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View Diary: James Madison Responds to Senate Gun Votes, Reminds America of the Dangers of Faction (16 comments)

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  •  Interesting analysis (1+ / 0-)
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    Powered Grace

    Though I'm personally on the pro-gun-control side, if you told me that someone had applied Federalist 10 to this issue, my guess would have been that it was the other side:

    The faction would be the majority of Americans, whipped into an "impulse of passion" by recent events, attempting to take away the "rights of other citizens" to own firearms.

    But I guess that's the genius and timelessness of Madison's words.

    Hope you fall on your burger and fries.

    by cardinal on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 07:15:42 AM PDT

    •  I think that "faction" usually implies (0+ / 0-)

      "small, passionate minority." I guess it's possible that a "faction" could actually be the majority. In this case ,the majority is on the side of limits on types of guns that should be legal to purchase, on the side of universal background checks, and on the side of limits to the number of bullets in a magazine/clip.  The problem is, the majority isn't as passionate as the minority (in the case of background checks, the 10% minority). Thus, the concept of passionate factions trumping the will of the majority, and the need for countermeasures in our system of government to prevent or ameliorate that.

      •  Not only could a (0+ / 0-)

        faction be a majority -- those were the ones he was worried about. As you quoted in the diary, "relief" against small factions "is supplied by the republican principle," by which he meant majority rule. However, in the next sentence he says:

        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.
        In other words, majority factions are the bigger problem, because simple majority rule can't ameliorate them. The rest of the essay outlines his solution, and is the first (and perhaps still the best) articulation of "pluralism," the idea that, in a large, centrally governed republic with a wide diversity of interests, majority factions will be unlikely to form. Hence, adopt this Constitution!

        (This was, of course, an attack on the very idea of political parties).

        Hope you fall on your burger and fries.

        by cardinal on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 07:39:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The problem is, our system's not working. (2+ / 0-)
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          Statusquomustgo, NWTerriD

          The corporate/special interests and wealthy individuals at this point have enormous power, while the Senate is basically paralyzed and the House is controlled by a bunch of Teahadists. Also, the Supreme Court is de facto controlled by Teahadists as well. And the masses of voters are "low information," in part because the corporate media has largely failed, in part because they're distracted with a million other things (e.g., making a living, getting/keeping a job). That leaves the passionate minority on issues like this one, or on climate change and clean energy (again, the overwhelming majority of Americans support action, but the oil and coal companies oppose it) with disproportionate power. I'm not sure the Founders envisioned this situation, exactly, or if they did, what they thought could be done about it.

          •  agreed. (0+ / 0-)

            There are many aspects of current society that the founders couldn't have envisioned. I'd be careful about glorifying the old days too much, though. Remember, we're talking about a small group of landowners, in whom society's wealth was largely concentrated, who crafted a Constitution that, in no small part, was designed to protect that wealth against the masses (who not only were "low information" -- they weren't even allowed to vote!).

            Hope you fall on your burger and fries.

            by cardinal on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 07:55:31 AM PDT

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            •  Oh, believe me, I don't in any way (1+ / 0-)
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              glorify the old days. Having said that, i DO think the Founders got a lot right, particularly in the context of their times.  Gotta be careful about judging people in history by current day morals, mores, standards, etc.

              •  Yes, indeed. (0+ / 0-)

                And that's one point I always try to impress upon my students. For example, even if Thomas Jefferson didn't live up to our notion of "all men are created equal," his articulation of those words have served as a catalyst and talking point for every subsequent American who has tried to make society more truly equal.

                And the Constitution's flexibility and timelessness is so powerful that not even the current Supreme Court can totally muck it up.

                Hope you fall on your burger and fries.

                by cardinal on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 08:21:07 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

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