The common story that the American Constitution is the light of overall democracy obvious despises common norms in several cases. “Our Constitution has at least one radical feature: It isn’t designed for a society with economic inequality.” is somewhere along the line to what Professor Ganesh Sitaraman said in his article, “Our Constitution Wasn’t Built for This” (2017). Professor of Law, Ganesh Sitaraman believes the United States is facing a firm choice: either continue along the current path of rising economic inequality and risk oligarchy or rebuild the middle class and reclaim the republic that the Founding Fathers originally envisioned.
Robert Dahl, a political theorist and Professor of Political Science at Yale University explores the methods in which the Constitution does not practice the balance of representation in his book, How Democratic is the American Constitution? (2003). Dahl strongly believed that conditions forced the framers’ construction of the Constitution in three ways. The first being only a republican pattern of government was useful. Secondly, due to the presence of the thirteen colonies, a federal system was a must, not an option, and a particular republic. Lastly, the two compromises, slavery and representation in the Senate, could not be avoided.
As I was reading through Robert A. Dahl’s book, I was quite impressed but also had lots of questions. Throughout the way, I got lost a couple of times due to not knowing what he was talking about but I soon came to a realization. By reading this, it opened up my eyes more because I had no idea the Constitution or the congress was formed in this way. A response I would like to share is that while Dahl does discuss the Senate and the Electoral College at length, he does not discuss important counterarguments in support of these systems.
For example, a popular vote by the majority at a national scale would create a highly inefficient voting system, resulting in a greater probability of wrongs. Reports also become highly problematical on a national scale. Dahl does not address these issues. Dahl did an excellent job arguing against the fear of majority rule and provided excellent evidence that many framers abandoned their positions against a majority rule after the creation of the Constitution. On the other hand, as I was reading Professor Sitaraman’s article, I understood more than I misunderstood. As I read, I kept agreeing to what has been said. The Constitution is certainly not designed for a society with inequality in economics.
The Constitution supports the values and principles of democracy to a high degree. With the Bill of Rights and the many articles stated in the Constitution, the values and principles of democracy are very well supported in order to maintain order throughout the country. Also including the Declaration of Independence and many events that have been happening lately support this. The American Constitution is often invoked as the foundation of American democracy, yet aspects of it are often taken for granted. Robert Dahl’s book is a useful reminder that the American Constitution is far from the only possible basis for the democratic system and it may be too far from an ideal one.