Will the US presidential election of 2024 be the last one as we know it?

There’ll be those who say American democracy is “quirky” and a contact sport and robust and this is just a sign of healthy competition. Except it is not. Since 2000 the Republicans have lost the vote of actual individual Americans (in the land of individual freedom) in five of the six last presidential elections. This is not a quirk. This is one side of America saying that the other side is simply not entitled to an equal say in the running of the country. A new GOP president in 2025 will almost certainly dedicate their effort to basically Putinising the electoral system to ensure it is simply impossible for the Democrats to win, relying on all the inbuilt bias of the constitution designed for a rural America.

Changing the electoral college is not the answer, because not only will it never happen, but this whole issue is not the problem in itself. It is a symptom of a problem that has been festering since the 1980s before being inflamed by Roger Ailes and Newt Gingrich. In short, Half of America, the Republican half, simply does not like the other half.

This leaves Democrats in urban centres with a serious quandary. Are they destined to be like Catholic nationalists in Northern Ireland pre-GFA, nominally equal citizens but in reality a permanent second class? With Republicans packing the Supreme Court and pulling away layer after layer of their America regardless of how they vote or even if they are the majority of Americans?

If I were a Democrat in NY or California I’d have to be seriously afraid. And thinking therefore that an alternative must be considered NOW before the election. That alternative? A constitutional convention, chosen 50/50 by Republicans and Democrats, to devise either constitutional amendments to reflect a different America, or a new constitution altogether, working on the basis that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. To possibly create a looser American Union with a common defence, trade and currency but everything else is devolved to the states. And perhaps the creation of sub-states to allow Houston to be liberal and Eastern California to be conservative. Perhaps with a new randomised way of appointing the Supreme Court, and STV for the Congress to ensure Republican congressional representatives in the cities and Democrats in rural areas. Perhaps replace the US Senate with the Governors.

Yes, it involves huge and ugly compromises. Liberals may have to concede Roe Vs Wade and Conservatives the second amendment, both as federal laws.

It’s a hugely ambitious idea. But the alternative is that the blue states and their voters will not accept a system permanently rigged against them. What will they do? Secession? A civil war. They could start by banding together and asking their voters not to pay federal taxes, and instruct state and city police to prevent federal officers from enforcing tax laws. The blue states pay for America. How will the Republicans respond? Send in the army? To collect taxes? Arrest the governors? What if the army refuses? There’s an odd assumption in Republican circles that the army will take their side. A constitutional convention would at least allow Americans of good faith to come together a design an America that address their fears (for that is what they are) of each other, and creates a constitution, or a new set of amendments, that recognises the America of the 21st Century.

The founding fathers of the United States did not intend the constitution be rigidly etched in stone, not did they think the America of their future would not be a different place. The constitution was never intended to become a constitutional golden calf to be revered for its own sake.

Of course, all this assumes that those now in control of the Republican Party actually have a vision of the United States separate from their hatred of Democrats and their voters.

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