View single post by Joe Kelley
 Posted: Mon Nov 12th, 2018 05:54 pm
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Joe Kelley

 

Joined: Mon Nov 21st, 2005
Location: California USA
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LETTER XII.
JANUARY 12, 1788.

Plurality = corruption more so than Majority:

"But as partial, as liable to secret influence, and corruption as the choice by pluralities may be, I think, we cannot avoid it, without essentially increasing the federal representation, and adopting the principles of district elections."

"State executives (governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, controller, secretary of state, and treasurer) are elected via plurality vote in single-winner contests."
https://ballotpedia.org/Electoral_systems_in_California

Federal Farmer adds:

"I might add many other observations to evince the superiority and solid advantages of proper district elections, and a choice by a majority, and to prove, that many evils attend the contrary practice: these evils we must encounter as the constitution now stands."

Here is a reference to the meaning of the word "alter," as in this case with regulations of elections, but my thinking here is to reinforce the meaning used in the Articles of Confederation, where there was no power given to replace the Articles, and therefore the power taken was arbitrary.

"By the constitution, the state legislatures shall prescribe the times, places, and manner of holding elections, but congress may make or alter such regulations. Power in congress merely to alter those regulations, made by the states, could answer no valuable purposes; the states might make, and congress alter them ad infinitum: and when the state should cease to make, or should annihilate its regulations, congress would have nothing to alter. But the states shall make regulations, and congress may make such regulations as the clause stands: the true construction is, that when congress shall see fit to regulate the times, places, and manner of holding elections, congress may do it, and state regulations, on this head, must cease: for if state regulations could exist, after congress should make a system of regulations, there would, or might, be two incompatible systems of regulations relative to the same subject."

LETTER XIII.
JANUARY 14, 1788.

Federal Farmer sums up the precise cause of modern despotism in America; criminals in government are effectually immune from the laws that they claim to be their source of authority:

"We all agree, that a large standing army has a strong tendency to depress and inslave the people; it is equally true that a large body of selfish, unfeeling, unprincipled civil officers has a like, or a more pernicious tendency to the same point. Military, and especially civil establishments, are the necessary appendages of society; they are deductions from productive labour, and substantial wealth, in proportion to the number of men employed in them; they are oppressive where unnecessarily extended and supported by men unfriendly to the people; they are injurious when too small, and supported by men too timid and dependant. It is of the last importance to decide well upon the necessary number of offices, to fill them with proper characters, and to establish efficiently the means of punctually punishing those officers who may do wrong."

Reference to sovereign states:

"Further, this sexennial senate of 26 members, representing 13 sovereign states, will not, in practice, be found to be a body to advise, but to order and dictate in fact; and the president will be a mere Primus inter pares."

The plan is to create an aristocracy:

"Further, this sexennial senate of 26 members, representing 13 sovereign states, will not, in practice, be found to be a body to advise, but to order and dictate in fact; and the president will be a mere Primus inter pares. The consequence will be, that the senate, with these efficient means of influence, will not only dictate, probably, to the president, but manage the house, as the constitution now stands; and under appearances of a balanced system, in reality, govern alone. There may also, by this undue connection, be particular periods when a very popular president may have a very improper influence upon the senate and upon the legislature. A council of appointment must very probably sit all, or near all, the year—the senate will be too important and too expensive a body for this. By giving the senate, directly or indirectly, an undue influence over the representatives, and the improper means of fettering, embarrassing, or controuling the president or executive, we give the government, in the very out set, a fatal and pernicious tendency to that middle undesirable point—aristocracy."

Multiple points following: requirement of accountability, and parable concerning half truths:

"It is not merely the number of impeachments, that are to be expected to make public officers honest and attentive in their business. A general opinion must pervade the community, that the house, the body to impeach them for misconduct, is disinterested, and ever watchful for the public good; and that the judges who shall try impeachments, will not feel a shadow of biass. Under such circumstances, men will not dare transgress, who, not deterred by such accusers and judges, would repeatedly misbehave. We have already suffered many and extensive evils, owing to the defects of the confederation, in not providing against the misconduct of public officers. When we expect the law to be punctually executed, not one man in ten thousand will disobey it: it is the probable chance of escaping punishment that induces men to transgress. It is one important mean to make the government just and honest, rigidly and constantly to hold, before the eyes of those who execute it, punishment, and dismission from office, for misconduct. These are principles no candid man, who has just ideas of the essential features of a free government, will controvert. They are, to be sure, at this period, called visionary, speculative and anti-governmental—but in the true stile of courtiers, selfish politicians, and flatterers of despotism—discerning republican men of both parties see their value. They are said to be of no value, by empty boasting advocates for the constitution, who, by their weakness and conduct, in fact, injure its cause much more than most of its opponents. From their high sounding promises, men are led to expect a defence of it, and to have their doubts removed. When a number of long pieces appear, they, instead of the defence, &c. they expected, see nothing but a parade of names—volumes written without ever coming to the point—cases quoted between which and ours there is not the least similitude—and partial extracts made from histories and governments, merely to serve a purpose. Some of them, like the true admirers of royal and senatorial robes, would fain prove, that nations who have thought like freemen and philosophers about government, and endeavoured to be free, have often been the most miserable: if a single riot, in the course of five hundred years happened in a free country, if a salary, or the interest of a public or private debt was not paid at the moment, they seem to lay more stress upon these truffles (for truffles they are in a free and happy country) than upon the oppressions of despotic government for ages together. (As to the lengthy writer in New-York you mention, I have attentively examined his pieces; he appears to be a candid good-hearted man, to have a good stile, and some plausible ideas; but when we carefully examine his pieces, to see where the strength of them lies; when the mind endeavours to fix on those material parts, which ought to be the essence of all voluminous productions, we do not find them: the writer appears constantly to move on a smooth surface, the part of his work, like the parts of a cob-house, are all equally strong and all equally weak, and all like those works of the boys, without an object; his pieces appear to have but little relation to the great question, whether the constitution is fitted to the condition and character of this people or not.)"

LETTER XIV.
JANUARY 17, 1788.

Information applicable to the Con-Con Con Job of 1787:

"It must be admitted, that men, from the monarch down to the porter, are constantly aiming at power and importance and this propensity must be as constantly guarded against in the forms of the government. Adequate powers must be delegated to those who govern, and our security must be in limiting, defining, and guarding the exercise of them, so that those given shall not be abused, or made use of for openly or secretly seizing more."


LETTER XVII.M
JANUARY 23, 1788.

Warning offered:

"By the proposed system, the federal head will possess, without limitation, almost every species of power that can, in its exercise, tend to change the government, or to endanger liberty; while in it, I think it has been fully shewn, the people will have but the shadow of representation, and but the shadow of security for their rights and liberties."




Federal Farmer: An Additional Number of Letters to the Republican
http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/document/federal-farmer-an-additional-number-of-letters-to-the-republican/