The Founders Were Elites, Not Engineers

#democracy2.0 #democraticunity #ourtrust #politicalaccountability #reawakendemocracy #reignitehope #takebackpower #wethepeople Feb 18, 2023
The Founders Were Elites, Not Engineers

America’s Founders were elites, not political science experts, oracles, or futurists. They were people with wealth trying to get the 13 states to join into a common federation. They didn’t address corruption inside the states or critique state democracies, such as ensuring each had a referendum and proposition process. Nor were they worried about specific rights or justice for the poor or for minorities. They only added the Bill of Rights after the states insisted.

The Federalist Papers and The Constitution reflected all the reasoning they could muster. While they had great insights about factions and people’s tendency to be biased and selfish, they only said why they thought these wouldn’t be a problem. There was no detailed analysis of how difficult situations should be handled.

They designed the Constitution based on their thoughts and conversations at a time when the imagined federal government would have just a few responsibilities and a Congress of about 60 people.

Since then, the Constitution has been amended 27 times, but has changed very little. Currently, there are even arguments about the meanings of some parts. Instead of clarifying them in amendments, we fight about them in courts and then almost always, simply accept the court’s decision. Congress could have clarified or overturned each court decision with legislation or an amendment, but did not.

Since the 1700s, we’ve learned a ton about psychology and sociology, including bias and prejudice. We’ve learned about organizations, management, goals, standards, measuring, and monitoring. We’ve learned about problem-solving, complex systems, and simulations. Our 240-year history had plenty of problems. Recently we had two impeachments, a challenged election, an insurrection, and stolen documents, with little effort to clarify laws to ensure these situations don’t happen again.

I don’t fault the founders for anything, especially what they couldn’t imagine. I’m saying the Constitution was a man-made document created centuries ago by people ignorant of what the future would bring. While changes should be made extremely carefully, we should not be reluctant to consider improvements.

We can look over 240 years of history with democracy. We can apply the many developments in the sciences and in business. We have information, resources, and expertise the founders couldn’t even dream of. We can do better. I’m not proposing any specific amendments. I’m just saying that instead of interpreting old words written by people new to political science, we have the option of creating a democracy that works. We can even create a democracy we love.

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