In what ways did the Constitution's Founding Fathers limit democracy?

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The Founding Fathers limited democracy in a number of ways.  Mostly, they did this by reducing the extent to which the people had influence over the government.  They allowed the people to vote for only a very limited set of government officials.  The people did not get to vote directly for the President, the Senate, or the Supreme Court.  They only got to vote for the members of the House of Representatives.  In addition, the Framers set various limits on what the government could do.  For example, they prohibited the making of laws that impaired the "obligation of contracts."  This prevented the people from being able to push through laws like the stay laws that were wanted by the people in Shays's Rebellion.  In these ways and others, the Constitution placed limits on democracy.

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jameadows | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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There were several ways that the Founding Fathers limited democracy in the Constitution. The President, for example, is not chosen by popular vote but instead through the Electoral College, in which electors chosen by each state choose the President and Vice President. In addition, in the original Constitution, Senators were chosen by state legislatures, while Representatives were chosen by direct voting. Senators were not chosen through popular vote until the 17th Amendment, which was adopted in 1913. Also, the President has the power to appoint public officials, such as ambassadors and other public ministers and consuls, with the advice and consent of the Senate. The President can also nominate justices of the Supreme Court, with the advice and consent of the Senate. The candidates for these positions are also not voted on in direct elections, thereby limiting a situation of pure democracy. 

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