Federalist Paper #10

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by citizenzen, Apr 3, 2010.

  1. citizenzen macrumors 65816

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    #1
    In Sean Hannity's "Tim McVeigh wannabes" interview Republican Congressman David Dreier declares how important it is to read the Federalist Papers in order to gain an understanding about the Framer's intent and vision for America. Dreier then quotes Thomas Jefferson and while the viewer is left with the impression that the quote comes from a federalist paper it actually comes from Jeffersons first inaugural address. But, whatever dude.

    I agree that we should read the Federalist Papers and here are some excerpts from FP #10, written by James Madison, where he discusses factions and their impact on the union (bolding mine)...


    AMONG the numerous advantages promised by a wellconstructed Union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction.

    By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.

    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. But the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society. Those who are creditors, and those who are debtors, fall under a like discrimination. A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser interests, grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide them into different classes, actuated by different sentiments and views. The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government.


    It's not as simple as Republicans would have you believe. The Framers weren't advocating a government that stayed in the background, small and undetectable to the citizens. They believed that the government played a major role in improving everybody's life. They had an ambitious and involved vision for the government and this is just one more piece of evidence to support that view.

    We should read the Federalist Papers. I think many of us would be surprised by what they contain.
     
  2. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #2
    I am new to this forum... so I guess you all probably covered the Federalist Papers from front to back.
     
  3. Sydde macrumors 68020

    Sydde

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    #3
    Your mistake was to post a complex issue that requires a significant amount of thought. There is a great deal of "gut" in this forum, "grey matter", not so much.
     
  4. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #4
    I've been to forums where "gut" was the best one could expect, with most of the posts being drawn from a region even lower than that.

    I had hoped (and still do) that a higher level of debate can be found here.

    I am however beginning to question the title of my thread.

    I suspect "Live Nude Girls!!!" might have drawn the attention that this subject deserves.

    Oh well.
     
  5. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #5
    However, please continue. Some of us can read, and, not being from your country, find such discussion fascinating.
     
  6. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

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    #6
    Don't despair; Easter is upon us and people are doing other things. Reading Federalist 10 is the kind of thing where you have to sit down and devote your full time and attention (as traffic cops would put it ;) ). It's not nearly as simple as cutting and pasting an Obama approval poll.

    But for those who can forge ahead now, here's Federalist 10.
     
  7. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #7
    I'll try to stay strong. :eek:
     
  8. freeny macrumors 68020

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    #8
    Portions of people from Texas may not know who Thomas Jefferson was, so they may need some time...
     
  9. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

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    #9
    :D

    Okay, having cleaned the house for company tomorrow, I'm now in a position to read closely and comment on Federalist 10. :D

    It does indeed speak richly to us through the ages. Though Madison talks of "factions" throughout, it is easy to see he's talking about what today we would call "special interests".

    At once I find No. 10 both extremely wise and somewhat anachronistic. On the one hand, Madison proposes that a large group of electors working on a national scale would make the wisest decisions, since they would be least likely to be unduly influenced by state-level special interest groups.

    On the other hand, there's hardly any such thing anymore as a state-level special interest group. Thanks to the corpocracy, nearly all of the biggest special interests are national ones. (And to think that conservatives wanted to add health insurance companies to that category!)

    To me, one of Madison's points really stands out:

    The first half of that quote brings to mind the health care debate. We can argue whether the health care bill passed was as good as it could have been, but conservatives must surely be frustrated to see Madison saying that representatives of the people might make a smarter decision than the people themselves! How "elitist"! ;)

    Certainly, however, conservatives (and not a few liberals) should recognize their representatives in the second half of that paragraph.

    But as you say, there is no way Madison is arguing here for a weak central government subservient to the states.
     
  10. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #10
    There's a myth going around that the Framer saw the government as an enemy of liberty when in reality they saw government as a protector of it. And when you read the Federalist papers it becomes clear that the government then and now was meant to have an active role in making life better for all of the people.

    That doesn't mean that everybody should get whatever they want handed to them. That is a ridiculous notion. But on the other hand we can't just abandon people and tell them to just pull themselves up by their bootstraps. There's a middle ground that should be achievable where we provide a safety net that is sufficient and sustainable.
     
  11. Peterkro macrumors 68020

    Peterkro

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    #11
    It appears to me the paper clearly lays out that what was wanted was a political change i.e. a change of those in power and not a change in power structures themselves,hence the emphasis on "representative democracy" and not on actual democracy. That would be a social revolution. The old ideas of elitism were imported whole from Europe and are very evident today.Until you have direct democracy you have no democracy at all.
     
  12. itcheroni macrumors 6502a

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    #12
    You've got my interest, I haven't read any Federalist papers since I took Constitutional Law in law school. But it's a bit late for me to read it now. I'll read tomorrow and post but I've got one question.

    Why did you take #10 over #42?

    #10 is titled, "The Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection".

    #42 is titled, "The Powers Conferred by the Constitution (further considered)".

