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Jan 4, 2018

Hello again and welcome to Federalist #10. You may remember I mentioned I'd be recording this the same night as #9.

I was startled to notice that #9, "The Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection" was written by Hamilton, and was rather intellectual. But #10, "The Same Subject Continued" came from James Madison, who seems so staid in the pictures, but who's a bit of a firebrand in this essay.

There's a lot to love about this one. Once again the author wrote a couple of centuries back, but seems to have watched TV last night. While I'm sure there was a temptation to high-flown rhetoric, Madison was cold-bloodedly pragmatic about the vulnerabilities of the Republic. He knew it wouldn't be perfect, but he knew it could be protected and made better.

I also noted Madison's reference to "the most numerous party, or, in other words, the most powerful faction," which reminded me of John Stuart Mill's mention in On Liberty, Chapter One, of "the majority, or those who succeed in making themselves accepted as the majority," more than a century later. Madison shows a realistic view of government one might not expect from the Federalist, if one approaches it as some sort of religious work, rather than what it is, a political work intended to convey rationally how one might form a durable republic, and to convince the citizens that this new Constitution would accomplish that.

It has been pointed out elsewhere that the founders assumed the citizens, if provided with the facts, would make intelligent choices. I'd expect that to be necessary in the foundation of any Republic. If the citizens aren't equipped to choose correctly, then you either equip them, or you choose a different form of government. But I think this essay makes clear that the founders understood the people could also make incredibly bad choices. The hope was that there'd be enough people making enough choices that it'd all come out fairly well even so.

I hope so, too.

The original text from Congress.gov

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