I have spent considerable time researching the differences between our political philosophies. I believe I have found the roots and will try to explain in this document. The essence of the differences seem to be how each of us defines the words “leader,” “representative,” “republic” and “democracy”.
This difference between us is not new, nor unique. It seems to have originated with the origin of the country itself and is often classically described as the Jeffersonian / Hamiltonian debate. That is how far back it goes!
I strongly suggest visiting each of the links I provided in the following document since they are external references that I hope convince you that I’m not just making this stuff up. I have accessed many other resources, but I feel these are the most educational and will suffice for my purposes.
This paper ends my part of our long discussion on this topic because in my mind the distinctions are now made, my positions are now clear, and are thoroughly documented below. Thanks for the incentive, the opportunity and the forum for helping me reach my justifications and conclusions. I am far less confused than I was and can now stand and defend my position much more resolutely.
Sorry for the length of this document (about 24 printed pages). I tried my best to explain my reasoning completely and that took a while. The document is designed to be read from beginning to end, but links are provided in the table of contents. Before you send any questions, please read the entire document at least once.
You are welcome and encouraged to have the last word if there are any word left although I think I've used up most of them! I am interested in your response, but unless you specifically request further debate, I will offer none. I can agree to disagree if that is how it ends. Based on what is written below, I think I’ve said enough (you will probably agree).
Now that this is written, I am taking a short break, then moving on to globalization, economics and the economy. I guess this is what happens as you approach 50.
Steve's Hamiltonian/Jeffersonian Opinion
©2003 Steve Waller, All rights reserved. For reproduction of any kind, questions or comments, contact the author.
Alexander Hamilton (more info and bio) (Secretary of the Treasury from 1789 - 1795) was the undisputed expert on economics. Most others in government agreed that he knew more about how money worked in an economy than any other government official at that time (which was important because there was considerable debt remaining from the revolutionary war). He was a federalist. His vision was that commerce was the future of the country, that concentration of wealth and power made it more manageable and that management of wealth and power is the ultimate goal, the ultimate good, the solution for the future from which national prosperity grows. His “Excise Tax” prompted the “Whiskey Rebellion” in 1794. He resigned from his position as Secretary of the Treasury in 1795. Today he would be called a capitalist or probably a conservative or republican (a very loosely defined term). He was shot in a duel by Aaron Burr, his political rival in 1804.
Thomas Jefferson (President from 1801 – 1809) was the anti-Hamilton. Jefferson did not hate Hamilton, but recognized him as a powerful and dangerous opponent. Jefferson’s vision saw science, resources, land, agriculture, decentralization and the power of individual people (at the time, yeoman farmers; people who cultivate their own land) as the ultimate goal, the ultimate good, the solution for the future from which national prosperity grows. He was the leader of the Democratic-Republicans (that is where the term came from). He wrote: ""Our legislators are not sufficiently apprized of the rightful limits of their power; that their true office is to declare and enforce only our natural rights and duties, and to take none of them from us." Today he would probably be called a liberal or democrat (a very loosely defined term). He died at age 83 on the 4th of July 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence which Jefferson wrote.
The two ideologues were the leaders of the first opposing political parties. Parties are not part of the Constitutional framework. They formed on their own afterwards. George Washington, a target of these parties, disliked political parties so much that his 1796 Farewell Address focused on their dangers. I too believe that political parties belong OUTSIDE of congress, not inside, but we will save that for another discussion.
Add to these two ideologues and party leaders a masterfully crafted document called the U.S. Constitution, the supreme law of the land, that was penned after more than 10 years (1777 – 1787) of independent state rule. Finally after a year of arduous heated debates and threats by ideologists from many sides, from competing States, and divergent cultures, all determined to see their special interests included in the supreme law, and all unsure about the consequences and opportunities of what they were formalizing at the time, delegates from each state crafted the Constitution.
The result formalized a government but not an ideology. It chose a framework, but did not choose sides. It left the future to debate so that the unknowns of the future can be decided at the time when more is known. It enumerated a specific limited list of governmental powers but allowed amendments. It specified Representatives but did not specifically define the term. It specified a Republic, but did not specifically define that term either.
The Constitution created a brain, but did not tell it what to think. It leaves the ideology of the country to those who are living in it at the time. It is a brilliant, flexible, living document that exhales yesterday and inhales today. Its heartbeat is debate. It is different today than it was yesterday. Its future won’t be known until tomorrow’s debate ends.
