“The new government, like a scientific laboratory, was designed to accommodate an ongoing series of experiments, extending indefinitely into the future. Nobody could anticipate what the results might be, so the government was structured, not to guide society toward a specified goal, but to sustain the experimental process itself. It might blow up in the process – the danger referred to by Abraham Lincoln when he spoke at Gettysburg of the Civil War as ‘testing whether … any nation … conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal … can long endure’ – but the idea was to make it strong and flexible enough to keep cranking out tolerable results in changing times. As Madison observed in ‘The Federalist,’ any system of government will be flowed, since the imperfection of human institutions ‘arises as well from the object itself, as from the organ by which it is comtemplated.’ The empirical course Madison urged was to conduct ‘an actual trial,’ by letting the experiement function and dealing with its faults as they presented themselves.
“The drafters of the Constitution often compared it to Newton’s mechanical model of the solar system: Its mechanisms of checks and balances were like the dynamic laws governing the motions of the planets, functioning reliably in the background while human events unfolded unpredictably in the foreground.”
– Timothy Ferris’s “The Science of Liberty: Democracy,Reason and the Laws of Nature”