Several political commentators have criticized the recent Republican Convention and George W. Bush for being too inclusive, for, in effect, forsaking Republican-Conservative ideals. How would Publius respond to this criticism?
While Publius does not
provide us with a definition of a political party, he does tell us
what a political party is not; it is not a faction.
A faction is a group motivated by a single passion or interest
which would have an adverse effect on individual citizens or on the
society. A faction is, by
definition, bad and should be avoided.
This gives us a clue as to what a political party should be; it
should be a coalition of numerous interests and groups. It should be
This leads Publius to argue
against a class-based or ideologically based political party system.
Political parties and their members are rightly advocates of
“causes” and the cause may or may not become public policy
depending on the majority or minority status of the party.
Should the party be in the majority, it will allow the party,
assuming it is based on a single class or ideology, to “judge its
own cause.” That is, it
will determine what is best for the party and its members and
translate that into public policy, to the detriment of the minority.
For example a majority party based on wealth would in all
probability be hostile to the poor, or at best indifferent.
Should the majority party be composed of the poor, the result
would be the opposite; a party representing low income individuals
would pass legislation to help them at the expense of the wealthy.
In either case, the party would be a “judge of their own
cause” and enact public policy that would adversely affect the
minority. The same result
can be expected from a party system based on strict ideology,
conservative or liberal.
To avoid this, Publius
advocates a party system based on geography.
In Federalist 51,
Publius observes that “In the extended republic of the United
States, and among the great variety of interests, parties and sects it
embraces, a coalition of a majority of the whole society could seldom
take place on any other principles than those of justice and the
general good …”
Geographically based political parties will be composed of numerous interests and no single one will dominate the party; the representatives of the party elected to the legislature will represent these numerous and differing classes and interests. The internal dynamics of a broad, geographically based party system will necessarily lead to a politics and policy of moderation. Moderation, based on a broadly inclusive party system, will be the hallmark of our politics. Moderation, as Aristotle observed, is an essential element of justice.
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