Within the Constitutional framework, both of our ideologies are valid. We can each interpret different valid ideologies because the Constitution is an instrument of debate not of direction. It says “Duke it out boys, may the best ideology win!” And so we should. THAT is how our Constitution evolves. Debate is how it adapts to the conditions of the day. Any attempt to stifle debate stops the Constitution’s heartbeat, freezes it in time, and kills it.
Read these definitions:
Each of these definitions has a time component. Their definitions evolve over time, as is often explained within the definitions, and so does the political situation each tries to describe. The truth seems to be that the definitions today are for us to decide by debate, and to decide again through more debate tomorrow when conditions change. What is NOT specifically defined in the Constitution is OPEN for debate, what IS specifically defined in the Constitution is NOT OPEN for debate, unless an amendment is proposed.
The arguments offered against democracy of the common people usually consist of worries about “mob rule”, “emotional thinking”, the imposition of “the will of the majority upon the minority” and warnings of people’s tendency towards greed. Then, after citing a few extreme examples, the anti democrats extol the virtues of a republic (as they define it) where the will of the common people are tempered by wise and noble representatives who decide FOR the emotional, greedy, self centered, disrespectful people who elected him.
Thus the republicans feel, by deciding FOR the people instead of acting as their delegate or proxy, the republic is protected and America is great because the “right” people are making the decisions. This is the common arguments for those republicans who prefer to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of the few (the decision makers they believe themselves to be) instead of the hands of the many who are different from them and who may impotently disagree after the election.
For these republicans, when the election is over the people’s job is done. The people gave the representative their power and it is up to the representative now to make the best decisions. This is the classic Hamiltonian position.
What is NOT mentioned by the Hamiltonian republicans is that the concerns about democracy are primarily about “pure democracy”, the direct will of the majority in the absence of any other constraint. Historically, pure democracy HAS resulted in undesirable results. For example, there are far more non-whites than blacks so, in a pure democracy, slavery could easily be established.
The founding fathers were among the sources of the warnings and were aware that even democracy’s desirable qualities (there were many, including rule by the governed) are not practical over large geography with vast numbers of people. But this does not infer that they uniformly believed that representatives were to make the decisions as they saw fit instead of representing the will of the electorate after the election.
The republican supporters of the wise and noble representatives who would decide INSTEAD OF the emotional, greedy, self centered, disrespectful people often neglect to mention that the very representatives themselves can be and often are the emotional, greedy, self centered, disrespectful people who our nation was to be protected from. The difference is that you need many thousands of emotional, greedy, self centered, disrespectful common people to damage the government, but need only a few or even just one emotional, greedy, self centered, disrespectful, powerful representative with the authority of many thousands of people to cause comparable or greater damage.
By concentrating power and wealth in a representative, you also concentrate the potential for emotional, greedy, self centered, disrespectful behavior. For this, the governed must be relentlessly watchful and informed of representative behavior and vocal about what goes on in government. Those who have the most to hide or to lose will be the most offended by the invasiveness of the media. They will be those who have the most to hide because they have a plan they want to see through and they don’t want the public messing it up.
Republics tend to form monarchies. Just reread the definition provided above, then do a Google search for “Republic” and you will see hits for monarchies and other variations of republics, including the “Republic of China” and the USSR (United Soviet Socialist Republic). These “Republics” are obviously NOT what was intended when Ben Franklin who, when asked what kind of government America had, replied “A Republic if you can keep it.”
Franklin’s quote is often waved before the noses of those who claim America is a democracy as a republican flag that justifies the transmutation and concentration of power away from the public and into representatives. They infer that Franklin, an unquestionably influential founding father, preferred a republic (defined in this case as concentration of power) to democracy (power to the people). In truth, Franklin might REALLY have been preferring a more American styled democratic-republic (power of the people through representatives) to a republican-monarchy (concentration of power in only a few).
We might never know what Franklin REALLY meant because he can no longer elaborate on his intent. But Franklin, the uneducated apprentice of his print shop brother, was neither nobility nor educated in any way that would have landed him any favor in the British Monarchy he was subject to then, and which he subsequently absolutely rejected.
Franklin experienced Monarchy firsthand as the Pennsylvania Colonial representative in England. He was ignored, manipulated and feared by the English authorities. He was arrested and brought to trial there for stepping on the wrong toes. When he returned to America he sided strongly with the patriots. He even refused to help his own son, William Franklin (a loyalist Royal Governor of New Jersey), when William was imprisoned for 2.5 years by the patriots.
