The United States has long been characterized by the notion of political liberty, a nuance of thriving democractuc. This has been strengthened by the United States Constitution, a document established to sustain the political ideals ofthe Framers inthe formation of a new, independent goverment, But how democratic isthe document actually? Here, itis important to note the definition of democracy. Commonly referred ta asa system of government where the power resides in the people—with boundaries as wo who the people are— democracy extends to a :majoritarian form of rule with protection of minority rights (Citrin, 3 Sept.
2015). Consequently, the United States Constitution, as outlined in 1787, proves not to be a democratic document because of its exclusion of protection of mino inequitable method of election of the President.
The compromise aver slavery contributed ta the vulnerability of minority civil liberties that categorize the Constitution as a nondemocratic document. The delegates from the southern states wanted to extend their number of representatives in the House by counting slaves as part of their state population.
The delegates fram the northern states strongly opposed, and the compromise continued as noted by authars Kernel, Tacabsen, Kousser, and Vavreck in The Logic of American Politic: …the Constitution apportioned each state seats in the House of Representatives based on population tows in which each slave would count as three-fifths of a citizen” (65). With this, the oppression of the slaves expanded to the political platform, Their presence was confined to 60% of representation. How could a rising democratic nation acutely segregate certain inhabitants? Consider a situation with 100 slaves.
Applying the three-fifths compromise would mean forty slaves would remain unrecognized as people within the nation. Slaves were to not be allowed to vote until decades later, further depriving them of any minority rights that include civil liberties. They were denied the right to be active constituents or be represented as such, Hence, the Constitution explicitly fermented an unjust political system that would not be representative of the diverse population.
The undemocratic foundation of the Constitution is existent in the initial method of presidential election, The Electoral College had been established since, but the means of determining the members of such sharply contrasted to present-day. The Constitution explains, “Bach state shall appoint… a Number of Flectors equal to the whole Number of Senators and Represent ives to which the state may be entitled in Congress” to vote for the President of the United States (U.S. Constitution. Art. I, Sec. 1). Without direct or indirect (representative) democracy, it was not ensured thatthe president atthe time would speak or act on behalf of the interests of the common citizen. There was in fact, no nationwide election where the constituencies were active members in the presidential electian, Rather, this election process secured the minority rights ofthe elite, upper-class to maintain the discriminatory status quo. While this did fulfil half the aforementioned definition of democracy, the majority citizenry was disregarded and loft disadvantaged. The Framers of the Constitution thus enacted a document that in its frst draft, did not in its entirety uphold che right of the constinuents to exercise their democratic liberty to elect an official of his/her preference.
Some critics however, may argue the failure ofthe Articles of Confederation contributed to the disinterest in minority rights—with regard to women and slaves—during the framing of the Constitution, The experience with the Articles of Confederation led delegates to prioritize in strong, but not tyrannical, central government. Wilson and Dilulio in their piece, Why Women Were Left Out of the Constitution, argue delegates “were less concemed with individual rights than with making government more effective and establishing proper relations among the institutions they were creating.” In doing so however, the terminology of the Constitution was left vague and open to interpretation. Rights authorized to citizens somehow became inclusive to only white, property owning, males. Moreover, te states used this to their advantage a they enacted laws limiting suffrage to women and slaves. Additional discriminatory acts passed and strengthened the concept that the democracy of the United States was only pertinent to a few. Therefore, the negligence of protection of minority rights to women and slaves catapulted alterations to reach a more democratic Constitution in years to come.
The Framers of the Constitution established a system of government for the new UStates of America that in reality, fell shor of its democratic ideologies. This is reflective upon the slavery compromises and early system of presidential election that were unsuccessful in representing the interests of the varying groups of people and their overall minority rights Generalizations and undemrepresentation inthe constitutional document were to later shake the nation with social turmoil. From the Civil War to the Women’s Suffrage Movement all the way to the Civil Rights Movement, minorities collectively rose vehemently to claim the rights they believe a democratic nation should grant. Today, African Americans, Native Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, women, women of color, the LGBT community, and other minorities are defining their democracy within the United States.