Paper1_FD - 1 29 February 2008 Balancing Act: Popular...

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1 29 February 2008 Balancing Act: Popular Government Versus Good Government Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay published a collection of essays known as The Federalist Papers in the late eighteenth century in support of ratifying the new Constitution of the United States of America. These essays presented many arguments to convince the American people to support the new Constitution. The authors brought up many issues that were faced and contemplated during the formation of the Constitution, then proceeded to show how the Constitution solved these issues. Two of the main and most prevalent issues presented included the balance and control of various factions that would form under the new government, and the balance of a strong and effective national government with the protection of civil rights. Most importantly, Hamilton, Madison, and Jay had to show how the Constitution balanced popular government with good government for the new nation. A officials in a good government know what is good for the community and have the power to accomplish things for the good of the people. However, in order to create a good and effective government in this sense, many civil liberties have to be sacrificed. Also, a “good” government would be minimally controlled by the people of the country. Instead, it would have a lot of centralized power, allowing it to be high in energy and to act fast on most decisions. A popular government, on the other hand, would take into consideration the opinions of every single citizen. In the most popular government possible, all citizens would be able to vote on every issue. This type of government was seen in places like the Ancient Greek Hellas, where every citizen would come out to vote on important matters. This was possible because Ancient Greece was considerably smaller than most modern republics. It would have been difficult for the writers of the Constitution to create a popular government of this nature in the United States.
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2 The founders knew the American people were strongly in favor of a popular government, so they had to balance this with a good government, while still addressing the control of factions, as well as the balancing of an effective government with protection of individual rights. The founders’ main concern with a popular government was the possibility of majority tyranny. Although in a popular government, the majority was supposed to rule, it was feared that the majority would not rule wisely or do what was best for the country. The biggest problem was the possibility of a faction coming to power and controlling the government, a faction being a majority or minority of citizens, that is pushed by passion or interest adverse to the rights of others or to the permanent and aggregate public good. While the public as a whole believed it would be better for the majority of people to be able to control the government, the founders were worried that a faction, being pushed by intense passion, would do things detrimental to the
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This note was uploaded on 06/06/2008 for the course PO 042 taught by Professor Behnegar during the Spring '08 term at BC.

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Paper1_FD - 1 29 February 2008 Balancing Act: Popular...

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