Our Undemocratic Constitution

Our Undemocratic Constitution - Our Undemocratic...

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Our Undemocratic Constitution by Sanford Levinson Précis by Susan Christian GOVT 2301-HN1 Monday, 9/19/2011 “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure, domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Thus is our Preamble, the opening words – the guarantee – of our Constitution, the document that has held together the law of our land. For many, these words hold a significant meaning, a true security and promise that, no matter what, the government which we live under will protect and serve us the best. We make laws under this promise;
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we elect our representatives under this promise – we even pay our taxes under this promise. We revere those words, assuming with full faith that the Constitution will abide by that holy oath, and hold it to the highest esteem. Sanford Levinson has categorically denied that merit of this highest esteem. And it’s not for a simply unpatriotic or even terroristic clause that he does this. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Citing Jefferson in the prelude, Levinson makes a solid case for viewing the Constitution in a new light: one where we look at it not as a holy text of Framer’s all mighty glory, but as a document that was made by a few good men who wanted what was best for their new country. Our Undemocratic Constitution make a rather bold claim: with our current Constitution, it is impossible to achieve democracy with all of the structural flaws that are in place. He then goes on to make a few firm points as to what these flaws are and gives some pretty convincing arguments as to why they should be reviewed. However, that is where it is difficult to be fully convinced, regarding his “need for a new Constitutional convention” view. Levinson makes a splendidly amusing but relevant analogy of our relationship with the Constitution as an abusive husband (this extremism is a recurring theme throughout the book which I’ll mention later) and our country as the passive wife. At first, it’s easy to assume that such a relationship must be changed immediately for the health of our nation. In fact, it would seem almost senseless not to do so. But is our current state of affairs really that dismal? Levinson frequently reiterates the fact that many of his points are small and don’t really require change by themselves. And while, in reference to the analogy, it’s the small things that are often the most harmful, it’s
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no easy task to convince an entire generation that has witnessed so many generations before it live perfectly fine under this Constitution that it is essentially and wholeheartedly flawed. Levinson even goes on to state that “this is a mistake” (20). Levinson’s arguments are sound and are organized based on the Articles
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This note was uploaded on 10/20/2011 for the course UNIV 1010 taught by Professor N/a during the Spring '11 term at Acadia.

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Our Undemocratic Constitution - Our Undemocratic...

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