Why Constitutions Are the Safeguards of Freedom

Over the last several years, citizens of the West have learned that they can no longer take democracy for granted, and the result has been an explosion of studies re-examining democracy’s foundations. Linda Colley’s new book, “The Gun, the Ship, and the Pen,” is a helpful contribution to this growing field. An eminent historian of Britain, Colley focuses on one critical component of democracy — constitutions.

Democracy, Colley points out, requires defining and demarcating the rules and principles of governing authority. As Thomas Paine put it, “A Constitution is not the act of a Government, but of a people constituting a government, and a government without a constitution is a power without right.”

 

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