American constitutional democracies
Rather than over-emphasizing the role of America's constitutional history in explaining future political events, Gargarella points to its importance, which too often is downgraded. Gargarella forwards an historical argument about the decreasing influence of egalitarian ideals in American constitutional life and defends the philosophical importance of these complex ideals.
Constitutional democracies, as we presently know them, were born after long revolutionary movements in defense of the community's independence or against aristocracy. These movements were profoundly egalitarian and expressed this egalitarianism in two basic dimensions: one personal and one collective dimension. At the personal level, the revolutions claimed, and this was actually their main claim, that all men were created equal and that all have similar basic capacities. At a collective level, these revolutions claimed that the community should become a self-governing community. In other words, they maintained that neither a foreign country nor a particular family or group should rule the country in the name of the people at large.
Now, these promising egalitarian claims, which gave legitimacy to these revolutions, were soon disfavored in practice. The main constitutional projects that grew after the revolutions severely distorted the original egalitarian goals. Clearly hostile to the ideal of personal autonomy, some of these Constitutions commanded the use of the coercive powers of the State in favor of a particular religion. Moreover, the majority of these Constitutions actually obstructed the idea of having a self-governing community. In this sense, for example, they discouraged civic participation; they reduced popular controls to a minimum expression; they reserved the "last institutional word" to the least democratic branch of government; and they organized a counter-majoritarian political system to replace rather than to "discover" or "refine" the will of the people.
The book is in Spanish and published by Siglio XX1