Posted 1 year ago on Jan. 10, 2012, 4:26 p.m. EST by zymergy
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Political parties have been around since the founding of our Republic, yet there is no mention of them in the U.S. Constitution, although there are several references to factions and political parties in the Federalist Papers, written in defense of the Constitution prior to ratification. Many of Hamilton’s references to parties in these Federalist Papers are actually references to the various States. However in Madison’s Paper The Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection [continued], the party is considered separately from the State interest:
“ Complaints are everywhere heard from our most considerate and virtuous citizens, equally the friends of public and private faith, and of public and personal liberty, that our governments are too unstable, that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties, and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority. “
Madison, in this Paper, also equates faction with party, and argues against direct democracy. He goes on to propose:
“Hence, it clearly appears, that the same advantage which a republic has over a democracy, in controlling the effects of faction, is enjoyed by a large over a small republic,--is enjoyed by the Union over the States composing it. Does the advantage consist in the substitution of representatives whose enlightened views and virtuous sentiments render them superior to local prejudices and schemes of injustice? It will not be denied that the representation of the Union will be most likely to possess these requisite endowments. Does it consist in the greater security afforded by a greater variety of parties, against the event of any one party being able to outnumber and oppress the rest? In an equal degree does the increased variety of parties comprised within the Union, increase this security. Does it, in fine, consist in the greater obstacles opposed to the concert and accomplishment of the secret wishes of an unjust and interested majority? Here, again, the extent of the Union gives it the most palpable advantage.
“The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within their particular States, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other States. A religious sect may degenerate into a political faction in a part of the Confederacy; but the variety of sects dispersed over the entire face of it must secure the national councils against any danger from that source. A rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project, will be less apt to pervade the whole body of the Union than a particular member of it; in the same proportion as such a malady is more likely to taint a particular county or district, than an entire State.”.
In the above, Madison clearly did not anticipate national parties, nor a two-party system of government, much less having the two parties both controlled by the same interest or faction.
A searchable electronic version of the Federalist Papers is available at http://www.foundingfathers.info/federalistpapers/