What's the meaning of "survived the Constitution" in the following phrase?

Moreover, of this list only “the never-ending appeals to the people by competing public officials” survived the Constitution.

2 Answers 2


The quotation comes from chapter 8 of Adam Przeworski, Democracy and the Limits of Self-Government (2010). Here is the section of text where it appears:

Let me reiterate that the issue of intentions [of the founders] cannot be resolved. [Gordon] Wood (1969): 383), for example, makes this claim:

The Americans were not simply making the people a nebulous and unsubstantial source of all political authority. The new conception of a constitution, the development of extralegal conventions, the reliance on instructions, the participation of the people in politics out-of-doors, the clarification of the nature of representation, the never ending appeals to the people by competing public officials—all gave coherence and reality, even a legal reality, to the hackneyed phrase, the sovereignty of the people.

Yet this is a conclusion of a section that describes the ambiguities and the polemics concerning the relation between the people and their representatives, the role of the people between elections, the locus of sovereignty. Moreover, of this list only “the never-ending appeals to the people by competing public officials” survived the Constitution. Hence, it is easy to side with [Edmund] Morgan (1988:82): “The problem of reconciling the wishes and needs and rights of actual people with the overriding will of a fictional sovereign people was not temporary. It was, indeed, inherent to the new fiction."

The embedded quotation from Wood in the middle of this excerpt identifies several ways in which American citizens during the period of the Articles of Confederation were made to feel that they exercised sovereignty over their government by various forms of direct participation in the process.

Przeworski argues, however, that once the Constitution came into effect, the only activity from those earlier days that remained an active force capable of giving citizens a sense of their own sovereign power over the state was the continuing effort of public officials to gain popular support for their political positions. Thus "survived the Constitution" means simply "continued to exist in American life after the Constitution was ratified."


Context would be nice...

But it seems the author refers to a list of things that America was striving for when becoming independent.

Of that list, only the "never-ending appeals" actually became a reality after the Constitution was implemented.

The others, notwithstanding the good intentions, did not work out.

I think the list might be this one.

It seems that the sentence is criticizing the implementation of the democratic ideals in the United States, implying for instance that public involvement in the democratic process is not what it ideally should be.

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