The Public Interest

The “new science of politics” and the old art of government

Daniel P. Moynihan

Winter 1987

AS WE APPROACH the bicentennial of the Constitution, leafing through The Federalist, pondering the unexampled endurance of the arrangements the Founders put in place in those years, we are reminded of the role the “new science of polities”—their term—played in devising them.  It appears to me that the significance of this bicentennial will turn on the extent to which the perception is widened that the government of the United States was not fashioned out of “self-evident” Truths, but rather was the work of scholar-statesmen who had studied hard, learned much, and believed they had come upon some principles of human behavior that made possible the reintroduction of republican government nearly two millennia after Caesar had ended the experiment.

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