Since the signing of the Constitution there have been 27 amendments added to the document. Have these amendments made the Constitution more or less democratic?
Since the signing of the Constitution there have been 27 amendments added to the document. Have these amendments made the Constitution more or less democratic?

The Constitution of the United States can be viewed from many angles. Some might agree that the document is not as democratic as others may believe. The elitist view is also another angle from which the constitution can be viewed. These different view are what cause debate and problems with the constitution. The people all question who
does the Constitution really help and who does it protect. Does it protect the wealthy, the majority, the elitist?

Different Views:

Pro Democratic View

There are two forms of democracy that can be used to govern a nation. Direct democracy is when the nation is ruled by the majority verdict. Indirect democracy is when the majority elect people to represent them. The U.S. Constitution is a great example of indirect democracy.

The Founding Fathers drafted the Constitution with the people in mind. They wanted a system where the governments power was derived from the people and that all were equal in the eyes of the law but they didn't want the majority making all the decisions. The process of direct democracy takes too much time to make decisions in a country with so many people so the Framers decided to create a indirect democracy type system. As stated in the Constitution the majority vote people into the house and senate who they believe represent their ideas and beliefs. These are the people that then go ahead and make the decisions regarding certain issues and affairs on behalf of the people who voted for them.

With this belief every person is equal because everyone gets a say even though the person they pick to represent their ideas doesn't always win the elections. The people they pick to represent them are people who they believe will benefit them the most in office.

Also if these people do not like the person who is currently in a position of power they also have the power to remove that person from that position and elect someone new to fill the vacant position. Democracy revolves around the people and the opinions of the people so if the people see that a official is not fit to hold their position anymore then the people can vote to impeach or remove this person form office.The people have the right to change their government or the people who run it and because every citizen has equal rights and an equal opportunity to speak their mind and make their voices heard this view shows the pro democratic opinion that many people share about the Constitution of the United States.

In this view of the Constitution it is obvious that it is very democratic because the people have a say in the government and everyone have equal rights and representation.

Undemocratic View

As mentioned above, the United States Constitution displays a mostly indirect democracy, in which the people of the country elect those to represent and govern the nation. The Founding Fathers wanted the government power to be derived from the people, but did not want the majority to make every decision for the government. The Constitution had to account for this, which in turn may have produced many undemocratic concepts in the Constitution.

The Constitution becomes undemocratic when the people lack their voice or control of the government. When it is undemocratic, the people have lost their equality and their ideas of governing are unheard. When the Constitution was first implemented, the slave trade was still legal and was allowed to continue for 20 years. Women's role in society basically remained the same. They could not vote and did not have the privileges that men had.

The Senate of the Legislative Branch was originally appointed by the state legislatures, until the Seventeenth Amendment, after which the Senate was elected by the people. However, the Senate has always only allowed two representatives per state, regardless of population. This opposes the democratic ideals for the "majority"; a base number of representatives per state means that the majority voice of the people would not be heard.

Another example of this is in the election of the President of the United States. It is possible for the President to win the majority vote of the people of the country, yet lose the election due to the fact the the election process is based off of the appeal to the mix of the states via the Electoral Colleges. It is suggested that each state would have the same number of votes regardless of size/population. Therefore small states would have just as much influence on the government as any large state.

Although the Constitution attempted to represent a democracy and provide equality for people, a few undemocratic concepts were still enacted in the Constitution.

Elitism vs. Majority Democracy

A common cause for debate about the Constitution, is whether the document helps the elites, or whether it helps the population, or majority, of the country as a whole.

Inside the Constitutional Convention, the writers who drafted it were made up mostly of the highest class of people, with people such as Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton. This is one of the reason's the Constitution can be seen as a document for the Elite, because they perhaps inserted their ideals. Elitism is the idea that elites are the ones who truly run and control our government. Historian Charles Beard made a strong argument for this viewpoint, insisting that the Constitution was made mainly to protect the property interests of the Elite class. He also said that the Founders wanted to suppress the majority, and leave the power to those worthy of it, or the wealthy elites. He thought that an aristocracy should control the actions of the government, and help to make it stronger.

Contrary to the belief that the Constitution is in place to help the Elite class and their property interests, the argument can also be made that it was made to aid the general population of the country. The original purpose of writing the Constitution was to replace the defunct Articles of Confederation, which did not create a central government strong enough to support the nation. This central government, argued people such as historian John Loche, was not made to protect property interests of the Elite and already wealthy, but to help the majority of the country carry on and prosper. Majoritarianism reflects this idea, which means that the government does what the majority of the country wants.

Another issue, similar to the issue of Elite influences in the Constitution, is whether or not it bars out working class and below citizens from joining the Elite. Does the country do a good job of balancing out the opportunities of all citizens?

This all may have been an issue for the Framers when they were drafting the Constitution, but it is also still a major issue that affects our country today. Is the Constitution truly a supplier of equal rights to all, or does it favor the elites? A prime example of this is 2011's Occupy Wall Street movement, in which members of the 99% wealth class of the country spoke up against the 1%, which controls the majority of the wealth. This shows how the wealthy elite of the country are sometimes favored by the country.


The Constitution for the most part is a static document. Changes are hard to make, and most changes do not alter the overall tone and purpose of it. For this reason, the argument about how the Constitution treats the people, in a democratic, or undemocratic way, is one that will never have a definite answer. There is evidence supporting both sides, but not enough to solidify a view. Overall, The Constitution of the United States can be looked at from a plethora of angles.


Elitism-The idea that elites are the ones who truly run and control our government.
Majoritarianism-The idea that the government does what the majority of people want.
Direct Democracy-A form of democracy in which the nation is ruled by a majority verdict.
Indirect Democracy-A form of democracy in which the nation is ruled by representatives who are elected by the majority.
Seventeenth Amendment-Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that made senators directly elected by the people, removing their selection from state legislatures
Electoral College-Representatives of each state who cast the final ballots that actually elect a president.

Review Questions

Multiple Choice

1)What is Elitism?
a.The idea that factions rule the government
b.The majority rules the country
c.A sole individual rules the country
d.A high class of people controls the country.

2)According to Charles Beard, what was the intention of the founding fathers in writing the Constitution?
a.To provide equal opportunities for all Americans
b.To protect property interests of the elite class
c.To help the working class
d.To end economic differences

3)In an indirect democracy:
a.The nation is ruled by majority rule
b.One person has all the power and rules the country on their terms
c.The nation is run by representatives that are elected by the people
d.None of the above

4)In the pro democratic view, the Constitution is democratic because:
a.All citizens have equal representation
b.The people elect who they want in office
c.Both "a" and "b"
d.None of the above

5)Presidents aren't always elected if they have the majority popular vote because
a.They are only appointed by the Congress
b.They are elected by the Electoral College
c.The majority of people are not smart enough
d.They rule by force and tyranny

6)What did the Seventeenth Amendment do?
a.It ruled that presidents are elected by the Electoral College
b.It settled all issues that put the democracy of the Constitution under question
c.It allowed the members of Senate to become elected by the people rather than the state legislatures
d.It allowed the president to elect the members of Senate

Open Ended Questions

1) Explain how the U.S. Constitution creates a indirect system of democracy.
2) Give 2 examples of why people might not consider the Constitution democratic.
3)Do you believe the Constitution is democratic? Why or why not?

Current Events/Articles

-American Government Roots and Reforms textbook
-Charles A Beard;Framing the Constitution
-John Roche;The Founding Fathers; A Reform Caucus in Action

Tomor Dishnica, Benji Saccoccio, Terry Xia (Editor)