How Democratic Is the American Constitution?

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Robert Dahl's book How Democratic is the American Constitution, reminds us that the American Constitution wasn't the only possible base for a democratic system in America. In this book Dahl explains some of the democratic and undemocratic aspects of the American constitution. He also explains what should be changed to improve it.

In chapter 2, Dahl begins explaining about the Framers of the constitution who had the task of basically creating a new government that combated all of the problems of the new United States of America. The Framers desperately needed to gather knowledge on how to go about creating a new society but, there was very little information that would help them. Dahl then listed a few events in history that if the
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Fourth, the definition of the word "democracy" has changed. The way Americans see the word doesn't refer to a static system as it once did, it is ever changing and improving.

Moving on, Dahl explained that not only did ignorance hinder the Framers plans for a constitution but there were also limited on opportunities in that time period. One of these limits was the fact they were convinced that creating a republic was the only way to go. They surely couldn't purpose a monarchy or a government based on a hierarchy since they originally wanted to get away from the English monarch. A second limit was the existence of only thirteen states, which would complicate creating a central government. The delegates also had to confront several other issues before they could agree on a constitution. Two of the larger issues were slavery and representation in the Senate.

It was then that within these limits that the Framers had to construct a constitution. Dahl explains that these limits caused the constitution to have serious undemocratic flaws. It neither banned slavery nor gave congress the power to do so; also the constitution didn't guarantee any right of suffrage and left that up to the states. The election of a president was left up to a body of presidential electors that was a group of men that would be unswayed by popular opinion to choose a chief executive. Choosing senators would be determined by the state
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