The Constitution of America

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Democracy may be clarified when one person’s act receives one vote, it is a government practiced by persons either personally or by elected members. A constitution is the written or unwritten basic laws that determine the organization of a government, its supervision, delivery, and limits on the duties of the government and its separate agencies. The constitution forms a government composed of three branches, the legislature, the judiciary, and the executive. The core democratic ideals of American society, the basic convictions and liberal principles that bind the people are stated in the Constitution of the United States, the Declaration of Independence, and other essential speeches, documents, and writing of the nation. The U.S constitution is both democratic and non-democratic in that it represents all the people in the country (Lazare, 1998). Critique would be the tendency to address high concepts such as natural rights and desired theoretical interpretations of law with limited practical context and falls short of direct participatory democracy. It is one of the best constitutional freedoms in the world. The U.S constitution is characterized by a lot of democratic abilities although; an analysis of the constitution structure reveals that amendments to some clauses are required.

The US constitution has several principles of the law which guide the governance of its citizen’s rights and powers and are discussed hereforth. Popular sovereignty is the first principle and is a doctrine in the political theory that is created by the government and subject to the will of the people. This means that citizens are in charge of the state and how it runs. It’s belief that stems from the concept of the social contract that a government should be for the benefit of the citizens. The people vote represents them in various government positions, and the elected person represents and expresses their opinions and ideas. An example of popular sovereignty is the election of multiple representatives like the senators and governors in where the citizens hold the right to vote and elect the legislatures that the citizen’s favor. Popular sovereignty was a new idea in the 18th century throughout the world and was established in the US to demonstrate an actual democracy (Dahl, 2003).It lets people control their rights as opposed to kings or queens clutching all the government powers. (Schwartz, 1992).The concept expressed in this principle does not necessarily reflect or describe the political reality. The central policy is that the consent of the governed defines the legitimacy of the rule or the law. Therefore, popular freedom is a fundamental tenet of most democracies around the world.

However, a legalistic notion of the principle does not always imply that there’s an effective and active functioning democracy, an individual or party dictator can claim to represent the will of the people and pretend to rule in its name. Sovereignty can be expressed as immediate in that the people make the requirements themselves or the laws can be mediated through representatives who are subject to the elections (Epps,2013). The people themselves: popular constitutionalism and judicial review. The principle covers a multitude of institutional possibilities and assumes the existence of forms of popular consent thus the reason why most republican governments relate to a theory of consent.

Most political structures of the US government apply the principle of popular sovereignty where citizens express their ideas as well as govern the state in collective authority. It’s a bold democracy that has existed for over 200 years, and it has proved to be flexible and stable enough to remain efficient and survive in a different world from the one in which it was written. The US upholds constitutional democracy in those courts restrains in some measure of democratic will. Therefore, it is a democratic republic ( Forte, 2014). However, it is impractical for all or most of the laws to be made by the direct popular vote given the number and complexity of regulations that any government is expected to enact. The ultimate personal rights of citizens is the power to say no to the government when the government demands too much, or to end and reform the state when it goes out of control but a closer examination shows something different happens in American politics that disapproves the theory to the degree that the government can stop its citizens from telling it “no” and to the degree that the government can prevent the citizens from reforming government (McKeever, 2012).

The principle of majority rule is put into practice when something is voted on the side that has the most votes, whether it is a legislative bill, an election, agreement or a shareholder’s motion in an organization. The majority vote decides the election or the issue at hand thus, it’s said that the people have spoken or the will of the people has been respected and has prevailed. The extent to which the majority rules orderly counting and pre-scheduled voting are carried out is a highly formal and structured mechanism for representing the people to exercise their democratic rule. The “one person one vote” rule imposes a discipline on the people that are not logically mandated by a commitment to democracy because the majority rule also shapes the people as it purports to represent them.

The minority, therefore, have the right to seek and to become the majority and acquire all the powers necessary to compete fairly in any elections, association, speech, assembly or petition­. Otherwise, the rule of the majority would thus become a dictatorship. The American political order has at its roots a commitment to democracy expressed through the majority rule, and this makes the “counter-majoritarian difficulty” difficult (Dahl, 2003).Majority rule, limited government, and judicial review are all of a piece of the project of constitutionalizing the people. Majority rule with its pre-scheduled voting and orderly counting is a highly formal and structured mechanism for representing the people. A democratic government requires the minority rights as it makes the majority rule because majority rule is not the only way to express supreme powers in any democracy. If only the majority rule prevails, they would quickly tyrannize the minority just like a single ruler is inclined to do.

