In many ways our Constitution is very remarkable. It is visionary, and based on reality and compromise. This visionary document set up rules for government in the 18th century and rules for changing it for government in the future. A lot of the Articles and Amendments in the Constitution deal with the reality of life in America today. The Constitution is based on compromise that protects the rights of the states and the people. It was good for the country when there were only 13 states and it is good for the country now that we have 50 states. And it can change as our country changes.
The Constitution is a visionary document because it has a process to change itself for the future. Article 5 says the Constitution can be amended through a two step process. For an Amendment to become part of the Constitution, two things have to happen: Congress or a State Convention has to propose and approve an amendment and three-fourths of the states have to ratify the amendment. The two step process makes it possible to change the Constitution and makes sure that the change is something the majority of the country wants. The writers of the Constitution made sure that the Constitution would be able to change as our country changed so it would last as our nation grew.
The Constitution is a document that affects the reality of life. Article 4 requires the US to protect the states from violence and invasion. There have been times when the National Guard has been sent to protect citizens in the states. The New York National Guard was ordered to respond to the Rochester race riot in July of 1964. The California Army National Guard was mobilized during the Watts Riots, in August 1965, to provide security and help restore order. The Ohio Army National Guard was ordered to Kent State University to settle down anti-Vietnam War protests. The National Guard was sent to Little Rock, Arkansas in the 1950’s and the University of Mississippi in the 1960’s to protect individuals trying to integrate the schools there. The National Guard has been used to protect citizens from violence and to prevent violence from happening. The 2nd Amendment protects our right to bear and own guns in our homes. The Supreme Court upheld that right in the 2010 case of McDonald vs Chicago and the Castle Law that give us the right to use a gun to protect ourselves and our property also is based on the 2nd Amendment.
In 1789 when the colonists met to discuss and create the Constitution, two plans were offered for how the legislative branch should be made up. James Madison presented the Virginia plan which stated that Congress would be made of two chambers and the representation in each chamber would be based on the population of the states. William Paterson came up with the New Jersey Plan which stated Congress would be made of one chamber and the representation would be equal for each state. The Great Compromise set up Congress with two chambers like the Virginia Plan proposed, with the House representation based on population and equal representation in the Senate like the New Jersey Plan proposed. A lot of the states thought that they would have to give up their rights to a strong government set up by the Constitution. The rights of the states and the people were protected in Article 10 which stated that any power not granted to the federal government belongs to the states or to the people. States like California and Florida have been able to pass laws that Congress has not passed such as Jessica’s Law which increased the punishment for sex offenders. Proposition 8, the November 2008 California law that bans same sex marriages and the Arizona immigration law are two more examples of states passing individual laws for their states. The states’ right to do so is protected under Article 10. Even before the Constitution was completed it was based on compromise.
The Constitution is visionary because even though it was written during the 18th century, it was written so that it could be good for the future. Through the rough times the Constitution creates a great government based on compromise. The Constitution deals with the reality of our everyday lives because it touches the lives of every American in some way: requiring the Government to protect us from violence, giving us the right to own guns in our homes for protection, giving states rights that the federal government does not have. The Constitution is remarkable because it will never be out of date. Our Constitution changes as our nation changes.