Simply put, the Constitution is not a failed document. If anything it did not fail us; we failed it. Over time, we have allowed the safeguards that our Founding Fathers built into the Constitution to be abrogated, annulled, or ignored by our government. The founders recognized the sovereignty of the people. The people were to be the ultimate enforcers of the strict limits that were placed on government. As Jefferson said when discussing the impropriety of judicial interpretation of Constitutional questions:
"I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." (The Writings Of Thomas Jefferson, By Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association of the United States, Washington, DC, 1902, page 278: letter to William Charles Jarvis, Monticello, September 28, 1820.)The structures the Founders established in the US Constitution were designed to create and reinforce internal and external competition and balances of power, with the intent of ultimately reducing the threat of government tyranny. The founders recognized that some tasks were best accomplished by government, but with the concomitant danger of accumulation of power in a single group. The State Governments balance the Federal Government balance the people. Within the Federal Government, they balanced the Executive against the Legislative against the Judicial branches. These two groups of three: the People, the State Governments, the Federal Government, and, the Legislative, Executive, Judicial branches, were intended to diffuse the concentration of political power in any one group while still allowing efficiency. As Jefferson put it:
"No, my friend, the way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to. Let the national government be entrusted with the defence of the nation, and its foreign and federal relations; the State governments with the civil rights, laws, police, and administration of what concerns the State generally; the counties with the local concerns of the counties, and each ward direct the interests within itself. It is by dividing and subdividing these republics from the great national one down through all its subordinations, until it ends in the administration of every man's farm by himself; by placing under every one what his own eye may superintend, that all will be done for the best. What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and powers into one body, no matter whether of the autocrats of Russia or France, or of the aristocrats of a Venetian senate." (Letters, Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826, Merrill D. Peterson, Literary Classics of the United States, New York, 1984, page 1380: letter regarding THE WARD SYSTEM, To Joseph C. Cabell. Monticello, February 2, 1816.)The founders also ensured the people had the means to enforce their ultimate sovereignty over government via the 2nd Amendment:
"What country before ever existed a century & half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it's liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it's natural manure." (The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Henry A. Washington, ed, 1853-54, 911: letter regarding THE NEW CONSTITUTION, To William S. Smith. Paris, November 13, 1787. )If all else fails, the people are empowered to rebel to protect their liberty and enforce their will on an overweening government. According to Jefferson, this was the only effective means of controlling government. The Constitution provided the people with the tools to effectively balance the Federal and State Governments. The people were expected to play the dominant role by reining in excessive concentrations of power in the State and Federal Governments.