The pervasive mythmaking about the supposed wisdom of the founders has covered up a central truth: the US Constitution is an antidemocratic mess. Our task is to push a program of political and economic transformation — so the United States can become, for the first time, a truly democratic society.
Aziz Rana is a professor of law at Cornell University, and his research focuses on how shifting notions of race, citizenship, and empire have shaped American legal and political identity. He is the author of The Two Faces of American Freedom (Harvard University Press, 2014).
In their early-twentieth-century heyday, American socialists advanced a distinctive vision of constitutional interpretation that centered popular mass politics — not judges and lawyers. As we face our own crisis of constitutionalism today, we should look back to that vision.
An internationalist, anti-imperialist vision has been all but abandoned by the Left. We need to rebuild that vision.
Bernie Sanders and AOC have helped to transform our domestic politics. But in order for those politics to stick, we also need to confront US imperialism and the power of multinational corporations.
America is best understood not as the first post-colonial republic, but as an expansionist nation built on slavery and native expropriation.