Pesquisar este blog

1787 - É escrita a Constituição dos Eua

Um século após a Constituição dos EUA ter sido escrita, William Gladstone, quatro vezes primeiro-ministro da Grã-Bretanha, declarou que a constituição americana era "a obra mais maravilhosa jamais realizada pelo cérebro humano em favor do homem. " 

Gladstone admirava a Constituição pelo precedente que ela estabelecia: a autoridade mais elevada do país seria a das palavras de um documento, a constituição. E isso ao invés dos ditames de um rei. 

Hoje isso nos parece normal, mas em 1787, quando a Constituição foi escrita, era uma idéia revolucionária. Naquela época, em outras partes do mundo a lei era o que o Rei determinasse.


Sobre o Sistema Eleitoral Americano

The original Constitution provided for the election by popular vote of House members only. Senators were chosen by the state legislatures and the president was chosen by electors (each state having as many electors as it has members of Congress). 

Senators are now chosen by popular vote, a change that occurred in 1913 through a constitutional amendment. The president is still chosen by electors, but voters have a direct voice in the process because states now tie their electoral votes to their popular vote outcomes. By winning a state’s popular vote, a presidential candidate also wins its electoral votes. This change came about in the early 1800s. 

As a means of guarding against majority tyranny, the framers of the Constitution staggered the terms of office of federal officials. House members would be elected to a two-year term, the president to a four-year term, and senators to a six-year term (a third of the senators chosen every two years). The thinking behind this arrangement is that it would make it difficult for an unreasoning majority to capture full power in a single election. The time between one election and the next one might be sufficient for that majority to come to its senses.

The U.S. system differs from a parliamentary system to which all elected officials are elected at the same time and for the same term of office. A parliamentary system is a more direct form of majority rule. In a single election, a voting majority can determine in full who will be in power—not only in the legislature but in the executive. The prime minister, chosen by the majority party, is head of the legislature as well as being chief executive.

In the U.S. system, majority rule is more difficult to achieve. The president, senators, and House members are all separately elected and to different terms of office, and power is divided between the executive and legislative branches. At times, power has been split between the political parties, with one party controlling one or both houses of Congress and the other party controlling the presidency.

There are a number of reasons why U.S. voting rates are lower than those in Europe. One reason is that Election Day in many European countries is a holiday or takes place on a weekend; this timing is designed to make it easy for people to get to the polls. In contrast, U.S. elections are held on a Tuesday, which is a day when most people are at work.

The major reason for the difference, however, is voter registration. Among registered voters only, the voting rate in the U.S. is roughly equal to that in Europe. However, the overall voting rate in the U.S. is lower because it has a much higher percentage of unregistered voters; such citizens are not allowed to vote.

In most European democracies, the government takes responsibility for registration. If an eligible voter moves to a new address, the postal service will notify registration officials, who will update the individual’s registration. As a result, over 90 percent of eligible voters in Europe are registered to vote. In contrast, registration in the United States is the individual’s responsibility. Eligible citizens have to take the initiative in order to register. That’s not always easy to do. In some states, it can require locating and traveling to a registration office during working hours and being able to show clear proof of citizenship. Only about 75 percent of eligible Americans are registered to vote. 

The groups most disadvantaged by the U.S. system are those that are poor and have minimal schooling. Such individuals are less likely to have a driver’s license or passport or have on hand a certified copy of their birth certificate, which some states require as proof of citizenship as a condition of registration. Such individuals are also less likely to have the transportation necessary to travel to a registration office. In addition, they are less likely to know where to go to register, and when. And they are more likely to change residency; a change of residency requires an individual to reregister. For such reasons, voter registration in the United States is substantially lower among those of lower income and education than among those with higher income and education.