Franklin’s grandson, Benjamin Franklin Bache, editor of the Philadelphia Democrat-Republican Aurora newspaper, was charged, as were 25 other republican (pro-Jeffersonian) newspaper editors, under the Sedition Act of 1797 with libeling President Adams. Franklin Bache was released on parole but died of yellow fever before he was tried.
The sedition acts, sponsored by the Hamiltonians, are credited with helping Jefferson get elected and were repealed after Jefferson’s election. Jefferson pardoned all those convicted and Congress repaid all fines with interest.
I can’t believe that anything resembling the monarchical structure of Britain or the Hamiltonian power concentration would have been what Ben Franklin was suggesting. I can’t believe that ignoring the will of the people, concentrating power and wealth (as was the case in Britain whom they were fighting for independence) was in his mind when he used the term “republic if you can keep it”. Why re-create what you just fought to be free of? This makes little sense. Using Ben Franklin’s quote to discredit democracy in the U.S. is misleading.
In fact, the contrary makes MUCH more sense. Read Thomas Paine, the uneducated son of a corset maker, probably the most influential and masterful writer of the revolutionary time. Paine came to America from England in 1774, invited by Benjamin Franklin who, in England at the time, gave Paine the necessary letters of recommendation to come to America.
Paine’s masterpiece “Common Sense”, a 50 page pamphlet published Feb. 14, 1776, was THE most representative alternative (liberal) ideology before the American Revolution. It was the absolute best seller of all time in America then (500,000 copies sold to a population that totaled only 2.5 million people, including women and children, but not Indians or slaves), and was eventually read to the patriot troops for inspiration.
Paine was the spark that gave vision and focus to the revolution. Paine was clearly in Jefferson’s mind as he penned the Declaration of Independence. Paine was well known by the founding fathers, hated and hunted by the British. After the American Revolution, Paine went to France and successfully helped inspire the French Revolution.
Common Sense blasted the concept that there were “special people” who should govern the governed. Instead it made common sense to Paine and to most after Paine’s writings were published, that people should govern themselves, that the common people should be able to direct the government through their representatives. If anything, “Common Sense” was the embodiment of Franklin’s “republic”.
So, what kind of “republic” DID the founding fathers, including Franklin, actually create?
Which to choose, which to choose…
The answer came from Thomas Paine in the first introductory paragraph of “Common Sense” (bold emphasis is mine):
Paine said don’t choose, MERGE! Create something new! Better! Your opportunity is staring you in the face. Don’t be constrained by what already exists, be constrained only by right actions. Invent a new government. Build a new model for the world!
So, instead of choosing from existing models for the new American government, the founding fathers chose to create a new model. They drafted a new Constitution instead of choosing from the existing government menu. They picked and chose the best from what existed and eliminated the undesirables. They added whatever they thought would be best, and rejected rigidity.
Written constitutions were rare at that time. Many countries used the term but few had a formal written document. Creating a new Constitution and declaring it the “supreme law of the land”, more powerful than ANY government official(s), more powerful than a mob of common people, was a bold innovation.
The founding fathers created three separate branches of government (legislative, executive and judicial) specifically to prevent the concentration of republic power. Each branch limited the other branches with the judicial branch eventually being the final Constitutional arbitrator.
The founding fathers minimized democracy’s mob rule concerns by making the Constitution itself (not the will of the majority), the Constitution only, supreme law of the land. The Bill of Rights formally limits the power of the government, government officials, and of majorities of common people over minorities of common people. The Constitution ensures certain rights of ALL citizens, not just the majority, not just the empowered.
But to ensure that the voice of the people across a large geography is heard in the Congress, representatives of the people, not nobles (titles of nobility are expressly forbidden by Section 9 of the Constitution), not aristocrats, not the elite, not the most accredited, but merely representatives, common people, speaking the voices of their neighbors in the body of congress.
The only requirement to be a congressman is an age of at least 25, a U.S. citizen for 7 years, and an inhabit the state he/she claims to represent.
The president must be at least 35 years old, a natural born citizen who has resided in the U.S. for at least 14 years.
That is it! No titles, no degrees, no special recommendations or authorizations, no pedigree, no entry fee, no minimum bank balance, no IQ test, no religion, no other prerequisites! Meet the few above requirements, gain public support, and you too may be elected. Interestingly, there are a few interesting traits you might need to develop if you intend to be elected. Read this interesting short article on what makes a good president.
