14 / CHRONICLESnemotions, ideologies, and fantasies, but principles. Theynhad a modest hope that by the successful operation ofnrepublican principles they might provide an example andninspiration for other peoples. Nothing could have beennfurther from them than the spirit of making the world “safenfor democracy.” If someone had blathered “globalndemocracy”—the official rhetoric of the chosen intellectualsnof the Reagan administration—to General Washington,nhe would have reached for his sword. (Unfortunately, asidenfrom rhetoric, the actual practice of the administration innforeign policy is in the hands of the same stuffed shirts whonhave “managed” the State Department since WilliamnJennings Bryan resigned in 1915.) “Global democracy,” innspecific historical terms, goes back to the 1930’s, when itnwas created as a melange of Wilsonism and Soviet popularnfront propaganda. Given the propensity of American governmentsnfor dropping high explosives on the “enemies ofndemocracy,” such propaganda can do nothing in the 1980’snbut make every intelligent foreigner feel uneasy and rendernprudent discussion of the national interest nearly impossible.nIn the past 50 years, a great achievement in thenfounding of government for Americans becomes a cover fornthe dreams of “conservative” politicians and intellectualsnfor world transformation.nI am less offended by the factual license of the ex-ChiefnJustice’s blurb than I am by its spirit. The tone is all wrong,nfor a bicentennial statement. It smacks of a spoiled childncongratulating himself on Daddy’s riches. The Kramers, Inbelieve, would not want to be worshiped as workers of anmiracle. What they would want is the “decent respect” ofnsensible men for the hard-won achievements of theirnfathers.nThe glorification of the Kramers as demigods is a form ofnmystification that naturally lends itself to elitist rule. If thenConstitution is a miracle, then it has to be treated as a holynobject and handled only by the priests, not by the commonnrun of humanity. To treat the Philadelphia Convention as angathering of demigods is worse than foolish and undemocratic;nso far it prevents any real appreciation of theirnachievement.nThe members of the Convention, the Kramers, were annable lot; some were great. Yet, in the final analysis, theynwere not omnipotent or omniscient but merely the delegatesnof the states. Some very able men who were selectednby the states refused to go, either because they had morenpressing business or were suspicious of the proceedings.nOthers were quite desultory in attendance, and several ofnthe best men there refused to sign the finished product.nNor did the Kramers establish or proclaim a new Constitution,nsomething they had no authority to do. What theyndid was draw up a convincing and appealing proposal—nconvincing and appealing because it tended to meet thenoccasion and to anticipate the future—a proposal that, afterna considerable amount of explanation and qualification andnamendments promised, was approved eventually by anneffective majority of the people in each of the states—thatnis, by the people of the United States as already defined bynexisting political communities. Those who ratified thenConstitution are its real Kounders (as opposed to its Kramers).nIt is wrong, therefore, to cite the debates in Philadelphianas definitive of “original intent,” or as useful andnnnilluminating as they may be in a subsidiary sense. It is thenpowers that ratified it that determine, in the final analysis,nwhat the “intention” of the Constitution is. Kortunately, tondeclare this is merely to declare the validity of democracynand of federalism.nHow far we fall short of their achievement. In truth, innthe Kramers’ Constitution, one of the things they took forngranted (that we have lost) was an adequate supply ofnintelligence and honor. Reflect on that magical period innthe history of self-government during the last decade whennwe had Gerald Kord for President, Nelson Rockefeller fornVice President, Warren Burger for Chief Justice, and TipnO’Neill for Speaker. At the time of the Kramers the justicesnof the peace of any small county in Virginia or thenselectmen of any town in Connecticut could have musterednmore intelligence (I leave aside less measurable virtues)nthan the whole of the government today.nBy intelligence I mean learning, wisdom, foresight,ndigested experience, detachment, ethics. Not shrewdness innself-promotion, conceit, visionary schemes, and vaguengood intentions. The Founding Kathers did not anticipatenthe ravages of the two-party system and its ability to deternthe best from public life and foist vocal mediocrities on thenpublic. The Constitution presupposed an inexhaustiblensupply of able and honorable and independent public menn(whose ambitions needed to be watched). Almost all of ournleaders are now the creatures of political parties (whatnpercentage of the people believe the Democrats and Repubhcansnare part of the Constitution?), which means that ipsonfacto they are more adept at winning office than at fillingnthem, at manipulation and self-promotion than at statesmanship.nThe replacement of the independent gentleman by thenprofessional politician beginning in the 19th century, anreflection of changes in society and of the capacity of clevernmen to manipulate even wisely constructed institutions tontheir advantage, provided as serious a distortion of thenConstitution as did the concomitant rise of lawyers. Itnwould astound our politicians today to learn that at the timenof the Kounders and even long after, people held publicnoffice for the honor and that in most cases, rather thannfilling their own snouts at the public trough (except for a fewnsecurities speculators), they actually made a sacrifice ofntheir private interests to serve in public office. The Constitutionnpresupposed an aristocratic rather than a bourgeoisnclass of office holders and aspirants, members of Congress,nand Presidential Electors, who would always be capable ofnindependent judgment. That is, the operation of thenConstitution rested in part on something that has ceased tonexist. The essence of republican government was that thenwill of the people prevailed but that it was formulated bynable and independent delegates. When we say the will ofnthe people, we have to avoid the mystical and high-flyingnreferences to something strongly akin to the General Will,nwhich we all know is not the will of the people but the willnof the vanguard of the proletariat on behalf of the people—nwhat the people would want if they were as smart as theirnmasters. This too easily merges over into “all mankind,” sonthat everyone in the world becomes by extension annAmerican citizen—something which if taken too literallynconstitutes a grave threat both to the United States andn