Letters to the Editor - January 25, 2017

We must unite

Editor:

Children must play!! The political display this week coming from the democrats was alarming, and should be alarming to all Americans. It was misfits acting out their aggression and vengeance on the newly elected President Trump. No regard at all for the American and European onlookers, wanting civility and getting actual work done that hasn’t been done in eight years except to spend our tax money. Seniors have had no SSI increase in two years? Our bridges still need fixing? Misfits the lot of them! The message is “Anything goes”, “Break the law!” That’s all we’ve heard from those running off at the mouth Governors, Mayors who have illegal safe havens.

The liberals of today have done a great job! Our elite colleges are full of misfits calling themselves professors. Students are intolerant and ignorant. Those that are the exception are afraid to voice their opinion, because they will be retaliated against.

We have weapons of mass destruction that can wipe all humanity out of existence and you continue down the road to Perdition?? We and the rest of the world are watching, I’m sure sad and disappointed at what they have seen and heard so far. For humanity we must unite.

We must pray to be a united people of all faiths in peace.

Analie Maccree
Goodyear

 

A republic you say? (EC2)

Editor:

Some have claimed we have the Electoral College because America is a republic. Well, yes and no. To understand why that claim is exaggerated and inaccurate, one must know what the word “republic” means, and the history of the College.

The basic principles America was founded on are democratic. “Government of the people, by the people, and for the people” as Lincoln said. Or, as Jefferson put it (in the Declaration of Independence) it is a government deriving its just powers from the consent of the governed.

Now democratic governments can take many forms. Britain, though technically a Monarchy, is actually a democracy, since the government is chosen by the people through their election of Parliament. And, since it’s Parliament which makes the laws, Britain is also a republic.

Ancient Rome was supposedly a “republic”, as is North Korea (officially the “People’s Democratic Republic”), but I doubt any of us would want to live in either place, for much the same reason. In both “republics” the people had/have little or no real say in the government which ruled/rules over them. The “noble families” of Rome controlled the Senate, and we know who really rules North Korea.

Then there’s Classical Athens, which was a pure democracy. Laws were made, and government decisions adopted, by the body of the people acting directly. There was no Parliament, Senate, or Congress, no legislative body deciding these things on behalf of the people.

As Madison says (in Federalist Paper #14): “The true distinction between these forms . . . . is that in a democracy the people meet and exercise the government in person; in a republic they assemble and administer it by their representatives and agents.” That, of course, is how the Electoral College was supposed to function. (But that’s not how it does.)

Gordon P.R. Posner
Tolleson

 

EC could be thing of past

Editor:

Mr. Posner, Original Intent:

You ask that we do not comment until you write additional letters to the editor. Since your opening argument is so weak I chose to ignore your advice. Also for your information, Hamilton was also an advocate for political parties while George Washington was against them, Washington explained his reasoning in his farewell address. Keep in mind that tallying the popular vote would have taken years back in 1790 when Washington was first elected. Your view of this topic is obviously colored by the fact that your candidate was elected, instead of by the simple fact that the people of this country are supposed to select their governmental leaders, not unknown party leaders in a back room.

Your candidate announced in his press conference that the Republicans would announce an improvement on health care that would be “MAGNIFICANT”. He mentioned that there would be lower deductibles and lower costs for health care in general. He also mentioned that one of the major problems with our current system was the pharmaceutical industry. He failed to mention whether the new system would be federally sponsored or run by the insurance industry. He might also want to consider the practice of hospitals charging a fraction for their services when presented by an insurance company compared to individuals for the same service.

Whatever he does to lower healthcare costs will require legislation from congress to accomplish, the same congress that for a lot longer than 8 years has been writing legislation specifically written to increase the profits of the very same industries causing the high cost of healthcare.

Mr. Trump may well become known as the President that helped eliminate The Electoral Congress.

Art Boyle
Buckeye

 

Info omitted in editorial

Editor:

As a former licensed Driving Instructor for 12 years, I read with interest any article about Driving and the Rules of the Road. And, several years ago, I had the privilege of being a Guest Commentator for the WWV on a Editorial similar in nature.