Franklin’s “republic” is designed to be a government of the people by the people, nothing more. As Paine would say, it’s a government of common people governing themselves using common sense.
When you have some leisure time, read some Quotes from Thomas Jefferson. But for this discussion, read specifically Jefferson’s definition of republican principles and Jefferson's opinions on majority rule, on the sovereignty of the people, and on self government. Jefferson was there from the beginning. He was the writer of the Declaration of Independence and U.S. President for two terms. He was closer to the original meaning than either of us could possibly be today. I think his own words confirm loudly a government controlled by the people, not people controlled by the government.
To assure that the people’s voices were heard, the Constitution specifically and deliberately created a Republic of short term elected representatives. If election promises were forgotten after the election, if the power of position erased the representative’s memory of the will of the electorate, the people had to endure him for only a short term. Short terms for representatives, specified in the Constitution, ensured that the representative was always subject to being voted out of office by the people they ignored.
The public has the final enabler. There was no way that the public could be duped, at least not for more than 1 term. Representatives either represent their electorate or they lose their seat in Congress. We are always encouraged to write our representatives, tell them what we think, tell them what is important to us, so that they will know how to represent us. If our representatives, once elected, were to make decisions in spite of us, these input mechanisms, ways to write our representatives, would not exist. Whether we use them or not is our choice.
We still struggle with describing the American government model because it has no clear unique name. If it were given one today, it probably would not be accurate by the end of tomorrow’s debate. The American government is probably best labeled the American People’s Constitution Government because it is what the American people make it. In the Constitution’s own words from above: “We the people”, it is the American people who have the ultimate power and that power is designed to “secure the blessings of liberty”, also from above.
Liberty is not public dominance or control by our government. It is quite the contrary. Liberty is not the “wise management” of the country or its people or its people’s authority by leaders. Liberty is not protection for all at any cost. Liberty is not even the health of the economy. Please read this definition of Liberty.
Attempts to suppress liberty are acts of power-grabbing. Suppressing liberties in exchange for governmental economic or security protections kills liberties and transfers power almost irreversibly from the people to the government.
Franklin, since we have already quoted him, also said:
This hardly sounds like a statement from a person who supposedly wants a Hamiltonian Republic: strong leadership, centralized powers.
"Franklin’s “republic” was Jeffersonian, not Hamiltonian.
Our liberties, the ability to act with minimal government regulation, is how the American ideology evolves. We, according to the Constitution, don’t need to follow a leader’s plan. We, the people, pick our own representatives and determine the plan ourselves. Sometimes we need to be reminded, much to the displeasure of our wannabe leaders, that it is we the people not they the leaders who determine the plan.
The American ideology is the ideology and liberty of the American people. We are responsible, good or bad. Our ideology has no fixed value. It is flexible, but that flexibility is how there can and should be a valid difference, an ongoing debate between Jeffersonian and Hamiltonian ideologies. Neither is inherently right, neither is specified in the Constitution to the exclusion of the other, so each sees an achievable opportunity to become the leading ideology for the day, for the nation, and pushes its agenda, hoping to win.
So, it seems that we are merely reliving the Jeffersonian / Hamiltonian ideology debates. I can easily see me on the Jeffersonian side. Jefferson is thought today (much to my surprise) to have been, according to modern standards, a Meyers Briggs personality type INTJ like me (assuming that you consider Meyers Briggs Type Indicators as useful), so I flatter myself that he and I might share a similar personality type. This similarity (in personality type but never in greatness) might explain why I find Jefferson easy to understand. Other INTJ presidents include: Chester A. Arthur, Calvin Coolidge, John F. Kennedy, James K. Polk, and Woodrow Wilson. George Bush is thought to be an ISTJ. This digressing paragraph is merely an FYI and a curiosity more than anything significant in this discussion. To discover your MBTI take this most simplified version of the MBPT test.
I don’t see you as Jeffersonian. You are something else, you see things differently so… we debate. Debate is a good thing in this country. We will only know who is “right” (as we define it) when we agree so well that there is no debate, but even then it would only be right for us, at this time. We then would have to debate those other guys (probably younger) who just don’t know what the hell they are talking about!
Thomas Paine wrote in the first introductory paragraph of his Feb. 14, 1776 classic “Common Sense” (Repeated for your convenience. Italics are his, bold emphasis is mine.):
That last line is particularly valuable. A reasoning person would think that evidence would instantly sway the masses from custom. I have learned through experience that most people, when confronted with evidence, react first, and MAYBE reason later on, sometimes way later. This has to do with the evolution of the human brain; react first to survive today, reason later (maybe) to plan for the future. More people and especially children find it easier to fight than to negotiate.
