Which Party Would You Support?
curtism at bellsouth.net
Fri Jun 16 06:16:22 PDT 2006
There is much to what Dr. Wilson says. But of course, it pretty much leaves out the Sedition Act, an act basically incompatible with representative government. While some Republicans (e.g. Jefferson) had what was pretty much a states rights critique of the act (suppression would be ok if done by the states), that was no means true of a great many in the party and what many said about the incompatibility of the Sedition Act with democratic or represenative government rings quite true today. Those thoughtful Republicans also insisted on the distinction between loyalty to the nation and loyalty to those who temporarily hold power--a basic tenant of representative government. Use of troops to horsewhip newspaper editors--another Federalist tactic-- and an army selected based on partisan criteria (no Republican officers)--still another-- is pretty unappealing. Hamilton's hopes for a grand war against France (with him as the man on horseback) is pretty appalling.So while the Federalists look quite good to many of us on some things, they are pretty appalling on others. Had our tradition embraced the Sedition Act and the partisan use to troops it is doubtful that we would have evolved into as democratic a nation as we have. This is not intended to ignore the very serious defects in our current political system and the ways in which with gross gerrymandering for instance (and the disappearance of competitive elections) and cutting the other guy's precincts out of enough voting machines to handle the voters without 7 hour waits and the effect of big money on limiting the political agenda we may be evolving into a sort of shell democracy.
----- Original Message -----
From: Sean Wilson
To: rjlipkin at aol.com ; CONLAWPROF at lists.ucla.edu
Cc: RJLipkin at aol.com
Sent: Thursday, June 15, 2006 3:16 PM
Subject: Re: Which Party Would You Support?
Oh dear God, what a question to get the blood moving. If there are federalists on the ballot, count me in without hesitation. I'll take Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, John Marshal, George Washington, Ben Franklin, Pinckney, Ellsworth, etc., any day over those ridiculous Virginians (Madison possibly excepted).
Remember also that Republicans were not just defined by their supposed embracing of a more democratic society, they were also against finance capitalism. Jefferson thought the stock market was a "gaming table." They were against manufacturing, urbanization, industrialization, banking and finance, etc. It really isn't democracy they favored; it is agrarian ideology. Jefferson thought cities were like "sores on the body," i.e., evidence of an unhealthy body politic.
There is absolutely no question that Federalists had the right view of america -- the one that prevailed in the long run after Lincoln, first, and the progressives second. The reason why they lost the first realigning election in 1800 was simply because their embrace of an outmoded system of social deference did not adapt well to the partisan system that emerged. They thought campaigning was cheating, for crying out loud. That's also why you had the sedition act. And so their party and elitist mannerisms died, but their vision for America eventually became its new hegemony.
Also, as to the federalists view of the constitution, I would draw a distinction between those who set the thing up versus those who then began to compete for policy in the structure of the new order. Madison is a good example: federalist in theory (in architecture), but Republican in what demands he then espoused upon the system as a politician).
Bobby, I would never take the republican view of anything from that period as anything but an advertisement for agrarian hegemony. They were on the wrong side of history, plain and simple. It is Hamilton's America that eventually came to pass.
Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
Penn State University
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