The at the same time preserving continuity

The Constitution of the United States of America demands that Presidential election must be held after every four years, whether there is peace or war.

If Roosevelt had been defeated by Dewey, it would have meant a new policy by the new government, though the primary object of Dewey, too, was sure to have been as that of Roosevelt, to win the war. General Elections during the period of war mean dislocation and distraction, but they cannot be avoided when the constitution is rigid. Such constitutional demands can be conveniently postponed under a flexible constitution. General Elections in Britain were postponed year after year during World War II without disturbing the administrative machinery of the country and at the same time preserving continuity in the government’s policy. Immediately after the cessation of hostilities, Britain, once again, went to the polls, returning in majority the Labour Party and dislodging Churchill from power.

Bryce has aptly remarked, “They (flexible constitutions) can be stretched or bent so as to meet emergencies without breaking their framework: and when the emergency has passed, they slip back into their old form like a tree whose outer branches have been pulled aside to let a vehicle pass.” A rigid constitution, its critics assert, cannot justly claim to be representative of the needs and thoughts of the people. It is neither the result of natural historical growth, nor does it represent the experiences of the people, nor is it molded by the conventions of national life. A flexible constitution, on the other hand, provides an excellent mirror of the national mind. It represents the historical continuity of the nation’s life and incorporates within it the changes as and when the need arose.

A flexible constitution can, thus, claim to feel the pulse of public opinion. Judge Cooley had said that “of all the constitutions which may come into existence for the government of the people, the most excellent is obviously that which is the natural outgrowth of the national life, and which having grown and expanded as the nation has matured, is likely at any particular time to express the prevailing sentiment regarding government and the accepted principles of civil and political liberty.”


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