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Mike Barnhill

Ashland

Dear Editor:

The last meaningful amendment to our Constitution passed 50 years ago. The 26th Amendment lowered the voting age to 18, to enable those being drafted during the Vietnam War to have a voice in whether they'd be forced to participate in that deeply unpopular conflict. But since that amendment, the process the founders set up for the evolution of our political system has come to a standstill. Amendments have been crucial to our nation's evolution, banning slavery, establishing a federal income tax and giving women the right to vote. The Constitution's framers provided an amendment process because they knew that future generations would need to adapt to changing times.

Today, however, the nation is too polarized for any constitutional amendment to get through Congress and receive approval by 38 states, despite popular support for such reforms as immigration, limits on campaign contributions and banning gerrymandering. As a result, the power to decide crucial issues has changed from the people to the Supreme Court and locked our political system into "institutional paralysis." Beware: Great empires decline or descend into civil war when they are unable to evolve and reflect what the majority of citizens want.

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