On Federalist Paper #10

“Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.” ~James Madison; Federalist #10, 1787

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” ~Nelson Mandela, 2006

” Justice ought to hold the balance between them. Yet the parties are, and must be, themselves the judges; and the most numerous party, or, in other words, the most powerful faction must be expected to prevail”

This is why democracy is messy. Why it is hard work. Why it required compromise (sorry, I recognize many of you think “compromise” is a cuss word).

“Are questions which would be differently decided by the landed and the manufacturing classes, and probably by neither with a sole regard to justice and the public good.”

Wait, so James Madison didn’t think that either Exxon or Apple were likely to give a crap about what’s best for the general population?

“The apportionment of taxes on the various descriptions of property is an act which seems to require the most exact impartiality; yet there is, perhaps, no legislative act in which greater opportunity and temptation are given to a predominant party to trample on the rules of justice. Every shilling with which they overburden the inferior number, is a shilling saved to their own pockets.”

WHOOP! There it IS! HOLY CRAP- here I thought Madison was a wealthy Virginia land owner, but this line makes him sound like he’s feeling the Berne! So, my progressive eyes interpret this part of Federalist #10 to say that we have to be careful or the supply-siders will get rich off of offering tax cuts and subsidies and incentives to wealthy corporate interests?

“It is in vain to say that enlightened statesmen will be able to adjust these clashing interests, and render them all subservient to the public good. Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm. Nor, in many cases, can such an adjustment be made at all without taking into view indirect and remote considerations, which will rarely prevail over the immediate interest which one party may find in disregarding the rights of another or the good of the whole.”

Well, that’s cynical, but obviously he was right.

#WordPorn from James Madison’s Federalist #10-


Noun: diˌsidəˈrätəm
desideratum noun;desiderata plural noun
something that is needed or wanted.: “integrity was a desideratum”.
synonyms: requirement, prerequisite, need, indispensable thing, sine qua non, essential, requisite, necessary.

Why don’t we have words like this in 2016? Why did 1787 get cool words like “desideratum?”


“Either the existence of the same passion or interest in a majority at the same time must be prevented, or the majority, having such coexistent passion or interest, must be rendered, by their number and local situation, unable to concert and carry into effect schemes of oppression. If the impulse and the opportunity be suffered to coincide, we well know that neither moral nor religious motives can be relied on as an adequate control. They are not found to be such on the injustice and violence of individuals, and lose their efficacy in proportion to the number combined together, that is, in proportion as their efficacy becomes needful.” ~James Madison, Federalist #10, 1787


So vote people.

Even if your only motivation is to cancel-out your neighbor’s vote.

Mass participation is what makes our system work and ideally what dilutes & therefore weakens virulent extremes.


“Men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs, may, by intrigue, by corruption, or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and then betray the interests, of the people. The question resulting is, whether small or extensive republics are more favorable to the election of proper guardians of the public weal; and it is clearly decided in favor of the latter by two obvious considerations:
In the first place, it is to be remarked that, however small the republic may be, the representatives must be raised to a certain number, in order to guard against the cabals of a few; and that, however large it may be, they must be limited to a certain number, in order to guard against the confusion of a multitude. ”

This is why I advocate for Federalism. Because we need to ” guard against the cabals of a few.”

“the greater number of citizens and extent of territory which may be brought within the compass of republican than of democratic government; and it is this circumstance principally which renders factious combinations less to be dreaded in the former than in the latter. The smaller the society, the fewer probably will be the distinct parties and interests composing it; the fewer the distinct parties and interests, the more frequently will a majority be found of the same party; and the smaller the number of individuals composing a majority, and the smaller the compass within which they are placed, the more easily will they concert and execute their plans of oppression. Extend the sphere, and you take in a greater variety of parties and interests; you make it less probable that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens; or if such a common motive exists, it will be more difficult for all who feel it to discover their own strength, and to act in unison with each other.”

This is why we want to be a nation of 324,227,000 people rather than just one state of 3.128 Million people. The more crazies that get a vote, the more watered-down the crazy will be.

“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.”

Am I crazy, or does this make it sound like James Madison assumed that there would be more than just two major political parties though?

” 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.”

Hmmm… Think the pluralism encouraged by the anti-establishment clause in the First Amendment was meant to foster a wider variety of religious sects so that no one denomination could become too powerful? Religious freedom helps prevent religion from becoming an abusive political power? Just a thought.

Read them all for yourself at http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/documents/1786-1800/the-federalist-papers/


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