Frontier Discourses of America, American Constitution

A constitution is an ethical and moral document binding on the people of the land not by virtue of its legality but by the necessity to keep the state above dissenting forces (from within and without). The constitution of America came into being in the 18th century with the sole purpose of defining the powers of the new nation the United States of America and not of the land America. Thus, the Preamble to the constitution stated that “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union… do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

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The Preamble to the constitution is an introduction to the supreme law of the land. It defines the reason of existence of this voluminous body of document. The introduction clearly states that the constitution was instituted for the singular purpose of bringing a diverse group of people under one canopy, under a single administrative body, which would ensure them liberty, protect them, and ensure them a tranquil life. These elements followed essentially from the Thomas Jefferson’s phenomenal document The Declaration of Independence. In this document Jefferson said that every individual need to be guaranteed life, liberty and pursuit of happiness as three essential elements required for unabated development of every man, whether alone or in a group. The Preamble thus outlined the framework of the constitution of America and the shape it was to take over the years. The constitution of America has judiciously followed the Preamble over the changing tides of time and has kept the reason of its inception, stated in the Preamble, intact even to this day. To ensure this liberty to all Americans the Constitution framed the legislature, one of the prime organs of the government, as a bi-cameral body, having two wings, the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Executive organ of the American government by the blessings of the constitution holds more power than the other three organs of the government. The executive head of the American governmental system is the President and he acts as the head of the state, as the commander-in-chief of the national militia, he has the power to make important diplomatic decisions, no Bill can become unless signed by the President and he also has the power to make suggestions to the Congress, or the American legislative body. The judiciary once again forms the supreme arbiter of the land having the sole power to decide upon the legality and constitutionality of the laws of the land. The American Federal judiciary thus holds power over the other two branches of the government by virtue of the role of supreme arbiter or guard of the law of the land, invested in it by the constitution of America. The work of the judiciary as sanctioned by the American constitution also includes ascertaining that the implementation of law remains equal and fair throughout the boundaries of America.

The constitution of America is a unique body. A thorough reading of the document makes one sense a dilemma pervading it. There lies a dilemma between state rights and that of the federal authority. There exist within the document innumerable checks-and-balances the intention of which is to ensure smooth and hassle free running of the government of the land. However, these very checks-and-balances grants the constitution seem like two opposing forces pulling the nation towards two direction. The supremacy of the federal though guaranteed by the constitution is negated under several circumstances by the rights guaranteed to the states. This dilemma might have arose from the see-saw that the mind of every American goes through between the love for one’s space and the need to unite all under the singular force of General Will so as to avoid the problems arising from the natural selfish instincts of man. They are afraid to revert back to the natural order of things, as it existed before the state was ordained; yet they also fear the possibility this might lead to their loss of space-be it cerebral or physical. Space has been an integral part of American imagination because our identity, our very Americanness owes its origin to the force of movement and reclamation of new lands, be it exploration to the New Lands by our adventurous predecessors, or expansion to the unexplored lands of the American West. Thus, guided by the forces of history American constitution abounds in this perpetual dilemma.

The second element in the constitution of the United States of America which I found increasingly interesting is the new amendments made to the constitution of America over the years. There have been twenty seven amendments made to the American constitution, till 1992. Though the process of amendment is cumbersome and long process amendments were still made to the body of constitutional laws already in existence. Enactment of these amendments shows that the Americans, as a community, have grown over the years- both mentally and spatially. Early into their years of independence the constitution amended itself to naturalize all immigrants as the citizens of America. They have extended their enfranchising reach beyond the bourgeois section of the society and have come to include all sections of America-high and low. A leap forward was made when the American constitution amended itself to give the Black population and later the women population voting rights.

Drawing upon these reflections we may conclude that the American constitution is an open-ended flexible document. Americans have drawn upon its resources over the years to feed their sense of space, which has nurtured their sense of identity, their Americanness, so closely associated with the idea of space and movement.

Reference

www.usconstitution.net

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