For the United States constitution to become law by which all American citizens abided, it had to be ratified individually by two-thirds of the thirteen states. It was sent to them on 28th September 1788 for this purpose. James Madison together with alexander Hamilton and John Jay campaigned for the ratification by co-authoring a series of essays that appeared in some New York newspapers and then spread around the states. These essays were referred to as the Federalist papers. This essay summaries and analyses federalist paper NO. 51 by James Madison.
Madison starts the paper by explaining that its purpose is to assist the reader understand how the proposed governments structure makes it possible to achieve liberty. In his own opinion, each branch should be mainly independent. To make such independence possible, no single branch should yield too much power when it comes to choosing members of the other two branches. If such a principle was to be strictly followed, it would mean that American citizens should choose the judges, the legislators, and the president. All in all, framers of the constitution were aware of certain practical difficulties that would come with making all the offices elective. For one, the judicial branch would suffer considering that the average citizen does not know what qualifications a judge should have. Also, while judges should possess great ability, they should not be subject to political pressures. Considering that federal judges are appointed to serve for a lifetime, how they think should not be influenced in any way by the president who appoints them. Neither should they be influenced by the senators whose consent is sought by the president.
Members of each branch should not depend too much on their counterparts from the other two branches when it comes to determining their salaries. A gradual concentration of power in a single branch is best avoided by putting in place constitutional safeguards that would make such concentration difficult. Dividing power goes a long way in checking its growth in any given direction. However, it is not possible to divide power absolutely equally. The legislative is usually the most powerful in a republican form of government. This is the reason framers of the constitution divided the Congress into branches: the Senate and the House of Representatives. They also came up with a different way of going about an election in each branch.
In the Federalist paper No. 51, Madisons opinions on factionalism are clearly delineated. He thought that conflicts of interest are part of human nature, and was aware that people consequently fall into various categories. Madison wanted to avoid a situation whereby a single group controlled the societys decisions. The majority principle and free elections protected the United States from dictatorship that arose from the tyranny of a minority. All in all, he was equally concerned about the bigger risk associated with tyranny of the majority. He faced a major institutional issue of figuring out a way of minimizing this risk.
The solution that Madison had in mind did not just rely on formal institutions that could b be set up. It also depended on the sociological structure of the American society that he saw as an ideal starting point for those who framed the new constitution. His solution involved putting in place some checks and balances.
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