The U.S. Constitution is a venerable, concise document that has been amended 27 times in over 200 years, generally for very good reasons. The Oregon Constitution is an ugly, lengthy, wide-ranging and ridiculous document that has been amended more times than I can count and shamelessly used to hamstring the legislature, enshrine poor policy, and indict differences of opinion. It's time to throw that baby out.
There is, and ought to be, a difference between a statutory law and a constitutional law. The Constitution should have more weight, inspire more respect, and be less susceptible to the waffling winds of public whimsy. But in Oregon, we've allowed (and occasionally actively conspired) to demean our state Constitution by filling it with pop culture crap.
It's too easy to put anything you want in there. Land use and taxes and home care commissions and the experience required of state printers and seismic retrofitting are all very important subjects that ought to be in law. But they needn't be in the Constitution. Law would allow us to adjust our responses to these subjects with changing times and circumstances, but putting them in the Constitution implies that the response thus consecrated is the be-all end-all. The constitution should be reserved for topics involving the protection of rights, the structure of government, and high ideals that we expect (or aspire) to be inalienable and timeless.
So what do we do? Fixing the thing piecemeal would take too long and just be downright inefficient. There's only one answer. The mother of all ballot measures: Throw out the Oregon Constitution and start over from scratch.
Constitutional convention. That's right. Let's see if Oregonians have the ability to elevate the discussion to one worthy of a well-written constitution. Sure it's scary. Whenever I bring this up in conversation, people tell me that we'd end up with a worse (read: detailed, right-wing, and full of even more crap) constitution that what we've got now (I find that hard to believe). Alaska requires their citizens to decide whether to have a constitutional convention every ten years, surely Oregonians are capable of addressing this once in 147 years. Bring on the bigots and let them parade their prejudices. Then let's have a real, meaningful and deliberate discussion about what's important in government and in life, and let's put those words to paper.