is to serve the people not rule the people and is a govt of, by, and for the people (not a govt of, by, and for the govt.) But popular discontent over the debt problem continued, with similar protests taking place in Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania. The question How democratic is the Constitution? However, the middle ground is that the original Constitution consisted of a hybrid of democratic and undemocratic principles that gave rise to functional and dysfunctional rules and procedures. As one report on recent constitution-making processes noted: Constitution-making is no longer the prerogative of a few experts or a select group of political representatives. Now Clinton is using her near complete control of the Party machinery to count on the support of these unelected superdelegates and steal the nomination from Bernie Sanders if necessary. What Do Foreign Correspondents Think of the U.S.? He cited potential developments in England as a warning of the dangers of universal suffrage. It does not merely create a stronger national government; it creates a government that is popular. But, of course, we have a vast number of laws, too many, in fact. In order to tame the worst impulses of human nature, a government must be shaped so that decisive action will require more than a majority, and more, in some cases, than a single session of the Congress. In the very first number, Publius asks if it were really possible for “societies of men . The franchise (9) to elect representatives was left to the states and was very limited as we’ll see later in this textbook. It does not merely create a, First, many constraints are placed on the national government. Modern liberals might claim, in response to the Constitution’s pessimistic view of human nature, that we have evolved beyond our ancestors, many of whom were elitists, aristocrats, and slaveowners. Most limited voting to people who owned property or paid taxes– thus reducing any democratic threats to the propertied interests. Nor could they divorce themselves from the time in which they lived. It’s hard not to notice that in the United States, political arguments frequently turn on questions that, in other democracies, nobody talks about. --Robert P. George, Princeton University "A lucidly written and compelling work, Our Undemocratic Constitution asks hard questions about the nature of our founding document. These examples seem to suggest the problem. IvyPanda. Finally, things boiled over. But the government thus created, while popular, is not democratic, as that word was understood in 1787. IvyPanda. Rather, it ultimately depends on citizens who take their responsibilities seriously and cultivate the wisdom to choose wisely. Under the leadership of a former captain in the Continental Army, Daniel Shay, armed groups eventually marched on state court houses to shut them down and prevent more foreclosures and imprisonment of debtors. Most did believe that a government’s legitimacy should ultimately be rooted in the people. 2009. As he sees it, the United States Constitution fails to uphold the principles of the American nation, and something needs to be done about it. By fashioning a government that allowed some input by the people, but one that also severely limited their power to influence most government decisions. All Rights Reserved. The Senate, unlike the House, is blatantly undemocratic, overrepresenting citizens who live in small states by allocating them the same number of Senators as those who live in larger states. Hale is the author of The Jury in America: Triumph and Decline (University Press of Kansas). Subsequent research revealed some limitations of Beard’s book, but his work forever changed the way we understand the American founding. Eventually, four thousand people, in exchange for amnesty, signed confessions admitting their participation in the rebellion. The only real option is to change the Constitution to get rid of its more elitist and undemocratic features – like an unrepresentative Senate, Supreme Court Justices appointed for life, the Electoral College, etc. They also broke into jails to release debtors. In his view, the rebels were jealous of the property of the upper class and wanted to use force to get some of it for themselves: [T]hey feel at once their own poverty compared with the opulent, and their own force, and they are determined to make use of the latter in order to remedy the former. (Benjamin Franklin was one of the only framers who dissented from this view.). Legal. Your privacy is extremely important to us. Landy is the co-author (with Sidney Milkis) of Presidential Greatness. Since then there have been numerous articles on the undemocratic structure of the U.S. Constitution on the Jacobin website, many of them by Daniel Lazare, author of the ground-breaking 1996 book, The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution is Paralyzing Democracy. They were failures of democracy, and it was in the states that the democratic impulse was the strongest. And originally electors were chosen again by state legislatures, not the public. In France, to take another example, no public school student may wear any article of clothing, or any jewelry, that indicates a religious affiliation. The Framers’ view of human nature explains the anti-majoritarian elements that have earned for the Constitution the label “undemocratic.” To take one example, the Electoral College chooses the president. (These terms do not apply to outside articles linked on the site.) Any law that contravenes the language of the Constitution is necessarily void. Yale University Press. Having to win a sufficient number of state elections requires a candidate to appreciate the regional diversity of the country and put together a tapestry of victories. ISBN: 0844736066, Held, D. Models of Democracy, 2nd Ed. In a republic, the charter is supreme as the official source of power, while the rule of the majority controls official power in a democracy. The Democratic establishment created this system after 1972 to prevent any insurgent candidate from winning the nominations. Legislative power was located in a single legislative body that was popularly elected – thus creating a government very responsive to the public. Governing the American State: congress and New Federalism, 1877- 1929. One wonders why such people inquire of law professors concerning such matters, when legal training does not provide them with any special constitutional expertise, with any knowledge of the history of the writing and ratification of that document”only with mastery of a raft of (generally historically unfounded) judicial opinions. Further, they hold their seats for life, meaning that they can influence the character of the country long after they have fallen out of touch with the lives of ordinary Americans. It is impossible to read, The Constitution aims, therefore, to create a government strong enough to achieve its ends, while controlling for the defects to which popular government is prone. They were not ordinary people. is more complicated than it initially appears. Even if a bill makes it through all these hurdles, it may be challenged and struck down in the federal courts. Consequently, the Framers hatched the Electoral College, a group of presidential electors comprising men of outstanding wisdom, character and value, charged with the responsibility of choosing the president (Dahl 15). As students of the period know, white Southern Democrats were determined to protect business as usual, at least in the South, and if possible, in the country. Through amendments to the Constitution, we have extended the “right to vote” to people of color, to women, and to people who are eighteen years and older. They appointed a committee to develop restrictions, but it could not come to an agreement about what exactly they should be. The Constitution creates a federal republic, where the national government is limited to a specific set of responsibilities, leaving the states free to adopt an array of policies on matters of public concern. Let’s start with the Constitution and the first ten amendments—treating them as one document even though we know that’s not quite true—and judge them from the point of view of the late eighteenth century.