Federalist Papers – Using “the people” to hide your dangerous ambitions

Posted by Jason | Posted in Government, History | Posted on 18-10-2009


Today I finally picked up my own copy of The Federalist Papers at Half Priced Books for $3.48. Thank God For The Free Market #TGFTFM as I like to say on Twitter. Anyways, I only made it to the third page before I found my first gem.

Alexander Hamilton wrote, “.. that a dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidding appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of goverment. History will teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter, and 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”

What he was saying here is there are people who will benefit from weak or inefficient government, and those people will use their fake concern for the people to hide their bad intentions. While I don’t believe our government is weak. It would have been weak if the Constitution was not ratified. In that circumstance there would have been people who benefited from the chaos. There were those who argued against the Constitution to maintain the weak Articles of Confederation. Many of them claimed to be looking out for the people, but they were really trying to maintain their status and power.

What we can take from this is the warning about inefficient government and the warning about those who are excessively for “the people”.  Surely, in our current day and age we can see how inefficient our government is compared to the government that our founders envisioned. How many times have you heard of unaccounted for billions in HUD, the department of education, or medicare?

Surely, you can recall how those who pushed these inefficient programs screamed their great attentions, “zeal”, from the rooftops. They are looking out for the people, the down trodden, or the most often group of concern, “the children”. How about this one? “We have to bail out Wall Street in order to bail out Main Street.” Really? It’s not because you want to bailout your buddies at your former companies? That’s right. Of course, not. It’s for the people.

The waste is horrible, but the second part of Hamilton’s warning is more disturbing. He warns that listening to the people who proclaim to be the champions of the people are the ones who more often than not are the ones who overturn liberties and become tyrants.

Keep this in mind next time you hear politicians claiming to be looking out for the people with health care, student loans, jobs, or the myriad of other government programs. The next three years are sure to be a case study on the warning above from Alexander Hamilton.

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