The Founding Fathers Weigh In

James Madison, Author of Federalist #10

I for one do not credit the Founding Fathers of this country with any supernatural intelligence or moral sense, but they have a way of surprising me from time to time. The following comes from #10 of the Federalist Papers, entitled “The Utility of the Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection,” written by James Madison:

The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man; and we see them everywhere brought into different degrees of activity, according to the different circumstances of civil society. A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good. So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts.

Further on, he continues:

If a faction consists of less than a majority, relief is supplied by the republican principle, which enables the majority to defeat its sinister views by regular vote. It may clog the administration, it may convulse the society; but it will be unable to execute and mask its violence under the forms of the Constitution. When a majority is included in a faction, the form of popular government, on the other hand, enables it to sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens. To secure the public good and private rights against the danger of such a faction, and at the same time to preserve the spirit and the form of popular government, is then the great object to which our inquiries are directed. Let me add that it is the great desideratum by which this form of government can be rescued from the opprobrium under which it has so long labored, and be recommended to the esteem and adoption of mankind.

I am still uncertain whether our Republic can somehow purge the nefarious effects of a Trumpf administration with its lies, its prejudice against helping the majority of its citizens, and its flagrant self-aggrandizement and treason.

With luck, we will survive the current infestation. But only by the skin of our teeth.