Published Humanitas, Volume XXVI, Nos. 1 and 2, 2013
—Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France
It is essential that each new generation understand the meaning of the United States Constitution. As Aristotle wrote long ago, “It is useless to have the most beneficial laws, fully agreed upon by all who are members of the constitution, if they are not going to be trained and have their habits formed in the spirit of that constitution.” No society can survive without a populace educated to the character of its political institutions. Plato expected only the worst of democracy. The relative freedom of society’s members in a democracy may be appealing, but citizens will not be sufficiently ethical for popular governance to be decent and beneficent for any length of time. Citizens are perpetually tempted to abuse their democratic privileges until society degenerates into barbaric disorder. Many think that the United States is dangerously close to succumbing to such excess.
With the Patriot Act and the National Defense Authorization Act recently renewed by the Obama administration, citizens have also surrendered constitutional rights…
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