The great concern of the American Founders was that factionalism would result in irreconcilable differences. In Federalist 10, Madison argued against direct democracy, because it inevitably leads to factionalism. People have different interests due to differences in opinion, wealth and status. Naturally, the like-minded join together in factions to advance their interests, even at the expense of the community. The remedy was the representative structure in the proposed constitution.
In a big diverse country like America, there are very few things a large majority of the people will agree upon. There are the big things like individual rights and equality before the law, but most issues will only be supported by a plurality. If most people don’t care, then the plurality gets their way. If not, then the plurality is out of luck. The important thing is that there is general agreement on the big stuff and a willingness to ignore the small items or leave people to sort them on their own.
That was the point of the representative structure they devised. On the one hand, it prevented the fifty percent plus one from imposing its will on the rest. Tyranny of the majority is still tyranny. The system was designed to compel compromise among the factions that would inevitably form up. On the other hand, it delegated much of what mattered to people in their politics down to the states. This was to prevent one region from imposing its will on the rest.
The system did not last very long. Lincoln obliterated that old structure and created a new country dominated by the North, which explicitly wished to impose its morality on the rest of the country. Starting in the early 20th century, the ruling faction has been growing the power of the national government, at the expense of state government, in order to impose its will on the rest of the country. The full flowering of liberal democracy is minority rule, where a tiny group control everything.
This is exactly the sort of problem the Founders wished to avoid. By sharply limiting the power of the national government, it could never be a weapon used by one faction against the rest of the country. It would also prevent the formation of partisan schisms, where the two sides are defined by their opposition to the other. The new system would make it “more difficult for unworthy candidates to practice the vicious arts by which elections are too often carried.”
By “vicious arts” Madison meant the playing of one faction against another, in order to generate enthusiasm from one versus the other. The Founders understood that democracy always led to tyranny or anarchy. The antidote was republicanism, where individual or group interests were sublimated to the good of the whole, even when the individuals involved lacked the natural republican virtue. If Madison were alive today, he would recognize the pit into which we have fallen.
There are libraries full of books on how and why we quickly abandoned the system the Founders created. First it was the Civil War when the North conquered the rest of the country by force of arms. Then it was the slow dismantling of the federal system to create the system we today call liberal democracy. There will be libraries of books written on whatever comes next, assuming that what comes next is not a dark age. We are a long way from the original vision and we shall never return.
What is not discussed very often is how this evolution has arrived at a point where a significant portion of the people no longer accept reality. The partisanship and factionalism have reached a point where one faction is no longer able to agree with the other on basic points of reality. You see this in this post by a far-left activist working for the New York Times. The point of the post is to demonstrate that he will reject anything his enemy says, even when it is obvious fact.
Here we have the CDC posting updated information on the coronavirus that people with knowledge of how these things work suspected all along. The death counts were overblown, because the system was designed to do it. At some point the numbers get adjusted back to something closer to reality. In this case, the adjustment is newsworthy because it is so extreme. Still, it is a real thing, but the partisans cannot accept it, because they think it is supporting their enemies.
The same is true about the rioting this summer. You can go on-line and see people looting, fighting, burning and destroying things. Despite the thousands of hours of video on-line, the partisans demand we pretend they are peaceful outbursts over something they insist is true, despite the lack of evidence. When people they assume support Trump, their most supreme enemy, point out that these rioters are being underwritten and supported, they call it a conspiracy theory.
What makes this even more insane is the person who wrote that post, like the others in his ideological faction, spent years telling us invisible men with Slavic accents used mind control to alter the last election. They insisted that while the Biden family regularly takes bribes from foreign governments, noticing this is part of a conspiracy to undermine the democracy. These people not only oppose everything their enemies say, they create wild fantasies to justify their opposition.
Even though they did not use the word partisan in the modern sense, the Founders understood that groups of like-minded people could disagree with one another to the point where they could find no comprise. Their system was designed to force compromise, by preventing any one group from having complete power over the rest and thus imposing their will. That is the whole point of federalism and the separation of powers in the national government.
The Founders could not imagine partisanship in the modern Marxist sense, where the factions are defined in opposition to one another. Peter Baker, the writer of the New York Times post, is not able to think on his own. His partisan fervor now leads him to take the opposite of whatever he imagines his enemies are saying. If Trump says it is raining, then Mr. Baker will claim that his enemies have created a conspiracy theory where water falls from the sky.
If Mr. Baker were a lone lunatic, he could be dismissed, but he is representative of the ruling class. He is one of their paid spokesmen. How is it possible for normal people to reach a compromise with people who are defined by their unwillingness to reach any compromise with us? Who they are is defined by not agreeing with us on even the basic bits of observable reality. When a reporter is stationed in front of burning building and told to call it a peaceful protest, where’s the middle ground there?
We have reached a point where the ruling class is at war with reality. Part of that reality is they are a ruling class with certain duties and responsibilities. They reject that solely on the grounds that the people they rule over define a ruling class as having certain duties and responsibilities. This is why they celebrate the anarchists burning cities and murdering citizens. They oppose Trump, because he rhetorically represents the rest of us and they are the forever enemy of us.
There appears to be only two options at this stage. Either the ruling class abandons its war on the rest of us or the rest of us accept that we are at war. The former requires the ruling class to break free of the partisan madness that now grips them. This is something without precedent, but we live in an unprecedented time. The other option simply reacquires time. At some point, necessity will require people to accept reality and act accordingly. The rest is predictable.
Either way, we have reached a point that the Founders anticipated. They could not imagine men in sundresses shrieking like lunatics about white privilege, but they knew that unrestrained factionalism led to conflict. They knew that irreconcilable differences could only lead to one thing. That is where we find ourselves. Normal society is now at odds with the people that rule over it. Either the people in charge come to their senses or the people will have no choice but to remove them.
Note: The good folks at Alaska Chaga are offering a ten percent discount to readers of this site. You just click on the this link and they take care of the rest. About a year ago they sent me some of their stuff. Up until that point, I had never heard of chaga, but I gave a try and it is very good. It is like a tea, but it has a milder flavor. It’s hot here in Lagos, so I’ve been drinking it cold. It is a great summer beverage.
For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!