Factions and the Constitution

analytical Essay
419 words
419 words

Factions and the Constitution

The framers designed the Constitution in such a way as to lessen the influence of political parties in American government, however at the same time, the very essence to the formation of political parties, liberty, was left in the Constitution. Both Madison and Schattschneider cite that while the Constitution does not support factions, it cannot abolish them because of the fact that the Constitution was designed to protect the liberties of the citizens. They both go on to say that liberty is the spark, which causes political parties to develop.

In Madison's Federalist 10, it is evident that he was not in favor of the formation of factions. He states, "…The public good is often disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties…" Madison made the point that the dangers of factions can only be limited by controlling its effects. He recognized that in order to abolish political parties from the government completely, liberty would have to be abolished or limited as well. For this reason, the government had to accept political parties, but it did not have to incorporate them into being a major part of the government. He says that the inclination to form factions is inherent, however the parties effectiveness can be regulated. If the party is not majority than it can be controlled by majority vote. Madison believed that in the government established by the Constitution, political parties were to be tolerated and checked by the government, however the parties were never to control the government. Madison was absolutely convinced that parties were unhealthy to the government, but his basic point was to control parties as to prevent them from being dangerous.

Schattschneider's view was different from that of Madison's in that he did not believe that political parties were completely destructive to government and that their effectiveness should be almost completely abolished. He did, however, agree with Madison in the idea that the Constitution tolerated parties but then created a system to absolutely limit their powers. Schattschneider made the point that the Constitution is both pro-party and anti-party at the same time. He wrote that Constitution established certain rights to the people, which in turn made the government tolerant of a party system. For example, he cited the right to organize as an example of a civil right guaranteed by the Constitution that helped in establishing a system of party tolerance.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that while the constitution does not support factions, it cannot abolish them because it was designed to protect the liberties of the citizens.
  • Analyzes how madison's federalist 10 argues that the dangers of factions can only be limited by controlling their effects.
  • Analyzes how schattschneider disagreed with madison's view that political parties were destructive to government and should be abolished. the constitution is both pro- and anti-party at the same time.
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