Federalist Papers #10

The big issue that is dealt with in this article is the question of what government should do about factions that might harm government unity.  Factions are citizen groups whose ideas are contrary to the rights of others or the good of the community.  Madison states “[to] secure the public good and private rights against the danger of such a faction, and at the same time to preserve the spirit and the form of popular government, is then the great object to which our inquiries are directed.”

Madison points out that there are only two ways to deal with factions: either deal with the faction before it begins or deal with its effects.  After much debate Madison concludes that the only way to stop factions from being an issue is to stop its effects which requires a specific form of government.  Democracies are useless because it allows the people a chance to rally together into factions.  Republics are the only safe form of government that can deal with factions appropriately; representatives curb possible bad interests of the people.  His argument defended the need for a federal government because the states were weaker subjects that might fall to factions.

In modern times, Madison’s ideas hold true.  Lobbyists have a great hold over Congress because of the sway they have over individual representatives.  Millions of federal dollars are given to interest groups each year.  I do not think Madison ever imagined that interest groups would reach the scale that they have today.

Federalist Papers #14

The problem addressed in this paper is the issue of whether a republic can be extended to the lengths of the American continent.  Critics did not believe that a republic could survive.  Madison argues that democracies cannot survive because people cannot travel that distance consistently; however, republics have representatives that can travel the distance.  Madison defines his view by saying, “the natural limit of a republic is that distance from the centre which will barely allow the representatives to meet as often as may be necessary for the administration of public affairs.”

Madison supports his argument for a republic by stating four observations.  (1) Federalism allows the making of laws to be an easy process.  (2) The federal government is responsible for maintaining unity among the states and adding new states into the nation.  (3) Roads will improve and give better access to the federal government for the representatives.  (4) States on the border of foreign nations and frontiers can benefit from federal protection.  He concludes that no matter how great the distance, a republic is possible.

Today we see the benefit of a republican form of government.  Madison could not have foreseen cars, trains, or airplanes, yet his idea of better roads still rings true.  Representatives can easily travel to Washington, D.C. while the common people cannot.  The federal government has protected our nation through wars and times of civil strife.  Laws are easily passed and ratified.  A republic is possible even though America stretches from sea to shining sea.

– Hannah S. Bowers