Two hundred years ago some old men got into a hot stuffy room and together wrote a decent-sized document titled the Constitution of the United States of America. Then other groups of people got together and decided that it was worthwhile to keep it. That document then preceded to alter the course of the world inspiring changes never before seen.
That being said, who on earth would care about the document now? Surely two hundred years of change is enough to make such a document irrelevant, isn’t it? Well, you’ve likely read the title so you already know where this is going.
Firstly, two hundred years or really any amount of time doesn’t make something irrelevant. Otherwise, a² + b² = c² would be inapplicable as well. Seeing how this isn’t the case the irrelevance must come from something else. I’m sure that you’re already giving an answer to this, something along the lines of “Well yeah, math doesn’t change but society as a whole changes, that’s why it’s irrelevant to modern society.” Fair point; however, I’d still make a case that the Constitution is relevant and needful in this modern society.
Its true society has shifted since the Constitution was written, that being said the Constitution wasn’t based on society but on human nature. The two are astronomically different, as human nature like all creatures stays the same. Regardless of whether you believe in a Supreme Being or are a strong atheist or anything else in between, they all agree (almost as I can’t speak for every religion out there) on one thing.
Human nature if it changes at all, does so at a slow and nearly unobservable state. This applies to every living creature we’ve found. Housecats that have been domesticated for millennia have most of their instincts intact. Even octopuses that can rewrite their own DNA and are excellent problem solvers still haven’t shown any evidence that their fundamental nature has changed.
Humans are the same in this regard. As far as recorded history goes, humans have been scared of the same things and reacted to the same things. The lust for power is one of the things that has remained. So has the common response to be indifferent to things we don’t put effort into. Of course, there are many more aspects of human nature, but we won’t focus on them in this article.
In the case of the lust for power, there isn’t any surefire way on earth to prevent this from existing. However, there are restrictions and limitations that can be put in place. This is what the Constitution’s primary focus was, not just to establish a government but to keep that government in place.
Most of us can agree that there will be power-hungry people in government, there always will be and there isn’t much we can do to stop this from happening. The Constitution came up with a few solutions to this. Namely by using the greed for power as a countermeasure for itself.
For the three government branches, they all have individual power unique to them and them alone. In order for another branch to get more power, they have to infringe upon the rights of another branch. Now, if you were power-hungry, would you want someone else taking some of your power? Likely not. Now for all of the decent people in power, they themselves wouldn’t want other branches extending their reach and would also oppose it. This is done with three branches.
This method has been working remarkably well for the last two hundred years and while the USA isn’t perfect by any means, it is still one of the best places in the world to live and was a powerhouse in both the world wars and prevented the casualties from reaching even higher amounts.
There was another reason I mentioned as to why the Constitution is so great, that being that people don’t care about things they don’t put work into. Now, this isn’t always the case, however, it tends to be for the average Joe or Jill. The solution to this was to put voting in the hands of the people. If you didn’t like who became president you had the general population to blame (and yourself if you didn’t vote.) If you don’t like someone then you have the ability to speak up about it, vote against them, and support who you want.
Before the Constitution was written this was almost entirely unheard of in history; the Constitution changed that for the entire world. Many countries have even copied it as a basis for their own government. Even the countries that didn’t, took a lot of the founding ideals and ran with it.
In closing, it may have been written by some old guys in a hot room, but so have countless other books that have revolutionized the world–from the Elements by Euclid, to the Art of War by Sun Tzu. Yet these books are still read around the world, and maybe a lot less now than when they were written, but they were based on principles, and those never change.