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A constitution is not a thing in name only, but in fact. It has not an ideal, but a real existence; and wherever it cannot be produced in a visible form, there is none. A constitution is a thing antecedent to [that comes before] a government, and a government is only the creature of a constitution. The constitution of a country is not the act of its government, but of the people constituting its government. It is the body of elements, to which you can refer, and quote article by article; and which contains the principles on which the government shall be established, the manner in which it shall be organized, the powers it shall have, the mode of elections, the duration of Parliaments, or by what other name such bodies may be called; the powers which the executive part of the government shall have; and in fine [in short], everything that relates to the complete organization of a civil government, and the principles on which it shall act, and by which it shall be bound.
—Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man, 1791
What is Thomas Paine saying about the reason for a constitution? What idea of government does Paine have?