A major difference between man and other animals seems to be the ability to plan. Animals think, have emotions, use tools and can solve problems but seem always to use these capacities in the present. Planning, shaping the future with intent, seems to be where man and the other animals differ. This planning capacity seems to be an evolutionary step, a prototype concept being tested today by evolution, developed to varying degrees in individuals, but is most often recessive to the dominant reaction response (there is considerable research to support these statements). That is why reason persuades so slowly. Emotion rules.
Only time will tell if this planning ability is beneficial. In the face of nuclear weapons, genetic engineering, pollution, population explosions, global trade and global tension, our planning capacities will certainly be put to the test. If we find that we plan inadequately for the future, our species may be forced by consequences to revert to the more primitive, react in the present, “survival” mechanisms. Only time will tell.
So the final “right” will be determined by commitment and persistence in the arena of debate; reason and emotion Vs emotion and reason. You and I will not definitively answer these questions we have been debating, the country will. But we and our children are among those who have the right under the Constitution to influence the country, to influence those in our purview, to join the debate or to leave the influencing to someone else. It is our choice.
Over time, right or wrong will become evident, with or without us. We can lead or we can follow.
There are some who assume that elected representatives or other powerful figures are leaders, enabled to make decisions in spite of the followers, and followers are expected to follow, but in America this cannot be true. Leaders in America have voluntary followers, not mandatory followers, servants nor victims. In America, if you do not have voluntary followers, you are not a leader.
You cannot choose to be a leader, others must choose you to be their leader. One who chooses himself as a leader is a tyrant, a dictator, not a leader.
You may be a leader in your family, at work, in an organization or church, community or region, but you are a leader because you have earned people’s faith, their trust. You are a leader only as long as others choose you as their leader. If you lose your follower’s faith, you are no longer their leader. In America, people have the right, the authority, to walk away (Except in the military where troops give that right away, at least temporarily. Military leaders are not elected.). If you gain or retain the leader chair without voluntary followers, you are a dictator, a tyrant, who egotistically and erroneously calls himself a leader. In America, self appointed leaders look rather foolish.
In other words, nonmilitary leaders are given or denied their leadership ability by their followers. It is the followers who enable or deny. Leaders are given the authority to make decisions by followers who have faith in the leader and trust that his decision will be appropriate for them. If the follower’s faith dwindles, the leader’s authority dwindles. It is the followers who wield the ultimate power, not the leader. A leader without voluntary followers is not a leader.
By the very nature of leadership as defined above, the leader MUST be ever sensitive to the desires of his followers. He MUST act in ways that will continuously keep his follower’s faith. He MUST satisfy his follower’s expectations. A leader who does not lead in the best interest of his followers (as defined by his followers) does not lead for long. The ability of the people to choose new and reject existing leaders, instead of leaders imposing themselves on others, is a priceless virtue of the American ballot box.
You as a voting U.S. Citizen may grant an elected candidate leadership authority, the authority to make decisions for you, but that authority is absolutely not, by any means, inherited with the elected office. The constitution grants the representative absolutely no more authority than to express the will of, to represent, his electorate. According to the constitution, you elect public representatives, not public leaders.
This is not to say that the candidate can’t be YOUR leader. He certainly can be your leader if you choose to be his follower. But being elected does not make him MY leader nor anyone else’s leader unless that citizen chooses to grant him leadership authority. Leadership authority is extra-Constitutional, a power you as an individual can choose to award to a leader of your choice, above and beyond the Constitution.
Within the Constitution, it is U.S. citizens who wield the ultimate power, NOT elected officials. No elected official has the authority to decide for you unless you give him that authority, and once given, you may reclaim that authority at any time. That ability to reclaim your decision making authority is in the Constitution.
An elected representative has an official and an unofficial role. As an elected representative, his official Constitutional obligation is to be the servant of the entire electorate he represents, not just of those who voted for him. He is obligated by the Constitution to represent all of them by negotiating on their behalf and voting as they would vote in Congress based on the results of the negotiations.
