It’s easy to pity Kremlinologists. These are people who spent years, even decades, studying the Soviet Union. Their job was to explain why that country did the things it did, even though those actions so often seemed counterproductive. Suddenly, though, the USSR dissolved and the Kremlinologists were out of work.
Louis Michael Seidman hopes to join them on the unemployment lines. He’s a “professor of constitutional law” at Georgetown University. That means students pay more than $60,000 per year to hear him lecture.
Nonetheless, Seidman apparently wants to end his cushy teaching gig. “Let’s Give Up on the Constitution” reads the title of his New York Times op-ed, published on Dec. 30. That sounds akin to a doctor declaring “who needs anatomy?” or a pilot asking “what good is aerodynamics?” But Seidman means it; he really wants to do away with the Constitution.
“Our obsession with the Constitution has saddled us with a dysfunctional political system, kept us from debating the merits of divisive issues and inflamed our public discourse,” he writes. “As someone who has taught constitutional law for almost 40 years, I am ashamed it took me so long to see how bizarre all this is.” Just imagine how all his former students must feel reading that. Can they get a tuition refund?
Seidman writes that he wants to replace our archaic Constitution with something that would allow for quicker response times. His new governing document wouldn’t need to be a document at all; Great Britain and New Zealand are humming along without a written constitution. He’d also keep some of the practical bits, such as the length of the president’s term. After all, “Some matters are better left settled, even if not in exactly the way we favor.”
His essay seems to boil down to: “Keep the stuff I agree with, do away with the rest.”
So why would a Con law prof want to eliminate the document he’s been studying for a lifetime? Seidman explains: “As the nation teeters at the edge of fiscal chaos, observers are reaching the conclusion that the American system of government is broken.”
That’s not much of an insight. American political observers have been complaining about our faulty system since the time of King George III. It’s a key reason, as Seidman admits, that the Constitution was written in the first place: because the Articles of Confederation weren’t working well enough for many Americans.