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Thread: To what extent does the American constitution solve the problems it was designed to s

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    Spanish_Vicente sledger's Avatar
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    To what extent does the American constitution solve the problems it was designed to s

    There are a wide range of problems that the constitution of the United States of America was designed to solve, before we can determine how successfully it solves them we must first determine what these problems are and how the constitution deals with them. There are three major problems that the constitution is designed to solve and deal with above all others, firstly the constitution is designed to provide the answer of granting the people of the USA an effective government, it is also designed to prevent the threat to the civil liberties of any individual. In addition to this the constitution is designed to ease the problem of tension between the individual states throughout the country.

    The preamble at the start of the constitution illustrates the specific purpose of the constitution and declares that above all the matters it faces it is the welfare of the people and its promotion that is the main concern and aim of the constitution. The constitution also contains the bill of rights which lays down the rights that are possessed by every citizen of the united states of America.

    The constitution lays down its intentions to provide the country with an effective government in its first two articles, article one states the functions and powers of congress, article two states the powers of the president, and in addition to this the powers of the supreme court are illustrated in article three. Many argue that the presidency and a national parliament are needed in order to provide a strong government. Article two tells of how the president is not only the head of the government but also the head of state for the USA, he is the commander in chief of the armed forces but despite this his actions can be seriously restricted by congress, for instance the president cannot declare war or pass laws due to all legislative powers being in the hands of congress. It also speaks of the qualifications a person must possess in order to become president, these include being a second generation American citizen and being a resident in the USA for over fourteen years. This would suggest that the constitution is providing a strong system of government that is not infringing on the rights of the American citizen. Article two states of how congress has great powers when coming to deal with matters of legislation and appointments of judges to the supreme court, congress is made up of two houses, the house of representatives and the senate. The reasons for there being two houses are down to the concept of democracy and the fear of democracy.

    After reading these two articles it would indeed seem that the constitution does indeed seem that it solves the problem of needing to provide an effective government, however after a closer examination of this it perhaps would seem that this goal has been achieved at the expense of not infringing civil liberties. For example these articles do allow for a strong government to be formed and fits in with the ideals of democracy by not giving huge amounts of power to the president, but many would argue that by giving to much power to congress extremely powerful governments could be formed, which could lead to extremely negative consequences. For example many critics claim that this constitution allows for governments with ridiculously large amounts of power to be formed which results in massive infringements on civil liberties. However there are several congressional checks that can be placed on the president to stop a dangerous candidate from coming to power, for instance many presidential appointments have to be confirmed by the majority of the senate, for example Robert Borg was an un-successful nomination as he was rejected by the senate.

    This was a main concern that the founding fathers of the USA were faced with and so created the separation of powers system, they wished to distribute power between federal and state governments in order to prevent excessive centralisation. This would suggest that the problem of tension between the states and the government that the constitution was designed to solve is achievable, as it checks and balances and enforces the rule of law and makes the supreme court the highest body in the land that cannot be overthrown by the president. The tenth amendment to the constitution says that any powers that are not delegated by the constitution or prohibited by the states are reserved for to the states or to the people. When tension between the states boiled over the result was a civil war, due to the difficulties in uniting the states of America a large amount of power had to be granted to individual states to make this possible, through the federal system and the tenth amendment. In order to calm the tension between the states the constitution states that at a time of presidential elections there will be an electoral college, however critics of this system say that the constitution doesn’t really solve the problem of tension due to the smaller states sometimes being incredibly over representative.

    There are indeed several pieces of evidence and statistics that suggest that the constitution has been a very effective and successful piece of material for the united states of America. Presidents who appear to act in a way that is threatening to the civil liberties of the people often do not last long in office due to them being overthrown by the senate, for instance Richard Nixon was forced to resign through impeachment after it his role in a wire tapping scandal became public. In addition to this many would say that if it wasn’t successful it would never have lasted the several centuries that it has done.

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    The seperation of powers is a good prinicple of governemt and seems to have worked pretty well however if one party has controll of congress and has a president of that party this may not work anfd this is whare the supreme court plays a vital role that doesnt exist in britain . However at times such as the new deal maybe presedential power has been checked too much for my liking and has stopped efective governement. However at other times such as over war whare the president in theory has too ask congress too declare war this has not happenned as as comander in chief he has been able too order his troops anywhare bypassing congress. One must also not forget the hypocricy of the founding fathers who while gaurenteeing civil right kept slaves although that is a reduntant point in the constitution today.

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    Spanish_Vicente sledger's Avatar
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    that is indeed very true, the president has no need to go to congress to declare war, after all the last time the USA officially declared war on a country was japan in the 1940's, never declared war on another nations since then.

