James Madison begins the Federalist No. 10, possibly one of the greatest political papers, by stating an argument in favor of the Constitution. Madison supports the Constitution because it establishes a government that is capable of controlling the “violence of faction.” Factions are groups of people with like political or economic interests that gather to promote their own views. Factions cause an unstable government because they are constantly at odds with each other and consistently maintain the opposing view against public interest, while infringing on the rights of others.
It is the nature of man to create factions. Men will always hold different opinions, different amounts of wealth and will naturally group with people that share the most similarity to them. It is the government’s duty to simultaneously protect the weaker groups and regulate the conflicting interests of all its peoples.
To Madison, there are only two ways to control a faction: to remove its causes or to control its effects. The first would destroy the liberty the framers were striving so hard to achieve. The second it neither possible nor practical. I would have to agree with Madison when he claims that destroying liberty is a “cure worse then the disease itself.” The government that the Constitution creates would be able to control the damage caused by factions.
The Constitution had established a representative government in which many voted and a few actually govern. This form of government is in stark contrast from a pure democracy in which all members of a society directly participate in making laws. This type of a democracy would never be able to control factions because the majority faction would always prevail, and there would be no way to protect minority rights. Madison hoped that the elected representatives would be the good and most knowledgeable men in the country. With a country of our size, the best man would surely win the election. But if by chance or situation, the men elected were part of a particular faction, the pure representatives would be able to contrast the rebel views of the bad.
Although a representative government harnesses some of the “mischief” caused by factions, it would not eliminate their power. Madison believed the only true way to eliminate the possible tyranny of factions would be to establish a system of checks and balances. This system would divide authority and still have a strong central government. The distribution of power would be federal, state and local levels. With the prominence of checks and balances throughout the system, the possibility of a tyrannical government was impossible. Madison, along with the other framers, knew that a republican democracy was the only way to control the effects of factions.
Madison believed and stated many times in many different ways that elected representatives should be “trustees” of the people they represent rather than “delegates” that carry out the expressed wishes of their people. I believe that an elected representative should be neither one. For any person to do the job of elected office by only using one of these strategies would be to fail the citizens for which they are working. I take this stand because I don’t believe in the morals of just one man, and at the same time, I don’t believe any one person has the knowledge to know what is best for the common good. Before making any decision or placing a vote, a representative should weigh the wishes of the people against the interest of the public good. If the wishes of the people don’t disregard the public good, the official must then weigh the people’s wishes against his personal knowledge. Only after taking into consideration all of the different issues, the rights at stake, and their political knowledge should the official place a vote. Therefore, I neither disagree with nor support Madison’s view of trustees. For an elected official to do either one (trustee) or the other (delegate) would be unjust, unreasonable and unwise
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