Constitutions are not always easy to make, and can be harder to protect, but they provide essential protection for ordinary people.

This column is posted before the full result of the US presidential election is known. Whatever the outcome, we do know that the US Constitution is being tested as never before. The founding fathers could scarcely have anticipated how much change has happened since the Constitution was first written. They were writing for their time. They put in place an electoral college to “limit the power of demagogues”.

The electoral college’s function was to select statesmen who would rise above petty politics, who would safeguard the enduring interests of the republic. This safeguard has not always worked as intended.

When the US Constitution was composed, horses and bullock carts were the main means of transport. Women were deemed unworthy of a vote, and many of its signatories were slave owners. Indeed, George Washington treated his persistent dental problems by using teeth obtained from his slaves.

It was a very different world. That said, it is important to note that the Declaration of Independence, which preceded the Constitution, began with the truly revolutionary statement that: “All men are created equal”.

Further, the US Constitution was constructed by a group of men who fought constantly over matters of principle and practice. They wrote vitriolic letters to the newspapers denouncing each other. Duels were a constant in their lives.

In one of the most famous duels in American history, Vice President Aaron Burr shot his long-time political antagonist, Alexander Hamilton. Now immortalised in the Broadway show, Hamilton, the chief architect of America’s political economy, died the following day.

Before that, in September 1787, the Constitution was completed, but many delegates were disgruntled. Benjamin Franklin, one of its architects, wrote an impassioned speech, in which he urged all delegates to sign the Constitution. He later admitted that it was an imperfect document.

He said: “The opinions I have had of its errors, I sacrifice to the public good. I have never whispered a syllable of them abroad. Within these walls they were born, and here they shall die.”

Interestingly, Franklin provides a flavour of the chutzpah required to get a new nation established. Picture the scene. The War of Independence is not going well. After initial success by the colonists, the world’s best army and biggest navy is prevailing in north America. Against this might, Americans are wilting. However, the colonists figure that France with its vast resources and well-trained military, together with its antipathy to England, might be recruited to aid them. But who to choose to persuade the French – or more accurately - the King of France, to weigh in on their side? Step up Benjamin Franklin.

It must have called for all of Franklin’s legendary powers of persuasion to convince Louis XVI, who believed himself descended from God, to also accept that “all men are created equal” in America.

In the end, Franklin got the king’s support and the United States won its independence.

The path to independence like that of true love, never runs smooth. Holding on to and securing that hard-won achievement can be equally taxing. Most new countries accept that the best place to start is with a written constitution that codifies what the new nation stands for, as well as what it will not stand for. Without this fundamental contract between the new state and its people and the rest of the world, we are left with political promises or vows. Not good enough, most new countries would maintain.

I ask a simple question. Following independence, what is in place to constrain any new Scottish government from deploying the same tactics as Boris Johnson and cronies?

What would you do if the government of a newly independent Scotland behaved capriciously? To whom would you refer their behaviour? What avenues would be available to the citizen? The new Scottish government would have no overarching limitations on its actions, outside of those it volunteered to observe. And we know how that can work out by looking at Westminster.

For all its present shortfalls, the US Constitution was deemed a fundamental requirement by the founding fathers. They knew that their new country would be subject to huge pressures from friends and enemies alike and it needed a contract in place to ensure good governance. Scotland deserves no less.

Happily, despite the too often rough words in the constitutional debate in Scotland, no one has yet reached for the duelling pistols.

This Column welcomes questions from readers

Next week's guest on the TNT show is Dot Jessiman

Join us at 7pm on Wednesday, November 11