Monday, September 17, 2012

Democracy and the Constitution a lover's quarrel

Today, September 17, 2012 is the 225th anniversary of the signing of the final draft of the U. S. Constitution.

39 of 55 delegates that attended the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia affixed their signature to the Constitution. The signing of the Constitution by the Philadelphia delegates was followed by two years of intensive debate in a series of state ratifying conventions.

The above was extracted from an excellent article that appeared in the September 17, 2012 issue of the morning Call. On page 11 of the news section, Lenethea Matthews and Justin Rose, professors in the political science department at Muhlenberg, collaborated on an article about the adoption of the constition.

They go on to discuss the compromises required in an effort to attain a more balanced document. The 13th amendment was adopted in 1865, the 14th in 1868, the 15th, which abolished slavery in 1870.

They point out that while the constitutions "essential institutional features remain unchanged, the Constitution we have today is not the Constitution of 1787...."

"Instead, the Constitution continues to emerge in a lover's quarrel with democracy, one that brings into sharper focus the meaning of the words that continue to spark our imagination: "We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union.""

The article continues by pointing out that amendments are neccessary changes made in the name of democracy. The 19th amendment (1920), for example, granting suffrage to women, the 24th (1964) prohibiting poll taxes, and the 26th (1971) lowering the voting age to 18.

Another direct quote: "In contemporary politics, the lover's quarrel between the Constitution and democracy is evidenced in judicial decision-making and in public debates in which we attempt to reconcile public policy with our philosophical ideals."

The Constitution is indeed a wonderful document that has served our great Nation for 225 years. Debates will continue as we try to sort out the extent and scope of its powers, but the document will live on to guide this great Nation well into the future. This is a document that every American should read and understand and then share with me my reverence for our Constitution.

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