Minority rights must be protected. Otherwise, the majority rules will become meaningless (McKeever, 2012).In the US, the rights of groups, as well as individual liberties and individual states, are protected by the Bill of Rights. This includes the rights that may not be violated by the government and safeguarding the minority rights. Any liberal and democratic government or party must consider the essential rights of the minority and are embodied in the international human rights conventions. A consensus cannot be the only basis for making legislative or political decisions or expressing the popular will of establishing a republic.

The functionality of both the majority rule and the minority rights can easily collide when the assertion of Madisonian rights and Millian liberalism in confronting a current government (Meese III, 2014).Nonetheless, the collision can be avoided through a consensus respect for individual rights in between the political campaigns and elections, and fair play is given to the minority views in the legislature, the public square, and the media. However, another necessary protection of the minority is the regularity of the principles of separation of power, elections, the checks, and balances, all of which make it difficult for majorities to achieve absolute power (Henkin, 1995).Throughout history, the danger of majority tyranny also lies in the oppression of the minority, religious and ethnic groups such as India, where the caste system relegated Harijans, or (untouchables) to conditions of terrible poverty and discrimination. The African American experience illustrated in the United States of the danger of the tyranny of one group by the majority although, slavery was never explicitly mentioned. Dictatorships in the 20th and 21st century are culpable of the most extreme treatment of minorities. Difficult political choices have been felt vividly by the minority within several democracies.

On a practical level, the application of the minority rights and the majority rule relies on a set of rules agreed upon by everyone in a political society. The American Parliamentary law is built on the principle that rights must be protected. The rights of the minority and majority, the rights of the absentees and individuals and the rights of all these people must be respected all-together for democracy to prevail. (Nichol, 2003).

A limited government is a system where primary leaders have minimal governing powers over laws and decision that are created without approval from other leaders or branches within the government. The principle of limited government states that the government is only allowed to do the things that people have given them the authority to do, also known as the constitutionalism and the rule of law. The government must be conducted according to the constitutional principles (Goldwin,2003). The roots of a limited government can be traced to democracy. Here, powers are distributed and delegated so that no one leader or group has absolute power and too much influence. In a limited government, power is not the ultimate goal because it is structured to maintain peace among all parties in a government. The people who create and enact laws should abide by them, and the citizens choose who they want to be a lawmaker by electing leaders and officials as representatives. This type of government is held accountable by a constitution. The United States government is an excellent example of a country that uses this kind of governance. The US limited government is split into a system of checks and balances in that the government branches have shared responsibilities and all divisions are equal

The separation of powers in the US constitution serves several goals in that it prevents the concentration of powers thus cutting the roots of tyranny and also gives each branch a weapon to fight encroachment by the two other branches. The concept of separation of power dates back as far as ancient Greece. The US national government is divided into three branches which are the executive, legislature and the judicial. Although, they are all independent they have actions that they can take to ensure that the other branches do not misuse the powers vested upon each. In the legislative branch has the powers to make laws and has the following checks over the executive branch, override presidential vetoes with the 2/3rds vote, has the power to fund any executive actions, has powers to remove the president through impeachment, the power to approve treaties and presidential appointments.

The U.S constitution’s checks and balances were put in place to prevent the majority from ruling with an iron fist. The legislative branch checks the judicial branch by, creating lower courts and the impeachment of judges while the Senate also approves the appointment of judges. The Senate is even mandated to ratify treaties on behalf of the government. Only two presidents have been impeached in the American history that is, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, however, the House of Representatives never voted to remove them from office (Whittington, 1999).

