The Constitution and Democracy
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The best definition of democracy that it is a system of government in which its citizens are free to choose who will lead them, as well as empower their representatives to propose and enact laws and policies that are beneficial to the citizens. The Preamble itself makes the definition clear whereby words like “We the people”, promote the general welfare, and protect the blessings of liberty to ourselves, and our posterity” capture this aspiration perfectly (Blackwell, 2003). In other words, democracy is the rule of citizens, by the citizens and for the public. It is the people themselves who votes for the person they want to rule them. The United States of America takes the selection process a step further whereby, instead of officials being selected randomly from the citizenry, the citizens themselves choose their leaders based on programs that they propose. This is perceived as the right to vote which is an obligation to all United States citizens. As the representatives of the people, these elected persons, have the power to propose and enact laws (Article I, Sections 8-10). They also have the right to impeach and remove elected officials from office (Article I, Section 3), and declare war (Article I, Section 8).
The Constitution and Slavery
Certain quarters hold the view that the Constitution is extremely much pro-slavery, and empowered those who owned slaves during that epoch. The 1787 document, in my view, acknowledged and sought the regulation of such a practice without naming it. For example, Article I Section 2 states that “Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states as par their respective figures, which shall be established by totaling the whole number of liberated persons - three fifths of all other Persons” (Biscontini & Sparling, 2009). These “all other Persons” were referred to as slaves. This provision was negotiated by Southern slave owners, who stood to gain the most from the additional spaces in the legislature house that would be given to them in case slaves were counted among the population. A quick look at the census figures validates this assertion. According to the 1790 census statics of Maryland, South and North Carolina, and Virginia, all had slaves numbering over 100,000, with Virginia having a slave population of almost 300,000. These statics clearly imply that the level of slavery in United States was extremely high with slaves being marketed and exchanged like properties.
The same provisions were also acknowledged by antislavery figures in the era that connects to the Civil War (Douglass, 1849). Frederick Douglass also cited Article IV, Section 2that states: “No person held to service or labor in one state shall be discharged from such service or work, but shall be brought up on the declaration of the party to whom such service or labor may be due” (Article I, Section 2). The Constitution also issued out the taxation of the slave trade and prohibited its abolition until the year 1808. This shows that the provisions in the slave trade were not favoring many people meaning that the constitution had to come in and protect its people.
The Constitution and the Electoral College
Another peculiarity of the Constitution of the United States is that the two highest positions of the executive branch of government are elected indirectly. This means that while citizens cast their votes, they cast their votes for members of the electorate, who sequentially cast their vote in ballot boxes for President and Vice-President. The number of electors for a state is equivalent to the numeral of the state representatives and senators. The Constitution states with the figure of the legislative body should not go beyond one per thirty thousand citizens (Article I, Section 2). It means that a state with a higher population will have a bigger say in determining the next President and Vice-President. This, then, becomes more significant in the context of this November’s election. Certain states are seen to be “strong” Obama or “strong” Romney, while other states where the two candidates are neck-and-neck are seen as “swing” states. The question becomes one of capturing the swing states and turning them into electoral votes.
This is vital because almost all states have an “all-or-nothing” setup – if a candidate wins the popular vote in a state, he gets all the Electoral College votes for that state.
The Electoral College is all about making the choice of leader easier and more convenient, but it does have the potential to divide the country, especially if a candidate gets more electoral votes but loses by popular count. My proposal is that the Electoral College should reflect its constituents more accurately by casting its votes in proportion to the votes received by each candidate per state.
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