What is Popular Sovereignty? [No. 86]

Popular sovereignty is a unique American idea. That the people exist independent from their
institutions of government. The people communicate their will and communicate
their ideas by way of a written Constitution. Under this kind of system of popular sovereignty,
the government can never claim to speak with the voice of the people. The voice of the people is only found in a
written constitution and government institutions can only exercise those powers which were
actually given into the hands of that particular government by way of their written constitution. What’s interesting about the American system
is that it’s this complicated machine, that includes not only government institutions
on a state level, but also a government institution on a national level. This is a federalist system, so that you have
people- both the national, unified people of the United States, and then the independent
people of Virginia or of Massachusetts-who continue to have their own sovereign, independent
governments. This retained sovereign independence was actually
promised by the Federalists during the debates over the original Constitution. You had people like Alexander Hamilton and
Federalist 81 insisting that states would continue to retain their sovereign existence. And in the debates throughout Virginia, up
and down the Eastern Seaboard, this was a particular concern, and it was insisted over
and over again that although we were creating a new national people through the adoption
of this American Constitution, we were also preserving aspects of sovereignty on a local
level. It’s a complicated machine, and one that had
never been tried before. And it was going to create a delicate balance
between these cultures on a local level and this newly emergent national culture. It’s a responsibility of the courts, therefore,
to preserve and maintain this delicate balance. One that keeps an eye on the responsibilities
of a national government that represents all of us as an American people, but also preserves
the retained powers and rights of the peoples in the several states.

4 thoughts on “What is Popular Sovereignty? [No. 86]

  1. It's me not being responsible for nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki like the Three branches of government and the Federal reserve are .

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