Are Constitutional Governments sustainable?

Dec 2017
421
Florida
So I wanted to pose the following question to the group:

Are constitutional governments sustainable in the long term?

What I mean by sustainable is: can a government limit itself to the expressly written powers it gives itself or does it naturally tend to (push/break/circumvent) those limits to expand beyond its power?



I don't want to lay out my whole perceptions about this because honestly, I don't know if this is a question of interest for people and I want to see where this leads (doesn't have to be confined to the US).
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
5,097
Dispargum
It is impossible to anticipate every problem that will ever arise. Sooner or later every government will find itself confronting a problem for which it has no legal solution. Then the choice is either paralysis or acting to fill the void as best one can. Any government worth having will reject the do nothing option. So, will a government long survive if it limits itself to just its constitutionally specified powers? No. Does this mean that constitutions are useless? No. Most of the time governments can operate within their constitutions. It's only the exceptions that garner all of the attention.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
24,534
SoCal
It is impossible to anticipate every problem that will ever arise. Sooner or later every government will find itself confronting a problem for which it has no legal solution. Then the choice is either paralysis or acting to fill the void as best one can. Any government worth having will reject the do nothing option. So, will a government long survive if it limits itself to just its constitutionally specified powers? No. Does this mean that constitutions are useless? No. Most of the time governments can operate within their constitutions. It's only the exceptions that garner all of the attention.
There are also ways to bend the constitution to one's will and liking through creative interpretation. In fact, a huge amount of the constitutional change that has occurred in the US throughout history--especially over the last 150 or so years--occurred as a result of creative judicial interpretations of the US Constitution rather than as a result of new US constitutional amendments actually being passed and ratified.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
24,534
SoCal
What I mean by sustainable is: can a government limit itself to the expressly written powers it gives itself or does it naturally tend to (push/break/circumvent) those limits to expand beyond its power?
This might depend on whether the government believes that the ends actually justify the means. As in, is lawless (or at least legally dubious) action acceptable if it's done for a good cause or a good purpose?
 

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
5,260
Australia
I think the question needs a qualifier: "compared to..."

Look at all the alternatives and decide whether constitutional governments are more sustainable than those alternatives. IMO they are.
 
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Dec 2017
421
Florida
I think the question needs a qualifier: "compared to..."

Look at all the alternatives and decide whether constitutional governments are more sustainable than those alternatives. IMO they are.
Why does it have to be compared to something else? Seems like an ineffective way to justify something i.e. "Constitutions might not be able to sustain themselves but they are better than X"
 
Dec 2017
421
Florida
There are also ways to bend the constitution to one's will and liking through creative interpretation. In fact, a huge amount of the constitutional change that has occurred in the US throughout history--especially over the last 150 or so years--occurred as a result of creative judicial interpretations of the US Constitution rather than as a result of new US constitutional amendments actually being passed and ratified.
That is kind of the angle I am going for in creating this topic. In terms of the US Constitution (and this doesn't just have to be about the US Constitution) the Federal government is given explicit powers concerning what it can do and yet today it reaches beyond that scope in effect making a government that is not bound by the document that gives it its power. Through this does it mean that constitutional governments are not sustainable? Are there other countries in which they have made a constitution and followed the rule of that constitution thereby showing its sustainability?
 
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Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
5,260
Australia
Why does it have to be compared to something else? Seems like an ineffective way to justify something i.e. "Constitutions might not be able to sustain themselves but they are better than X"
Nothing is perfect. You go with the best option. Why would you want to replace a constitutional government with something that is worse?
 
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