This season, More Perfect is taking its camera lens off the Supreme Court and zooming in on the words of the people: the 27 amendments that We The People have made to our Constitution. We're taking on these 27 amendments both in song and in story. This episode is best listened to alongside 27: The Most Perfect Album, an entire album (an ALBUM!) and digital experience of original music and art inspired by the 27 Amendments. Think of these episodes as the audio liner notes.
This week, More Perfect takes a look at three amendments on the more obscure end of the spectrum. The 12th, 17th, and 20th Amendments made fine-tune adjustments to the way we pick our leaders. More Perfect is here to prove these three are more interesting than you think they are.
For starters, the 12th Amendment is the secret star of the hit musical Hamilton. The Election of 1800 and the kerfuffle between Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson was one of the reasons we passed the 12th Amendment, which made it so that presidential and vice presidential candidates run alongside each other on a single ticket. It was meant to avoid awkward situations where political opponents suddenly had to be partners in government. But Radiolab's Rachael Cusick reflects on the Clinton-Trump race and the ways the 12th Amendment may have polarized politics. Then, listen to Octopus Project's original song about the 12th Amendment.
The idea for the 20th Amendment, which shortened the "lame duck" period for outgoing presidents and members of Congress, was first proposed around the same time as the 12th, but it took years to get political momentum to pass it. That momentum came in part from infamous president, Warren G. Harding, whose missteps ignited a movement to pass it. Huey Supreme wrote an original song about the 20th Amendment from the perspective of a lame duck.
Then, More Perfect skips back to the 17th Amendment, which made the election of U.S. senators more democratic. Our state legislatures used to hand-pick Senators, but the 17th made it so the people elect their Senators directly. More Perfect reflects on whether direct democracy is all it's cracked up to be. Listen to original songs about the 17th amendment by Stef Chura and Donny Dinero (of Mail the Horse).