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The Two Aspects of American National Government Research Paper

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Updated: Aug 26th, 2021

Democracy, the most engaging philosophy of politics, has been considered the most cherishing ornament of the modern American government and the political system. In fact, the significance of the democratic governments, just as the philosophy of democracy itself, has been recognized all through the ages, say from the times of the classical Greek city-states where democracy demanded the citizens join in the service of the State. In the background of the American democratized Constitution, it is relevant to note the famous oration of Pericles delivered at the funeral of soldiers who fell in the war with Sparta as it points to the important concerns of a democratic state and its relation to the basic Constitution. “Our Constitution is called a democracy because power is in the hands not of a minority but of the whole people.

When it is a question of settling private disputes, everyone is equal before the law; when it is a question of putting one person before another in positions of public responsibility, what counts is not membership of a particular class, but the actual ability which the man possesses. No one so long as he has it in him to be of service to the State is kept in political obscurity because of poverty. And just as our political life is free and open, so is our day-to-day life in our relations with each other…” (Vernant 149). This oration is relevant as it points to the basic aspects of a democratic government, such as the equality of every citizen for civil rights, franchise, free speech, etc., regardless of one’s race, sex, or any other concerns. In an analysis of the democracy of America, we come to notice that the government and the political system of America is the result of a long process of democratization that involved mainly the democratization of the republican Constitution in the eighteenth century. Among the different aspects of the American National government and politics, the civil rights for women as well as issues related to the judiciary most convincingly describe and explain how the eighteenth-century republican Constitution has been democratized.

An analysis of the development of the American democratized Constitution in the background of the eighteenth-century political, and governmental aspects is most relevant in the background of the modern American political life where, as acknowledged in the book America’s Democratic Republic, cynicism tends to make people withdraw from civic life. (Greenberg and Benjamin). It is remarkable to note that there are various aspects of the American National government of the eighteenth century which suggest that the Constitution of the Republic has been democratized by the existing system of society and the evolving concern for the civil rights of the citizens. There has been an enormous need for the inclusion of democratic values in the Constitution of the nation, and accordingly, the Republican Constitution has incorporated provisions that ensure social justice and civil rights. Therefore, the women’s issues and the issue concerning the judiciary, along with the adoption of representative democracy, have been strengthened by the eighteenth-century developments in the socio-political spheres of America.

The representative democracy has been an effective way to ensure the social justice of the period, which included the protection of the civil rights of women and the expansion of the franchise in order to provide greater space for the growth of the governmental system in democratic line. There involved many issues in the selection of an effective system of government that deals with and ensures the representation of every sect of people in the body of governance. Thus, many issues have been involved in the making of the American Constitution. It is notable that the framers of the American Constitution have been greatly influenced by John Locke’s writings and by Montesquieu, the 18th-century French writer who celebrated the balance of powers. “Locke assumed the existence of a parliament, which in his time was elected by a property-owning minority. Because taxation involved government demands on individual property, taxes must have parliamentary approval. The cry ‘No taxation without representation was taken up by the American rebels who started the American War of Independence from Britain in the late 18th century. It was this liberal, constitutional and parliamentary framework which the designers of the American federal Constitution had in mind, though they intended to remedy the evils which they thought had corrupted the British system since 1688.” (Models of Citizenship and Democracy).

It is very remarkable to consider that for the people of America, their democracy and Constitution represent the best example to nations of the world. Therefore, the questions regarding the democratization of the Constitution need to be a topic of continuous discussion. When we consider social justice in the framework of the civil rights of women, we notice the fact that the Constitution as framed in the eighteenth century did not offer much for social and economic rights. This has been remarked by many a critic of the Constitution. The ultimate question regarding the lack of these fundamental rights is essential to address. “Why does the American Constitution lack social and economic rights? The chronological explanation contains some truth; in the late eighteenth century, such rights simply were not on the view screen for constitution-makers. But the chronological explanation fails for the simple reason that constitutional meaning changes over time, and chronology alone does not explain the fact that the many constitutional changes do not include recognition of social and economic rights.” (Sunstein 16). It is also important that we undertake an investigation of the democratization of the Republican Constitution as it concerns the aspect of the judiciary.

The function of the judiciary has been instrumental in the democratization of the Constitution, and therefore, a proper understanding of the judiciary will reveal how the Constitution of the Republic has been democratized. “Whether the framers of the Constitution intended that the Supreme Court should in proper cases hold unconstitutional acts of Congress and acts of the legislatures of the States is answered yes. The subject was fully discussed not only in the Constitutional Convention but also in the State ratifying conventions and in print. Oliver Ellsworth, in the Connecticut Convention, stated clearly the practice then intended precisely as it exists in the courts today: ‘This Constitution defines the extent of the powers of the general government. If the general legislature [Congress] should at any time overleap their limits the judicial department is a constitutional check. If the United States go beyond their powers, if they make a law which the Constitution does not authorize, it is void; and the judicial power, the National judges, who, to secure their impartiality, are to be made independent, will declare it to be void. On the other hand, if the States go beyond their limits, if they make a law which is usurpation upon the Federal [National] government the law is void; and upright, independent judges will declare it to be so.’ So there has been no usurpation of this power.” (Norton). The judiciary affected Constitution in important matters regarding the democratization process of the Constitution. It is clear from the above factors that there has been a definite contribution made by the judiciary in the democratization of the Republican Constitution. These are crucial factors relating to the way the Constitution of the nation has been developed to incorporate the principles of democracy in it.

The American Constitution has been recognized as the chief model to the other nations in the way the democratic principles are formulated. The origin of the Constitution in the eighteenth century was in a way to incorporate the democratic principles that were in the air of the period. “In 1787, the new United States of America was the originator and model of traditional constitution-making by a hand-picked elite group, and of the Constitution as marking a settlement of conflict and inaugurating a new regime of powers and rights. Mainstream scholarship has generally presented the American Constitution as the fixed outcome of a period of nation building and constitution making. Admirers, offering this as an example for others, tend to want to duplicate its perceived virtues: constitution-making as an “act of completion,” the Constitution as a final settlement or social contract in which basic political definitions, principles, and processes are agreed, as is a commitment to abide by them.” (Hart). This great model set by the American Constitution has been framed by the aspects of government such as the civil rights of women, the judiciary etc. All these are very significant factors which point to the democratic face of the Constitution, and it is remarkable that this was contributed largely by the aspects of the American National Government and politics of the eighteenth century. Therefore, all the above discussed factors and aspects of the government give us a clear indication of how the eighteenth century republican Constitution has been democratized.

Work Cited

Hart, Vivek. Democratic Constitution-Making: Special Report. United States Institute of Pease. 2003. Web.

Models of Citizenship and Democracy. 2008. Web.

Norton, Thomas James. The Constitution for the United States, Its Sources and Its Application. Committee for Constitutional Government. 1996. Web.

Sunstein, Cass R. Why Does the American Constitution Lack Social and Economic Guarantees?. Chicago. 2003. 16. Web.

Vernant, Jean-Pierre. “Lambert, Charles., and Fagan, Teresa Lavender.” Trans. The Greeks. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1995. 149.

Greenberg, Edward S, and Benjamin I. America’s Democratic Republic. Longman, 2006.

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