Democratic American Constitution

1217 Words5 Pages
How Democratic Is the American Constitution?
Robert A. Dahl wrote a book that critically analyses the much respected constitution of the United States of America. The author examines the democratic nature of the American Constitution both in the way it was enacted and whether it contains principles of democracy in it (Dahl, 2003, p.1). The entire book has been dedicated to highlighting various aspects of the American constitution more especially the historical views of the document. From the onset sets it clear that the aim of his book is not to propose changes to the American constitution but to suggest changes in the way Americans think about their constitution (Dahl, 2003, p. 1). Through the interactions he has had with people and more
…show more content…
For example, he describes that the men who drafted the constitution were necessarily limited in some ways by their inevitable ignorance (Dahl, 2003, p. 7). Though it is the overt acknowledgement of the author that among the framers were men of exceptional talent and public virtue (Dahl, 2003, p.7). For example, James Madison who is regarded as one of the Americas greatest political scientist and his generation of political leaders as perhaps the most richly endowed with wisdom, public virtue, and devotion to lives of public service, he admitted that they were limited by history. The book compares the knowledge that the scientists had in the past and the quality and efficiency of their inventions with the current technological knowhow and the kind of invention of nowadays and their effectiveness in meeting the needs of the people. By that analogy, the author depicts the limitation of the framers of the American constitution had to come up with a document that could effectively fit into today’s democratic needs. Therefore, he makes an early conclusion that the knowledge of the framers, though some of them, may well have been the best available in 1787 but reliable knowledge about constitution appropriate to a large representative republic was at best meager. In addition, history had not produced truly relevant models of representative governments on the scale of the U.S had already attained, not to mention the scale it would reach in the years to come (Dahl, 2003, p. 9). The author says that lack of other countries to who were democratic enough to learn from was a major historical limitation that could have led them to come up with a document that was not truly democratic. The book portrays the framers as some knowledge that would later be brought to the light of the day
Open Document