Essay:Constitutions as holy texts

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People often view the U.S. Constitution as a quasi-holy text,[1] saying it is responsible for bringing the U.S. lasting peace and prosperity. This ignores the fact that many countries, such as Nigeria, Honduras, El Salvador, Liberia, Guatemala, and the Philippines have copied the U.S. Constitution without becoming major economic or military powers. Some unions, such as the Federal Republic of Central America, that were modeled after the U.S., have been short-lived.

Perhaps the key to success isn't so much the specific framework for governance that the Constitution sets forth, but having respect for the rule of law under ANY Constitution. The British have a significantly different system (parliamentary as opposed to Presidential) yet they too are a hub of global commerce.

People point at provisions in the Constitution, such as the bicameral legislature, as examples of brilliant thinking on the part of the founders. For example, supposedly the Senate is a saucer that cools legislation adopted by the House.[2] This is just a backward rationalization for a system that was actually adopted as a result of political compromise between competing factions. Even if the system does work well in some ways, that's not necessarily a sign of genius; it could be a fortuitous accident, like the discovery of penicillin. If a new Constitution were drafted from scratch today, based on negotiations among the states in which each state would be free to take or leave the resulting document (by either ratifying it or going their own way), it would probably look much different.

For example, it probably wouldn't include an electoral college. Incumbent politicians, though, are those who have achieved success under the rules currently in effect, and might not have succeeded under different rules. Of course they are going to praise the system as brilliant.[3] On the other hand, defeated political candidates who feel inspired by their experience to propose changes in the system are viewed as lacking the legitimacy that would come with being an elected politician, and are denounced as sore losers.

The Amendments that have been adopted are viewed in the history books as wise corrections to imperfections in the original document. Any proposed Amendments, though, are viewed as an assault on the integrity of a system that is working fine. It's almost a variant of the idea that might makes right or the naturalistic fallacy; the idea that the system "works" is viewed from the standpoint of its survival and spread. Yet, the tiger mosquito (or, for that matter, the Christian religion) is another example of a manifestation of genetic code, or a meme, that has been able to survive and spread by finding a certain niche. Just because it exists and is able to feed off of people doesn't mean that it is serving them; it could be self-serving but difficult to eradicate. Maybe even the majority of people find the Constitution unsatisfactory, but they can't get their way because the Constitution is designed to require more than majority support for any amendments to be made (other than through the back-door way of appoint Supreme Court Justices who will creatively re-interpret it).

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