Chapter 7Instructions for Mission Impossible

How to Pass a Constitutional Amendment When Incumbents Don’t Want One

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.

—Attributed to Mahatma Gandhi

It’s one thing to amend the Constitution with something that both the public and incumbent legislators want. The Twenty-sixth Amendment, which lowered the voting age to eighteen, took only five months to pass Congress and be ratified by the states.

It’s different when incumbents fear an amendment goes against their personal interests. For example, the Twenty-seventh Amendment, which prohibits a current session of Congress from raising its own pay, took 203 years from proposal to ratification.

Our mission, should we choose ...

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