This country’s political order was designed to be a contentious affair. Americans are supposed to argue. Good debates sharpen the mind, and, in the case of elected officials, can refine policies that affect our families, communities, and country.
One of our first big arguments was over the Constitution.
On one side were those who opposed it, known as the anti-Federalists. Arguing against them, and for what would become the supreme law of the land, were some of the greatest minds among our Founding Fathers — Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. These were the Federalists. They sought to convince their fellow Americans of the virtues of the proposed Constitution and to vote to ratify it. Their essays and articles promoting the Constitution are collected in what is now known as the Federalist Papers, one of the most crucial compilations of written material in our nation’s history.
The Federalist Papers remind us that argument is part of America’s DNA. As free men and women born with the God-given right to our own opinions, we Americans don’t always see eye-to-eye. The Constitution enshrines our right to speak our minds freely and that’s why we’re the greatest nation on earth. And we’re most fully American when we debate what’s best for America.
Over the coming weeks, we will take a closer look at the nature of our politics, as it was first delineated in the Constitution, and argued over in the Federalist Papers, focusing on the text and meaning of those 85 articles and essays, all robust with political philosophies and notions of a more perfect union.
You may have watched recently as members of the Republican-led House of Representatives made full use of their rights to hold and speak their opinions when they debated on the floor of Congress about the candidate for House Speaker, the third most powerful official in our system.
One side, a small faction, contended that the Speaker wields too much power at the expense of the other members, and, thus, too much power over their constituents. On the other side was the majority — Republican representatives who wanted the rebels to temper their demands and agree to vote for the favorite, Kevin McCarthy. After 15 rounds of voting, non-stop negotiations, and concessions from the candidate, the holdouts agreed to elect McCarthy.
Many observers complained that the delay in electing a Speaker proved the Party couldn’t get its act together. But we at America’s Future disagree. The debate, some public and some behind the scenes, demonstrated the true nature of our Constitution. It allocates power to the minority so it will not be overwhelmed by the majority opinion. Each citizen must be counted.
We are not a nation that longs to be ruled by one man or one party. We are a free people and our voices will be heard, expressed through our elected officials, and our interests will be respected and implemented in the policies that guide our country.
Bound to our Framers by a legacy of debate, this new series on the Federalist Papers will provide an added perspective on current affairs in today’s political climate.