James Madison's View of Factionalism
Length: 1339 words (3.8 double-spaced pages)
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. Factions can be present in many different settings in society. They can be a passion for different opinions on religions, government, or war. Madison claims that "the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever been formed distinct interests in society." The modern government includes factions as necessary operations, and the regulation of these interest groups form the foremost assignment of legislation.
The dangers of faction can somewhat outweigh the good. The framers of the American Constitution feared the power that could possibly come about by organized interest groups. Madison wrote "The public good is disregarded in the conflict of rival factions citizens 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." However, the framers believed that interest groups thrived because of freedom, the same privilege that Americans utilize to express their views. Madison saw direct democracy as a danger to individual rights and advocated a representative democracy to protect individual liberty, and the general public from the effects of such inequality in society. Madison says "A pure democracy can admit no cure for the mischief's of faction. A common passion or interest will be felt by a majority Hence it is, that democracies have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths."
Madison proposes that there are two methods in which the mischiefs of faction can be cured, one by removing the causes of factions, or the other by controlling its effects. By removing the causes of factions, the liberty that is essential to its existence is destroyed. Madison states that "Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires.
" Therefore, it is somewhat foolish to abolish liberty considering it is essential to political life.
The second method in which factions can be controlled is by altering its effects. It is unfeasible to explore this option merely because its efforts would be ineffective. Madison wrote that "As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed." The protection of the privileges of men, in which the rights of property originated, is the first purpose of government. The ownership of diverse levels of property instantly results, and divides society into different interests and parties.
According to Madison the solution to the problem of factions could possibly be solved by the republican principle. This enables the majority to overcome its ominous views by standard vote. "It may clog the administration, it may convulse the society; but it will be unable to execute and mask its violence under the forms of the constitution popular government enables it to sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens" Claims Madison. However this state is only obtainable if "the existence of the same passion or interest in a majority at the same time must be prevented, or the majority must be rendered by their number "Although it is unfortunate this approach could prove to be ineffective merely because if an individual opportunity happens to coincide with one's desire, internal principles cannot be relied on as a sufficient control.
The War in Iraq although it is not readily acknowledged by many people in our country, is a war greatly affected by factions. In the Iraq war, the most dominant faction is what we know as the Iraqi Government, even though it is not much of a government at all. At the physical level the Iraqi government is undoubtedly the strongest faction in Iraq, it has more money and more troops than any other group, and it also has the U.S military supporting it. In contrast, at the moral level the Iraqi Government is probably the weakest of all factions in Iraq. This is because the Iraqi government was created by and serves as a puppet to America. The Iraqi government is simply a regime formed and stabilized by a despised invader. Although the physical power of the Iraqi government overshadows the moral aspect, the physical power can only be affective for so long, it plays the crucial role early in the restructuring, but after that the moral power works more effectively in the long run. As far as the other factions in Iraq the Sunnis and Shiites are slowly splitting into smaller and more hostile groups. At the physical level this can be an advantage for the Iraqi government, but at the moral level can pose to be problematical for the Iraqi government because the Shiites and Sunnis have a more rightful cause.
Faction within congress can be seen more so in the House of Representatives than in the Senate. The opportunity for senators to take the individual measure of there colleagues yield a far less factious body in the senate than in the House. In House and Senate, Jack Reed exclaims: "I think that what happens in the Senate is that people get to know each other better you have to work with them The house is such a big place. You know the people on your committee in that context, it's more anonymous. You just take a position and the heck with it." Furthermore senators on average serve on an average of eleven committees, whereas representatives can be assigned to one "exclusive" committee thus improving the likelihood of factions. "House members who represent fewer interests than senators can articulate issues more efficiently and often do so more forcefully and passionately Spared the necessity to keep interpersonal relations in good repair to the extent that senators must, House members can express interests with passion and even ferocity." In contrast Baker states that the "Senate tends to be a place of concurrent majorities where all major segments of opinion need to concur "
Interest groups can be the underlying basis of most factions in modern civilization. These factions compete with each other for power in government policy. Auspiciously, mechanisms are present to control the harmful effects of factions so that a "tyranny of the majority" cannot overcome. Four of the most well-known approaches are lobbying, legal actions, going public, and formation of Political Action Committees. This tactic by interest groups has been utilized effectively in the past by interest groups fighting for causes like civil rights, cotton interests, steel interests, small businesses, unions, and many more controversial areas of interests.
As long as there are many different groups, with no particular group or coalition consistently dominating all the others, power will not become too concentrated. With laws made specifically for the restriction of factions the effect factions will have on American politics can be somewhat controlled. In the Federalist papers Madison exclaims that "The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within their particular States, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other States a rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, will be less apt to pervade the whole body of the Union than a particular member of it." Furthermore Madison develops the argument that a "republican remedy" has been formed to control the illness that most plagues the republic, and that the pride we feel in being citizens of the republic, can act as our passion in supporting the character of the government.