Now, with regards to your Editorial, Drivers training demise results in more laws, in the January 11, 2017 WWV, there are 2 omissions.

You write, “The rules of the road are no longer taught hands on by a trained instructor”.

Indeed, in the Public School System, Drivers Ed is virtually history. And the few schools that still offer this, are swamped with a backlog of students waiting their turn. However, there is another option. And that is a public 3rd Party Driving School. Most schools offer several different courses, including refresher training, not only for the teen driver, but also for spouses and foreign nationals.

Of course, depending on the program and the school, the fees vary greatly. So, just like with anything you buy, it pays to shop around.

Also, you write, “The really lucky ones have parents who weren’t only taught the rule of the road but also taught road etiquette”.

Back when I was teaching, I was usually able to speak with at least one parent while going over the performance of their teen son, or daughter. And, it was amazing at the number of parents who had forgotten much about the “rules and etiquette”, whereas a “trained instructor” lives and works by the rules everyday.

On a personal note, as someone who has been driving for 40 years, I have noticed that common sense and courtesy are two sadly lacking commodities in many drivers today.

Anthony Sanseverino
Litchfield Park

 

At last Gov. Ducey, thank you

Editor:

At long last, Governor Ducey has put something meaningful for our universities in his budget proposal: a tax recapture plan that will help our universities continue to attract talent and perform ground-breaking research.

We’ve had budget cuts for years and our universities have struggled to maintain the highest quality education to prepare students to meet the ever increasing need to be competitive in the marketplace. The tax recapture will allocate approximately $37 million to support vital capital infrastructure at our public universities.

The success of Arizona greatly depends on the success of our state universities. This is a very good plan.

Ben Carroll
Goodyear

 

Do not vote for Jim Cavanaugh

Editor:

Remember the annexation of Mobile? Yes, Mobile was annexed by the city of Goodyear when Jim Cavanaugh was mayor. He pushed for this annexation because of the huge ‘benefit’ Goodyear would receive, real estate taxes from 10,000 homes...that were never built! He was also a real estate businessman at the time, go figure. The only thing the annexation of Mobile resulted in was Goodyear residents paying for police and fire protection for Mobile residents. Jim Cavanaugh quit when he was mayor. Please DO NOT VOTE Jim Cavanaugh as mayor.

Louis Drinovsky
Goodyear

 

The good guys?

Editor:

The good guys? I do not think so.

There he goes again spouting falsehoods just like his idol.

Roy, California and New York are doing just fine. The states that are in such poor condition are Wisconsin, Indiana, Florida, North Carolina, Louisiana, Arizona and other Republican controlled states that believe they can serve their citizen populations by reducing taxes and services.

And if you believe ex-President’s Obama’s policies have been repudiated, have you been paying attention to the concerns of the 20 million people who are facing loss of their health protection? Or reductions in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

The good guys? I do not think so.

Arnold Knack
Avondale

 

CAG fees seem unfair

Editor:

I was noticing on my 2016 Property Tax Statement a fee of $452.10 under Special District Central Arizona GRD (CAG). For 2015 the Property Tax Statement displays $387.86. A $64.24 increase from year 2015. For year 2014 the Property Tax Statement displays $279.50. A $172.60 increase for the last 2 years. This seems kind of high to me. So I did some investigating. The small community that I live in contains roughly 90+ homes. If the average CAG fee is $450 a year that equates to roughly $40,500. Veranda also has a small strip of land (green belt) that has grass and trees in it. The 2016 CAG fee for this is $12,467.40. For 2015 the CAG fee was $10,899.40. An increase of $1568.00. So our small community of 90+ homes is paying for 2016 $52,967.74. That’s seems outrageous to me. I’ve tried calling CAG but they have not returned my calls yet.

