Earlier this week, the favorite historian of the American establishment, Gordon Wood had an op-ed piece in the NY Times reminding us that "the men who led the revolution against the British crown and created our political institutions were very used to governing themselves." He notes that one thing that set Americans apart from just about everyone else in the world in the 1760s and 1770s was that large numbers of people could and did vote. Moreover, they were used to politics. They knew the difference between compromising and selling out:
If one wanted to explain why the French Revolution spiraled out of control into violence and dictatorship and the American Revolution did not, there is no better answer than the fact that the Americans were used to governing themselves and the French were not. In 18th-century France no one voted; their Estates-General had not even met since 1614. The American Revolution occurred when it did because the British government in the 1760s and 1770s suddenly tried to interfere with this long tradition of American self-government.
After the revolution, Americans made some efforts to guarantee rotation in office, but, in the end, they decided that such rules were problematic, for they would deprive the government of expertise. Taking dead aim at anti-incumbent sentiment, he concludes, "Yet precisely because we are such a rambunctious and democratic people, as the framers of 1787 appreciated, we have learned that a government made up of rotating amateurs cannot maintain the steadiness and continuity that our expansive Republic requires."
The founders also knew that establishments grow insular, and need to be shaken up from time to time. They did not live in a world where incumbents won re-election more than 90% of the time.
We should also remember that in the early republic there was virtually no permanent bureaucracy, and the legislative branch was jealous of its prerogaties. Nowadays, the legislatre often delegates legislative power to tenured civil servants. That's hard to square with government by consent, and, therefore, with the principles of 1776.
It is also amusing to see someone who claims to think that the "historical process" is the driver of history employing history in the "philosophy teaching by example" mode.