As a US citizen who was raised on the mother’ milk that the constitution if the foundation of our great country, it saddens me to see all of the constitutional abuses in our government.
But as someone who has studied our countries history and has read our constitution with a critical eye I see the alternative of following the constitution exactly as being much worse.
For all of its strengths our Constitution (created by human hands) is marked by the flaws of the humans who created it. It is only through luck, by great men at critical times, and by extra-constitutional machinations has our country survived.
A post above says rightly, that the extra-constitutional powers were enacted because of crises. What that posts does not mention is that many of those failures were due to flaws in our constitution. Consider 3 of them: War of 1812, Civil War, Great Depression.
The causes and the problems of the war of 1812 are complex and I am not an expert. But I think it is fairly safe to say that a good portion of the blame is due to Jefferson and Madison’s view of the constitution that did not allow the federal government to manage money (in particular the National Bank) and to support a reasonable sized national army. Jefferson slashed the US navy to 2 ships when a larger sized Navy MAY have been a deterrent to the British pressing our ships into service. Then when the US declared war thinking that they could annex Canada with no problem they got their butts handed to them by the British. (Sometimes I wonder if the British did not stop the war because otherwise they would have to govern this lunatic asylum.) Among the many reasons that we lost this war is that we couldn’t fund it because of a lack of a national bank and we depended on the use of militias instead of a national army and the new england states refused to play along.
The Civil War, too, was a failure of the Constitution. It is no accident that the all time worst Presidents in the US history happen just before the Civil War. The constitution with its divided government was so paralyzed that it allowed the resentment between the two sides to simmer for so long without a governmental way to fix it. War was the only way to fix it. (It is not an accident that Lincoln in his famous Gettysburg address does not reckon the beginning of the US with the constitution but with the Declaration of Independence-- the Constitution has never been ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people’, but rather written by the elite for the elite.)
A third crisis created by the Constitution was the Great Depression because of its failure to anticipate rich elites destroying a country with their incompetence and because it did not anticipate either the need of a government to regulate an economy or the abuse of individual rights of some of its citizens to curtail the freedoms of others of its citizens.
In each of these crises (and others not mentioned here) the federal government responded both through constitutional amendments (which is good) and through extra-constitutional measures which was bad but unfortunately necessary.
Such is the messiness of all governments.