America and Constitutional Loopholes

While there may be a perception that Americans glorify their supreme legal document, there are clear frustrations on all sides of the political divide, some justified, some not. Even neoconservatives like Ted Cruz support constitutional amendments, just ones that remove popular power to influence government (he proposed to repeal the seventeenth amendment, popular senatorial elections). Why Americans have continued to deal with the constitution’s many flaws is not surprising given the large amount of legislative support necessary to change this document. So what the hell, USA?

Historically, American politicians have interpreted the American constitution in the most authoritarian ways possible. Hence, after the American Revolution, only land-owning Caucasian men were “person” enough to be allowed suffrage. Slavery was legal. These are well known. However, many Americans may not know that Madison favored using the Senate to suppress popular opinion and also that it was an unelected body like the British House of Lords today. Also relatively untaught is the fact that American presidential state-based primary-caucus system was not established until the early twentieth century, and constantly amended as recently as 1968. Even more so, despite the electoral college’s historical role as a compromise, its second role, as Hamilton desired, is that the electors are not legally bound to vote the same as their constituents as another component of checks and balances, in this case, against the popular will.

Over time, these problems have been resolved with amendments and laws. However, one should be reminded of just how far the US has to go. Even France during post-war reconstruction, managed to eliminate the electoral college and introduce the two-ballot vote, a more representative vote. Given the current prosperity of the country, far more can be achieved in the US than a country with a devastated economy and limited prospects.

 

 

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