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Federalist Paper #10, James Madison discusses the Union's ability to control and break the influence of specific factions over the governmental process. The paper includes many strengths, and a few weaknesses. Yet the overall paper convinced me of the purpose of the Union in this capacity.
Federalist Paper # 10 begins with a discussion of the problem at hand, that of how to control the factions of a nation. The paper discusses how factions, identified as "a number of citizens...who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest..." (Federalist Paper #10, para 2), have historically been the downfalls of democracy. According to the paper, specific factions within the larger body of government often disregard the public opinion, and good of the public, to pursue their own regulations based on their own belief system. The paper also points out that while the people of the Union may not wish to believe this to be true in the case of America, that it is in fact a problem (Federalist Paper #10, para 1).
The paper then outlines the two methods used to cure the problem of factions, those of removing the faction, and controlling the effects. This is one of the papers strongest points. In the discussion, the paper discusses the inability, and in fact, unwarranted effort to remove factions (Federalist paper #10, para 3-5). As the paper points out, removing a right or liberty in order to simplify governmental process is an idea that would not work. Factions are needed, in that large factions represent large members of society, and thus, cannot be ignored. In addition, to attempt a removal of a faction is to further perpetuate the problem. Attempts to disarm factions often lead to more paranoia by the faction.
Federalist Paper #10 then discusses the second way to eliminate factions, that of giving everyone the same opinion and passion. Again, this is a strong point of the paper, in that the author points out the obvious fact that this goal is unattainable (Federalist Paper #10, para 6). If society were to attempt to make all people the same, then all need for a governmental process would diminish. In addition, this goal is impossible, since mankind is not created to be identical in belief or opinion. The paper continues to discuss this idea by proposing that the people, individually, cannot judge their own causes, because their interests would bias their opinions. In addition, the paper points out that the elite can also not be trusted to always make decisions for the good of the Union, because those statesmen also have their own beliefs which can taint their opinions (Federalist Paper #10, para 6-9).
The author, by presenting the positions listed above, has done a wonderful job explaining the existing dilemma. They have set up the argument well, in that they have discussed and negated many possible solutions to the problem that the Anti-Federalists could have discusses. This is one of the strongest parts of the paper, in that the Federalists have approached the problem rationally. They have not denied that factions exist, nor denied their rights and purposes, but have presented a case against them.
In the next section, Federalist Paper #10 comes to the idea that, as shown above, the causes of factions cannot be limited, so the effects of those factions must be controlled in order to fix the issue. They point out that if a faction is a minority group, the group will not be able to take control under a Union. So this leads the James Madison to discuss the case of a faction within a majority (Federalist Paper #10, para 11).
It is here that the federalists begin swaying the public to ratify the Constitution. They begin his discussion by pointing out that there are two ways in which the Constitution can aid in controlling the factions, those of the prevention of a majority being in the same faction, and of preventing a large faction from pushing its ideas. With both ideas, the paper points out that a small group of individuals representing themselves can again not suffice. If majority is always allowed to rule, then smaller, less strong factions are overlooked, and there is no check and balance system (Federalist Paper #10, para 13).
In contrast, the James Madison proposes that the Union, under a ratified Constitution, can bring about a new way to solve the issue, that of government by representation. According to the Madison, the goal of representation is to ensure that all factions are equally represented proportionately, and that the representatives are selected by the larger society. In this way, the paper argues that it is possible for all groups to have a say, and yet helps to control small factions having too much say based on violent tactics (Federalist Paper #10, para 15).
This point is well argued in the paper. By comparing, in the next section, representation with pure democracy, the federalists point out the benefits of a Constitution that brings a representative government. These arguments begin with the idea that, with representation, ideas can be filtered (Federalist Paper #10, para 16). This is a good argument. Since Madison previously pointed out than man cannot judge himself, or his own belief system, the use of this argument supplies fuel for that statement. By using representation, the paper argues, the people of the country still get to have their say, and still get their voices heard, but those voices are filtered through the voices of reason that individuals may not have.
The paper goes on to strengthen the argument by pointing out that, by sheer number, representative government has a benefit. By allowing the factions to represent their own beliefs, they are not excluding anyone. However, since smaller factions would thus have smaller representation, those representatives could not make decisions without input from others not in the faction (Federalist Paper #10, para 20). In this way, the paper points out, a true representative democracy could control the factions decisions while still allowing them to make choices based on their beliefs.
The paper continues to point out the benefits, including the idea that, while some states within the Union may have certain factions, those factions would only be one portion of the decision making force. By combining those forces with other states in the Union, any factions which are against the good of the people would be out voted by those who decide based on the public good Federalist Paper #10, para 22). This solves the original dilemma presented, that of the factions overpowering what is good for the general public.
This paper would have influenced my decision to ratify the Constitution. The paper is not written with the intention to push for ratification, but instead to present a logical argument for the process. By not forcing an issue without justification, the paper is providing a good argument for ratification.
In addition, the paper does not deny the right of factions to exist. The author's knowledge that any one passionate about a cause also passionate believes that their opponents are wrong helps him in this paper. Madison does not single out factions, so he does not exclude or offend anyone from the start. He also recognizes the right and purpose of factions, justifying their existence throughout the paper. This eliminates the possible problem of the paper alienating specific groups of people.
The paper also does provide good arguments for representative government. If not part of any particular faction, the paper provides the belief that, through ratification, the factions can be controlled. In contrast, if part of a faction, the paper provides the belief that your particular faction can still be heard. All parties involved are equally "spoken to," and arguments are provided to reassure all people.…[continue]
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