Propaganda media, pundits, and political officials’ drumbeat of complaints about the threats to what they call “our democracy” are loathsome. It’s as if America belongs to that faction alone. In reality, those most publicly concerned about “democracy” are among the most anti-democratic people in our midst. What worries them is that their fellow Americans are free to exercise their constitutional rights, in particular those rights articulated in the First Amendment. Thus, the chief goal of those anti-democratic activists is to take away our freedoms and dismantle America’s constitutional order.
Spending time reading and exploring “The Federalist Papers,” an assortment of our great nation’s fundamental texts, brings insight and a historical perspective to current affairs, and so we continue with our newsletter’s series on this important collection of essays and articles written by some of the best minds of America’s founding generation, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. Their aim was to persuade their fellow Americans to ratify the new Constitution.
The Supreme Law of the Land shows us that America isn’t purely a democracy, certainly not a direct democracy in which the raw majority of voters have the final say. Rather, we are a Constitutional Republic, in which we vote for representatives who vote for laws. This is representative democracy. As Madison explains in 1787, in Federalist No.10, an article many scholars believe to be among the most important, the Constitution is designed to prevent a “tyranny of the majority.”
Madison, the fourth president of the United States, understood that it is in the nature of man to split into factions. In other words, men, allowed to voice their opinions freely, would have different opinions about policies concerning government, religion, and other matters. His concern was about majority factions that would “sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens.”
Madison argued that a republic was the best defense against unsavory ideas generated by majority factions. In a country as large and as diverse as the original thirteen states, encouraging a variety of interests would make it difficult for any faction to dominate. Further, power would be diffused between the states and the federal government, a natural deterrent to the grave threat of large factions wresting absolute control.
Today we hear calls to abolish the electoral college and other initiatives intended to destroy the careful balance designed by the Constitution. In this context, what these activists are demanding isn’t more liberty but rather the prerogative to rule over other Americans. What they’re calling for is a “tyranny of the majority.”
Now more than ever, we must stand in defense of our Constitutional Republic and take up the call of our Founding Fathers — liberty for all.