How Democratic is the American Constitution? by Robert A. Dahl

By Robert A. Dahl

During this quantity, an eminent political scientist questions the level to which the yank structure furthers democratic ambitions. Robert Dahl unearths the Constitution's probably antidemocratic parts and explains why they're there, compares the yank constitutional process to different democratic structures, and explores how american citizens may modify their political approach to accomplish better equality between electorate. In a brand new bankruptcy for this moment variation, he exhibits how expanding variations in kingdom populations published through the Census of 2000 have extra elevated the veto strength over constitutional amendments held by means of a tiny minority of american citizens. He then explores the customers for altering a few vital political practices that aren't prescribed by way of the written structure, even though so much americans might think them to be so.

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Much depends upon the meaning of the terms ‘written’ and ‘unwritten’. Most of the British Constitution is written down somewhere, so that it is technically not ‘unwritten’. 4 It is largely because of its ancient origins that the British Constitution is so unsystematic. No attempt has been made to collate it together, and codify the various rules and conventions that are part of it. It is probably more useful to distinguish between: • codified constitutions such as that of the United States, in which all the main provisions are brought together in a single authoritative document; and • uncodified constitutions such as that of the United Kingdom, which exist where there are constitutional rules many of which are written down but have not been collated.

13 M. Shaw, Anglo-American Democracy, Routledge and Kegan, 1968. 14 R. Alford, Party and Society, Murray, 1964. 15 W. Warner, M. Meeker and K. Eells, Social Class in America, Harper and Row, 1960 16 G. Parry, G. Moyser and N. Day, Political Participation and Democracy in Britain, Cambridge University Press, 1992. 17 Political Action Study, 1974 and British Social Attitudes, 1986–96, cited by J. Curtice and R. Jowell, ‘Trust in the Political System’, in R. Jowell et al. British Social Attitudes: the 14th Report, Ashgate, 1997.

Conventions have greater importance in Britain than in the United States, if only because there were significant gaps in British arrangements which required some resolution. Americans have in any case a reputation for being more legalistic, so that at times in their history they have wanted to see things clearly stated and codified in law. But in America, conventions are not totally unknown. It is a convention that electors in the Electoral College Electoral College will cast their vote for the presiA system under which a body is dential candidate to whom they were pledged on elected with the expressed polling day in November.

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