The executive branch has some checks and balances over the legislative department such as the recommendation of legislation, veto powers and can call for special sessions of congress. The Judicial Branch has the capabilities to interpret the law, and has various checks on the executive branch which may include; appointed judges are free from controls by the executive branch, actions of the executive can be judged by the courts to be illegal through the power of judicial review and the courts have the ability to judge acts of the legislature to be unconstitutional. The judicial branch has unique powers for they can judge the actions of the other two branches of the government to be unconstitutional. However, this only happens when their actions are brought to court in a case presented to them. This system of balances and checks has worked very well in the course of American history although there have been massive clashes when vetoes have been overridden, or appointees rejected though such occasions are rare. All the branches have achieved workable balance although there are times when one branch raises preeminently, no one branch holds all the government powers (Meese III,2014 ).

In making the due process of the law a constitutional guarantee, American constitution holds that no citizen should be made to forfeit their rights, property or freedom except by the rule of the law of the land. This basic protections and rights inherent in the Due process of Law clause are applied in all state and federal governments’ proceedings which could result in a person’s deprivation of fundamental rights, primarily the loss of property or life. Due process rights also apply in all federal and state criminal and civil proceedings, hearings, depositions, and trials (Longley, 2017, March 20).

According to the US constitution, the president serves the four-year term of office. He/she may not be elected more than twice and cannot serve as president more for more than ten years. An Electoral College was also established to select the president although many Americans believe that the college is outdated and that presidents should be chosen through direct elections. Every eligible citizen who has attained the age of the majority in the U.S (18years) has a constitutional right to vote the president of their choice. It is unconstitutional for one to restrict others to vote based on sex, race, and age. Therefore, the broadening of voting rights which are associated with civil rights movement is widely accepted as a marker of progress towards a just society. There’s a vibrant democracy movement of American citizens who are devoted to strengthening the functionality of democracy and the apparatus for making policies and individuals dedicated to making changes in the registration requirements, discard the voter ID laws, expand early voting and incorporate other democracy-enhancing reforms (Rakove, 2009).

Most importantly is the fact that the public participation in the amendment of the U.S constitution and participation in the elections of the land is of great importance. The ratification of the U.S constitution does not mean the end of politics or the end of the future course of the American republic, for now, they are faced with the next step of state building, and the creation of institutions that will realize their ideas about the national state (Henkin, 1995). The people should develop a conceptual framework through the available opportunities provided by the constitution that can make it possible to accommodate the creation of a powerful government.

References

Bill of Rights Institute. Constitutional resources. Retrieved from:

http://billofrightsinstitute.org/resources/

Center for Civic Education. Constitutional Democracy. Retrieved from:

http://www.civiced.org/resources/publications/resource-materials/390-constitutional-democracy

Comparative Constitutions Project. Retrieved from: https://www.constituteproject.org/

Constitution Society. Retrieved from: http://constitution.org/c5/

Dahl, R. A. (2003). How Democratic is the American Constitution? 2nd ed. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Henkin, L. (1995). US ratification of human rights conventions: The ghost of Senator Bricker. The American Journal of International Law, 89(2), 341-350.

Hills Jr, R. M. (2006). Federalism as Westphalian Liberalism. Fordham L. Rev., 75, 769.

Lazare, D. (1998) America the Undemocratic. New Left Review, No. 232, pp. 3-40.

Levinson, S. (2008). Our Undemocratic Constitution: Where the Constitution Goes Wrong (And How We The People Can Correct It). New York: Oxford University Press.

Macedo, S. (2009). Toward a More Democratic Congress? Our Imperfect Democratic Constitution: The Critics Examined. Boston University Law Review, Vol. 89, pp. 609-28.

Meese III, E. (2014). The Meaning of the Constitution. In David F. Forte, Matthew Spalding, and Edwin Meese III (eds), The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, 2nd ed. Washington, DC: The Heritage Foundation/Regnery Publishing. Retrieved from:

Mondale, W. F., Fahnhorst, M. C. & Stein, R. A. (2013). National Security and the Constitution A Conversation Between Walter F. Mondale and Robert A. Stein. Minnesota Law Review, Vol. 98, No. 6, pp. 2011-2024.

McKeever, R. and Davies, P. (2012). Politics USA 3rd ed. New York: Pearson. Ch. 2 and 3.

Nichol, G. R. (2003). Review Essay: Toward A People’s Constitution. California Law Review, Vol. 91, No. 2, pp. 621-39.

Schwartz, B. (1992). The Great Rights of Mankind: A History of the American Bill of Rights. Exp. ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

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