the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

7 there was a hidden as well as an obvious advantage

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7 There was a hidden as well as an obvious advantage to the nine-vote requirement, and Madison, ever the political operative, was the first to recognize it. “It is generally believed that nine States at least will embrace the plan,” he predicted, “consequently that the tardy remainder must be reduced to the dilemma of either shifting for themselves or coming in without any credit for it.” The chronological sequence of the state ratifying conventions only enhanced this momentum factor. Virginia and New York, two of the largest states where opposition was most formidable, came late in the schedule, so that political pressure to ratify would build in the spring and early summer of 1788 to recognize that opposition was a lost cause. Madison believed that political arguments would become irrelevant once nine states had ratified. 8 Finally, before the debates began, the advocates for ratification won the rhetorical battle by claiming the title Federalists , which left their opponents with the limp label Antifederalists . This nomenclature was both inaccurate and grossly unfair to the “Antis.” Both sides were really federalists, the difference being how they wished to apportion authority between the federal government and the states. (A more accurate set of labels would have been nationalists versus confederationists .) In the predebate skirmishes, then, the maneuvering for both votes and vocabulary went to the pro-Constitution side. It also helped that only twelve of the ninety American newspapers and magazines gave equivalent space to the opponents of ratification. The press was decidedly pronationalist. 9 From the beginning, then, the “Antis” were placed on the political defensive. As Madison kept mentioning, their cause was further burdened by the fact that they did not agree on what they wanted in lieu of the Constitution. Was it more modest reform of the Articles, amendments to the proposed Constitution, or a second Constitutional Convention that would take into account their grievances? They agreed on what they were against, but not on what they were for. In that sense, the term Antis was accurate. On the other hand, the opponents of ratification enjoyed one enormous ideological advantage: namely, that the government proposed in the Constitution defied the principles of the American Revolution as understood in 1776. Given the size and scale of a nation-size American republic, the very definition of representation would have to change. How, for example, could a representative in the House really know the needs and interests of his thirty thousand constituents? How could Virginians agree to be taxed because voters in New England decided to do so? At a time when distance made a huge difference, how could a faraway federal government possibly fathom the thoughts and feelings of farmers on the frontier?
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