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    Global Moderator vic_orthdox's Avatar
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    I think you'll also find that the President is in charge of appointing Supreme Court judge. In many cases, he'll appoint someone who is ideologically very similar to the President, and therefore this also removes one of the checks and balances designed in the constitution.


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    Spanish_Vicente sledger's Avatar
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    no it doesnt, the president doesnt appoint supreme court judges, he just makes reccomendations, no judge can be appointed without the approval and permission of the senate.

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    Often the president does get his wish though and there will be a big fight soon with the next supreme court judge being selected soon folowing the retirment of a very important judge who often swayed the vote one way or anther especialy on issues such as abortion. If Bush gets his way and get a neocon then the supreme court will be far more right wing and this will mean a much tougher (in my opinon worse) stance on issues such as abortion and stem cell research.

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    Global Moderator vic_orthdox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sledger
    no it doesnt, the president doesnt appoint supreme court judges, he just makes reccomendations, no judge can be appointed without the approval and permission of the senate.
    Haha, I did American politics two years ago - give me a break, still a little scratchy on the details. Does it require a 2/3 majority to ratify the appointment of a Supreme Court judge? I'm pretty sure it does, now that I think of it, but if its only 50%+1 vote then my point still stands.

    Even if it is 2/3, it is extremely rare that judges get knocked back - and we've seen under George W. Bush how Supreme Court judges have been coming from the further right as opposed to what we've seen in previous times.

    And a little footnote: what do people think of enforcing change at the top, with the part in the constitution demanding that a President is only allowed to serve out two terms? Is it more important to get new people in, or are we depriving the most powerful nation in the world of their best leader?

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    I think whatever happens we will see a fairly right wing new member of teh supreme court although the democrats are preparing for a big fight over it about 2 term rule I am very glad of the rule at the moment as bush will not be able to go on but i think a case can be made for people such as roosevelt did carrying on for longer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vic_orthdox
    Haha, I did American politics two years ago - give me a break, still a little scratchy on the details. Does it require a 2/3 majority to ratify the appointment of a Supreme Court judge? I'm pretty sure it does, now that I think of it, but if its only 50%+1 vote then my point still stands.

    Even if it is 2/3, it is extremely rare that judges get knocked back - and we've seen under George W. Bush how Supreme Court judges have been coming from the further right as opposed to what we've seen in previous times.

    And a little footnote: what do people think of enforcing change at the top, with the part in the constitution demanding that a President is only allowed to serve out two terms? Is it more important to get new people in, or are we depriving the most powerful nation in the world of their best leader?
    It was either a 2/3 or 3/4 majority, but there was talk a couple of weeks ago of changing that to a simple majority. Then I lost interest in their political shenanigans.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sledger
    There are a wide range of problems that the constitution of the United States of America was designed to solve, before we can determine how successfully it solves them we must first determine what these problems are and how the constitution deals with them. There are three major problems that the constitution is designed to solve and deal with above all others, firstly the constitution is designed to provide the answer of granting the people of the USA an effective government, it is also designed to prevent the threat to the civil liberties of any individual. In addition to this the constitution is designed to ease the problem of tension between the individual states throughout the country.

    The preamble at the start of the constitution illustrates the specific purpose of the constitution and declares that above all the matters it faces it is the welfare of the people and its promotion that is the main concern and aim of the constitution. The constitution also contains the bill of rights which lays down the rights that are possessed by every citizen of the united states of America.

    The constitution lays down its intentions to provide the country with an effective government in its first two articles, article one states the functions and powers of congress, article two states the powers of the president, and in addition to this the powers of the supreme court are illustrated in article three. Many argue that the presidency and a national parliament are needed in order to provide a strong government. Article two tells of how the president is not only the head of the government but also the head of state for the USA, he is the commander in chief of the armed forces but despite this his actions can be seriously restricted by congress, for instance the president cannot declare war or pass laws due to all legislative powers being in the hands of congress. It also speaks of the qualifications a person must possess in order to become president, these include being a second generation American citizen and being a resident in the USA for over fourteen years. This would suggest that the constitution is providing a strong system of government that is not infringing on the rights of the American citizen. Article two states of how congress has great powers when coming to deal with matters of legislation and appointments of judges to the supreme court, congress is made up of two houses, the house of representatives and the senate. The reasons for there being two houses are down to the concept of democracy and the fear of democracy.

    After reading these two articles it would indeed seem that the constitution does indeed seem that it solves the problem of needing to provide an effective government, however after a closer examination of this it perhaps would seem that this goal has been achieved at the expense of not infringing civil liberties. For example these articles do allow for a strong government to be formed and fits in with the ideals of democracy by not giving huge amounts of power to the president, but many would argue that by giving to much power to congress extremely powerful governments could be formed, which could lead to extremely negative consequences. For example many critics claim that this constitution allows for governments with ridiculously large amounts of power to be formed which results in massive infringements on civil liberties. However there are several congressional checks that can be placed on the president to stop a dangerous candidate from coming to power, for instance many presidential appointments have to be confirmed by the majority of the senate, for example Robert Borg was an un-successful nomination as he was rejected by the senate.

