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Analysing Article about History of Constitutional Convention in 1787 by Jeffrey Toobin

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Those who kept up with the news would be no stranger to how dysfunctional the Congress were back in 2013, during Obama’s terms. In 2013, Jeffrey Toobin, a staff writer at The New Yorker and the senior legal analyst for CNN, wrote an impressive essay called “Our Broken Constitution”. Toobin went through the history of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, queried if there is any result of the Constitution and commented about the Constitution. I agree with him when he showed the evidence about how not democratic the government was as I thought. However, he gave out some displaced facts that were unacceptable; for example, the information that he mentioned in the opening statement, the slavery issues in 1787 and the number of senators in the House.

At the beginning of the article, Toobin mentioned the national celebration of the two-hundredth anniversary of the signing of the Constitution and talked to a professor who participated named Sandford Levison, a Law professor of Harvard Law School. Levison talked about the way in which the Congress worked “If you look at the Constitution, you see that it was drafted by people who were not little-‘d’ democrats” (Toobin, paragraph 6). It is true because as usual, a President was elected from one party and the majority in Congress from the other party, so that everything they do is argue time after time. The U.S is a Democratic country, as people believe; democracy is “a political system in which people govern themselves, with capitalism. In theory, a democratic government promotes individualism and the freedom to act as one chooses instead of being controlled, for good or bad, by government. Capitalism, in turn, relies on individualism. At the same time, successful capitalists prefer political systems over which they can exert at least some influence in order to maintain their liberty” (Krutz and Sylvie, chapter 1.1). In short, democratic country is where representative government and capitalism developed together. The next thing Toobin discussed is about the Constitutional Convention in 1787; the power of states and individuals. He also addressed about the debate of how many delegates one state should have. The article ends with the saying of President Obama without propounding any formal solution to solve the problem.

First, I strongly agree with the idea of how undemocratic the government was. The Virginia Federalist, James Madison and New York Federalist, Alexander Hamilton, said that “the government existed to serve people, not the artificial entities know as states” (Toobin, paragraph 12). Noah Feldman, a professor at Harvard Law School, also defined today Democrats as “The Senate is an institution that stops change. That’s how it’s designed, and that is always going to hurt that party that wants change, the activist party” (Toobin, paragraph 16). The ‘electoral vote pandering’ was occurred when presidential candidates of both parties tried to picking a state or regional favorite who could possibly have been believed to be the ‘best person’ prepared to take over should anything happen to the President (‘How the Constitution Is Structuring the 2008 Race). Randy and his group are the one who do not like the form of government and they only feel justified with checks and balances, so that they (the majority) can do whatever they want. Followed by that thinking, only New York and California can run the country, the minority can’t fight back because they always lose (Toobin, paragraph 27).

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In the paragraph 6 of the article, Toobin wrote “Implicitly but unmistakably, the 1787 Constitution allowed for the continuation of slavery”. However, it is not true, there is nothing implicit about the approval of continuing slavery. In the first Article, Section 2, Clause 3 states “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons” (Jefferson Autobiography). Moreover, the Article V reasserts the abolition od slave trade “The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate” (Mount).

Toobin wrote about President Obama in the paragraph 17 “Though he will spend eight years in office, his tenure as the actual leader of the national government lasted about a year and a half. On July 7, 2009, Al Franken was seated, after a recount, as the sixtieth Democratic senator. (Sixty votes are needed to overcome a filibuster.) …In the midterm elections of 2010, Obama’s party lost control of the House and fell below the filibuster threshold in the Senate”. However, in the journal of Steve Benen called “A fleeting, illusory supermajority” published on MSNBC, Steve stated “In January 2009, there were 56 Senate Democrats and two independents who caucused with Democrats. This combined total of 58 included Sen” (Benen). There were only 57 senators in May 2009 and 59 senators in August 2009 (Benen). It was never always enough 60 senators as Toobin said.

“Our Broken Constitution” article of Jeffrey Toobin was impressively full of awareness but there were still some flaws. I have no objection about how undemocratic this country was; all of the information and saying that he proclaimed were definitely convincing. The states have absolutely more power than the citizens, even though the concept of Democracy is to be ruled by the people through representatives. However, there were some misplaced facts about the slavery issues during the Convention 1787, he said that the slave trade continued even it did end at that time. Moreover, the fact about the number of senators in the House is not completely true. It was not always be enough 60 senators.

Work Cited:

  1. Benen, Steve. ‘A Fleeting, Illusory Supermajority.’ MSNBC. Accessed March 3, 2019.
  2. Jefferson Autobiography. ‘Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3.’ The Founders’ Constitution. Accessed March 3, 2019.
  3. ‘How the Constitution Is Structuring the 2008 Race.’ Law.utexas, February 2, 2008. Accessed March 3, 2019.
  4. Krutz, Glen, and Sylvie Waskiewicz. OpenStax CNX. Accessed March 03, 2019.
  5. Mount, Steve. ‘U.S. Constitution – Article 5.’ U.S Constitution. Accessed March 3, 2019.
  6. Toobin, Jeffrey. ‘Our Broken Constitution.’ The New Yorker, December 9, 2013. Accessed March 3, 2019.

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Analysing Article about History of Constitutional Convention in 1787 by Jeffrey Toobin. (2023, February 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 30, 2023, from
“Analysing Article about History of Constitutional Convention in 1787 by Jeffrey Toobin.” Edubirdie, 01 Feb. 2023,
Analysing Article about History of Constitutional Convention in 1787 by Jeffrey Toobin. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 30 May 2023].
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