The American Constitution is one of the documents many citizens do not take for granted. Although some people believe that its framers were inspired, wise, and philosophical, many scholars still question their original intentions. This paper gives a detailed summary and analysis of Robert A. Dahl’s arguments. The discussion also presents a personal reflection and assessment.
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Summary of Dahl’s Argument
In the selected excerpt, Dahl gives a critical analysis of the American Constitution from a personal perspective. The author begins by acknowledging that the document has numerous flaws that make it inappropriate and incapable of supporting the development of the United States as a democracy. He begins by attacking it for sanctioning slavery despite the fact that it is a crime against humanity. The Constitution also sets up two institutions that the writer identifies as undemocratic. These include the Senate and the Supreme Court. The document failed to promote the concept of universal suffrage (Dahl 71).
It also allocated the same number of senators for all states, thereby ignoring the question of equal representation. This means that the rights and interests of many minority groups were disregarded. The document did not control the responsibilities of the judiciary. It also limited the powers of Congress, thus preventing the federal government from controlling the economy using democratic methods.
The writer indicates that framers of the American Constitution failed to provide a superior document capable of supporting the emergence and development of a democratic nation. These individuals did not foresee the potential impact of a future democratic revolution. The author acknowledges that the current weaknesses in the Constitution emerged from the compromises and logrolling that were required to achieve the intended agreement (Dahl 74). The writer concludes his article by indicating that the outlined defects in the Constitution might grow more serious in the future and support the establishment of more undemocratic governments.
Comparison with the Studied Chapter
The above attributes resonate with the ones discussed in the chapter about the Constitution and founding. For example, it is evident that the framers of the Constitution and America’s Founding Fathers possessed adequate knowledge by the standards of their time. However, the chapter reveals that they failed to foresee some of the critical issues that many Americans would have to grapple with in an attempt to create a self-governing nation (Dahl 74).
This is the reason why most of the undemocratic attributes of the Constitution have remained objectionable or unacceptable. As described in the studied chapter, such gaps catalyzed the infamous American Revolution. Fortunately, politicians and leaders have managed to amend various aspects of the Constitution to take America closer to its democratic experience.
Personal Thoughts and Assessments
Personally, I believe that the chapter studied in class and Dahl’s article presents meaningful arguments that all scholars and political scientists should take seriously. This is true because the Constitution was formulated as an undemocratic document that ignored the rights, liberties, and privileges of some American citizens. For instance, it permitted slavery, encouraged landowners to mistreat others, prohibited many people from voting, and dictated the formation of both the Congress and the Senate (Dahl 71). Such attributes would later trigger numerous unrests and upheavals in the future.
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The above discussion has revealed that the American Constitution has its unique weaknesses and flaws. Such aspects explain why it has been unable to support a democratic course over the past few centuries. In conclusion, the framers of the Constitution should have taken all issues into consideration without compromising in an attempt to develop a superior document.
Dahl, Robert A. How Democratic is the American Constitution? Yale University Press, 2001.