Page 20


AND COMMUNITY, Part 3 th orny over i t be 61’16 people, if it was stru tuba ited, enumerate powers, within a system of se 6 ” .ratlon of powers and checks and balances that would help to keep the government in its place. The Constitution created an extended, commercial republic which recognized first and foremost the natural self-interest of man and asserted the natural rights of man over and above the formal obligations of citi zens. Such a republic was at odds with a concern for civic virtue, not only because of its size but also because an, emphasis on commerce encourages individuals to pursue their personal interests. Civic virtue might flourish in a homogeneous society where individuals know and care about each other, out in a large republic, the concerns of citizens gradually will be di verted from the community interest toward an overriding regard for self-interest. The Federalists understood all this and un derstood the anxieties of the opposition. And while they did produce a new government de rived from what they referred to as a “new sci ;,.they did not casually dismiss e im nce of citizenship, community, and civic virtue to the success of popular govern he constitution they supported called f or a central pvernment of limited enumerated would o nl y f powers that Id be responsible o ly or na tional/international affairs. This government w , as to be,preoccupied with matters relating to lnt erstt aro. . foreign commerce, national de ernational affairs. Most of the y tai’ ncerns of politics would remain Ithe citizens at the state and local there where citizenship might be d. Experience had taught the Federal more was needed from government and localities alone could pro 161te of states under the Arti ation was inadequate. Good ired more. But the Federalists 6 importance of state and to the political vitality of the of self-government. WMP, CONWIINITY, nti-Fede s, ship, community, and civic virtue were important. Both recognized the necessity of an informed, public-spirited citizenry to the success of republic government. James Madison, often revered as “the Father of the Constitution,” went so far as to argue that “to suppose any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without virtue in the people is a chimerical idea.” John Adams, writing to Mercy Warren in 1788, argued that if pure virtue, “…the only foundation of a free govern ment[, cannot be inspired in our people, in a greater measure than they have it now, they may change their rulers, and their forms of government, but they will not ob tain a lasting liberty.” For the Anti-Federalists, popular government was impossible without good citizens and a strong sense of community. For the Federalists, it was possible to have it alla large commercial republic, good citizens, and flourishing communitiesas long as most of what happens in public life occurs where the people are and they maintain control over it Federalism, then, was critical to nurturing citizenship and community, as well as limiting the power of the new central government. THE QUESTION OF RIGHTS A common political theory and heritage amon g the generation of public men who framed the debate over the Constitution shaped their understanding of the role government plays in securing basic political rights as well. Both the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists embraced a theory of natural rights and understood the importance of government to the security of those rights. They differed on the necessity for a national Bill of Rights, but there was no disagreement on the primacy of rights. All possess certain natural rights that governments are created to secure. It is a theory of natural rights for all individuals. For the Anti-Federalists, the best way to secure rights was through bills of rights state constitutions and an informed and active citizenry protecting their rights. Citizens, they lied, are in the best position to safeguard rig cause they control the government. It is a theory of rights which recognizes a citizen’s re-, sponsibility to protect rights, as well as a goV ernmental responsibility to secure rights. Wary of the creation of a new, national government under a new constitution, the Anti-Federalists argued that a national bill of rights was needed to protect the citizens’ rights against that government and to protect the authority of the states against that government. At each of the ratification conventions, amendments to the proposed constitution were supported. The first Congress, meeting in 1789, delivered what the opponents to the Constitution had sought, the Bill of Rights. To Be Continued. An expert on public policy and the U.S. Constitution, Dr. Hickok cun -ently serves as the Secre tary of Education for the state of Pennsylvania. This article originally , appeared in Essays on Civil Society, the publication of the Civil Society Project, based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. cture Ad courtesy of American Income Life Insurance Company EXECUTIVE OFFICES: P.O. BOX 208, WACO, TEXAS 76703, 817-772-3050 BERNARD RAPOPORT Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer 14 THE TEXAS OBSERVER SEPTEMBER 13, 1996