Friday, February 4, 2011

The Aristocratic Founding of the United States- The Politicizer

The recent overthrow of the Tunisian government and the protests currently raging across Egypt are both motivated by calls for increased democratic participation by the citizens of those nations. The outpouring of support for the protesters and their push for open, democratic elections invite reflection on the United States’ own battle for a popularly oriented government. A closer look at the United States Constitution reveals not a wholehearted endorsement of democracy but a group of Founding Fathers with a deep mistrust of completely democratic institutions. Specifically, the composition of the Supreme Court, the Senate, and the Electoral College demonstrates the belief that government should be popularly oriented but not simply a rubber stamp for the fleeting will of the majority. Instead the Constitution established a system designed to, in the words of James Madison, “refine and enlarge” the popular conception of the common good.

Arguably the most aristocratic American institution, the Supreme Court consists of entirely unelected officials who serve life terms with the ability (since Marbury v. Madison) to deem acts of the Congress unconstitutional. A check on the ability of even an overwhelming majority to pass legislation that violates the underlying governing principles, the Court also slows the legislative process requiring a constitutional amendment to overcome a negative decision.

For the complete article please visit The Politicizer here

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