Our perfect constiitution? What should we be teaching ourstudents?

Sanford Levinson SLevinson at law.utexas.edu
Sun Nov 6 09:11:26 PST 2005

Mark Graber writies:
Is the fault in the structure of constitutional
institutions, as Sandy believes, or in a decaying culture, as I suspect?

I don't see this as exclusive alternatives.  I think that both can be eminently true.  What must ultimately be determined--and I confess I'm not enough of a political scientist to come up with good answers--is the interplay between political institutionis and political culture.  If even members of politcial elites, such as, indeed, members of the Congress, feel a radical sense of inefficacy because of the edless number of veto points in our current political system, then doesn't this help to promote an "eat, drink, and be merry" view toward politics more generally.  The economics column in today's NYTimes Magazine explains, once more, why it's irrational to vote.  I think that all of us recognize the impeccable logic of the argument even as we go ahead and stand in line (even in the rain) to have the pleasure of voting against someone (and, on occaison, even voting  for someone).  But at some point, we do recognize that the economists are right.  It's simply foolish to keep caring about such things, especially if we have the financial resources to escape unpleasant realities.  Isn't it appropriate to quote Burke at this point about the triumph of evil resting on good people doing nothing?  (But maybe that's just another fatuous dictum!)
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