How democratic is the US Constitution?

1. Essay Prompt

How Democratic is the US Constitution? No one alive today voted for the Constitution. For that matter, few people in the United States can claim an ancestor who personally endorsed the U.S. Constitution. Why should Americans consider themselves bound by a document that is more than 200 years old and that few people proportionally or absolutely voted to ratify? This question is especially significant because, as Dahl (2003) argues, it is not clear by what standards our Constitution serves us well. Dahl asks us to think about whether the Constitution meets the democratic standards of the present day. Write a 4 to 5 page paper discussing the topic above using four academic, a.k.a. peer-reviewed, sources to support your thesis. Your paper must give Dahl’s arguments and ideas (as presented by him in the assigned class readings) careful consideration. The paper must be typed,double-spaced, and in 12pt Times New Roman font with standard 1 inch margins. Please use APA format.

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2. Grading

You will be graded on your ability to:

•clearly articulate a thesis statement

•support the thesis with the claims made in your paper

•provide evidence for every claim

•use appropriate evidence (peer-reviewed, correct, to the point)

•cite properly (e.g. the sources of the ideas presented are referenced; most citations are paraphrased unless direct quotes are necessary to convey meaning)

•understand and present the arguments found in the sources you use

•use evidence in a nuanced fashion (not only to support but also to complicate the claims of the essay)

•develop and present ideas logically so that the foundations established early on push the argument toward a more complex conclusion that is not identical to the introduction

•write error free using precise and non-colloquial language


Every claim/argument you make must be backed up by academic evidence. You must reference four academic sources. As the essay prompt clearly states, you must use Dahl as one of your sources. The Constitution and the amendments can also be referenced because they are an original source. The remaining sources must be peer-reviewed political science journal articles, or from related disciplines that you find via the library journal repositories. (Use articles only. Do not use books, except Dahl) You must use political science databases to access relevant sources. I recommend using JStor. You may not use popular sources (e.g The New York Times and other magazines, non-academic journals and books, internet encyclopedias, etc.). I will deduct points if you use popular sources.

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