« PrejšnjaNaprej »
the whole population, or a majority, or, at least, a relatively large proportion of the population, holds the ruling power.
177. A Representative Democracy, or Republic. Now, the government of the United States is a democratic form of government. That is to say, the determination of the conduct of the general affairs of the people lies with the majority of the people themselves. But it is impossible that the people should be able themselves, directly, to attend to the vast number of public questions that arise. Consequently, they choose agents or representatives to attend to these public questions for them. The form of government of the United States then becomes known as a representative democracy, or republic. This means that the people themselves choose their agents or representatives, and that these representatives attend to the affairs that constitute the purposes of government, but that the people do not undertake to manage these affairs directly. The people having established the form of government, all power rests ultimately with the people, but the work of carrying on the daily affairs of government they intrust to their representatives. By accepting the offices of government, these agents or representatives become responsible, for the proper discharge of their duties, to the people who elected them.
178. A Federal Republic.—But this is not all. There is a further division of labor in the government of the country. The existence of “States” is recognized, and each of these States has within itself a government. These two governments, one of the State and one of the nation, supplement each other, and together make one complete government. This result of making these two governments fit into each other, together making one
complete government, is accomplished by giving to the national government, through the Constitution of the United States, only the powers that are necessary for preserving the nation as such and promoting its general interests. All other matters are left to the State governments. These State affairs do not concern the nation as such, but refer to such things as the protection of the life and property of individuals, and the regulation of the rights and relations of individuals to each other. The national government, as to the powers which are confided to it, exercises them over the whole nation; any particular State government exercises its powers only within the boundaries of the State. There are forty-four State governments; there is but one national government.
Now, this division of the functions of government between the national and State governments, gives a new character to our form of government. This character is expressed by the term federal. The application of this term federal to a government signifies that it is an indissoluble union of States, whereby the powers that are national in their character are intrusted to one, the national government, and other powers are reserved to the other, or State governments. So, to make a complete description of our form of government, we shall have to say that it is a federal representative democracy, or federal republic. By saying that it is a democracy, we mean that the power of governing, or determining the manner of governing, lies with the people. Thus, the people of all the States adopted the Constitution of the United States, the instrument which determines the mode in which the government of the United States shall be carried on; and the people of all the States choose, from time to time, the President and the Congress of the United States as their agents or representatives for carrying on the government; that is, for managing the affairs of the nation. Likewise,
the people of each State adopt the Constitution of that State, the instrument which determines how the government of the State is to be carried on; and the people of each State choose, from time to time, the Governor and Legislature of the State as their agents or representatives for carrying on the actual affairs of the government of the State. Then, by saying that it is a representative democracy, or republic, we mean that the people do not carry on the daily affairs of the government themselves, but do themselves choose agents or representatives for this purpose. And by saying that it is a federal republic, we mean that the functions or powers of government are divided between a national government and State governments.
179. The Union Indestructible.—Take away these State governments, destroy the States themselves, and the republic will no longer be federal. On the other hand, again, by federal is meant that the States making up the Union cannot exist except as parts of the Union. The people of any one State are a part of the people of the whole United States. The people of all the States, that is, of the whole United States, have declared that those affairs which concern the whole nation shall be managed by the representatives of the whole nation; or, in other words, by the national or federal government; and, at the same time, they have declared that the affairs which concern the people in other respects, or, their local affairs, shall be left to be dealt with by the people of the several States. The perpetuity of the Union is thus guaranteed; and the preservation of the States is equally well guarded. As the Supreme Court of the United States has said, the United States is "an indestructible Union of indestructible States."
THE ELEMENTS OF CIVIL LIBERTY.
$1. The Relations between the Government and the
Individual. 180. Rights and Duties between Individuals.(The primary function or duty of government is to protect each individual in the enjoyment of his rights. To do this it must require of each individual the performance of certain duties. Therefore, the government must require of each man the performance of such duties as are a condition of the enjoyment of his rights. Society is founded on a mutual give and take. The supposition is that each individual shall render to his fellow men an equivalent for what he receives from them.
The obligations which a man is required to observe are, for the most part, negative in their character. So long as he does not interfere with the enjoyment of other persons' rights, no active duties are required of him. But if he does trespass upon the rights of another person, then it is the function of government to correct that interference so far as it may be able, and to take steps, by the punishment of the offender, to prevent a recurrence of the wrong.
181. Rights and Duties between Government and Individuals.-Government being thus an institution for the protection of rights, a relation arises between the government and each individual. There are rights which the government has against the individual, and there are duties which the government owes to him. In like manner each individual has rights against the government, and to the government he owes certain duties.
182. Rights of the Government.-As between the government and the individual, the principal right which the government has is to the payment of the taxes which are necessary for the carrying out of its purposes. And the principal duty of the individual is the payment of these taxes. There is also the right of the government, in its hour of peril, to demand the services of all able-bodied men for its defense and preservation, and there is the duty on the part of such persons to respond to this call. Furthermore, in a free country like ours, these duties of the individual go farther, and it is a moral obligation of the highest kind for each individual to take a keen interest in the honor, integrity, and wellbeing of the government, and of each voter to exercise his right of selecting the officers of the government and of thereby directing the policy of the country.
183. Duties of the Government. The chief duty which the government owes to the individual is the assurance to him of the largest amount of liberty consistent with the liberty of other individuals. This main duty of the government consists in protecting the individual against the unlawful acts of other persons and also against the illegal or tyrannical acts of the agents of the government itself.
Now, we think that in the United States, under the two Constitutions that govern each person, the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of his own State, each individual is better protected in his rights, that is, has a larger amount of liberty, than the individual has in other countries. In this chapter we shall
to find out what are the principal rights which our Constitutions guarantee us, and how it happened that these Constitutions could and did provide for the security of these rights.