I plan of writing a series on our beloved Constitution….a common and popular political prop but with little understanding.
With all the turmoil and chaos in our political institution the question needs to be asked….is the Constitution still working as it was intended?
The Founders wrote a vague document with the intent that those in control would stay in control…..so from that view it is working.
But today is today.
My opinion is that it NO longer works….one reason is the vagueness which the Founders wrote into the document….but that is just me….
The U.S. Constitution is the sacred text of American government and civic life. But it’s time to face facts: The document, written in 1787, isn’t working. The signs are all around us. Just 38 percent of Americans in a recent Gallup poll expressed either a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the presidency, down from 48 percent in 2001. Congress, never high in the public’s estimation to begin with, fell from 26 percent to a mere 12 percent. The Supreme Court has also taken a hit, down from 50 percent to 36 percent during the same period.
One reason often cited for the failing Constitution are the people who inhabit its carefully crafted institutions. In Congress, serious legislators are scarce, as many members aim for viral recognition on social media. Freshman Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) freely admitted, “I have built my staff around comms [communication], not legislation.” Cawthorn is hardly alone: Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) represent a new breed of legislators who seek recognition and are largely uninterested in passing actual laws.
Now this brings up the question on whether the Constitution is democratic or not…..some thoughts on that question….
The Constitution, and the political order it made possible, defends “the honorable determination” of a free people to govern itself. But self-government, as the Founders understood it, demands constraints on the impulsive will of temporary—and often short-sided—majorities. Popular government is not democratic in a simply majoritarian sense, as thoughtfully designed institutions such as the Senate and the Electoral College make clear. Anything worth doing well is worth doing carefully and with the appropriate deliberation. As the authors write, “The trick in forming a government was to minimize the opportunities for mischief, while maximizing the opportunities” for republican virtue, or free and limited government “with numerous obstacles placed in the way of impulsive and short-sighted behavior.” And as the authors demonstrate, the constitution is not a machine intended to work automatically.
It’s hard not to notice that in the United States, political arguments frequently turn on questions that, in other democracies, nobody talks about. What are the powers of the legislature? What may the executive do? What can the states do without begging permission from the national government? Why can’t an idea popular with the public become a law?
For these and other questions, the answer will always involve the American Constitution, a document more than two centuries old that has been amended (not counting the Bill of Rights) only 17 times. In the wake of the 2016 election—in which, not for the first time, a candidate who lost the popular election entered the White House anyway—talk about the Constitution’s “defects” has become more insistent. Why can’t America be more like other countries?
The United States appears to have a government that makes it very difficult to accomplish anything, while other countries seem much more able to make desired changes—with a minimum of fuss and bother.
The Constitution is a great document….sadly as great as it is it makes governing damn near impossible….especially in these days of ignorance, lies and misinformation….most of which is spread by the very people that we elect to govern this country.
Please watch for more on the Constitution….there is more to come.
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“lego ergo scribo”