Posts Tagged ‘role of the republican form ofg government’

James Madison on how Obama populism should be checked

February 3, 2013

“The inference to which we are brought is, that the causesof faction cannot be removed, and that the relief is only to be sought in the means of controlling its effects. 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 interests both 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….By what means is this object attainable? Evidently by one of two only. Either the existence of the same passion or interest in a majority at the same time must be prevented, or the majority, having such coexistent passion or interest, must be rendered, by their number and local situation, unable to concert and carry into effect schemes of oppression.” James Madison, The Federalist No. 10

The Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution to protect Americans from the tyranny of majorities as well as minorities. The separation of powers is key to that protection. That is why Americans should not castigate the majority in the House of Representatives for defending minorities against Obama populism. Each member of that House takes an oath to preserve and protect the Constitution. Restraining the passion of some transient majority when it attempts to invade the individual liberties of known minorities is the fulcrum of the republican ideal of government. The House of Representatives failed in that duty when dealing with the first stage of the fiscal cliff. Let us hope that it will not fail again.


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