Like almost all Americans, I grew up believing in the Constitution—every bit of it. But having chosen American politics as my primary passion in life, over decades of daily thinking about the issues that confronted the nation, I gradually began to see that parts of the system were no longer working very well, that the day-to-day, incremental political process was inadequate to fix the root causes of the system’s dysfunction. Bit by bit, I began to construct an alternate universe for parts of the American system. The ideas comprising this universe are at the heart of my new book, "A More Perfect Constitution."

The Constitution remains brilliant in its overall design. The Founders devised a political system that separated the powers of government, placed mutual checks on the powers each branch held, and ensured certain civil and human rights. Any new Constitutional initiatives must steer clear of infringing upon these bedrock principles of American government.

To begin with, by what sort of mechanism would all of this constitutional change be achieved? For interlocking reforms of the scope and scale that I am proposing, we need to turn to a process never before used in the history of the United States: a Constitutional Convention. Thirty-four states would petition Congress for a Convention, and the Congress would be obligated to call it—while designing a "Call to Convention" document that would list the subjects to be considered by the delegates. The Congress would be able to, and should, bar the convention from addressing hot-button social issue amendments, such as abortion or gay marriage, or tampering with the Bill of Rights. If the convention does so anyway, the states still hold the ultimate check. Thirty-eight states must ratify any proposed change to the Constitution, and there are more than enough Blue States, and Red States, to stop any partisan or ideologically driven amendment dead in its tracks.

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My proposals affect each branch of the federal government. For instance, concerning the Congress, I would expand the size of the Senate to ease the dramatic disparity in representation among states—the massive inequality from a population perspective that directly impacts the legislation passed or killed daily in the Senate. Each of the 10 most populous states would receive an extra two senators, and each of the next 15 most populous states would get one additional senator. The District of Columbia would also receive representation in the Senate.

The most far-reaching reform that I propose for the executive branch is a dramatic redistribution of war powers, restoring the Congress’ original co-equal Constitutional role. This shift is not only achievable; it almost certainly has broad support among the American public after the experiences of Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq.

For the judiciary, under my plan, all federal judges would face a 15-year term limit, without renewal, and the Supreme Court would be expanded to 12 members from its present nine.

I also propose a new Article on Politics. The founders did not much care for the subject, believing neither in mass democracy nor political parties. They came to accept both as inevitable, but not until long after the Constitution was written. The lack of governing guidance in the Constitution has led to all sorts of mischief, not least the state free-for-all that has produced the insanely frontloaded primary schedule for 2008. Reform of the Electoral College system is an inevitable goal for a project like mine, so naturally I have included it.

Lastly, I suggest a new Constitutional Bill of Responsibilities, to balance the Bill of Rights. At its heart is universal national service (UNS) for the young. Domestic civilian, nonprofit, and Peace Corps service is included, not just military conscription. My detailed and cost-effective plan for UNS attempts to revive and channel the idealism of youth in much the way John F. Kennedy began to do with the Peace Corps in the early 1960s.

My book and my proposals are just the beginning of what I hope will be a widespread conversation about mending our Constitutional errors. In 1789, Thomas Jefferson wrote, in a letter to James Madison: "No society can make a perpetual constitution, or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always to the living generation." Ours is now the living generation; we bear the privilege, and the responsibility, of reforming the Constitution to meet the needs of our twenty-first century republic.

Larry J. Sabato is a guest blogger for The Hill. Sabato directs the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia and has written numerous books on politics. His most recent is "A More Perfect Constitution: 23 Proposals to Revitalize Our Constitution and Make America a Fairer Country."