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Factions: A Detriment To A Nation

1306 words - 6 pages

James Madison, an American statesman and political theorist that was present at the constitutional convention. Many of the ideas proposed by Madison are part of the reason that the Constitution has withstood the test of time. Madison was ultimately prepared to deal with one of the biggest problems this new government would face in his eyes, factions. Factions, which as defined by Madison are “a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community” (Madison 156). Madison addresses various ways that he sees factions can be cured of its mischiefs such as removing a faction’s causes and also controlling their effects. Madison points out that this is would potentially create an even bigger problem than the factions themselves by stating, “Liberty is to faction, what air is to fire, an ailment, without which it instantly expires” (Madison 156) Madison also stated that the way for a government to remove the cause of faction was either to destroy the liberty that causes factions to exist in the first place or to give every citizen the same beliefs and opinions. Madison deemed this impractical, because it is nearly impossible to give everyone in a given place the same opinions and destroying the liberty would take away the very thing that the colonies fought for 4 years earlier. The fact is Madison knew that the country wouldn’t be able to count on a well-educated statesman to be there any time a faction gets out of hand. Madison knew the only viable way to keep factions under control is not to get rid of factions entirely but to set a republic style government in order.
Madison viewed a structure similar to a republic as the sure fire way to protect the country against many factions unlike the pure democracy format that many countries used. A pure democracy in the words of James Madison is, “a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person” (Madison 157). A republic is based more on electing a set number of officials for each group or faction and having the officials do the voting for the given faction. Madison saw this as a way to counteract factions by not getting rid of them, but instead having factions cancel each other out by majority vote. This is due to the fact that if you have a lot of factions that have different on a given topic then no matter how big or small the faction is each will get equal representation and in theory the majority vote would show what the nation as a whole wants not just what one large overruling faction wants. Madison knew that a republic would not be full proof though. He saw that to get a positive outcome out of this republic system that the government would have to find a way to pass positive views through a given medium in which who have the interest of the...

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