Now get this, I did a check on some homes in Litchfield Park (that 3-mile oval with a fence around it) using the Maricopa County Assessor website which is for public use. And I discovered that the homes in that 3-mile oval do not have that Central Arizona GRD fee applied. Nor does the Wigwam or Litchfield Greens.

This to me is kind of odd because the Wigwam and Litchfield Greens have a golf course(s) on their property. And we all know golf course(s) use a lot of water.

So I am writing this so that you readers can investigate for yourself and let’s find out why the high increases each year and why are Litchfield Park and Litchfield Greens residents not paying for this fee even though they have the golf course(s) there in their area.

Bill Alcocer
Litchfield Park

 

Unfairness in reporting

Editor:

When I grew up, I learned the press was informative and always shared the news in a positive and independent manner. Then I moved to the West Valley from New England and learned, by experience, that this is not true of the West Valley View. They are very opinionated and let it be known!

One always knows in advance, by reading your editorials, exactly who and what you support and don’t support. In the edition of January 18th, it’s quite clear you do not support either of the Goodyear Mayoral candidates because of their “appointed then ran/are running for election terms”. Why didn’t you do the same when Rogers and then Weise ran in Avondale? They too were appointed and not only ran and ran, but changed the Charter for election dates so they got yet an additional year of service. But, of course, you supported and stood with them.

With your attitude, no wonder the paper gets thinner and thinner with little real news, except of course, SPORTS! Why would anyone advertise in this type of paper? They too may not get supported.

Betty S Lynch
Litchfield Park

 

Trump will hurt the poor

Editor:

here’s is What i fill About Danald J. Trump. his Name Says it All. he’s Trump the Scrump. And Will Trump On All of us Poor Peopel. What i Mean by That. he wont’s To Take Away The Obama Care. and Send the Imagrants Back Acr oss The border And builden That Stupid Wall To Keep Them from Crossing To The United States To work for Little are Less. And take Away our MediCare An SS i founds & fedral founds that’s what Trump the Srunp want’s To do. i have No Reppect for this Man. None What So Ever As for as i’m Councierend. Trump The Scrump is a Screw ball. him & his Staff And family n all. hillory Cliton Should have Been Our Next Prisedent Of The U.S. Not Trump.

 

Mary Scott
Buckeye

 

Demeanor was disrespectful

Editor:

Bored, uncomfortable, annoyed, disrespectful, all words that I believe best represents President Trumps’ demeanor at the Inauguration Prayer Service on Sunday morning. I am not a sleeve wearing Christian, but I do believe in God and believe he has carried this great country through thick and thin. Especially at this time in our history and with the challenges before us, we certainly need His blessings. The “Faith of Our Fathers” cannot and should not be lost at this critical time in our history.

Don Rerick
Litchfield Park

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Comments

Gordon Posner's picture

Dear Factless Wonder:

   The only "proof" you provide is a deceptively edited anecdote, of dubious authenticity, to which you then append your rambling (and wholly unsupported) "explanation" of  why it exists.  There is only one Truth here, and that is you are a mindless ideologue and partisan, a true follower of Lying Trump, who doesn't care about truth, facts, or accuracy, only about spouting his worthless opinions.

   Speaking of which, aren't Patrick and I entitled to our opinion that yours is worthless, because you have no proof to back it up?  Or does your "it's just an opinion" rule work only for the "Conservatively Correct"?

   Not only are you factless, you're also a hypocrite!

Gordon Posner's picture

Dear Factless Wonder:

   Thank you for indulging in the very deception I said "conservatives" (of your ilk) love to engage in.

http://www.westvalleyview.com/comment/25902#comment-25902

   By the way, there's reason to doubt this ever happened.  There's no reference to it (so far as I could find) in any of Franklin's own papers.  It appears the only known "source" for this anecdote is in the writings of another member of the Constitutional Convention, and it was only published in 1906!

http://www.bartleby.com/73/1593.html

I think a quote attributed to another great American is appropriate to bear in mind.

Gordon Posner's picture

Dear Patrick:

   Sorry, but like his "messiah" (Lying Trump) he doesn't care about truth, is incapable of recognizing the truth, and certainly can't admit he's wrong (since in his subjective opinion he never is)!

