Frankly, the Constitutional idolatry that many Americans seems possessed of strikes me as a peculiar form of paganism. The whole thing about checks and balances, limited power and making abrupt changes as difficult as it gets is marvelous at theoretical level but let's have a look at the facts.
The size and scope of the US government has been increasing ever since its establishment, slowly at the beginning and rapidly in the 20-th century. The US government today (and during the whole last century) is/was bigger and has/had more power and influence over the lives of the American citizens than poor King George III and his government ever dreamed of. The same checks and balances that were in force during Washington, Adams and Jefferson operate during Obama (or Bush or Clinton or you name it) - yet the difference in the scope and size of the power of these presidents is obvious. So, there you have on one hand a Constitution whose explicit aim is to limit the power of the government and on the other hand a government operating under the selfsame Constitution and whose power has increased at an exponential rate in the last 100 years. Can someone please explain me (a) this paradox and (b) why such a Constitution should be regarded as a nec plus ultra in matters political?
You have to understand--the Constitution they are idolizing is one that hasn't been in operation since at least the 1850s, and probably never was in operation to begin with. The document represents an idea to them, and the fact that the idea never operated in the real world, or at least crumbled into uselessness when it met the real world (that's what the Civil War was about, in a way) does not register with them.
Nor do they seem to understand that using the US political system of c. 1800 as an ideal suggests to others that they think it's fine to deny basic rights to anyone who isn't a non White and a male
For these people, the current US system of government doesn't really operate under "their" Constitution, so all the grand centralization that's been going on since the Civil War is illegitimate. They want a government which only acts when it's really necessary,
and lets the rich loot the poor at will, because that's only fair
and lets people alone to live their lives and make money as they see fit, because that's the only fair way to do it.
And they also usually want a US military that's strong enough to make everyone else in the world do whatever they want or think is good for the rest of the world. The fact that this goal makes reaching the other goal is also one of those things that fails to register with them. And very strangely, these same people have by and large reached the conclusion that it's fine for the state and local governments to act tyrannically. It's only the Federal government that they worry about.
That said, the Constitution does have a semi divine status in American Culture, as an expression of American uniqueness--it's one of those things that most Americans think of as evidence that we're better than others. Other countries have constitutions, but ours was the first and often enough the model for many of them. (I'm pretty sure Switzerland did not have one in 1789, and it actually differs in some important ways from the US version.) Nor did all those constitutions last (for instance, just how many constitutions have the French gone through since the Bastille fell?), or actually work the way they should have on paper (for instance, the Soviet Union's enumeration of basic rights in its Constitution versus the actual practice). We've managed to make it through two centuries with (officially at least) the same basic document, and only one great spasm of violence that couldn't be handled under that document (the Civil War).
But the real basis of American prosperity has nothing directly to do with the Constitution. It's the fact of our geographical location--isolated enough from other countries that we could develop the resources of of most of one vast continent without intereference from outside. The Constitution and the system it set up allowed us the stability to do that.