By G. Michael Pace Jr.
and H. Timothy Isaacs
John Adams said at the dawn of our new nation, “There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” His was a hopeful warning based on the belief that the American experiment in a constitutional republican democracy would succeed where earlier attempts — Ancient Athens and the Roman Republic — had failed. Adams understood that a civil society founded on democratic ideals would be impossible to sustain without a continuously engaged and enlightened citizenry who understand what makes it work.
Democracy cannot exist without the rule of law, the universal ideal by which individual rights and the collective rights of community in civil societies are equally recognized by consent of the governed under a set of core principles which, through government, are guaranteed and protected.
Pace is CEO of the Center for Teaching the Rule of Law at Roanoke College, the 2008 president of the Virginia Bar Association and managing partner of Gentry Locke Rakes & Moore. Isaacs is vice president and director of education for the center and a career educator with more than 40 years of experience in public education.