Gordon Posner's picture

Dear Factless Wonder:

   Sorry, but just about everything you said was inaccurate, irrelevant, and just plain wrong.

   In contrast, Patrick's point was correct.  Just because something is called a Republic doesn't make it one, and as I pointed out in another Comment nothing you wrote has anything to do with being a republic - let alone our republic.  (It does, as Patrick said, have everything to do with being Constitutional, and with the provisions of the Constitution "We, the People" chose to enact - through our representatives.)

   And once again, Roy, you are not "entitled" to have a worthless opinion accepted or respected.  I don't care how many times you state an "opinion" that the Sun orbits the Earth, or the Moon is made of cheese, it's still false!  That's also the case with the opinions you've been spewing here on this topic.

P.S. - And would you also defend Hitler's opinions, those of Bin Laden or ISIS?  It's not that your opinions are "repugnant", it's that they're FALSE!  (But, of course, you don't believe in Truth, do you?)

Gordon Posner's picture

Dear Patrick:

   Well said.  If I do say so myself.  wink

Gordon Posner's picture

http://www.westvalleyview.com/comment/25904#comment-25904

   Even repeated, your Comment remains worthless!

Gordon Posner's picture

Dear Factless Wonder:

   No, this nation wasn't founded on any god, and certainly not Jesus.  This is another dance we've done before, but let's do it again.  Please answer the following questions:

A) Why is there no mention of Jesus, Christianity, or any Religion in any of the legal provisions of the Constitution?  Why is the document literally god-less?

B) Why is the only mention of Religion in what I call "The Three No's"?

1) No religious test for public office (meaning anyone can serve in government, regardless of their religious belief, or lack thereof) - Article VI, Paragraph 3?

2) No establishment of religion - First Amendment?

3) No prohibitting the free exercise thereof - Ditto?

   The answer is that this nation wasn't founded on Jesus or any other god.  But it was founded on the principle of Separation of Church and State!

   Oh, and Roy, it was exactly people like you James Madison had in mind when he wrote these words (which should sound familiar):

a zeal for different opinions concerning religion, . . ., have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good. . . .

   That makes you, and people like you, a threat to popular governments Madison was writing about, whether those governments are in the form of a pure democracy, or a republic.

   And once again your "facts" are non-existent, which is why your opinion is worthless!

Gordon Posner's picture

Dear Factless Wonder:

            Lather, rinse, repeat.  You’ve made these same phony arguments before, and I demolished them before.  But let’s do the Time Warp again, and repeat the process.

            Remember, an opinion is only as good as the facts and reason which support it.  It’s not enough to cobble together (as you have) a set of disconnected “facts” (many of which are irrelevant or erroneous), you also have to provide reasoning as to how said facts prove your point (assuming they do).  As usual, you’ve failed both tests.

            First, though, where do you get the idea I said America is a Democracy?  I said it’s based on the democratic principle of government by the people, and so it is.  I quoted not only the first Republican President (Lincoln), but also the man who stated the basic principle in the Declaration of Independence (Jefferson).  But I also said America is a Republic, and explained why.  (Something I’ve further expanded on in my other Comment today.*)  Neither have I claimed the terms are interchangeable.  Stop arguing against a Straw Man of your own creation.

* http://www.westvalleyview.com/comment/25902#comment-25902

            I invoke the words of the Founders, and what do you provide in response?  The Pledge of Allegiance?  Really?  Tell me, sir, which of the Founders wrote that Pledge?  The answer, of course, is NONE!

