The Uniqueness of the American Constitution
We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
This document, written more than 200 years ago is still the backbone that allows America to be an example of freedom and righteousness to the rest of the world. Unlike any other government doctrine, the Constitution has remained an active governing force through the changes of American society. It allows its citizens the basic freedom of human beings and does not infringe on one's individuality. In its uniqueness, the Constitution not only gives freedom but also protects its people economically, religiously, politically, and socially.
Power is a delicate element and the Constitution is careful in defining where certain powers lie. One of the novelties about this doctrine is that it does a clever job of dividing certain powers between the state and federal governments. Monetary units, for example, are issued exclusively by the federal government. This is not only more convenient for traveling purposes, but also allows for a more 'united' spirit. People in California can easily view a commercial for a product affiliated with New York without having to translate the cost or watch the television screen scroll down 50 different prices. The Stock Market functions fairly smooth now, but with an East Texas businessman trying to sell to a novice buyer from Minnesota, things would be complicated and time consuming. Other examples of powers held only by the federal government are the formation and control of a militia and foreign relations. If each state had its own army and own foreign policy combined, the idea of being 'united' would be only an idea. These states would be more like small countries, more like Europe. With too much power on a state level, a main government could not function, and with too much power in the national government, states would be just boundary lines for the names of places. The states hold just enough power to keep the federal government from having complete control. This adds a balance that had no duplicate in any country, which perhaps is what leaves many people dreaming of America.
One of the elements people incorporate into the American dream is religious freedom. The governing forces of this country have no religious or denominational theme. Instead, the founding fathers made it clear that a government should function according to basic human decency and morale, not religion. A strict separation of church and government is declared in the Constitution. This is not to prevent holiness from entering politics, but to keep politics from entering holiness. Often times in governing bodies, though the motives are pure, the outcome is somewhat crooked. This is why such a separation is necessary; to keep government from corrupting church. Another reason is simply to prevent governing bodies from dictating individual beliefs, because America was never meant to be a dictatorship.
From the start, Americans, like all groups of people needed an example. They needed someone not to be a dictator, but a leader. Due to the division of powers in the federal government today, the threat of dictatorship is almost non-existent. The President can be overridden by Congress as well as by the Supreme Court. Congress can likewise be overridden by the President. There is no branch of government that is allowed more power than another. This prevents any one body from becoming too powerful or having too much input in national affairs. This division of power and the fact that Congress is made up of so many individuals gives the general public a more active role in government. The Constitution states, 'We the People', which is what makes this document and America so unique.
Since the people rule themselves, American government cannot infringe on many of the choices one makes. Due to the Bill of Rights, citizens have the right to say, hear, write, and be anywhere they wish to be. However, there are limitations in order to protect the peace and general welfare of a community. For the most part, though, Americans are free. Starting from disorganized colonies and idle wanderers, this land has underwent major revolutions to become the nesting house for freedom and dreams that it is today.
Times in 1787 were extremely different than in 1997. With the memory of Great Britain's heavy hand so fresh in the minds of early Americans, one can imagine the apprehension and excitement of starting fresh. The men who wrote the Constitution however, were not starting fresh. They remembered Britain's fo9llies and learned what to do different. Each article and each amendment to the Constitution has reasoning behind it, somewhat of a try-fail method of government. Fortunately for the American citizens and for all who live in the United States, it has worked. The Constitution is the reason for the American Empire.
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