energized by the optimism surrounding Obama's presidency and, conversely, the fierce partisanship in Congress, Christopher Phillips has set out to engage Americans in discussions surrounding our must fundamental rights and freedoms, with some help from Thomas Jefferson. A radical in his own day, Jefferson believed that the Constitution should be revised periodically to keep up with the changing times. Instead, it has become a sacred, immutable text-and in Phillips's opinion, it's in need of some shaking up.
From a high school in West Virginia to People's Park in Berkeley, California; from Burning Man to the Mall of America, Phillips gathered together Americans from all walks of life, moderating dialogues inspired by Jefferson's own populist political philosophy, formulating new Constitutional articles. With contagious passion and conviction, Philips has taken up Jefferson's cause for a truly participatory democracy at a time when our country needs it most.
Phillips (Philosophy/New York University; Socrates in Love: Philosophy for a Passionate Heart, 2007, etc.) takes a fresh look at the Constitution.
The author suggests that the reason the last election left many progressives feeling betrayed by Obama's leadership and boosted his Tea Party opposition is because the "system itself that was handed to us by our Framers prevents meaningful reforms that facilitate more responsive and responsible government." Rather than continuing to amend the Constitution, Phillips argues that the time has come to draft a new one. All that would be needed is a vote by two-thirds of state legislatures to hold a new convention. To help the process along, he has been traveling around the country facilitating meetings with students, green activists, Tea Party supporters and others, in an effort to mobilize a grassroots discussion on what a new Constitution might look like. The author bases his proposal on a similar one by Thomas Jefferson that a Constitutional Convention be held every 20 years to review the founding document. He reports proposed new constitutional articles ranging from the far out—that every citizen be given $50,000 at the age of 18, and that the election process be modeled on reality-TV shows like American Idol—to the serious, such as the right of every child to high-quality education. The author skillfully interweaves a history of the early days of the Republic and the disputes at that time with a discussion of Jefferson's involvement with constitutional issues in the state of Virginia as well as for the country as a whole, and he offers useful insight to Jefferson's thoughts over his long career.
A provocative extension of Jefferson's original plan.
- Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)
Meet the Author
Christopher Phillips, educator, author, and founder of the nonprofit Society for Philosophical Inquiry (www.philosopher.org), travels the world talking about philosophy.
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