In Common Sense, Thomas Paine expresses utter disdain towards Britain for its treatment of the colonialists. Paine and his fellow civic republicans sought to limit the influence of the Crown since “her own interest leads her to suppress the growth of ours in every case which doth not promote her advantage” (33). Paine conveys his desire for increased manpower in order to suppress the political control of the British monarchy.
Paine references various groups within colonial society, which he wishes to exclude. He thinks the Quakers, the Tories and the Whigs should stay out of government, which seems to contradict the civic republican ideal of the importance of community. The Quakers thought that the colonialists shouldn’t go to war against the Crown, that they should be passive. Thus, Paine wrote, in response, “neither he nor you [the Quakers] have any claim or title to Political Representation” (47). Paine also explicitly excludes two other groups for being cowardly in writing: “Let the names of Whig and Tory be extinct; and let none other be heard among us, than those of a good citizen, an open and resolute friend, and a virtuous supporter of the RIGHTS of MANKIND and of the FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES OF AMERICA (46).
This idea of exclusion reminded me of an ABC News article that I read about a week or so ago (http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/unemployed-seek-protection-job-bias-14702097). This story is about a 55-year-old woman named Selena Forte from Cleveland who said that a recruiter for an employment agency told her she would not be considered for a job with a delivery company because she has been without work for too long. To me, Forte’s denied access to the working world is directly analogous to Paine’s desired exclusion of Quakers, Tories and Whigs from government. Forte was denied a job opportunity because she possessed an undesirable trait: long-lasting unemployment; Thomas Paine wanted these aforementioned groups in colonial America to stay out of government for possessing an undesirable trait as well: passivity.
The case of Selena Forte is also interesting in regards to Judith Shklar’s definition of citizenship in her book American Citizenship: The Quest for Inclusion. Shklar writes that having the right to vote and the ability to work to better society are the traits required to be considered an American citizen. Even if we assume that Forte has the right to vote, she was, at least temporarily, denied the ability to work by a Cleveland-based employment agency and would thus not encompass Shklar’s qualities of citizenship.
In addition to comparing it to this instance of job discrimination, Shklar’s definition of citizenship can also be compared to Common Sense as far as exclusion is concerned. Shklar constantly uses slavery as the fundamental example of exclusion since slaves were neither able to vote nor work for the benefit of others as far as her definition goes.
While both Shklar and Paine provide dated examples of group exclusion, there are contemporary examples as well, such as the adverse selection problem seen in the health insurance industry. Certain people who qualify for health insurance aren’t given coverage because they have pre-existing health problems and would be too expensive to insure.
Since U.S. citizens currently aren’t required to have health insurance and since the U.S. is the only country that can profit from basic health coverage, insurance companies avoid adverse selection and increase profits by choosing healthy recipients–those who will be cheapest to insure.
While they are not as explicit as both Paine and Shklar’s examples of exclusion, job discrimination and the adverse selection problem provide contemporary examples of exclusion, which also relate, in some way or another, to government.