"The People" and our Freedom

By:  Jack Kerwick, Ph.D.
07/01/2011
       
"The People" and our Freedom

Central to the politics of states with democratically-constituted governments is the notion that all sovereignty resides in “the People.”  In no place and at no time has this idea been more prevalent than in contemporary America.  It is an idea that both Democrats and Republicans peddle furiously. 

In spite of its popularity, however, it is a fiction. Worse, it is an invidious fiction.

First of all, it needs to be noted that all talk of “the American People” simultaneously reflects an abysmal ignorance of the kind of order — a Constitutional Republic — that our Founding Fathers left us while further undermining that order. No member of the founding generation would ever have thought to describe the inhabitants of these United States as a single people. On no reading of America at any time during its history could the citizenry be interpreted in terms of the monolith suggested by the language of “the People.”

 

Central to the politics of states with democratically-constituted governments is the notion that all sovereignty resides in “the People.”  In no place and at no time has this idea been more prevalent than in contemporary America.  It is an idea that both Democrats and Republicans peddle furiously. 

In spite of its popularity, however, it is a fiction. Worse, it is an invidious fiction.

First of all, it needs to be noted that all talk of “the American People” simultaneously reflects an abysmal ignorance of the kind of order — a Constitutional Republic — that our Founding Fathers left us while further undermining that order. No member of the founding generation would ever have thought to describe the inhabitants of these United States as a single people. On no reading of America at any time during its history could the citizenry be interpreted in terms of the monolith suggested by the language of “the People.”     

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