The united states is no longer a constitutional republic. The constitution stood as the founding document of america from 1789 until 1937, but is now viewed as more of a user's manual than a secular sacred document. With the demotion of the constitution, america is now open to mob rule by any faction.
Prior to 1937, any broad restructuring of american society required a constitutional amendment. Even after the civil war, in which hundreds of thousands of americans were killed, the american people knew that simply abolishing slavery by presidential or judicial fiat was not permissible. The hard work of amending the constitution was required to end slavery once and for all in the united states.
In a somewhat more silly moment, prohibitionists pushed their beliefs to adopt a constitutional amendment banning alcohol in the united states. It sounds silly now, no doubt. But when you look at the zealotry of anti-smoking advocates, you can easily imagine one day a push to ban tobacco in the us as well. In the early days of the 20th century, banning alcohol was seen as a societal good -- but it required a constitutional amendment.
americans on all sides (excluding revolutionaries and anarchists, of course) saw the constitution as the bridge uniting them. Respect for the constitution was the underpinning of the american republic. That began to change with the progressive (some would say socialist) agenda of franklin roosevelt.
franklin roosevelt came in to the presidency in a time of economic turmoil. He began pushing an agenda to radically transform america, but many of his plans were ruled as unconstitutional by the supreme court. Frustrated by the constitutional limits placed on his power, roosevelt came up with the Judicial Reorganization Bill of 1937. The infamous "court packing" scheme would have allowed roosevelt to add 6 new justices to the supreme court, effectively a judicial coup which would have overthrown the supreme court.
americans, democrats and republicans, united to slap down roosevelt's autocratic plan. (Somehow, americans still re-elected roosevelt to an unprecedent 4 terms, but that is another thread.) The defeat stung the left, but also made them realize that to push their agenda they must first undermine the constitution.
So, in 1937, the left began pushing the idea of a fluid constitution. In public debate, public schools and universities, the constitution began to be treated as a "flawed document" written by "dead white men." When the outdated constitution stood in the way of the left's social agenda, leftists argued, it should be simply ignored. In strictly governmental questions, the line of succession for instance, the constitution was still important. But in social issues, a document written in 1789 simply had no relevance for 1940. Less so for 2010, leftists would still argue.
So we have seen a radical shift in american society and government. When lincoln and the abolitionists moved to end slavery after the civil war, they did not simply say that slavery was evil and therefore worthy of being banned. They used the amendment process to reshape the founding document. This allowed a public debate on the issue of slavery. Likewise, prohibitionists were forced to enter into public dialogue to promote their ban on alcohol. And, when the nation decided that it was a silly idea, there was a remedy available to them, another constitutional amendment repealing the first.
Since 1937, the left has abandoned all pretense of public discourse in promoting their agenda. When the leftist court saw the opportunity, they simply "created" a right to abortion -- a right which would have been abhorrent to the founders and indeed was abhorrent to a majority of americans at the time. Rather than a public dialogue in which leftists use the democratic process to persuade people of their cause, a handful of justices overturned almost 2 centuries of tradition, and overturned laws in every state of the union.
In a simliar vein, the civil rights act usurped the role of the constitution. Rather than engaging in the amendment process, johnson and the congress simply altered the nature of american society by congressional mandate. While the goal of the civil rights act may have been admirable, it created a path to social change which can be used to implement much less laudable goals.
We are still seeing the leftist agenda play out, notably in the debate over obamacare. The left has been pushing universal healthcare and the "right" to health care -- again a right which is not found anywhere in the constitution. Rather than a public debate -- Should americans have a right to health care? -- and a consitutional amendment to create a legal and moral foundation for that right (if desired), the congress simply pushed through a law which has no constitutional foundation. How that law will hold up in the courts remains to be seen. It may be that the popular anger of many americans will deter the courts from recognizing this power grab.
But, however obamacare plays out, it is clear that the constitution is no longer treated or seen as the founding document of america. It is simply a "government for dummies" guide which can be referred to or ignored as desired. The left over-reached badly in their "change" agenda this time around -- and chose a leader in obama with no political or leadership skills. But hae no doubt, the "fluid constitution" will one day be used to institute mob rule in america, when another "chosen one" comes along who has the intelligence and political skills obama lacks.