            Nor did it play any part in the adoption of the Constitution.  It was written in August of 1892 (over a century after the  Constitution was adopted), by Reverend Francis Bellamy – Baptist and Christian Socialist.  How progressive of you to rely on his work!  (And how irrelevant it is to how the U.S. government was created, or its form.)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pledge_of_Allegiance

            I’d also take care when invoking the Pledge, particularly if going on to mention Nazi Germany.  You see, Bellamy also specified the salute which was to accompany the Pledge, and be performed as it was recited.  Here’s a photo of it.  Look familiar?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bellamy_salute

 

            No, Roy, a Republic doesn’t mean there are protections for the minority.  Majority Rule is the basic republican principle.  Indeed, as I’ve told you before, in Federalist Paper Number 142 Hamilton declared it to be:

… that fundamental maxim of republican government, which requires that the sense of the majority should prevail.

            I must add what Madison said in Paper Number 10 (discussed more fully in my other Comment) about how republics can defeat factions.

If a faction consists of less than a majority, relief is supplied by the republican principle, which enables the majority to defeat its sinister views by regular vote.

            Notice, no talk there of “protections” for the “minority point of view”.

            But what if the faction is the majority?  Again, I discussed this in my other Comment, quoting Madison’s concern that such a faction “sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens”.  What remedy for that did he propose?  Not protection for the “minority point of view”.  Instead, he argued that the greater size a republic could have would protect the minority by making “it less probable that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens”.

            In this regard, please remember that Madison initially opposed the addition of a Bill of Rights to the Constitution, and argued the document should be adopted without one.  Clearly, he saw no need for such protections back when the Constitution was being drafted and debated, nor did he regard them as the hallmark of a republic versus a democracy.

            And remember, the original Bill of Rights was passed by the British Parliament, back when monarchs still ruled that nation!  Or did Britain suddenly become a “republic” during the reign of William and Mary?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_of_Rights_1689

            Of course, you also forget the examples I provided of other “republics” (Ancient Rome and North Korea). Care to state what “protections” the minority enjoyed in either?

            Madison himself warned about how the word “Republic” has been misapplied and misused (in Paper Number 39).

Holland, in which no particle of the supreme authority is derived from the people, has passed almost universally under the denomination of a republic.  The same title has been bestowed on Venice, where absolute power over the great body of the people is exercised in the most absolute manner by a small body of hereditary nobles.

            Notice what’s missing from those descriptions?  Got a clue as to why Madison refuses to call them “republics”?  Don’t bother guessing, he goes on to tell us.

. . . we may define a republic to be, or at least may bestow that name on a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people, and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure for a limited period, or during good behavior.  It is essential to such a government that it be derived from the great body of society, not from an inconsiderable proportion or a favored class of it; . . . .   It is sufficient for such a government that the persons administering it be appointed, either directly or indirectly, by the people; . . . .

            Again, no mention of “protections” for the “minority point of view”.  That just isn’t part of the definition of a Republic understood and employed by the Founders.   The essential requirement is that the government derives its power from “the great body of the people” (or from “the consent of the governed” as Jefferson put it), and that it be administered by representatives chosen by the people (whether directly, as with the House of Representatives, or indirectly, as with the President).

            And remember the full story about Ben Franklin’s conversation with that woman outside the Constitutional Convention (discussed at the start of my other Comment)?  He’s not the only Founder who thought the true distinction was between a Monarchy and a Republic.  Hamilton (in Paper Number 84) declared that the Constitution’s ban on titles of nobility (Article I, Section 9, Paragraph 8):

. . . may truly be denominated the cornerstone of republican government; for so long as they are excluded there can never be serious danger that the government will be any other than that of the people.

            Sounds to me like your argument is with the Founders of this nation!

            Oh, and if lynch mobs are to be found in democracies, doesn’t the prevalence of such mobs in your beloved South indicate America (or those parts of it) is a democracy?  (Of course, one could argue that such mobs tend to be a minority of the populace, taking the law into their own hands, which can happen under any form of government.  Which is why even Monarchies have sheriffs, and other “Officers of the Law”!)

            Sorry to have to tell you this, but Nazi Germany wasn’t a democracy of any kind.  It was a dictatorship.  Moreover, it didn’t arise in a “democracy” as you define that term.  Hitler became the chancellor of the Weimar Republic, which republic he then proceeded to destroy (in the name of making Germany “great” again).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weimar_Republic

           As to how democracies and republics have become dictatorships, we’ve discussed that too.  Once again the answer (and warning) is found in The Federalist Papers.  (The very first, written by Hamilton.)

