The University of Pennsylvania Law Review's Pennumbra website has recently posted a debate over "Democracy, Political, Ignorance, and Constitutional Reform," between University of texas law Professor Sanford Levinson and myself. Levinson is a prominent constitutional theorist, and also known to many of our readers for his blogging at Balkinization.
Levinson and I both worry that democratic control over government policy has eroded in the current constitutional system for various reasons, including widespread political ignorance. However, we disagree over the solutions to this problem. Levinson contends that we need an extensive revamping of the current Constitution to make it more democratic. In my view, a better approach would be to reduce the size, scope, and complexity of government, which would make it easier for voters to acquire sufficient knowledge to keep track of what their representatives are doing. I also argue that the combination of political ignorance, war, and economic crisis make this a dangerous time to undertake major constitutional change. The combination of fear, ignorance, and political manipulation thereof could yield a worse system than the admittedly flawed status quo.