The all. Frederick Douglass believed that plain reading was

The American regime’s success in democracy can be attributed to its embodiment of the many different definitions of democracy, yet ultimately it closely aligns with the more modern definitions. This can be seen in our founding documents such as the Constitution. Democracy is the centerpiece of this deed to the nation, where there is liberty provided to all. Frederick Douglass believed that plain reading was not faulty. He therefore argued that no where in the Constitution is slavery explicitly mentioned and in the clauses that referenced slavery in an implicit manner, they were the efforts of the founding fathers to put an end to slavery and diminish its hold in the new Union. America was founded on the principle of being a democratic regime and though slavery still existed, all things point to that the founders were trying to lead America on the path of liberty for all. For starters, the Constitution is a vague document, but that does not mean that we should sit around debating the meaning of what was said. It must be taken to have a literal meaning and the words that are read is what we need take from it. Douglass mentions how the Constitutional Convention was held in secret so that there was no bias in the final product through the debates that were held while in the meetings. We can not know what our founders were thinking when they made the documents exactly and they are no longer around to tell us everything. Therefore, we must have faith in the American system and that since the Constitution was ratified, there must have been agreement across the board for what was written in the final document. Each state would have most likely had a different view of interpretation, but that is not how the document is set up. The ink on the pages of the Constitution has dried, and if the American people decide that change is necessary, then they themselves can call for an amendment to our founding document “The American Constitution is a written instrument full and complete in itself. No Court in America, no Congress, no President, can add a single word thereto, or take a single word thereto. It is a great national enactment done by the people, and can only be altered, amended, or added by the people (Frederick Douglass, “The Constitution of the United States: Is it Pro-Slavery or Anti-Slavery?”, coursepack, 442). This is a further reason to prove the democratic nature of the American regime, the people wield all the power. Alexander Stephens was a staunch supporter of the Confederate States of America and comes to opposite conclusions of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and suffragette Susan B. Anthony, yet his argument supports that of his anti-slavery counterpart. Stephens believes that the Confederate States were created for the sole purpose of creating a safe nation where the negro is unequal to white men, and the need for a separate state lies with the reasoning that the founders of the Union (through the Constitution) sought to create a state where mankind was equal under the law. “The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested on the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error” (Alexander Stephens, ‘CornerStone Speech’, coursepack, 461). Obviously the two men have come to completely different conclusions, but the argument remains the same: the Constitution of the United States was a document created with the purpose of having freedom for all individuals under its rule. The democratic system that was formed under this very Constitution would not have preserved liberty if not for some basic institutions that have tendencies to counter democracy. While this seems backwards, the system in place allows for democracy not to turn into the mob-rule described by Aristotle. Among these are the nation’s judiciary system and some functions of the Senate. America’s independent, appointed judiciary which wields the ability of judicial review is a source of excitement and awe for Tocqueville “The source of power lies in one fact: Americans have granted judges the right to base their decisions on the Constitution, rather than on laws. In other words, they have allowed judges not to apply laws they deem to be unconstitutional” (Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 115). Going along with this, the fact that judges are appointed and not elected allows them to keep a distance from politics, due to the fact that they need not worry about the public opinion. This was a very Federalist way of thinking, for those opposed to this view said “There is no power above them to control any of their decisions. There is no authority that can remove them, and they cannot be controlled by the laws of the legislature. In short, they are independent of the people, of the legislature, and of every power under heaven” (Brutus, Coursepack, 232). For public officials who are often voted in every few years such as those in the House of Representatives, Tocqueville believes that progress can not be made. These officials will spend more time concerning themselves with consolidating their power for the purpose of reelection rather than making decisions for the good of their district and nation. The United States Senate holds many powers that do not correlate to the direct advancement of democracy. First of all, before the seventeenth amendment, Senators were not elected by the people directly, but by the state legislators. This leads to the men in the Senate being of a more refined background, and they too do not necessarily need to feed into the opinions of the public, but rather their colleagues in the state legislature who elected them. Furthermore, these representatives who were not directly elected are given quite more power than those in the House of Representatives, with the ability to make decisions beyond legislation such as on treaties, federal appointments, and war. Though democracy does not reign in these specific parts of American government, Tocqueville believes they are for the best because they prevent an event known as “the tyranny of the majority.” This is when the will of the majority of citizens turn into an oppressive force that stifle liberties. With the said institutions in place, there is a way to combat this despotism in number. For example, the judges form an important barrier between the liberties of the American people and those who seek to diminish those liberties “Confined within proper limits, the power granted to American courts to pronounce on the unconstitutionality of laws still constitutes one of the most powerful barriers ever created against the tyranny of political assemblies” (Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 116). When the assemblies of the people try and push through legislation that bends or breaks the bounds of the Constitution, judges may strike down the law. Tocqueville attributes this to the fact that American judges do not rule on the law, but the Constitution itself. Alexander Hamilton describes this purpose first “A Constitution is, in fact, and must be regarded by judges as, a fundamental law… If there should happen to be an irreconcilable difference between the two judicial and legislative, that which has the superior obligation and validity ought, of course, to be preferred, or in other words, the Constitution” (Hamilton, The Federalist Papers, 466). In regards to the Senate’s election, Tocqueville also believed it was beneficial to shield the people from this direct power “I am quite prepared to admit that I see two-stage elections as the only way to bring experience of political liberty within reach of all classes of the people” (Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 230). This agrees with another Federalist founding father who said much of the same thing about experience in the Senate “It is not possible that as assembly of men called from the most part from pursuits of a private nature continue in appointment for a short amount of time and led by no permanent motive to devote the intervals of public occupation to a study of laws, the affairs, and comprehensive interests of their country, should if left wholly to themselves, escape a variety of important errors in the exercise of legislative trust” (Madison, The Federalist Papers, 337). While not democratic in nature in the slightest, these institutions in the American government have been key in preserving the liberties of citizens, which is the goal of government in a free society.


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