Life in the New Democracy
It is one thing to create a country based on certain principles, say that men have an inalienable right to life, liberty, and happiness, and another to put those theories into motion, especially when men really referred to "white" men only. What about all the other men? And the women?
Within the context in which they were written in the late 1700's, the Declaration and Constitution embody some astounding principles -- that if you don't like your government, you have the ability, even the moral requirement, to change it. That you may pursue life and liberty as you see fit. To say in the day that "all men" have "certain inalienable rights" by virtue of birth was was truly revolutionary, when most of the world's governments were still embracing the Divine Right of Kings, and most people were not better off than serfs. These statements appear to fall short in out 21st century eyes, but back then, it was a start -- slaves weren't covered because they were not considered men; women weren't covered because they were not men. To understand the cultural climate of the day and to see where we are now is to appreciate how much progress has occurred since the Founding. Look how far we've come since the 1700's. It's still not perfect, but it continues to evolve in the direction of more freedom for more people. Perhaps historians a 1000 years from now will look upon these documents and this process as the legacy of the United States.
I think that the question itself, if present, is quite wide open and subject to a bevy of thoughts. Allow me to suggest that one element of the American brand of democracy which is unique is the idea of "forming a more perfect union." Implicit within this goal of the Constitution is the idea that democracy, itself, is an experiment whose perfection is realized with each and every step towards it. In the invocation of this goal, we understand that the framers, and all of us as a part of this experiment, will be fallible and make mistakes. The rectification of these mistakes through institutional and social means is what makes the new democracy and nation more powerful and one that distinguishes it from others. The progression of American social and political notions and pursuits of the good would lie in the idea of "forming a more perfect union."
I'm not sure what you're asking here. Do you have a question?
My response to what you're saying is this: even though the early United States didn't come close to living up to the words of Declaration of Independence (and arguably doesn't do it perfectly now), those words and ideas have been a strong impetus that pushes and inspires Americans to try to perfect their society.
Let me be clear, I'm not a blind cheerleader for the US. I teach history and US government, among other things, and know that we're imperfect. I'm of mixed racial origin and am fully aware that the US hasn't always lived up to "all men are created equal."
However, we have been slowly but surely moving towards the ideals of the Declaration. America today is closer to those ideals than it was when my parents were born.