History will teach us that . . . of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people, commencing demagogues and ending tyrants.

            Gee, sound like anyone we know (currently in charge of the nation)?

            And it’s not just these Founders you have a problem with.  Jefferson (together with Madison) formed the first of the current political parties.  It was called the Democratic – Republicans (now known as the Democratic Party).  Clearly they thought being democratic was essential to a republic.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic-Republican_Party

           On that point Jefferson was very clear, declaring that “democratical societies” have the “avowed object” of nourishing “the republican principles of our Constitution”.  Letter to James Madison, December 28, 1794, printed on page 529 of The Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson (Random House, 1972).

            And speaking of protecting minorities, here’s Lincoln’s definition of “democracy”.

As I would  not be a slave, so I would not be a master.  This expresses my idea of democracy.  Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy.

            Abraham Lincoln, Speeches and Writings 1832 – 1858 (Library of America, 1989), page 484.

            But wait, there’s more!  (If you can cite the Pledge, try these other “proofs”.)

            Ever heard of Alexis De Tocqueville?  He wrote what many consider to be the most perceptive and influential book ever written about American politics and society.  Know what its title is?  Democracy In America!

            Moving to the 20th Century, Winston Churchill (that arch opponent of Hitler and all tyrants) wrote a four volume series on A History of the English Speaking Peoples.  Care to know the title of the volume where he discusses the United States?  The Great Democracies!

            Finally, we come to someone I’ve written about before, back when this nonsense was first raised in the View.  (November or December of 2013)  I responded to someone who (like you) objected to calling America a democracy.  I invoked a “saint” of Republicans and “conservatives”.  Here is what I wrote:


During a speech at Westminster (addressing members of the British Parliament), an American official called Western Europe "our sister democracies". This brazen fellow dared to claim he was speaking "for all Americans" when he described Parliament as "one of democracy’s shrines", and praised "democratic countries" as "prosperous and responsive to the needs of their people". Approving of what he called "the democratic revolution" around the world, he said its outcome would depend on how "we conduct ourselves here in the Western democracies", calling for those nations "to foster the infrastructure of democracy" (including, horrors, support for unions). He praised "democratic tolerance and diversity" in contrast with "a rigid cultural orthodoxy". In conclusion, he looked forward "to working with" (among others) "Congress in the common task of strengthening democracy throughout the world." He proclaimed "It is time we committed ourselves as a nation . . . to assisting democratic development", ending with hope for "the march of freedom and democracy".

    But, not once did he refer to America as a republic!

    Who, pray tell, was this dreaded ‘Progressive’ (‘obviously’ a member of the Obama Administration), and when did he make this speech?

    Answer: President Reagan, in 1982!

    See: Speech At Westminster - http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/document/speech-at-westminster/


            I guess you don’t want his portrait on Mount Rushmore any more.

            So, Roy, once again we see that you don’t know what you’re talking about!  All you offer is your own ignorance and arrogance, venturing “opinions” that are completely worthless.  Small wonder you don’t bother with facts, when you try you’re terrible at it.

            Still, there is some good news.  If you were worried about competition from Mr. Boyle for the title of “Factless Wonder”, rest easy.  Your “crown” is secure!

 

Gordon Posner's picture

   There’s a story “conservatives” tell, but always leaving out a vital part.  As he was leaving Constitution Hall (where the Constitution had been secretly drafted), Ben Franklin was approached by a woman who asked: “Well, Doctor Franklin, what’s it to be, a Monarchy or a Republic?”.  Franklin replied: “A Republic madam, if you can keep it.”

   “Conservatives” love to omit the question Franklin was asked, to make it seem like the choice was between a Democracy or a Republic, instead of (as it was) between a Monarchy and a Republic.  This allows them to play word games and imply that anything “democratic” must be bad, but anything “republican” must be good.  But that little bit of deception only begs the question:  Why a republic?  The answers, again, can be found in The Federalist Papers.  There were many reasons, but let’s discuss the most important ones (especially as regards the Electoral College).

