CONSTITUTION CAFÉ by Christopher Phillips


Jefferson's Brew for a True Revolution
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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.


Pub Date: Aug. 22nd, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-393-06480-3
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2011


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