It will greatly enrich our conception of what a constitutional government is to look to the underlying structures that make it possible. An essential quality of any constitutional government is the underlying support of a community. The community provides the social institutions that bind and unite the citizenry together in their common task of supporting the mean needs of a constitutional government that requires engagement for its success. Without these social institutions, the constitutional government is not able to replenish itself and through time degrades, weakens, and ultimately disappears.
If a constitutional government is a government conducted on the basis of a definite understanding between those who administer it and those who obey it, there can be no constitutional government unless there is a community to sustain and develop it, unless the nation, whose instrument it is, is conscious of common interests and can form common purposes. A people not conscious of their responsibilities and who are ignorant, unthoughtful, and without concert of action, can manifestly neither form nor sustain a constitutional system. The lethargy of an unawakened consciousness is upon them, the helplessness of uninformed purpose. They can form no common judgment; they can conceive no common end; they can contrive no common measures.
Nothing but a community can have a constitutional form of government, and if a nation has not become a community, it cannot have the sort of polity required for its sustenance. It is necessary, therefore, to form a very definite conception of what a community is, and we should ask ourselves whether modern constitutional governments meet this criterion. Only in this way can we begin to build a model of constitutional development.
The word ‘community’ is often upon our lips but seldom receives any clear definition in our thoughts. If we should examine our implicit assumptions with regard to it, I suppose that we should agree in saying that no body of people could constitute a community in any true or practical sense who did not have a distinct consciousness of common ties and interests, a common manner and standard of life and conduct, and a practiced habit of union and concerted action in whatever affected it as a whole. It is in this understanding of the term that we speak when we say that only a community can have a constitutional government.
No body of people which is not clearly conscious of common interests and of common standards of life and happiness can come to any satisfactory agreement with its government, and no people which has not a habit of union and concerted action in regard to its affairs could secure itself against the breach of an agreement if it existed. A people must have the impulse and must find the means to express itself in institutions if it is to have a constitutional system. This impulse is the very lifeblood of a community and if they so choose, can become the lifeblood of the establishment and perpetuation of a constitutional government. The community sustains the citizenry in their herculean effort to establish a system that governs all, that protects all, and that answers to all. To achieve these noble aims, community must exist to unite and support the masses in their common goal of achieving something of great value, namely that of a constitutional government.
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