 

Geography

   Even at the start, the United States covered a vast area, far greater (for example) than even Great Britain (the most powerful nation at the time).  How could any one government cover such a territory?  Remember this was the 18th Century, when neither rapid transportation nor communication existed.  For example, travel between New York City and Washington would take a week or more, whereas today it’s less than an hour by plane.  And, of course, there was no radio, T.V., or an Internet.  For these reasons (among others) opponents of the Constitution argued that the United States should, instead of being one country, be split up into several, smaller, “confederacies”.

   This argument was largely based on the example of Classical Greece, where direct (or “pure”) Democracy was the form of government.  Indeed, the nature of that form of government worked best (if at all) only because Greece was divided into several City-States, each relatively small in size both as to territory and population. The ability of the populace to directly assemble and make decisions about the government, its laws, and even render judicial decisions, could only work in such places.  Try to imagine all of America governed that way in the 18th Century, whether by Town Meetings (as in much of New England, by which many local laws are made*), or by ballot referendums (as here in Arizona).  It wouldn’t work.  Not only would slow travel and communications make it take “forever”, but people’s lives would be so occupied with that chore that nothing else could be done.  (Even with an Internet today, imagine trying to debate and pass laws for the United States that way.)

*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Town_meeting

   But the other example was the Roman Republic.  Even as it grew to encompass much of the known world (at the time), its government continued to function.  That’s because it was a representative form of government.  Instead of all the people having to gather to make laws (etc.), their chosen representatives did that on their behalf.  Far fewer people had to gather together to pass laws (etc.), and they could devote the time necessary to do it.  In a sense they were a professional group, whose job was to run the Republic.  They could meet at a central location (the city of Rome itself), intelligently debate the issues of the day, and administer first the Republic and then the Empire no matter how large they became.

   (Again, Rome is an imperfect model to follow, since it was hardly “democratic” or “representative” in the sense we think of.  Certainly there was no Roman Bill of Rights!  But the advantages of that form of government over the Grecian pure democracy should be clear.)

   In Federalist Paper Number 10 Madison makes this same distinction:

The two great points of difference between a democracy and a republic are: first, the delegation of the government, in the latter, to a small number of citizens elected by the rest; secondly, the greater number of citizens and greater sphere of country over which the latter may be extended.

   He repeats this point in the very paragraph I quoted in my Letter (from Paper Number 14), which ends by observing that because democracies are run by all the people, directly, while republics are run by representatives of the people (a much smaller group):

A democracy, consequently, must be confined to a small spot.  A republic may be extended over a large region.

   He goes on (in the same Paper) to a more specific discussion of the problem of geography:

As the natural limit of a democracy is that distance from the central point which will just permit the most remote citizens to assemble as often as their public functions demand, and will include no greater number than can join in those functions, so the natural limit of a republic is that distance from the center which will barely allow the representatives of the people to meet as often as may be necessary . . . .

   It’s obvious that it will be far easier for representatives, fewer in number and selected for this task, to fulfill it, than to expect all the citizens to do so.  In a nation as large as the U.S. was then, and has become now, it would be impossible to operate as a pure democracy given these constraints imposed by geography (and time).

   These arguments still are valid today, even with rapid travel and communication.  True, we could have a Federal government run directly by the people.  (We’d do away with Congress, which some think preferable.)  And given the Internet, a national referendum is easily conducted.  But imagine having to vote on every single law, or every single change in policy.  (For example, building President Trump’s “Wall”.)  To properly debate the issues involved would take months, during which nothing else could be done.  Direct democracy might be more possible than in the 18th Century, but it would hardly be preferable.  For all the fashionable ranting about those “within the Beltway”, if we are true to the original intent of the Founders, and recognize the wisdom of it, then America must remain a representative form of government – a republic.

