Recently, U.S. politics has appeared to be very much in a state of crisis. The last president was impeached by Congress, and stands accused of inciting an attempted coup in the January 2021 assault on the Capitol. What’s more, in devastating acts of judicial review, The Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, throwing out the right to an abortion; and its June 30th ruling on West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency severely curtailed the EPA’s authority under a provision of the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
But rather than all this pointing to a dysfunctional, or even broken, politics, what we are witnessing is a political system working exactly as it was designed to. This is the position taken by Robert Ovetz in his eye-opening new book, We the Elites: Why the U.S. Constitution Serves the Few, in which he examines the constitution for what it is – a rulebook for elites to protect private property and capitalism from democracy. As Robert argues, social movements have misplaced faith in the constitution as a tool for achieving justice when it actually impedes social change through the many roadblocks and obstructions we call ‘checks and balances’. This stymies progress on issues like labour rights, poverty, public health and the climate crisis, ultimately propelling the American people and rest of the world towards destruction.
Robert joins us on the show this month to talk about the Constitution – from the historical context in which it was written and what its authors set out to achieve; to the many myths and misconceptions that exist around it; to its legacy today, more than 230 years after its ratification.