Chapter

Town Meeting

in Real Democracy

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2003 | ISBN: 9780226077963
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226077987 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226077987.003.0002
Town Meeting

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The heart of the American republic, it seems, rests on two philosophies: liberalism governs the center, democracy sustains the base. In the beginning, however, the voices of the history chronicle a passion for the life of the nation and the promise of liberalism. Democracy was distrusted, even feared. Many say Americans adopted the Constitution because they dreaded real democracy. “Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates,” wrote Madison, “every Athenian Assembly would still have been a mob.” Mary Ritter Beard said of the founding period, “At no time, at no place, in solemn convention assembled, through no chosen agents, had the American people officially proclaimed the United States to be a Democracy…. [When] the Constitution was framed no respectable person called himself or herself a democrat.” The nation had discovered that it takes a certain stability and unified purpose to run a continental enterprise.

Keywords: liberalism; democracy; town meeting; Constitution; American people; real democracy

Chapter.  15580 words. 

Subjects: US Politics

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