   Obviously, these points apply to the Electoral College as well, which is why it too was created to be a representative form, instead of electing a President by direct popular vote.  This also explains why the President isn’t chosen on Election Night, but only several weeks later.  (As I said in my first Letter, the real presidential Election didn’t occur until December 19th, long after Election Day.)  It took time for the Electors, chosen on Election Night, to gather at their State Capitols to cast their votes in the real election.  It’s also why the President isn’t officially elected until the Electors’ votes are gathered and tallied in Congress.  (Article II, Section 1, Paragraph 2 – as later amended.)  In the 18th Century that’s the only way it could be done.  Announcing who “won” on Election night was impossible.

   (Of course, one could argue geography no longer is a problem for this task, but I’ll discuss the changes in the College, and the nation, in later Letters and Comments.)

 

Factions

   Madison, again, has much to say about this, and how republics may help to combat it, most of it in Paper Number 10.  He begins by stating this “dangerous vice” is a threat to, and frequent occurrence in, popular government.  How then to eliminate it or reduce its effects?

   Well, it turns out that it can’t be eliminated!

As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. . . .

The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man; . . . . [For example a] zeal for different opinions concerning religion, . . ., have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good. . . .

The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of government.

 

   Thus, Madison concludes, the causes of faction cannot be removed.  Instead a means must be found to control its effects.  His answer is a republic, for a number of reasons.

   The first is the republican principle of Majority Rule.  This prevents a faction composed of a minority of the people from taking control.  But what if the faction consists of a majority?  Then both the public good and the rights of other citizens may be sacrificed to the passions of the majority.

   Madison states that a pure democracy (“by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person”) can’t solve the problem.  But a republic can.  Again, why?

   Here is where the distinction he makes between democracies and republics comes in, and is worth repeating.

The two great points of difference between a democracy and a republic are: first, the delegation of the government, in the latter, to a small number of citizens elected by the rest; secondly, the greater number of citizens and greater sphere of country over which the latter may be extended.

   And here is how those differences operate to solve the problem of factions:

The effect of the first difference is, . . . , to refine and enlarge the public views by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations.

   Sound familiar?  Isn’t it the same idea as expressed in my first Letter and Comment in this series?

In Paper #68, Alexander Hamilton observed that the President should be chosen according to “the sense of the people”.  But that didn’t mean the people would directly make that choice.  Instead, they would vote for a group of Electors, who would then make the decision on behalf of the people!  (Much as Congress makes decisions as to our laws on our behalf – in theory anyway.)

 It’s important to note that the Electors were to use their independent judgment in making that choice, and not simply, slavishly, follow the vote in their State (let alone the vote in the entire nation).  The decision was to be based on their analysis of what was needed in a President, and was to be the product of their deliberation, which was to be conducted in a judicious manner.

John Jay (in Paper #64) also emphasized that the members of the Electoral College, rather than the voters, would decide who'd be President.  That’s why the College exists.

   But what of the second difference with democracies Madison spoke of – the greater number of citizens and territory a republic may contain?  How does that defeat the evils of faction?

The smaller the society, the fewer probably will be the distinct parties and interests comprising it; . . . the more easily will they concert and execute their plan of oppression.  Extend the sphere and you take in 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; . . . .

 

   The same reasoning applies to the Electoral College, by providing representation to the different States, it brings together their differing (sometimes conflicting) interests, making it less like that a combination of them may dominate the whole, and requiring that a candidate for President must try to appeal to those disparate interests if (once elected) the candidate is to enjoy the faith and confidence of the whole.

   Of course, that’s how it’s supposed to work in theory.  A review of history will show how it works in practice, and how it got that way.  My coming Letters and Comments discuss that.

porr000's picture

Roy,

I find it amusing that you accused Gordon of the very thing you yourself are now doing:

You wrote above:

"The thing about" (INSERT YOUR NAME HERE) "is that if he does not agree with someone's opinion he tears them down and tries to marginalized that person. That is bad."

There is a word for that. It is called HYPOCRISY.

Patrick

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