461 CHRONICLESnernment was raised to the level ofnfundamental law by the consent of thenpeople, and not by the desires, dreams,nor visions of our national elite. EvennMadison himself observed that:nAs a guide in expounding andnapplying the provisions of thenConstitution, the debates andnincidental decisions of thenConvention can have nonauthoritative character. Howeverndesirable it be that they shouldnbe preserved as a gratification tonthe laudable curiosity felt bynevery people to trace the originnand progress of their politicalnInstitutions … the legitimatenmeaning of the Instrumentnmust be derived from the textnitself; or if a key is to be soughtnelsewhere, it must be not in thenopinions or intentions of thenBody which planned andnproposed the Constitution, butnin the sense attached to it bynthe people in their respectivenState Conventions where itnreceived all the authority whichnit possesses.nThis continuing misdirection of inquirynshould be seen as an indictment of thenbourgeois sympathies and elitist biasesnof most scholars addressing this issue.nThe question that is rarely asked is,n”How did the Americans awarding thendocument their approbation understandnit?” Only the understanding of thenpeople whose representatives ratifiednthe Constitution and gave it life isncritical in any appraisal of how well ornpoorly the Constitution is understoodntoday. And in answering that question,nthe intent of the “founders” may havenlimited relevance that would, however,nneed to be demonstrated empirically.nOnly after closely examining state andnlocal records might it be shown thatnthe coastal elite’s views were of (greatnor little) importance in shaping hownthe vast majority of Americans, isolatednin their islands of near autonomy,nmight have understood the new nationalnframe of government to whichnthey gave legitimacy and standing.nIn effect, the term “founders” is annegregiously offensive and horriblenmisnomer.nBut no matter how America’s parochialnand Christian people understoodnthe construction of this secular andn”liberal” national experiment, theyncertainly did not believe that its substantivenvalues (or lack thereof) could,nshould, or would be applied to realnunits of corporate ethical and politicalnlife — the local communities andnstates. Hence, if we want to understandnthe role which the constitutionalnregime was expected to and did play innthe political life of the average citizennfor the next 75 years (that is, thenunderstanding that was awarded approbationnby the delegates to the ratifyingnconventions), we must examine thenthought and values of the people ofnAmerica, its conservative commons,nand not the intentions of a small aberrantnbut elite minority whose valuesnmesh so well with the contemporarynAmerican scholars who are their intellectualndescendants.nIt is instead the ethically intrusive,nsubstantive vision of the good thatndefines Christian “republicanism” thatnwe must turn to if we want to understandnthe ground upon which thenConstitution, with its national regimenof “liberal” nonvalues, was accepted tonbetter insure the continuity and maintenancenof the rather homogeneousnisland of corporate ethical and politicalnlife. This most assuredly was not thenintention of those transitional liberalnnationalists who promoted the Constitution—nthe national elite’s intentionnmust be considered largely irrelevantnto our understanding of what thendocument that was ratified meant tonthe American people.nThat “republicanism” was an ideologynthat guided a significant number ofninfluential Americans during its revolutionsnhas now become knowledgenmore or less (all too often still, less)nacceptable to at least the best informednAmericanists and theorists among politicalnscientists. Our understanding ofnthe essence of this social theory isnderived from the documentary evidencengathered during the last 25 yearsnby a loose coalition of revisionist historiansnas they went about mounting anneviscerating attack against Hertz’s thesisnof an innately liberal America. Innthe words of Appleby, who is thenliberal apologist among them, “Americanwas not born liberal, individualistic,nor capitalistic.” Certainly this must benaccepted as a most refreshing gift ofnhistorical legitimation to those of usnwho still have not made our peace withnnnan America that its intellectuals seenexactly as what she wasn’t — that is,nliberal, individualistic, and purely capitalistic.nThe “discovery” of a historicnAmerica that preferred Christianitynover secularism, sacrifice over selfindulgence,ncommunity over the individual,nand the male over emasculatednneuters should be no surprise tonanyone familiar with the “folk” ofnAmerica.nWhat I found so unacceptablen(even if wholly predictable) amongnAPSA panelists was to whom thennewly rediscovered “republicanism”nwas awarded, or better said, to whom itnwas denied.nEach and every paper that touchednon the broad range of themes associatednwith “republicanism” (and theynwere plentiful) failed to recognize thatn”republicanism” has been a continuouslynactive element in the outlook of,nuntil recently, an overwhelming majoritynof the American population. Butnthese Americans, truly the “people,”nrural and often lower middle class,ninvariably Christian and hailing fromnthe Midwest or South, could never benso recognized because they are seenn(rightfully so) as the implacable enemynby the cosmopolitan secular intellectual.nThese men and women, who stillnattempt to maintain a moral communitynlife in the small towns and backwatersnof America, are the true but ignorednheroes of the intelligentsia’snrenewed recognition of the role “republicanism”nhas played in Americannlife.nNot only were the people who werenstill active participants in “republican”nsocieties ignored as if they don’t (andnnever did) exist, but there was also nonpublic recognition among the “objective”nscholars that it is conservatismnthat is the blood descendant and inheritornof the “republican” mantle amongncontemporary ideologies. Indeed, thenrepresentative chosen to be “discovered”nas depositaries of this mindncouldn’t be more poorly selected bynany set of objective standards. Nevertheless,nthey were well matched withnthe class outlook and values of theninvestigating scholairs. The recipientsnof this honor, of course, were nonenother than the “Founding Fathers’—nanother coastal elite intelligentsia—nwho were (in very general terms) infatuatednenlightenment rationalists, de-n