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Federalist No. 10 (part 2)

James Madison argues in Federalist number 10 that a large republic is the best way to control factions and protect minority groups. He believes that a larger society with diverse views reduces the chance of one group dominating. Madison also suggests that the Constitution offers a balance between national and local interests.

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Video transcript

- [Instructor] In the part one video, we already saw James Madison and Federalist number 10. argue strongly that a republican form of government is better for addressing the issues of having an majority faction that might try to overrun minority groups. In this video, we're going to continue to see that argument that not only is a republic better, but if you're going to have a republic, it's better to have a large republic. In the next place, as each representative will be chosen by a greater number of citizens in the large, the large republic, than in the small republic. It will be more difficult for unworthy candidates to practice with success the vicious art by which elections are too often carried and the suffrages of the people be more free will be more likely to center in men who possess the most attractive merit. Once again, elite democracy, and the most diffusive and established characters. Once again, elite democracy. So here, he is making the argument that not only in a large republic will you have a better choice of candidates, but because the candidates have to appeal each to a large number of people, that they are less likely to come to power through shady dealings and you're mostly likely to get the best folks. It must be confessed that in this, as in most other cases, there is a mean on both sides of which inconveniences will be found to lie. So you say hey look, there is, as in all things, there is kind of a moderate middle ground. By enlarging too much the number of electors, you render the representatives to little acquainted with all their local circumstances and lesser interests, as by reducing it too much, you render him unduly attached to these and too little fit to comprehend and pursue great and national objects. The federal Constitution forms a happy combination in this respect. The great and aggregate interests being referred to the national, the local and particular to the state legislatures. So what he's saying is that the Constitution offers this really nice balance here. You can have the people participating at the national level who are interested in the great and aggregate interests and it's okay if those folks aren't completely attached to what is happening at home, the local interests. In fact, he'd probably prefer that they're not attached too much to the local interests, but the local interests could be focused at the state legislatures, which the Constitution provides for. The other point of difference, so once again, he is referring to the difference between a republican government and a pure democracy. The greater number of citizens in the extent of territory which may be brought within the compass of republican than of democratic government. So it's that point that he believes the republican government can better govern a large population than a pure democracy and it is this circumstance principally which renders the factious combinations less to be dreaded in the former than in the latter. So he's saying because a republican model can govern over more people, it better addresses this issue of factious combinations. The smaller the society, the fewer probably will be the distinct parties and interests composing it. The fewer the distinct parties and interests, the more frequently will a majority be found of the same party, and the smaller the number of individuals composing a majority and the smaller the compass within which they are placed, the more easily will they concert and execute their plans of oppression. Extend the sphere and you take in a greater variety of parties and interests. You make it less probable that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens. What Madison is saying here is if you have too small of a society, you're not going to have enough pluralism, you're not going to have enough points of view, that it will be easy because people will be very aligned for a majority to take over and infringe on the rights of a minority. So he is very pro pluralism here. He wants to see a large society with many different views because he says if you have a large society with many different views, with many different parties, so to speak, well then it's less likely that one party can just take over and infringe on the rights of other people. This is the exact opposite of what Brutus one argues for. Brutus one argues that pluralism is a bad thing, that people are just going to be bickering the whole time and decisions aren't going to be made. Brutus one argues that in a republic, people should be of roughly the same opinion, to have roughly the same interests while here in Federalist number 10, Madison is arguing that no, pluralism is a good thing, it is a check on an overbearing faction, it is a check on majority rule. Hence, it clearly appears that the same advantage which a republic has over a democracy in controlling the effects of faction is enjoyed by a large over a small republic, is enjoyed by the Union over the states composing it. So the big picture of Federalist number 10 is how do you control faction? And faction is really about how do you control a majority faction that's trying to control everyone else and trying to oppress everyone else. Madison makes the argument that one, through a republican system, you're more like to do this, by having a representative government. And then if you have that, you want to make it larger rather than smaller so that you have a pluralist society, so you have many points of view and you don't have one group being able to dominate. And in order to have that larger society, the Union is more favorable over having 13 independent, sovereign states. In the extent and proper structure of the Union, therefore, we behold a republican remedy for the diseases most incident to republican government and according to the degree of pleasure and pride we feel in being republicans ought to be our zeal and cherishing the spirit and supporting the character of Federalists.