Unofficially he is a leader (makes decisions for) those, fewer in number, who choose to be his followers. His unofficial, NOT Constitutionally authorized role is to lead his followers. Leadership is an authority granted by individual voters, not by the Constitution. Leadership is a private, not constitutional, not legal (nor illegal), not binding option by citizens who choose to be followers. Voting for a candidate does not endorse or infer leadership. Voting merely endorses representation. Leadership is your personal attitude about your representative. The Constitution enables only representatives, individual citizens may, but do not have to, choose leaders.
Americans love services: long warranties on automobiles, someone who cuts the lawn for them, telephone service, formal schools and team sports for the kids, etc.. A small sacrifice (usually a fee) in exchange for services eliminates the need to make large investments of time and resources to provide or perform the services oneself. Entrepreneurship thrives on the idea of providing services.
What about leadership? Are people looking for the service of making political decisions for them. All they have to do is vote for a leader and their problems are taken care of? Some want that. Lets face it, choosing a leader then being a follower is easy. Vote, then stay busy with other things for four years until you choose to vote again. Or don’t vote at all, then you can focus on other activities, trusting that everyone else voted reasonably. If anyone asks, say you support your leader’s decisions.
When surveys indicate that strong leadership is an important quality of an elected candidate (surveys frequently do indicate this), what kind of leader is really being desired? A delegate leader who will take the will of the people and lead the way through congress to implement the will of the people? Or a direct leader who makes decisions for the people, regardless of what they want, and leads them down the leader’s chosen path to success? Both are leaders, but different kinds. Which type of leadership is actually so desired in the surveys?
I think the answer lies again in the voters, not in the leaders. I believe the voters are of five flavors. Each group wants a different type of leader.
The common request for leadership cannot be satisfied by a single leader or leadership style. Based on my descriptions above there seems to be a curious pattern.
The group most likely to be the best source of leaders for all other groups is group 2 challengers, the ones who distrust leaders most and assume leadership responsibility grudgingly. Others vote group 2 challenger leaders into the position out of respect and appreciation of his outspoken but valuable ideas.
Once in leadership position, the group 2 challenger leader becomes the target of his fellow group 2 Americans who debate him to ensure that he is not a group 5 “need to leader”. A true group 2 leader sees the debates as welcome feedback from the people. He compromises his positions to include new ideas he agrees with.
Group 1 “followers” see compromised direction as wisdom of their leader. They see compromise in other groups as proof of wrongness. Group 3 “sleepers” don’t know there was a compromise. Group 4 “supporters” see the compromise as “interesting”. Group 5 “need to leaders” see compromise as weakness, lack of direction, and proof that the group 2 leader was unqualified to be a leader in the first place.
Nevertheless, group 2 challenger leaders, representatives most compatible with the descriptions and history of the Constitution, reluctantly serve the entire population’s definition of leader best. But group 5 “need to leaders” will not let group 2 leaders win without a fight. Group 1 “followers” will faithfully support whoever they are told to follow and fight whatever enemy their leader identifies. Group 2 “challengers” challenge ALL the leaders. Group 3 “sleepers” are clueless. Group 4 “supporters” hope it all works out.
During any given election, some combination of group 2 challengers and or group 5 need to leaders are the candidates. Group 2 challenger leaders are delegate leaders who seek to serve the public, Group 5 “need to leaders” needs public authority to lead. Group 2 leads to serve. Group 5 serves to lead.
That is my description of the “leadership” that is so commonly requested in American elections. A majority wants leadership but the majority doesn’t agree on the kind of leadership. The definition of American leadership is dynamic and defies specification. The contradictions ensure that the process is working, that power is never too concentrated in any leader, that the process is never static or formalized, that neither side has exclusionary power over the other, and that the elected representatives serve the entire American population as they choose since they do the voting.
A representative’s followers, those who call him leader, those who have bestowed their decision making power to him, do not expect to be polled before a congressional vote is taken. They often don’t even want to be polled because they would be required to think on their own. They would have to study the issues. They fear that they do not have enough information or ability. They fear that they might decide wrong. They might contradict their leader or their local group.
Instead they expect, they want, the leader to think for them. They feel their leader knows better. As long as the followers continue to have faith in their leader, whatever the leader decides is acceptable. Their opinions are a lower priority than his opinion and that is OK with the followers. As long as the leader remains worthy of their faith (as defined by the followers), they will follow the leader.
Followers are the leader’s own private interest group, but only one among many groups and individual citizens in the representative’s electorate. His followers have authorized him to decide for them, but that is true ONLY for his followers. Leaders may not want nor need to poll followers, but his ONLY Constitutional obligation is to represent, not lead, his entire electorate. The non-followers (a majority) are Constitutionally entitled to make their own decisions and the representative is Constitutionally obligated to listen. He MUST hear what THEY want and represent them. That is his job as specified by the Constitution.
