In recent years, our constitutional order has increasingly come under attack as irredeemably undemocratic, racist, and oppressive. At the same time, it is increasingly obvious that politic practices in the United States have strayed very far from the founders’ designs and become deeply dysfunctional. The time is thus ripe for renewed reflection about the American political tradition.
This volume reintroduces readers to the conservative tradition of political and constitutional discourse. It brings together prominent political scientists and legal scholars, all of whom were deeply influenced by the life and work of the eminent constitutional scholar George W. Carey. For over 40 years, Carey strove mightily to explain the nature and requirements of our political tradition. How it fostered meaningful, virtuous self-government, and how our constitutional tradition has been derailed by progressivist ideology. He is perhaps best known for his concept of "constitutional morality," the understanding that our republican constitutional order can be sustained only by a combination of formal mechanisms (e.g., separation of powers) and unwritten norms ("standards of behavior") that act to foster deliberation and consensus, as well as keep political actors within the boundaries of their constitutional offices.
Contributors, including Francis Canavan, Claes G. Ryn, Paul Edward Gottfried, and Peter Augustine Lawler, discuss and develop Carey’s key insights, applying them to issues from the nature of majoritarian government to the purposes of constitutionalism to the decline of virtue that has accompanied the expansion of power among national and international elites. Each essay provides penetrating analysis of key aspects of our tradition, its inherent purposes, growth, and subsequent derailment, as well as the resources remaining within that tradition for the rebuilding of our constitutional order and a decent common life.
"The republication of this volume is a cause for celebration. Amidst the continued attempts to devalue and misinterpret the American political tradition, often for ideological reasons, stands the life and work of George Wescott Carey, whose gentle spirit and brilliant insights into American political life offer much hope for recovery on so many fronts. The scholarship of the talented scholars in this book who were trained by Carey and the tradition of interpretation he fostered, and who also possess Carey’s devotion to a moral republic, deserve the attention of all scholars of American politics, American history, and political thought."~H. Lee Cheek, Jr., Dean Emeritus, East Georgia State College, and Senior Fellow, Alexander Hamilton Institute
"George Carey was a wonderful and inspiring interlocutor and friend, a widely respected academic, author and thinker. This reissue of Defending the Republic does him honor and makes the earlier fine essays available again to a wider audience. Enjoy!"~Donald Devine, Senior Scholar, The Fund for American Studies
"Many of us consider George W. Carey as one of our mentors as he led us into the world of the American Founding experience. The scholars collected here have taken Carey’s charge to help our fellow citizens come to better understand the Republic we inherit by exploring the very foundations upon which it was built. An excellent collection!"~Gary L. Gregg, author of The Presidential Republic: Executive Representation and Deliberative Democracy
"A timely reminder that constitutionalism is both a form of government and a culture that must be nurtured if it is to survive. Essential reading for all those interested in the history of our nation, the challenges we face, and where we might be headed."~Christopher Hammons, Houston Baptist University
"At a time when the American Constitution and its founding principles are under sharp and relentless attack, the scholarship of the late political scientist George Carey is more relevant than ever. The essays in this volume, written by scholars who take his teachings seriously, reexamine the history of America's system of government and its ‘constitutional morality’ about which he wrote with distinction. They also shed much light on the ideological origins of America's political predicament today. Defending the Republic is a learned, provocative, and exceedingly timely book."~George H. Nash, author of The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945
"George Carey’s great contributions as a scholar were his diagnosis of the derailment of our American tradition of self-government, and his recovery of the constitutional morality our tradition requires. His great gift as a man was friendship, freely given to the many students and colleagues whom he invited on his search for the truths that animate and sustain the American experience. This volume is a fitting tribute to a great scholar and great man by friends who continue their conversations with him and who invite new friends to join."~Jason Ross, associate professor, Liberty University