Did the US Constitution live up to the ideas of the Declaration of Independence?

Asked on by harleyrm

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I tend to think that the Declaration of Independence asserted freedom while the Constitution had the unenviable task of figuring out how to actually mandate freedom in the new world.  The reality is that I am not sure anything could have lived up to the promises and possibilities in Jefferson's document.  The Declaration was seen as propaganda, needing to rally support domestically and internationally towards a possibility of freedom.  In its poetics, the chords of freedom could be struck with unrelenting authority.  Yet, the second half of the equation is figuring out how this freedom could be a reality.  It is here where I think that the Constitution had to be grounded in real life, filled with dissonant sounds, the need to compromise, and find common ground towards a realistic and workable solution.  The idealism of the Declaration could never be fully achieved.  It is for this reason that the framers understood one of the central goals of the Constitution as to "form a more perfect union," suggesting that the Constitution will always strive to "get things right" as democracy grows and advances.  This presumes that idealism is not as important as daily growth and maturation.  I think that it in this realm where the Constitution is one in which the ideals and promises of the Declaration could never be fully reached.  Yet, the Constitution seeks to continue to strive towards this end, which, like the North Star, will never be reached but does not mean it is not an endeavor worth seeking.

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