Saturday, July 3, 2010

In order to create a more perfect union

"We the People, in order to create a more perfect union..." Those are the words that open the Constitution of the United States America, perhaps the greatest experiment in democracy since those of the Roman Republic and Ancient Athens. After months of furious debates, the delegates who came representing each of the states in the union came to ratify this document predicated by these eleven words in hopes of forging a new political experiment; the likes of which had never been seen before and, while imitated by many other nations, has never been replicated.

However, it is easy to forget that when the Constitution was ratified that the political debates surrounding it were not absolved and that they would be buried along with the buckets of sweat that dropped onto the floor of Independence Hall that scorching Philadelphia summer. In fact, one could make the argument that with the ratification of the Constitution, the floodgates for political debate were opened. Federalists were concerned that the interests of the individual states would supersede the needs of the newborn nation. Meanwhile the anti-Federalists, who would later be referred to as the Jeffersonian Democrats, were concerned about the interest of the common men and that the Constitution dictated too much on behalf of issues pertaining to government and not on the rights of the average citizen. Then there was the issue of slavery. Northern journeymen were concerned that slavery would subvert their trades by creating an inexpensive labor force to conduct their industry. Meanwhile, Southern farmers were afraid that by abolishing slaves, their businesses like plantation farming of tobacco and cotton would go belly up as well as violate not only their right to property but also their culture.

Despite all of these misgivings about the intricate details of the Constitution, the delegates decided to ratify the document nonetheless. The chief reason being was that as Benjamin Franklin said, "I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other." The Framers knew that will all of their preconceived notions and personal self interests that they could not possibly create a perfect document to govern their land. However, overall they knew that the Constitution and the laws that it entails, are not stone tablets that are infallible that must be strictly adhered to. Rather, the Constitution was an imperfect document, that must continue to be hemmed and altered. This is why their document had those words "in order to create a more perfect union;" they themselves could not perfect the union, but that future generations would work to create a more perfect union.

Indeed, there would be alterations to the constitution that would fix the problems initially posed to the Framers. Shortly after the ratification of the Constitution, Congress would pass the Constitution's first ten amendments, which became known as the Bill of Rights, which included basic liberties such as freedom of religion and due process. The issue of slavery would be solved with the 13th and 14th amendment and with the 15th Amendment, America insured that no matter what race a man had, they had the right to have a voice in our democracy.

As the Union grew, so did our ability to graft in other people into the political process, such as women and youth with the nineteenth and twenty-sixth, respectively. The nation's continued tirelessly to create not only a free society but also a just and equal society for all Americans. Like Franklin, we freely declare, "it is therefore that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others." We understand that at times, this nation has not been perfect and there are still many ways where we are still imperfect. However, our ability to improve ourselves that makes America great; that drive to "create a more perfect

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