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LOSING CONTROL OF THE SENATE: HOW TO DESTROY THE REPUBLIC

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According to Madison, our constitutional form of government was to be “strictly Republican”.  “[N]o other form” he explained, “would be reconcilable with the genius of the people of America; [and] with the fundamental principles of the Revolution;” Madison, The Federalist Papers, Letter 39.  Unfortunately, we have seen the institutional aspects of our Republic destroyed by the factious fires of democracy.  The national and state Midterm Elections of late highlight this fact most effectively.  Anyone paying the least bit of attention to the Midterm Election circus could see that the focus centered primarily on party politics and their quest for control of the Senate.

The astute observer is quick to recognize the extremely divisive nature of party politics with their football-styled winning-is-everything, pro-team mindset.  Michelle Obama summed up this blind-leading-the-blind mentality best, when she urged her supporters to vote strictly Democrat “regardless of who said what or did this– that shouldn’t even come into the equation.”  While some political analysts and observers extol this type of political behavior as uniquely American, Madison’s writings prove otherwise. 

Party politics are not uniquely American. They have been around for a long time and, in fact, were condemned by the Framers.  Political factions, Madison explained, have always “divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good.”  Madison, The Federalist Papers, Letter 10.  The key to good government, Madison writes, is “to secure the public good and private rights against the danger of such a faction, and at the same time to preserve the spirit and the form of popular government.” Id.

“[D]emocracies”, Madison explains, “have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention” and “have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property.” Id.   This incompatibility rests on the erroneous principle of majority rules. 

When a system allows the 51% to control the remaining 49%, then, obviously, the personal and property rights of the 49% will be at risk to a taking by the 51%.  In simple terms, think of a democracy as a group of 5 people—3 men and 2 women.  If majority always rules in a democracy, how can one ever expect the personal rights of those two women to be secure?  As Madison puts it: “If a majority be united by a common interest, the rights of the minority will be insecure.” Madison, The Federalist Papers, Letter 51.

The key to controlling factions, Madison explained, is with Republican government NOT with a democracy.  According to Madison, the “advantage which a republic has over a democracy” is its ability in “controlling the effects of faction”.   Id.

The “turbulent existence of other Ancient republics”, Madison taught, provided proof that republics needed an “institution that will blend stability with liberty.”  Such an institution, he continued, “can only be . . . a senatorial institution.”  Madison, The Federalist Papers, Letter 63.

If not the parties, one might ask, then who is supposed to control the Senate?  According to Madison, it is most certainly not a political party as is the case today.  Control of the Senate, as designed by the Framers, was to belong exclusively to the States.   It might surprise you to learn that, originally, the Constitution mandated that the Senate be composed of Senators elected by the state legislatures and NOT the people: “”the Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen BY THE LEGISLATURE THEREOF for six years”;  US CONST. Art. I, §3, cl. 1.

Sadly, this extremely important Republican principle was eventually discarded by the democratically minded populists who convinced enough voters to believe that the Framers were wrong and thereby convinced enough voters to pass the 17th Amendment to the Constitution.  To anyone who has eyes to see, the situation that we now find ourselves validates the wisdom of the Framers.

There are some very important reasons the Senate was to be controlled by the States and not political parties.  To begin with, it kept balance between the smaller and the larger states: “The Senate, on the other hand, will derive its powers from the States, as political and coequal societies; and these will be represented on the principle of equality in the Senate, as they now are in the existing Congress.”  Madison, The Federalist Papers, Letter 39.

More importantly, however, this Republican principle provided a check on the abuse of power of an overreaching national government.  As Madison explains, “The Senate will be elected absolutely and exclusively by the State legislatures. . . . Thus, each of the principal branches of the federal government will owe its existence more or less to the favor of the State governments, and must consequently feel a dependence” on them.  Madison, The Federalist Papers, Letter 45. 

When people talk of checks and balances, they think primarily of the checks and balances within the national government.  The genius of the system the Framers designed, however, is the fact that the checks and balances included the state and national governments as well: “Hence a double security arises to the rights of the people. The different governments will control each other, at the same time that each will be controlled by itself.” Madison, The Federalist Papers, Letter 51. 

Hamilton concurred with Madison’s assessment—“It may safely be received as an axiom in our political system, that the State governments will, in all possible contingencies, afford complete security against invasions of the public liberty by the national authority.”  Hamilton, The Federalist Papers, Letter 28.

By taking away the control of the Senate from the States and turning it over to the factious political parties through the majority rules principle of democracy, the States have faded into powerlessness and insignificance.  The national government, on the other hand, has expanded and grown into the leviathan it is today.

The States were meant to be the repository of power that controlled “the lives, liberties, and properties of the people”, while the national government was only meant to exercise power “on external objects” such as “war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce.”  Madison, The Federalist Papers, Letter 45.

Unfortunately, now that control of the Senate resides completely in the hands of the national parties, the national government controls not only the “external objects” but it also controls the “ordinary course of affairs” of the people—from Medicare for the elderly to the comprehensive healthcare of everyone else, from childbirth to marriage, from the elementary education of our children to the university level, from the loss of the protection and control of our state borders to the war in our streets from dangerous non-citizen criminals, and from the control of what we can grow and eat to the use of natural plants as medicines and health products in our daily lives.

The national party elites have been very clever in giving the public the perception of choice, when in fact there really is no choice.  The only candidates who can legitimately compete for office are the ones who have been sanctioned by the DNC or the RNC, and the issues have all been bifurcated into just two camps–liberal vs. conservative–instead of the 50 autonomous United States in which the issues were meant to be contained.

Until we recognize that this was one of the most fundamental and important principles of our Republican form of government, we will continue to be distracted by the contentious nature of party politics, while our national leaders continue to erase not only our state borders but our national ones as well. 

The sad truth of the matter is that since the states lost control of the Senate in order to embrace the turbulent, contentious spectacles of majority rule, we are now living under a turbulent democracy—a system of government that Madison said has “in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.” Madison, The Federalist Papers, Letter 10.

©November 2014 Losing Control Of The Senate: How To Destroy The Republic, Madame Publius™



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