If the elected only represent those who elected him, only half of the electorate is being represented. The other half is being un-represented. The Constitution is for ALL citizens, not just those whose candidate won the election. The UN-represented should not have to pay taxes without representation. Remember, taxation without representation is what the entire American Revolution was about in the first place! Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence:
So, the representative must represent his entire geographic electorate, whether they voted for him or not. The election merely decided which candidate was chosen to represent the entire electorate, ALL citizens in his district, NOT which half of the electorate gets represented this term.
Given that a representative officially represents many, even those who did not vote for him, and unofficially decides for the followers who call him leader, he must learn what his non-follower electorate wants, weigh in the decisions he has made for his followers, negotiate on behalf of his entire electorate, then vote on the product of those negotiations as the entire electorate’s representative. Any other strategy is abuse of his Constitutional responsibility.
Freedom of the press helps ensure that issues are presented to the public for consideration from wide and divergent perspectives. Followers are mildly interested in the issues since their leader decides for them. Non-followers make their own decisions so the issues have great interest to them.
Polling, in the absence of any other means of learning what the public wants, is a valuable tool for representatives to assess his entire electorate and vote as their representative as required by the Constitution. Followers don’t care about polls, neither do leaders who think they know better than their followers.
But couldn’t a representative ignore the electorate and make decisions for them all, followers or not, using his vision and insight for what he feels is for their own good? Doesn’t he have the authority, by winning the election, to decide for his entire electorate? In a word… No.
The federal government has ONLY the rights specifically itemized in the Constitution itself:
The Constitution is “the supreme law of the land”. Everywhere in Constitutional law, the exact wording determines intent. The exact wording for who we elect is “representative”, not leader. The founding fathers could have used the word “leader” instead, they certainly had the authority to use a different word, but they didn’t. There is no other competing title for who we elect. It is only “representative”.
The American system of government never was designed or intended to be a pure democracy. It was specifically designed as a constitutionally limited, representative federation of sovereign states--a restrictive type of REPUBLIC, where the powers of rule by the people were exercised by and through elected representatives, and were limited to specific constitutionally delegated authority that protected the fundamental rights of all, including minorities (except slaves at the time), from improper (unconstitutional) majority rule.
This may seem a stretch, but bear with me for a moment. Many Americans work for corporations. Many more would like to work for corporations. Colleges groom people to work for corporations which often demand college certifications.
Corporations suggest stable work and a stable paycheck. Colleges tend to support corporations by certifying people for them at the people’s expense. Colleges offer fewer classes that support and encourage small scale local work.
Many feel that if there were more and bigger corporations, students would have an easier time finding work after they graduate. They may have to relocate out of their hometowns to wherever the corporation houses that specialty, but graduates would at least find a decent paycheck. Wealth and power is concentrated in corporations so the corporation has access to assets that can support many corporate employees. Often, corporations are considered a good thing to be part of.
Corporations are not democracies. The leaders are not elected. Corporations are monarchies or dictatorships where an appointed, strong, well rewarded leader (CEO) has authority to make important decisions and choose directions. His function is to unquestionably lead the “team” (actually his servants whom he may eliminate at any time for any reason and who are obligated to “deliver” as commanded) for higher corporate profit and market share.
The CEO is actually the “corporate king”, revered and obeyed under penalty of termination. NO ONE has more power than the CEO. He is subject only to a small group, the board of directors, which often consists of CEOs from other corporations. The CEO takes credit for success and for some of the losses, but he remains the undisputed corporate king. He can manipulate any corporate asset, including human assets, however he likes. He answers only to the board, but has strong influence over the board. If removed by the board, it must be due to extreme incompetence. The board must act almost in mutiny to overthrow the appointed captain of the corporate ship.
Once appointed, the corporate king does not need to seek the approval of the employees. It is their duty to support the king, not the king’s duty to support them. The corporation is the king’s realm. Employees are his servants. Employees are often reminded to address the CEO as Mr. XXX, sir. In my case, it was not a suggestion, it was a demand. I was not authorized to use first names. I was a “subordinate”.
Titles of nobility are expressly forbidden by Section 9 of the Constitution, but there is little other than ideology that stops a “leader” with access to abundant power from thinking that they are noble. Power without a title is little different than power with a title. It is the power, not the title, that is the important factor in the leadership equation. "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely" said the 19th century historian Lord Acton. Power must be limited to prevent corruption.
