The writers of the Declaration of Independence were greatly influenced by the philosophers of their time. One of these being Jean-Jacques Rousseau who advocated that as circumstances change, so must the government. From our readings and audio lecture this week we see this idea to be present in the Constitution as well. From last week we learned as well that the writers were concerned with stability of government due to their own experiences with an unstable government which they got from Britain. It is these things that keeps the Constitution that worked for our past still applicable in our ever changed present and what will keep it applicable for our sure to change future.
The government is shown as changing with the times in the Constitution by the fact that mostly things are written in general terms. Instead of specifying things specific to their era in the Constitution, the articles were worded in a way so that when the times change so will the articles with them but while keeping their intent of each article in tact. We see examples of this all through out the Constitution. For instance article I section 6 states “the senators and representatives shall receive a compensation for their services, to be ascertained by law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States.” Due to wording it this way the writers ensure that then, now and in the future that the senators and representatives will be paid for their services. Since they did not however, specify a specific amount (which certainly would have been a much different amount from what it is today) and instead wrote that it is to be left up to the discretion of the law, the law today can take into consideration the cost of living for today, and not what it was for our founding fathers, and this keeps it fitting. It is the same thing that our future fathers will do since comparing their cost of living to our own will be much different and paying their representatives and senators based on our cost of living would be unfitting.
Thinking ahead as well, the writers of the Constitution knew that things were going to change in a way that they were not able to foresee and not even begin to be able to account for in the Constitution. Not wanting it to become void, since they saw the chaos of changing laws and regulations that was brought upon Britain when they transitioned leaders and governmental policies, they had the wisdom to allow the Constitution to allow for things to be added on as needed and as fit for the changed times. From this section, and again from the last section and the Deceleration of Independence, we see that it was all thought of how men were more likely to suffer through governments as long as they felt that it was bearable. To keep the Constitution from being thrown out for being outdated so to keep the government stable, they added that it could be amended. To keep it from being changed to readily, so as to hinder it rather than supplement it, they made sure that the process for amending the Constitution was a very vigorous process. This is what allowed us to include voting rights for women and minorities in the Constitution as the times changed for them, as well as countless other things.
We saw in this chapter something that we saw in the last chapter and what I am sure that we will see in many more to come. In order for a government and its laws to be useful and stable, it is necessary for it to be as fluid as the people and the times. A rigid government that is unyielding will eventually collapse against the weight of change. It is only when the future is taken into consideration by the present that there can be any hope of securing it with our current intent.