The American Constitution: A Highly Intelligent Document

Essay by SouthrncomfortjmUniversity, Bachelor'sA, June 2004

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When the Founding Fathers came together they wanted to separate from Britain because their home country was imposing its will on them without any colonial representation in British legislatures. Later, with democratic ideals in mind, the Framers of the Constitution drafted the document that governs our society. They vowed to create the foundation for a strong country that would not treat its citizen as England did. Unfortunately, the Constitution, at its ratification, fell significantly short on many democratic ideals. While there are several points of possible discussion, three specific issues, slavery, universal suffrage and the election of senators and the President clearly demonstrate the limited democratic aspects of the Constitution as originally written. However, before discussing how the Constitution fails to be "highly democratic," one must understand what is meant by highly democratic. Succinctly, a highly democratic constitution needs to clearly define and guarantee rights to all its citizens. Democracy requires free speech, diverse competing interests, the means for those interests to represent themselves politically and a strict following of "majority rules."

Likewise no group can be denied their rights. Finally, citizens must be empowered with the right to vote and representatives in the government must be directly elected by a majority vote of the people.

Slavery denied blacks their rights for almost a hundred years after the ratification of the Constitution showing one of the clearest signs that the Constitution was not highly democratic. As stated above the right for all groups to influence the laws that govern them are basic tenets of a democracy. This is clearly violated by slavery because a slave has no rights, no political power and therefore no way of enacting change on its own behalf. This dynamic, as explained in Madison's Federalist 10, where a majority tyranny cannot exist, collapses because the minority...