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How Many Factions?!?

The foundation and evolution of our country has always fascinated me, especially the ongoing written argument between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists.   In the late 1780’s, the framework for American government was like a river in turmoil.

Source: Media.npr

Source: Media.npr

The founding fathers had already discussed different forms of government and had established the Articles of the Confederation.  And it was a complete failure, causing America to descend into discord.  One group, the Federalists, favored dumping the Articles and replacing it with the Constitution, proposing that it “become the law of the land.” (Shea 58)  To accomplish this, “9 out of the 13 states” would have to ratify the new Constitution.   And the essay war began.  An opposing group, Anti-Federalists, didn’t want the constitution to be passed and began trying to convince the people not to ratify.  So James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Fay, leading members of the Federalist Party, wrote a series of essays called the Federalist Papers to persuade people to agree to change the constitution.  They were published in newspapers all over the country, especially where anti-federalist views were majority.  One specific essay, Federalist #10, interests me most with its discussion of factions.  To me, factions can be the breaking or building points of a government.  Also, when I compare Madison’s opinion of government and America’s present day form of government, there are some very distinct differences.

First, a definition for factions must be understood.  Dictionary.com defines the word faction as a “group or clique within a larger group, party, government, or organization.” Madison defines faction as a majority or a minority united by some common impulse of passion or interest that aggregates the community.   In Madison’s eyes, faction has a relatively negative connotation.  So why is a faction so negative?  Factions can motivate people to cause riots, violent reactions, and dangers to all parties.  But factions are also a key part to society.

How can Madison say that something he thinks is negative is actually important to society?  Well, without factions, a government would become a dictatorship, with one party ruling all of society.  So multiple factions (more than two) keep each other in check and prevent a one party majority rule.

Madison goes on further to explain how these factions correlate and build a republic.  A republic properly represents the people by having different parties with different prospects.  So almost all points of view are represented.  Even if the parties don’t necessarily get along, the republican form of government units all theses parties forming one united country. The only way factions can become positive and cure the mischiefs associated with factions is to have multiple of them.  It seems twisted; that to get ride of all the negative aspects of a thing, we want more of them.  But the truth is they represent a wider sphere of the country and the opinions of  entire population.

The most interesting thing though, is that American government doesn’t follow these guidelines.  Of course we still follow the constitution, but we have slipped into lazy pattern.  We only have ‘three’ parties, if we can even call it that.  Republican.  Democratic.  And Independent.  But the republican and democratic parties are the reigning champions.  So relatively, only two parties or factions exist.  This goes against everything the founding fathers wanted.


Source: Sodahead

Every year, politicians spend countless hours in a deadlock against one another.  They waste so much time opposing one another that nothing gets done.  For example, if the Senate is majority democratic, it is almost guaranteed that the House of Representatives will be majority republican.   There is so much discourse caused by having only two factions.  On top of that, with only two parties, the public isn’t properly represented.

So what should we do?  America, the land of the free, actually isn’t what the founding fathers dreamed it would be. What do you think?

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