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What if Our Constitution Expired?

It’s a fact that Thomas Jefferson said the U.S. Constitution should expire when the last Founder died, and it’s also true that George Washington expected the Constitution to last no more than 20 years.

What if they were right? What if our Constitution expired? What would happen today with the political upheaval that’s taking place in America, with both sides relying on the Constitution to justify their positions?

A new political thriller imagines what might happen if the United States had to hammer out a whole new Constitution today. Who would we entrust to that monumental task? Who is today’s George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, or Thomas Jefferson? What would happen to our country if, indeed, our treasured Constitution was no longer in force?

Book cover

Novelist John Boykin has imagined this in his new political thriller, The Constitution Has Expired, and he's our guest on the Lean to the Left podcast.

In fact, something had been troubling Boykin for decades. If the American form of government was the best in the world, why didn’t other countries emulate it? And while the U.S. Constitution was proving nearly impossible to amend, emerging countries were writing their own constitutions from scratch. What if the U.S. had to do that all over again?

This became the premise of The Constitution Has Expired. Though the book is fiction, Boykin researched it as carefully as his award-winning nonfiction, down to the smell of the ink used by the calligrapher who prepared the original version on parchment.

Boykin's nonfiction book, “One Brief Miracle,” told the inside story of American diplomat Philip Habib’s mission to stop the 1982 Israeli siege of Beirut. Former Secretary of State George Shultz wrote the foreword, and the book won the American Academy of Diplomacy book award under its hardcover title, “Cursed is the Peacemaker.” You can learn more about both books at

So, what if our Constitution expired?

What would happen? Here are some key questions we discussed with Boykin:

1.  The Constitution Has Expired starts out with a young woman studying the original of the Constitution at the National Archives and discovering, unbelievably, that Article 5 contained a sentence stating that the Constitution would expire 100 years after its establishment, something that no one had ever noticed before. That would mean that the Constitution, as we know it, is no longer in force, having expired in the mid-1800s. What would be the implications of that?


2.  You say there are three key failings of the Constitution. What are they?


3.  How has the Constitution been eviscerated by partisanship?


4.  Section 3 of the 14th Amendment states that no person can serve in political office if they had engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the U.S. Do you believe that should prevent Donald Trump from seeking the presidency?

5.  The novel is critical of both political parties. Do you believe in the two-party system? What’s your solution?

6.  Some say we are a republic, not a democracy—even that the Founders hated democracy. Is that true?

7.  Why is "Let the voters decide" heartwarming humbug that ignores the Electoral College? Doesn’t the majority rule?

8.  The other day Trump encouraged people to vote and said every vote counts. That’s one Trump statement with which Democrats agree. But you don’t believe that, right?

9.  How has your research into the Constitution affected your view of government disfunction?

10. Your subtitle is "A novel. Really. Probably." What is that about?

11. Your day job is designing websites for businesses. How does that relate to writing a novel about the Constitution expiring?

12. Where can people find your book? An audio version was recently released, right?

Listen to the podcast:

Read the transcript:

What if Our Constitution Expired_
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