Josh Burek: Political Activism for the Rest of Us?





[Josh Burek writes for the CS Monitor.]

It was refreshing to hear about Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity. Mr. Stewart's rally is ambitious, to say the least: He wants busy, non-extremists to put their lives on hold and join him in an effort to "take it down a notch for America."...

Stewart has promised to feature special guests who will presumably address the problem posed by extreme factions in American politics. Too bad one of them couldn't be James Madison, because he provided what still stands as the best answer to this vexing question back in 1787.

In The Federalist No. 10, Madison examined the danger posed by factions in a democracy. He wrote: "Complaints are everywhere heard from our most considerate and virtuous citizens, equally the friends of public and private faith, and of public and personal liberty, that our governments are too unstable, that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties, and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority."...

So what was Madison's answer? Don't try to control the causes of factions, he warned.

Instead, we can control their effects – if we make sure that America is truly a republic, and not a pure democracy....


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