    This was a main concern that the founding fathers of the USA were faced with and so created the separation of powers system, they wished to distribute power between federal and state governments in order to prevent excessive centralisation. This would suggest that the problem of tension between the states and the government that the constitution was designed to solve is achievable, as it checks and balances and enforces the rule of law and makes the supreme court the highest body in the land that cannot be overthrown by the president. The tenth amendment to the constitution says that any powers that are not delegated by the constitution or prohibited by the states are reserved for to the states or to the people. When tension between the states boiled over the result was a civil war, due to the difficulties in uniting the states of America a large amount of power had to be granted to individual states to make this possible, through the federal system and the tenth amendment. In order to calm the tension between the states the constitution states that at a time of presidential elections there will be an electoral college, however critics of this system say that the constitution doesn’t really solve the problem of tension due to the smaller states sometimes being incredibly over representative.

    There are indeed several pieces of evidence and statistics that suggest that the constitution has been a very effective and successful piece of material for the united states of America. Presidents who appear to act in a way that is threatening to the civil liberties of the people often do not last long in office due to them being overthrown by the senate, for instance Richard Nixon was forced to resign through impeachment after it his role in a wire tapping scandal became public. In addition to this many would say that if it wasn’t successful it would never have lasted the several centuries that it has done.
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    Yeah, i'd draw more emphasis on the judiciary as check in keeping an effective government that doesnt impeach civil liberties (highlight incidences such as Brown v Board Education for Topeka (1954), and Row v Wade (1973)... though a counter argument to that is the Plessy v Ferguson case... remember you need to see both sides of the argument for a balanced piece)

    Harking back to the title, the fact that the constitution can be amended if needed makes it a very effective document for solving problems as they arise.... alot of modern problems were unforseeable in the 18th century....

    I'm not too sure on the constitution providing effective government.... it provides a government yes.... but effective?? Politics in America is solely based around money. A candidate needs huge financial backing to make an effective bid for office... then he's got 4 years to keep those bidders sweet to refinance his re-election... failure to do business/pressure groups biddings WILL lead to a loss of office.... thus the government is less effective than the english model (for example), where candidates finances come from a main party body, not local powerhouses.... Again though, the lack of a strong party system means theoretically no one has to follow the party whip... however this is negated by the money issue.....

    Another argument is that the electoral college system potentially denies the public the right to fair elections.... regardless of what the country has voted, the results of the presidency are PURELY decided on the 538 men and women who cast the college votes.... OK, 99% of the time they follow what the state has voted for, but you do find it cropping up college voters refusing to endorse the public vote and casting their ballot another way (eg, 2000 in Washington DC - One abstained from voting Gore, 1972 - One in Virginia voted for the Libertarians..... plus some rather comical balls up of ballot papers coming inbetween)..... Mebbie only one person every 20 years or so deliberatly does this, but potentially they all CAN do it if they want, thus they have the potential of constitutionally removing the right to elect government.

    On the argument of the Supreme Court judges... Yes the president offers someone (of his political ideology of course!), the senate rips them to shreds, if they pass they are in, but they DO reject candidates alot.... one got rejected last time for smoking pot at college..... They are very strict over it, and thus the candidate put forward needs a very good record..... The battle for control over the supreme court is intense, and as judges are appointed for life, then each president prays for one who doesnt share his political views to kop it, so he can stick his crony in and take control (Rooseveldt cheated, he upped the number of judges by 3 and stuck in 3 democrats!)

    Final point about changing the 2 term policy.... post rooseveldt i'm sure its now in the constitution that 2 is the max, so to change it requires an ammendment....something VERY hard to do. It needs 2/3'rds (or 3/4'rs....) of the states to agree (they wont), and do so within 10 years or it dies on its a|*se... so those who dont agree (ie, democratically controlled states at the moment), just sit it out untill next election, when bush wont be able to stand, as they've held up the ratification process Plus both houses have to ratify it too, and as the split is less than 67/33 Republican, they wont

    Sorry to ramble on.... i'm studying politics at uni, so its rather my forte, i cannae help it people!!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deja moo
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    The lack of civil rights for blacks in America for so mant years does show that the constition does not efectivly gurantee liverty and civl rights for everyone

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    Spanish_Vicente sledger's Avatar
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    but it does deal with the majority of the rest of the problems it has faced....or so many would argue.

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    Rather... extended thoughts on this topic.

    Too much to post right now, I'll do it tomorrow.
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