Larry Sabato
A More Perfect Constitution

starThe National Constitution Convention

The National Constitutional Convention

New: Audio & Video and PDF Transcripts from the National Constitutional Convention 

New: View Sabato’s opening remarks at the National Constitutional Convention

The Rationale
In 1787 there were furious debates, intense negotiations, and strategic feints and thrusts as the Founders struggled to establish a nation rather than just a loose confederation of states. On October, 19, 2007, at the celebrated Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C., the University of Virginia Center for Politics hosted the National Constitutional Convention. Along with hundreds of participants, including constitutional scholars, elected officials, journalists, and political insiders, the University of Virginia Center for Politics, led by Larry J. Sabato, asked: What if United States were to have such debates, negotiations and maneuvering again, in our own time, with our own issues, with the benefit of over two hundred years of experience? Would experts and the general public vote to amend the Constitution, or would our modern day "delegates" and citizens accept the current document as our nation's best compass for navigating contemporary politics?

The convention, moderated by Bob Schieffer of CBS's "Face the Nation," offered a wide range of topics for discussion such as presidential election reform, checking the powers of government, and national service among many other topics, and was followed by further debate by the attending "delegates." All in attendance had the opportunity to vote on each panel topic and render a tentative decision on every reform, giving this event the feel of a genuine constitutional convention.

Leading up to the convention, hundreds of thousands of young people across the nation who already participate in the Center's signature program, the national Youth Leadership Initiative, studied constitutional reform, held their own mock constitutional conventions, and voted on a series of possible reforms in the nation's first national online youth constitutional convention. Video clips of these activities as well as results of the national student convention were incorporated as part of the symposium along with some student participants who attended the event.

The goal of the National Constitutional Convention was not to promote one possible reform over another, but rather to spur a grand, national discussion on the Constitution of the United States and whether the cornerstone of our republic could or should be a means of revitalizing civic and political engagement in America, curtailing apathy and renewing confidence in American politics and government.

Many of the nation’s Founders imagined the Constitution would be revisited on a regular basis by the American people. Is it time? It may be so, as we found out together at an exciting and exceptionally thought-provoking National Constitutional Convention.


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Larry J. Sabato
Director of the UVA Center for Politics and
author of
A More Perfect Constitution
Why The Constitution Must Be Revised:
Ideas To Inspire A New Generation

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