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Classical Republicanism and the Natural Rights Philosophy

            Classical Republicanism is the theory in which the role of the citizen is to benefit the common good through civic virtue, or their dedication to government at any cost of their individual interests. The Natural Rights Philosophy does not stress the common good, or the prosperity of the government and society, but rather the interests and individual rights of the citizen. According to the Natural Rights Philosophy, individuals are free to pursue his or her own interests, and are protected by the government to do so. It was a balance of both of these philosophies that the Founders based the government upon 217 years ago and that still remains in our government today. .
             As John F. Kennedy stated in his inaugural address: “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.” The basic element of Classical Republicanism can be seen here in his quote that it is the role of the citizen to uphold the government. The American government is based on a contract, the Constitution, in which the Classical Republican ideal of civic virtue is juxtaposed with the Natural Rights Philosophy’s requisite for the Government to protect each citizen’s rights. An example of the citizens’ civic virtue acting in society today is taxation. It is the citizens’ duty to relinquish the rights to all of their property by giving money to the government through taxes. In a largely, monetarily run society, the good of the government can only come with the contributions of its citizens. Through history, a society founded in Classical Republicanism was divided into smaller communities of equal, self-governing people. To sustain the civic virtue needed to run their governments in the Classical Republican societies such as Ancient Rome, schools and established religion acted as moral upholders. Though the Founders of Ameica rejected the requirement of a universal religion, Public schooling slowly grew into a necessity in the eighteenth century that remains a part of society today.