How does the Constitution affect culture? Is it a positive or negative effect?

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boomer-sooner | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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The Constitution affects culture in a positive manner.  It does this by encouraging dialogue, providing stability and allowing for cultural change. 

The Constitution encourages dialogue within society on a variety of topics.  These conversations are influenced by the cultural norms of the era.  Currently, the United States is embroiled in three prominent national conversations in which the Constitution has a role.  There are concerns about the application of abortions, specifically the potential selling of fetal body parts.  Although it is a matter of law, the opponents argue the Constitution protects the right to life.  Additional conversations focus on the Second Amendment and the intent of the Constitution on firearm ownership.  The final discussion concerns the rights of gay and transgendered people in society.  The cultural atmosphere of society, specifically the cultural clashes, can create fierce debates.

There is also a positive stability the Constitution provides because it is not easy to change.  The ratification process for a new amendment is lengthy to ensure the cultural fads do not override the fabric of American society.  However, it is not impossible to change.  A great example of the dialogue and change is the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment in 1920.  The amendment prohibited most alcohol possession, distillation and transport.  The passage occurred after a culture of temperance swept the nation, blaming alcohol for many of the family problems in the country.  In December 1933, the amendment was repealed via the Twenty-First Amendment to the Constitution.  The cultural phenomenon of bootlegging helped to start a new conversation.

The Constitution's ability to change, albeit slowly, while stirring conversation about American life is one of the greatest benefits of the document.  The positive effect it has on culture and society is in these three characteristics.

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