They reversed a well-known political framework.
The world-renowned revolutionary results notwithstanding, the Framers did not start from scratch. They used a rather familiar political framework to create the United States Constitution.
- Spoiler alert: Had they used the known political framework unaltered, the United States would not have been able to become a large nation.
The Framers revolutionized the political world of their days, establishing the independence of the United States, removing themselves from underneath the royal powers of Britain. Yet they had some good examples to work with, and once completed, the revolutionary aspect they put in place was based on turning the original political framework inside-out.
To understand what happened, one must know what the Framers knew in their days. Two places had their utmost attention, for they were a federation (Switzerland) and a republic (the Netherlands), just what they desired for the United States.
The political setup of Switzerland (Confederation Helvetica) and the Netherlands (Republic of the United Provinces) is not very difficult to understand. Starting with the powers on the bottom, working our way up:
Bottom: the powers of cities and lands
Middle: the powers of these powers united (in cantons and provinces)
Top: the powers of cantons and provinces cast in a collective agreement
Had the Framers picked the same political framework, then they would have to work out one important problem:
As the development of European nations had shown, following this specific framework leads to relatively small countries. Larger countries using the same setup quickly bump into the limitations of being able to remain united.
- When there are many cantons or provinces, then unity is more easily undermined, weakening the nation particularly when it is faced with foreign enemies or great internal conflicts.
The clever Framers came up with a solution. Instead of a bottom-up approach, they took a top-down approach.
The United States Constitution shows how the framework of the Federation itself is the most discussed power issue, particularly set…