The Inspirational Power of American Constitutionalism

February 16, 2009
It is my belief that the normative order of society, that is, its system of rules of human conduct, is a crucial characteristic of any community of humans. A well-established institutional framework for the creation or modifi cation of that system, one based on the accepted values of the society, is the greatest treasure any society can have. It is therefore hardly a surprise that I consider America’s greatest contribution to the world to be its development of constitutionalism. Don’t misunderstand my point. Th e idea of constitutionalism was by no means new; it is as old as Western Civilization, and had been fl oating around in the minds of theorists for millennia. It was the American innovation to give it concrete existence by creating a living and functioning institution, and to demonstrate that it works in practice and is a superior system....