7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A considered view.,
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This review is from: How Democratic is the American Constitution? (Castle Lectures Series) (Paperback)
This book starts by placing the American constitution in its historical and social context. By using contemporary documents the author determines what the drafters of the constitution were trying to achieve, which was essentially a massive compromise. What they were producing was never intended to be a democratic set of rules, quite the converse. The idea that the country should be a democracy very quickly gained ground, but the damage to true democracy had already been done by the enormous compromises made in the constitution, for example slavery, states having the decision as to how to elect representatives, unequal representation in the senate, a president who is both head of state and the leader of the government and who is elected not by a popular vote but by an unrepresentative electoral college. The author eloquently explains that there was no model for a democratic republic at the time so the framers were feeling their way in the dark. There also seems to have been an inordinate amount of discord as to what a republic actually is. Certainly our modern day concept that a republic is the opposite of a monarchy doesn't seem to have been the accepted rule then. So the constitution is in many ways an anachronism, attempting to achieve goals which long ago became obsolete (in some cases within a few years of the drafting of the constitution) while damaging democracy in the modern world. To view the constitution as a masterpiece of political insight made by a group of matchless wonder kind is a gross misrepresentation of the facts, as well as historically inaccurate. So how has the constitution served? The answer can only be poorly. People who value freedom and democracy as much as Americans do deserve something better surely? Many alternatives, drawn from various constitutions, are debated here. The solution seems to be, as ever, proportional representation. However you view it PR produces good government which is also truly representative and therefore truly democratic.
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