Ahistory textbook used by thousands of college freshmennfor the last twenty years tells fledgling citizens thatndemocracy is the system of government which “trusts thenaverage man to free himself from tradition, prejudice, habit,nand by free discussion come to a rational conclusion.” Thisntissue of sophistry encapsulates the derailment of republicannself-government in our time. Most certainly democracynhas something to do with the “average man,” the commonnpeople, the many. But one of the numerous defects of thenmodern and artificial definition above is that it leaves outnthree-fourths of the moral and historical context that wasntaken for granted by the Framers and Founders of the Americannfederal republic when they talked about a governmentnof the people. The definition, in fact, subtly shifts democracynaway from substance to procedure, from ethics to instrumentality.nThe pins have been kicked out from under democracy,nleaving it balancing precariously on one leg.nThe definition, to begin with, abandons virtue for reason.nOur forefathers took it for granted that virtue was necessary inna mler—whether it be the one, the few, or the many. And wherenin the definition do we find the ends and limitations of government?nIn other words, where is the Constitution? Whatntells us which things men in the collective are entitled toncome to “rational conclusions” about, and what things are theynto leave alone? What restrains the 51 percent from coming tonClyde Wilson is a professor of American history at thenUniversity of South Carolina and editor of The Papers ofnJohn C. Calhoun.n14/CHRONICLESnVIEWSnRestoring the Republicnby Clyde Wilsonnnna “rational conclusion” to expropriate, enslave, or exterminatenthe 49 percent? And why is it necessary for the common mannto divorce himself from “tradition, prejudice, habit”? In fact,nthe average man at all times and places (and the wise man too)nis fond of tradition, prejudice, and habit, and rightly so. If wenbelieve in the rule of the many, are we not obliged to respectntheir traditions, prejudices, and habits as well as what wendeem to be their rational conclusions? What, after all, are ournliberties and democratic forms—freedom of the press and assembly,nfair play, parliamentary procedure, due process ofnlaw—if not traditions, prejudices, and habits handed down bynour forefathers over centuries, which owe their survival toninheritance as much as to abstract argument.nMost assuredly “free discussion” is indispensable to democracy.nThat is, free, candid, and tolerant deliberation among differingnopinions and interests in the process of arriving at decisions^-decisionsnon those things which the public is entitlednto decide. But free discussion divorced from “tradition, prejudice,nhabit” rather leads us away from the common man. Itndescribes a type of society loved by the few, not by the many.nWho exactly is it that is “trusting” the “average man” to arrivenat a “rational conclusion”? “Rational” according to what systemnof values? According to whose views and interests? Herenis the most insidious part of this peculiar rnodern democracy—nthe rationale for a hidden elite. If the average man perverselynrefuses to come to a “rational conclusion,” what happens?nWhat happens is a government of the few who decide, againstnthe will of the many, that “free discussion” requires a foreignbornnpornographer be subsidized to create obscenity; a gov-n