    I'm just basing this on the titles right now but a paper on safeguarding against domestic faction and insurrection would naturally propose a strong union. But that does not necessarily mean he proposes a strong union in general as an ambitious plan to improve everyone's lives, especially when papers #41-49 specifically address the powers of the Federal government, the States, and the branches of government, and how their powers interrelate.
     
  13. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604

    thegoldenmackid

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    #13
    Much of Madison's logic can be applied today, there are def. things he missed. What's interesting is to see people's modern interpretations of his works, particularly this piece in regards to hyperpluralism.

    You also have to remember the federalist papers and the reasons for writing, as well as the audience.

    Framer's intent isn't one of the great standards for measuring our current democracy. I don't think that the current Republican leadership would agree that Newt Gingrich's idea of strengthening the roles of the parties was a good thing. Particularly given the shambles the current Republican party is in.

    Say what one wants about the Democrats, but at least their national leadership is on the same page. There are more arguments for why any of the proposed leaders of the GOP aren't the leader then there are arguments for why Steele, Palin, Romney, McCain or x is.
     
  14. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #14
    It's not a matter of taking one over the other. I was reading the tenth and an across these lines and thought they were worth discussing...


    But the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property.

    The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government.


    James Madison, the "Father of the Constitution," fourth president of the United States, and a patriot saw "social engineering" as the principal task of modern legislation. If he stated that same sentiment today he'd be labelled a communist!

    All I'm trying to do is illustrate that the right's depiction of our founders is incomplete and self-serving. I am quite sure that the Framers spanned the full spectrum of political belief and if they were alive today would scatter themselves across the existing political parties. Instead of seeing them as complex and unique individuals, they're depicted as John Wayne wearing powder wigs. But real life isn't just black and white. I'm just doing my part to illuminate that.
     
  15. itcheroni macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    I agree that Republicans would try and label someone who wrote those words a communist today. But it just seems to me that these quotes need to be taken in context. Papers #9 and #10 deal with factions and insurrection among the states. As a young country the states were much more distinct entities and a principle fear among the framers was a state or two fractioning off the union. That was why they were having these discussions, to alleviate the apprehension among some of the states in joining the Union. When he says regulation such factions is the principal task of modern legislation, modern seems to apply to their current time, 1788 or whenever. He didn't mean modern to be 2010. He is making a distinction between modern legislation and legislation in general. At least that is how these quotes in this part of the Federalist papers would read to me since there is a big part of the Federalist papers devoted specifically to the powers of Federal and State governments.

    Many of the States of the young Union were very weary of giving up their sovereignty. That is a principal reason The Federalist Papers were written. #45 is titled, "The Alleged Danger From the Powers of the Union to the State Governments Considered." And in it, Madison writes, "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite."
     
  16. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #16
    I agree. People at that time primarily identified with their state. It would be like today if we instituted a world government, most people would imagine that their identity would remain with their country. However I believe it wouldn't take long (or too many cross-country moves) before people began to see themselves as citizens of the world and the country they lived in would become secondary, just as today I am an American, and the fact that I live in California is not nearly as important to my identity. This was a concept that I think the Framers had a hard time imagining.

    But that point doesn't alter the fact that Madison was talking about economic-based factions. Those factions don't have anything to do with any particular state. He called the unequal distribution of property, "the most common and durable source of factions". Now I'm not saying that Madison would propose taking away a person's wealth in order to make everyone equal, but it's obvious that he saw the distribution of wealth as a government concern... a concept that those on the right are loath to admit.

    With all due respect, I think the only response I can make to this is... no duh. :D
     
  17. itcheroni macrumors 6502a

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    #17
    That is how our country has developed but don't you think that adds to argument that the Framers didn't intend it to be that way if they couldn't imagine it?

    When you quoted that line I thought you were making the argument that the principal task of legislation generally was in large part to improve the quality of life. I was just trying to make the point that he said those words in a specific context, his modern day one.

    I think the distribution of property was only a government concern insofar as it may be an impetus for succession or insurrection. The argument that this quote means the federal government has the power to address the concern generally rather than specifically, in context, is disingenuous. Madison addresses what powers the federal government has in other Federalist papers.

    The States would never have ratified the Constitution if it gave the federal government broad powers.
     
  18. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #18
    Actually I think that's exactly what the Framers had in mind. Check out this line from the Declaration of Independence...

    ...and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them [the people] shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

    A government whose very foundation is laid out to effect my Happiness? Sounds like they were very concerned about improving my quality of life... as confirmed by the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution...

    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

    I wonder how conservatives would word the preamble today to describe their dream government: so small you could drown it in a bathtub.

    Very differently I imagine... very differently.
     
  19. itcheroni macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    James Madison wrote, "With respect to the two words 'general welfare",, I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators."

    Jefferson explained, "Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated."

    In Federalist #41, Madison enumerates those powers:

    1. Security against foreign danger;
    2. Regulation of intercourse with foreign nations;
    3. Maintenance of the harmony and proper intercourse among the States;
    4. Miscellaneous objects of general utility;
    5. Restraining the States from certain injurious acts;
    6. Provisions for giving due efficacy to all of these powers.


