A 21st Century Bill of Rights

Zack Burley

Ryan Deuschle
Ryan Deuschle

Every generation has its moment of coming to power. When it does, it can accept or reject the laws, ideas, ethics and values of the past. As millennials take the reins of power, it becomes our time to shape the country as we see fit.

That shaping of our country could be immediately implemented by changing the laws to better reflect our cultural values and ideals. To do this, I propose a 21st Century Bill of Rights. This series of constitutional amendments, to be passed in one fell swoop, could adapt our legal and political system to one that empowers us to live in accordance with our values. I propose a few possible amendments that could accomplish just that:


The right of privacy and digital free speech: In our information dominated world, we need our data and communications to be protected. It would create a right to free speech in forms of media beyond print as well as protections against spying and searches.

Abolishing private prisons: Right now, alarming numbers of people are imprisoned in for-profit prisons owned and operated by publicly traded corporations. This sickening moral crime puts incentives in place to incarcerate citizens for a profit and has led to disgusting acts of corruption. Imprisoning people like this is state-sponsored slavery, and we as citizens are sanctioning it by allowing these wretched and deprived entities to exist.

Equality of sex: Women are still treated as less than men in our society. We need to declare as law that women cannot be discriminated on the basis of sex and must be paid and treated equally to men.

Equality of LGBT citizens: Here, too, we should provide the express protection to equal rights and liberties of LGBTQ citizens.

Congressional and executive salaries set at the poverty level: If our members of Congress and the President had a salary equal to the poverty level, their interests may shift from taking care of the super-rich to legislating in support of the masses. It would also make elected office a burden and duty that should be approached as civil service, not as an avenue for personal gain.

Term limits: This combats corruption and unfair consolidation of power. If Congress had to be constantly renewed, it would be a more dynamic and responsive entity. It would not be as stagnant and entrenched as it is now, with career politicians simply working to stay in office.

Campaign finance reform: An explicit overturning of Citizens United is necessary to stop the undemocratic influence of billionaires and big corporations. Funding could come from the public treasury, and equal airtime could be allotted to candidates through FCC licensing requirements.

These are just a few possibilities of how we could shake up our political institutions and declare our generations rise to power. Each day that we sit by letting the past generations make decisions. They rob us of a prosperous civil future. We have the ability and authority to restore our republic and determine our collective destiny. Run for office, hold officials accountable, vote and actively work to be a decent person.

Collegian Columnist Ryan Deuschle can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @engageinlife.