Madison and the Federalist Chapters

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Madison and the Federalist Chapters

Madison’s View on Human Nature

Madison wrote Federalist no. 10 to counter the assertion that democracies unavoidably dissolve into chaos and disorder caused by factions. The social groups comprise individuals that ignore government and national interests in favour of group interests. Madison describes a faction as a number of citizens, majority or minority, with a unifying impulse or passion counter to the rights of other citizens. Therefore, a faction occurs against the best interests of a community. Madison explains there is little a person can do to prevent the formation of factions. The best solution is to find effective ways to control their undue influence on the political system.

The need to form factions is an attribute sown within the very nature of man. People will always have different worldviews, including opinions on religion, politics, government etc. (Hamilton, Madison and Jay 28). Madison explains the difference in opinion is what separates people into groups. However, the difference in perspective is not the only cause of factions. The primary cause is the unequal distribution of wealth. The poor and the wealthy tend to have different social interests (Hamilton, Madison and Jay 67). The problem with the imbalance is the most powerful faction influences the government and decisions at the expense of the common good. Factions represent the dilemma of a pure democracy because democracies always fall victim to the interests of the dominant group.

The establishment of a large republic would solve the problems caused by factions. One cannot remove factions because the act is the same as destroying the liberties that allow people to interact and organize. Moreover, giving people the same opinion is impractical (Hamilton, Madison and Jay 72). Madison informs that if a faction is smaller than the majority, then rely on the majority to control it. In another scenario, if the faction is within the majority, rely on the political system to control it. The two scenarios are characteristic of a republic. Overall, Madison’s position was the United States needed to become a republic. Such a political system is different from democracies because citizens appoint representatives to advocate for their interests. The representative attribute allows a republic to be established within a larger country compared to a pure democracy.

A Large Republic and the Separation of Powers

Madison anticipated a large republic would offer the citizenry more influence in determining their desired leaders. According to the politician, a large republic benefits the citizenry with a bigger candidate pool to elect appropriate leaders (Hamilton, Madison and Jay 76). The larger number of potential candidates makes it less likely that the citizenry will put unfit leaders in office. The case is different in a small electorate. Moreover, a larger territory includes a greater diversity of public interests (Hamilton, Madison and Jay 76). The direct implication is the impossibility of a majority faction forming within the republic. However, a republic must meet a certain number of representatives to prevent the undue influence of the majority. The potential gap explains Madison’s campaign for the formation of districts.

            Madison proposed the fragmentation of the republic into smaller electoral districts operating under a federal system. Each district is representative of distinct local interests. Fragmentation would allow the government to serve the people better because elected officials are well acquainted with local needs. In a small electorate, the representative might become too attached to local issues, making it difficult to comprehend national concerns (Hamilton, Madison and Jay 86). Madison asserts the federal system combines the best of both worlds; a national government covering national issues and state governments addressing local issues. In addition, the federal system ensures the factious interests of one state does not influence national interests.

Reaction from Anti-Federalists

The anti-federalists were largely concerned that Madison’s political system offered excessive power to the national government. The anti-federalists comprised mostly of small landowners, farmers and labourers. Such a group favoured strong state governments and a weakened central government. According to the anti-federalists, Madison’s political system would weaken the state, rendering it less capable of addressing local interests (Pennsylvania Minority 2). Another concern was the republican government could not work effectively in a territory the size of the United States, even with its inclusion of district representatives. Some anti-federalists believed American states were already big enough to form individual republics.

            Another anti-federalist concern centered around the unlimited power of the president. Anti-federalists were concerned that the excessive power of the central government would assign the president monarchic authority (Pennsylvania Minority 3). The citizenry would be at the mercy of the president and congress, who can seize too much power with the proper legal clauses. Opposition to the central government was responsible for the emergence of the debate regarding the necessary and proper clause. All the laws under the two clauses provide authorization for most existing government machinery.

Another key concern in Madison’s republic centred on the federal judiciary. The anti-federalists believed the federal court represented a danger to individual liberties (Pennsylvania Minority 4). The constitution allowed jury trials in criminal cases but did not offer any clarifications on civil ones. Therefore, anti-federalists were concerned the federal judicial court might compromise the right of jury in civil cases. The federal court system also physically and financially burdened the citizenry (Pennsylvania Minority 4). People would have to travel hundreds of miles to access federal courts. Cases that end up before the Supreme court would entail long-distance travel for most people.

Works Cited

Hamilton, Alexander, James Madison and John Jay. The Federalist Papers (1787-88). International Relations and Security Network, 1788.

Pennsylvania Minority. The Address and Reasons of Dissent of the Minority of the Convention of Pennsylvania to their Constituents: Anti-Federalist Papers. Pennsylvania Minority, 1787.

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