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View Diary: What Would James Madison Do (WWJMD)? Would the Framers Support the Occupy Wall Street Movement? (112 comments)

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  •  Correction #3 (0+ / 0-)

    The Senate was NOT modeled in any way on the House of Lords.

    The only resemblance to the English Constitution was in the GENERAL principle of bicameralism as a means of preventing factional rule in the self-interest of the factions rather than the common/public good and justice.

    The Senate was simply to be a counterpoint to the House - in terms of its composition and nature and dynamic - based on how it was to be elected and for what terms.

    By having this body elected for longer terms than the House it was hoped that the body would be freed from the particular "winds" of the moment - and would subject issues to more rational deliberation.

    By being a smaller body - it was to be less "representative" (the primary function of the House) but more "deliberative."

    There is also the historical anomaly - that was not in line with the original logic and idea but forced by necessity - that the Senate was composed by State with equal representation thereof.  This was strongly opposed by those who "designed" the architecture and logic of the Constitution - such as Madison - who only reluctantly (and in Madison's case very strenuously reluctantly) had to concede to this point if the document was going to make it through the Convention before the Convention broke up with no outcome.

    •  By the way (0+ / 0-)

      State factionalism was one of Madison's primary concerns - and one of the principle reasons for convening the Constitutional Convention - which was articulated shortly before in his Vices of the Political System.

      •  I would argue that the Senate was established to (0+ / 0-)

        represent "territory" while the House was created to represent "population".

        This is pretty analogous to the House of Lords and Commons. The English nobility controlled territory; they enjoyed a degree of sovereignty and judicial power within their domains. They also had influence in the administrative affairs of their county.

        I'm sure that the Founders were adamantly opposed to peerage, but the notion that land ownership conferred exceptional political status must have been unquestionable to the southern planters.

        Today, "territory" consists more of capital assets than land. Political power is more widely dispersed. But the attitude of "territorial" privilege still persists in the U.S. Senate.

        Have you noticed?
        Politicians who promise LESS government
        only deliver BAD government.

        by jjohnjj on Fri Oct 28, 2011 at 11:32:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Senate (0+ / 0-)

          had a functional/logical purpose.  It was to divide the legislature so that one faction would not easily control that branch of government.

          Added to this it was to BALANCE the pros/cons of the other branch.

          One was to be more representative. (and thus large - although large back then was nothing like 435!)  The other more deliberative.  (and thus small)  One with quick recycling to keep it "in touch" with the people.  The other longer duration to enable it to be free from the political winds of the moment.

          Nothing about the particulars of the House of Lords was a consideration.  Only the fact that the English constitution provided a precedent (rather than a model) of bicameral legislatures.

          As for representing territory - as opposed to people - this was a later compromise (very much opposed by the architect - Madison) - for appeasing the minority (who would have abandoned the Convention otherwise).

          Madison very much opposed - on principle - this compromise - because his fear was factionalism (the logical underpinning of the "system" the Constitution was creating) - and the one form of factionalism that was causing the major problems (that led to the convention) was state-based factions.

          So the effect was to represent "states" rather than "people" - but it was not the design intent - but the place where they had to compromise.

          Actually it was barely acceptable to the minority - some of whom went with instructions to not allow ANY system of representation other than EQUALITY of States.  (See, ironically, the Delaware delegation - ironic because they pride themselves on being the COnstitution State - having been first to ratify - yet their delegates opposed the whole concept from the start).

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