4 fallacies associated with the American Constitution
The first of its kind, the United States Constitution exists as the document that outlines the nation’s governmental structure. It initially consisted of seven articles, which serve various historic functions; establishing the segmentation of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, instituting the idea of federalism, and summarizing the role and power of the states. It has been amended twenty-seven times since its inception in 1789 and remains one of the most influential manuscripts in the world.
The Constitution is studied everyday across the United States in classrooms and seminars. It has been scrupulously analyzed and picked apart countless times. Over the years, many concepts and notions have become ingrained in American culture seem to have originated from the Constitution. Contrary to popular belief, a good number of these ideas are not detailed in the original article and continue as critical misconceptions.
The Electoral College
The Constitution certainly contains the notion of a presidential elector. It is mentioned several times throughout. However the assembly of people known as the Electoral College is not. So when it is time to vote for a new president, we aren’t voting directly for a candidate but rather a representative who, if supported by its respective majority, will select a candidate for it. It is these votes that actually determine who takes the position.
Separation of Church and State
Upon close inspection, you’ll find that the notorious expression “separation of church and state” is missing. A number of Supreme Court rulings and a couple of choice proclamations within the Constitution have efficiently directed that such separation exists, yet it is not explicitly stated.
In a letter commenting on the 1st Amendment, Thomas Jefferson loosely coined the phrase. Personal messages have no legislative clout so it remains merely a phrase and idea, not much else.
Nowadays, the presidential election doesn’t seem to be as thrilling as it once was. The ascension of the ever-buzzing primary election is partly to blame for this. This process serves to select the individuals that will represent their respective political party in the run for the White House.
Some may wonder how then, has this system become so ingrained in our overall election arrangement. Well, the Constitution doesn’t highlight a specific method for conducting elections. And it is in this absence that we have adapted the system. Because the Constitution does not state that we can’t hold it, we do.
The practice of paper money seems like it would be covered in the Constitution. Fundamentally, paper has no fiduciary value. We just unanimously concur that it does because we have been assured that it will not collaspe. But the fact is that paper money isn’t detailed in the Constitution.
Of course it makes total sense that money is not mentioned in the Constitution because when it was adapted, paper money was not the accepted form of currency. Preliminary versions did include a permit to print money, but in the end it didn’t make the final cut.
Now You Know
Over the past 40+ years, we at the National Center for Constitutional Studies have strived to motivate Americans to read, learn and discuss the Constitution of the United States. We believe that educating Americans through seminars, programs, and our Pocket Constitutions is paramount.
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