Friend of popular governments

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Political Science 233 Dr. Schaefer
I. One of the greatest advantages of the proposed Constitution is "its tendency to break and control the violence of faction." Reasons for concern about faction:
A. To "the friend of popular governments":
1. Such governments "have everywhere perished" from the "instability, injustice, and confusion introduced into the public councils" by faction.
2. Such "mortal diseases" have also furnished "the adversaries to liberty" with "their most specious declamations" against popular government.
B. To "our most considerate and virtuous citizens, equally the friends of private faith and of public and personal liberty":
1. The instability of American governments

2. Disregard for "the public good" in "the conflicts of rival parties"

3. Sacrifice of justice and minority rights by "an interested and over-bearing majority"
II. Definition of faction: "a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community."
III. Two possible "methods of curing the mischiefs of faction":
A. By removing its causes
B. By controlling its effects
IV. Rejection of the two alternative means of pursuing the first cure (III.A above):
A. "By destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence": this cure is "worse than the disease," since liberty "is essential to political life."
B. "By giving to every citizen the same opinions," passions, and interests: impracticable, since "the latent causes of faction are ... sown in the nature of man":
1. The fallibility of human reason makes differences of opinion inevitable; while the connection between man's reason and his self-love causes his opinions and passions to have a reciprocal influence on each other. Hence differences of opinion are the first cause of faction.
2. Second cause of faction: the "diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate," engendering a difference of interests: since it is "the first object of Government" to protect the "different and unequal faculties of acquiring property, the possession of different degrees and kinds of property immediately results," engendering "a division of the society into different interests and parties."
V. Elaboration of the varieties and effects of faction:
A. Circumstances quickening the activity of the natural causes of faction:
1. "A zeal for different opinions" concerning religion, government, etc.

2. "An attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for power," or to other "interesting" persons

3. "Frivolous and fanciful distinctions" originating in men's "propensity ... to fall into mutual animosities"

4. "The most common and durable source of factions": "the various and unequal distribution of property":

a. Difference between the propertied and unpropertied interests
b. Difference between "debtors and creditors.”
c. Differences among the landed, manufacturing, mercantile, and monied interests, and "many lesser interests," which "grow up of necessity in civilized nations," and the regulation of which "forms the principal task of modern Legislation," thus "involv[ing] the spirit of party and faction" in the operations of government itself.
B. Ill effects of factions grounded in conflicting economic interests on politics:
1. The injustice of people's being judges of their own case - as occurs when members of the legislature, serving as "advocates and parties," make the sort of "judicial determinations" of "the rights of large bodies of citizens" that many acts of legislation entail:
a. Issues between creditors and debtors, likely to be decided by "the most numerous party, or, in other words, the most powerful faction," not by justice
b. Tariffs: an issue that would be settled differently "by the landed and manufacturing classes; and probably by neither, with a sole regard to justice and the public good"
c. Taxes: offer the greatest opportunity and temptation for "a predominant party to trample on the rules of justice," at the expense of the less powerful.
2. Insufficiency of relying on "enlightened statesmen" to "adjust these clashing interests, and render them all subservient to the public good":
a. "Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm."
b, Even if they are, their ability to make such an adjustment, based on "indirect and remote considerations," will be limited by "the immediate interest which one party may find in disregarding the rights of another, or the good of the whole."
VI. Hence the relief from faction must be sought by controlling its effects (III.B above):
A. If the faction is a minority, "relief is supplied by the republican principle, which enables the majority to defeat its sinister views by regular vote."
B. A majority faction, on the other hand, is enabled by "the form of popular government" to "sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest, both the public good and the rights of other citizens."
C. Hence "the great desideratum, by which alone" popular government "can be rescued from ... opprobrium" and made worthy of recommendation, is "to secure the public good and private rights against the danger of such a faction," while "preserv[ing] the spirit and the form of popular government."
VII. The two means by which popular government may be secured against the effects of majority faction:
A. Preventing a majority from feeling "the same passion or interest at the same time"
B. Making a majority that feels such a "co-existent passion or interest" unable, "by their number and local situation ... to concert and carry into effect schemes of oppression."
C. Inefficacy of a third possible check - "moral [and] religious motives":
1. Such motives fail to check "the injustice and violence of individuals."
2. Such motives "lose their efficacy in proportion to the number combined together."
VIII. Impossibility of a cure for "the mischiefs of faction" in "a pure Democracy," in which "a small number of citizens ... assemble and administer the Government in person":
A. "A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole"
B. "The form of Government itself" provides "communication and concert."
C. No protection for the rights of a minority, or "obnoxious individual"
D. Hence such regimes have always been characterized by turbulence, injustice, and brevity of existence,
IX. Such a cure is promised by a republic, based on the system of representation. Two chief differences between a republic and a democracy:
A. Representation
1. Serves "to refine and enlarge the public views," weakening the likelihood that the country's "true interest" will be sacrificed to "temporary or partial considerations."
2. But representation by itself is insufficient to achieve this goal, since "men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs," may obtain election, "and then betray the interests of the people."
3. Hence extensive republics are more likely than small ones to select representatives suited to serve as "guardians of the public weal."
a. Increased number of potential representatives furnishes "a greater option" among "fit characters," hence greater likelihood of a "fit choice."
b. Increased size of the electorate makes it harder for unworthy candidates to practice bribery and corruption,
c. Qualification to the argument: too large an electorate would render the representative "too little acquainted" with his constituents' "local circumstances and lesser interests." The Federal Constitution overcomes this difficulty by assigning only "the great and aggregate interests" of the country to the national legislature, "the local and particular" to the state legislatures,
B. Extension of the sphere of political society: the principal advantage of republican over democratic government - and hence of a large over a small republic - with respect to faction:
1. Contains a greater variety of parties or interests, reducing the likelihood that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens.
2. Even if such a majority should be formed, reduces its members' ability "to discover their own strength, and act in unison."
3. Hence "the same advantage, which a republic has over a democracy, in controlling the effects, is enjoyed by a large over a small republic." Extended sphere and "proper structure" of the Union constitute "a Republican remedy for the diseases most incident to Republican government."

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