Whether the elected representative uses the power to serve or the power to lead is not always obvious.
How the elected candidate (delegate or leader) sees the U.S. Presidency makes a big difference in his attitude and performance. A group 2 challenger “delegate leader” sees the Presidency as an important responsibility to serve the people as they desire.
A group 5 “need to lead” president sees himself as CEO of USA Corp., the biggest corporation in the world. USA Corp. is the big Kahuna, the grand power prize. CEO of USA Corp. is the top dog of the top dogs. The chance to steer the biggest ship on earth with the largest working capital account in existence, the ability to play the game with deficit dollars, to change the entire game board and the ability to push ALL other group 2 and group 5 wannabes around with legitimate threats of military force. There is no greater power, but there are two nagging details.
Many contracts seems to have a loophole, some are cleverly deliberate, some are accidental. Loopholes allow things that the original contract never originally suggested. In the U.S. Constitution contract, it is the “executive power" loophole, never formally defined, always debated, often enacted. Read the bottom half of this document and this brief summary.
FINALLY, power befitting a CEO! Executive power, ability to create and staff important governmental agencies including the military, and the authority to delegate legislative power to those agencies to create Executive Orders (laws) without Congressional approval. Now, THIS is what the CEO calls “proper respect for authority.” What a great deal! Here is a brief Executive Order overview. Check out Bush's Executive Orders. And finally an excellent Statement on Executive Orders. This is an excellent read.
So, if the CEO can figure out ways to avoid the shackles of congress and the judiciary and is a clever manipulator of his executive power, he can still feel like a real CEO. His effects can be profound. His name will be prominent in history books.
But will he be enshrined as a Nixon, or a Lincoln? Only time and the consequences of executive actions will tell.
So now, a side by side comparison. Which side are you on?
became Washington's aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Colonel. The primary qualification,
as Washington himself explained, was to be able to "think for me,
as well as execute orders." Hamilton, he felt, fit the description
Hamilton became Washington's aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Colonel. The primary qualification, as Washington himself explained, was to be able to "think for me, as well as execute orders." Hamilton, he felt, fit the description perfectly. Source.
the thick of party conflict in 1800, Thomas Jefferson wrote in a private
letter, "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against
every form of tyranny over the mind of man." Source.
In the thick of party conflict in 1800, Thomas Jefferson wrote in a private letter, "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." Source.
Decentralization of power and wealth
Emphasis on money and commerce as the future
Emphasis on agriculture and science as the future
A formal corporate structure
Weak power of individual citizens and states over government officials
Elected candidates are leaders
Little need to poll the public, leaders decide on policy
Public is not trusted to choose the direction of the country.
Patriotism is expressed as unified support for government policy
Sponsored the Sedition Acts to quell political opposition.
People serve the government, for the good of the people
Public support is increased by persuasion
Corporations are the backbone of the country
Urbanization encourages corporations and commerce
Individual land ownership is inefficient
Corporations should be free of government interference for the good of the people
Combining like minds into a party increases the group’s power and success so the Federalist party was formed by Hamilton
The concepts listed above, with exceptions, lean towards today’s Republican Party
So there it is. I find myself standing firmly on the Jeffersonian side. It is up to you to determine where you stand. The constitution does not state which side is right, it merely provides an arena for debate. Debate is how our nation stays strong.
In the end, political debate like ours is like a perpetual one-on-one basketball game, held on the Constitutional court, with the direction of the country determined by the scoreboard at the end of each day. The Constitution does not choose sides, it just lists the rules of the game and guarantees a place to play. We the people choose to play, to follow the rules, play hard, play to win. Block! Shoot! Steal the ball! Drive to the basket! Grab the rebound! Take the long shot! Fake! Win! Whatever it takes within the Constitutional rules. Whoever quits first loses.
After a tough, hard, determined game, we buy each other a beer, recall our successes and bloopers, and plan to play just as hard again tomorrow with a better strategy, with determination, with respect, with a plan to succeed. The more we play the better we get. May the best philosophy win. That is what the Constitution demands, the best philosophy. Long live debate! Long live the Constitution!
Regarding leaders, representatives, republics, democracy, and the public’s role in government as specified in the Constitution, this was by best shot. Now it’s YOUR ball! Comments are welcome. ;-)
©2003 Steve Waller, All rights reserved.