Thursday, January 27, 2005

Republicans vs. the Constitution: The problem of evil 

It's a Red Letter Day—I agree with Dick Cheney. In the abstract, at least:

"The story of the camps remind us that evil is real and must be called by its name and must be confronted," Cheney said at a forum in Krakow, where he spoke before attending an anniversary program at the concentration camps here. "We are reminded that anti-Semitism may begin with words but rarely stops with words and the message of intolerance and hatred must be opposed before it turns into acts of horror."
(via Houston Chronicle)

Of course, Cheney, Bush, and the POTL will muzzle the "message of intolerance and hatred" that comes every day from the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, and the rest of the Republican Noise Machine when hell freezes over—the kulturkampf is too useful to the Republicans politically.

Still, I agree with Cheney that evil is real. How could anyhow read the history of the Holocaust—in fact, human history—and not be aware of the human capacity for evil?

But let's ask ourselves the question: What do the Foundders who wrote our Constitution think about evil and how to confront it? And does what the Republicans are doing to the Constiution make for more evil in the world, or less?

James Madison writes in Federalist #51:

Different interests necessarily exist in different classes of citizens. If a majority be united by a common interest, the rights of the minority will be insecure. There are but two methods of providing against this evil: the one by creating a will in the community independent of the majority that is, of the society itself; the other, by comprehending in the society so many separate descriptions of citizens as will render an unjust combination of a majority of the whole very improbable, if not impracticable. The first method prevails in all governments possessing an hereditary or self-appointed authority. This, at best, is but a precarious security; because a power independent of the society may as well espouse the unjust views of the major, as the rightful interests of the minor party, and may possibly be turned against both parties. The second method will be exemplified in the federal republic of the United States. Whilst all authority in it will be derived from and dependent on the society, the society itself will be broken into so many parts, interests, and classes of citizens, that the rights of individuals, or of the minority, will be in little danger from interested combinations of the majority. In a free government the security for civil rights must be the same as that for religious rights. It consists in the one case in the multiplicity of interests, and in the other in the multiplicity of sects. The degree of security in both cases will depend on the number of interests and sects; and this may be presumed to depend on the extent of country and number of people comprehended under the same government.
(via Federalist Papers)

For Madison, evil was to be minimized through the separation of powers: Powers in conflict, doing small evils, are to be preferred to powers united, capable of doing great evil.

I wonder what Madison would think of today's One Partei State?

I wonder what Madison would think of Gonzales's theory of Rule by Decree?

I wonder what Madison would say about the theocracy proposed by the VRWC?

UPDATE Alert reader Shystee comments:


This James Madison guy seems to believe diversity ensures freedom and good government. What is he, some bleeding heart Politically Correct librul pandering to minority special interests?

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