New consitution needed

Published 10:02 am Sunday, October 19, 2008

Most of us resist change.

Professional developers tell us we do this for myriad reasons: We don’t understand why the change is necessary; don’t believe the change will work; believe the old way is better; don’t trust the motives of the change agent; and there is little evidence that the new way will work.

Today, at 5 p.m., at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church some agents of change will present arguments for changing this state’s constitution.

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The Alabama Constitution was written in 1901 in another time and place in this state’s great history. Most of its language is outdated. Federal courts have struck down some of the ideas in this document.

About seven years ago, a group of citizens lead by the late editorialist Bailey Thompson and others, began moving toward a new convention that would yield a new document.

But because of this notion of safety in the tried and true — a false idea on its very face — our elected officials in the state Legislature have proven reluctant to move forward.

Consider what Thomas Jefferson, one of the founders of this country, said about constitutions when he wrote about leaders who “look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the arc of the covenant, too sacred to be touched.”

In this 21st century, Alabama needs home rule. Its cities and counties must react quickly and decisively to their roles in a worldwide economy.

In this new world of technology and rapid shifts in economy, the leaders of our state need a firmer revenue base on which to provide services and education to the people who live and work in Alabama.

Toward the end of his life, Jefferson insisted documents, such as constitutions should be rethought by every generation. He said, “Let us not weakly believe that one generation is not as capable as another of taking care of itself. ….The dead have no rights.”

It’s imperative for those who care about our future in Alabama listen to the arguments for a new constitution. Attending tonight’s meeting at St. Paul’s is one step in that direction.