    Madison also said, "If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions."

    I quoted this earlier but you responded before I finished my edit #45 is titled, "The Alleged Danger From the Powers of the Union to the State Governments Considered." And in it, Madison writes, "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite."
     
  20. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #20
    So itcheroni, would you agree with me that there are conflicting messages laced through our Framers writings and that it can't be reduced to simple interpretations as people are so inclined to do?
     
  21. sjinsjca macrumors 68000

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    #21
    Nothing you quoted suggests that. "The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government" in no way means "redistribution" or "internet censorship" or "forced purchase of health insurance," just f'rexamples. Keep in mind that the word "regulation" itself had a somewhat different meaning back then.

    Besides, there are Republicans, and then there are Conservatives, and then there Conservatives of the constitutionalist/limited-government stripe. You're being rather broad in your depictions. The U.S. right is by no means monolithic.

    • A RINO would agree with everything you said.
    • So might a so-called "social conservative" who believes it's the Federal government's job to regulate everything from speech to bedroom behavior.
    • A limited-government constitutionalist, not so much. Those of us in that subgroup look at the 9th and 10th Amendments and see that the Founders intended the central government to have very limited rights compared to the States and the individuals themselves, and correspondingly limited role.
     
  22. itcheroni macrumors 6502a

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    #22
    Yes and No. I actually think they were clear that the federal government was to be limited in powers. When considering the Constitution, you have to look at the text itself, then supporting documents like the Federalist papers, the historical context, and then Supreme Court cases. You can make a good argument but I'm afraid the evidence would be more against you than for.

    One thing I like to note is that, even if the federal government was supposed to be limited, the framers gave broad powers to the States. Imagine California, who in aggregate pays more to the federal government than receives, kept their tax revenues for themselves. California would be much better off and could be more progressive than they are right now as well as richer. I'm just saying, a reading of the Constitution as granting only limited federal powers isn't the end of the world.
     
  23. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #23
    Nothing? It's amusing when people lean on absolutes in their arguments. It diminishes your point when you do so. A person with a modicum of honesty will admit that very little in this world can be reduced down to "all" or "nothing"... especially when one is talking about politics.
     
  24. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #24
    The world hasn't ended... yet. :D

    In the interview I mentioned in the OP, Congressman Dreier quoted Thomas Jefferson...

    ...a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.

    I thought the part proceeding that was quite interesting...

    Let us, then, with courage and confidence pursue our own Federal and Republican principles, our attachment to union and representative government. Kindly separated by nature and a wide ocean from the exterminating havoc of one quarter of the globe; too high-minded to endure the degradations of the others; possessing a chosen country, with room enough for our descendants to the thousandth and thousandth generation; entertaining a due sense of our equal right to the use of our own faculties, to the acquisitions of our own industry, to honor and confidence from our fellow-citizens, resulting not from birth, but from our actions and their sense of them; enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter—with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow-citizens—a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.

    Context plays such an important role in examining the Framer's writings. In 1801, when Jefferson gave his inaugural address, the country was still vast and unknown. Lewis and Clark had yet to journey to the Pacific, our country was new and unexplored. It isn't hard to understand why the message was, "Go out there and see what you can do. The government will not stand in your way."

    It's ironic that it didn't take thousands and thousands of generations for that message and our country to change. In little more than ten generations we've had to adjust from exploring our boundaries to figuring out how to sustain the limited resources we have. In those ten generations our country has gone through tremendous change and it only makes sense that our government adapt to those changes.
     
  25. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #25
    Here's one example...

    The Naturalization Act of 1790 was the first law regarding granting citizenship in the United States. Here is the text of that law...


    BE it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That any alien, being a free white person, who shall have resided within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the United States for the term of two years, may be admitted to become a citizen thereof, on application to any Common Law Court of Record, in any one of the States wherein he shall have resided for the term of one year at least, and making proof to the satisfaction of such Court, that he is a person of good character, and taking the oath or affirmation prescribed by law, to support the Constitution of the United States, which oath or affirmation such Court shall administer, and the Clerk of such Court shall record such application, and the proceedings thereon; and thereupon such person, shall be considered as a citizen of the United States. And the children of such person so naturalized, dwelling within the United States, being under the age of twenty-one years at the time of such naturalization, shall also be considered as citizens of the United States. And the children of citizens of the United States that may be born beyond sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born citizens: Provided, That the right of citizenship shall not descend to persons whose fathers have never been resident in the United States: Provided also, That no person heretofore proscribed by any State, shall be admitted a citizen as aforesaid, except by an act of the Legizlature of the State in which such person was proscribed.

    FREDERICK AUGUSTUS MUHLENBERG,
    Speaker of the House of Representatives.

    JOHN ADAMS,
    Vice-President of the United States, and President of the Senate.

    Approved, March 26th, 1790.

    GEORGE WASHINGTON,
    President of the United States.


    That's our Founding Fathers at work. Does this mean white supremacists are actually correct in their desire to return America back to its white roots?

    This clearly shows the danger of placing too much importance on the intent of the FFs instead of seeing them as a product of their time.
     

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