This picture, in my opinion, represents the whole sense of conflict that you are able to see in the constitution itself and the process of making the constitution. In one way the formation of Untied States of America is to defend the people against the power of the tyranny and to provide people with necessary freedom. However, the formation of the constitution comes from the fact that the original article of confederation does not provide enough power for the government. Therefore, even though most people tend to argue that constitution is the model of modern political philosophy. Many other people nowadays are raising the question, that the liberalism that America declared at the time, is not coherent with the ideology of liberty.
My question then is: If the constitution does not fully reflect the political liberalism rising at that time. What does?
The First Amendment of the Constitution describes that citizens have rights to their own freedom of expression and their own religion. This most likely stems from the fact that original settlers of the United States were trying to escape religious persecution and wanted the right to be able to express their thoughts and practice their own religion. There are religious ideologies and sayings embedded all throughout our society, and it serves as a foundation of the beliefs of the government and the decisions that our government makes. “In God, We Trust” is on the back of our currency, we say God’s name in the Pledge of Allegiance, we recognize Christian holidays, and many politicians appeal to Christian religious beliefs as a basis of their campaigns. Despite the impression that there is a separation between church and state in the American government, the superiority of the Christian religion and ideals is evident within every aspect of our society. My question is, is does this undermine the statute of equality that is implied within the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal,” if religious superiority is embedded within our own Constitution? Doesn’t this alter the view of citizens and create prejudices against those who are not Christian? Can we truly be equal if there is no separation of church and state?
Apart from the laws protecting rights that were made for an older time, such as gun laws made for when people had muskets and primitive slow weaponry, there are other laws and conditions protected by the Constitution that prevent progress in modern times.
A big problem, in terms of the structure of our government, is that we have a system that’s built for inaction. There are many veto points with which The House can veto the Senate and vice versa. Members of each of these Congress branches are elected upon different schedules and represent different populations (in the sense that senators represent states of varying sizes, congressmen represent gerrymandered districts of equal size). When the chambers are controlled by different parties, which has become almost the new normal, they don’t agree on much. And their willingness to compromise seems to have shrunk.
That’s not the Constitution’s fault; rather, it is a change in the norms of U.S. politics. However, the Constitution currently provides and previously provided no method of breaking the impasse (as other systems of government generally do). You can just as easily note that it’s not the fault of a highly ideological member of Congress who prefers inaction to compromise. It’s just that when both situations obtain, you get gridlock. If we did have a chance to consider structural changes in our system of government, I suspect we would try to build in some new ways to overcome such standoffs. Hopefully, in a future similar to current, where conflicting ideologies present a favorable option and an unfavorable option, there is something in writing to ensure that desires for change can circumnavigate gridlock via party ideologies and allow action, despite a stalemate.
The theme of this week’s reading emphasizes the rights of the people to liberty. Within this liberty includes the people’s freedom to choose one’s religion. It is written under the U.S. Constitution, Amendment I, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This picture shows just two of the many religion that people in the U.S. are able to practice freely without worrying of consequences. In other parts of the world, in the past and even now, people still constantly struggle to express their religion due to fear of what might potentially happen to them. This right that is written in the Constitution allows us to openly speak and follow any religion that we please. We have come to the point that talking about religion even in classes is completely acceptable, I know that was not always the case in the past.
With this in mind, a question that I wonder about is, How much does this freedom affect the U.S. today and how different would it be if people are required to follow a religion enforced by the government?