Letters of Liberty
                                                              Factions and Passions  

                Prior to the first member of the House of Representatives or President being elected or a Senator or Supreme Court Justice being appointed, James Madison had written some essays explain the qualifications of both a good and poor politician.  Madison had studied the history of governments and determined that the root cause for their demise was corruption.  He felt it was imperative to list the qualities of both a good and bad politician.

                A good politician would have two important qualities:


                                Sound Reasoning Ability

                Simply put, a good politician would be truthful, and also have the ability to solve problems.

                A bad politician would have three traits:



                                Allowing Passions to effected their Decisions

                We must all agree that a politician who lies does not have good attributes.  People would rather hear the truth, even if it is painful at first, rather than being told a lie to mask a problem or agenda.  However, when I first read about factions and passions as poor qualities, I did not fully grasp Mr. Madison’s concept or direction Mr. Madison was going with them, so I had to reread them a few time to understand his intent.

                Some examples of factions are companies, special interest groups, different religious entities, etc.  The companies provide money and lobbyists to Washington D.C. to perhaps influence elected officials to vote for or against certain pieces of legislation.  The company’s intent is to have a vote that is helpful to its bottom line.  Special Interest groups like pro-life or pro-abortion, pro-gun rights advocates or anti-gun advocates are just a few examples.  There are thousands of special interest entities in this country.  Some send money to politicians for their support on certain legislation and some send mass fax or emails to get their message across to their elected officials.  At first glance, this does not seem to harmful and we have become accustom to these groups.  So why was James Madison so concerned?  He had learned from his readings that these simple groups could effects the way a politician votes.  In our case he correctly predicted that these groups would pressure a politician to vote for a piece of legislation that was unconstitutional.  Mr. Madison warned that a politician must resist these factious components that exist outside the government due to their corrosive implications on elected officials, but today we witness politicians succumbing to these groups constantly.

                Both major parties today are not only affected by theses factions, but have evolved into factious entities which creates a potential for constant assault on your Constitution.  As you have seen, one party follows the interests of lawyers while the other listens to the banks and financial companies.  Both groups have failed to support legislation that usurps your Constitution and currently they are passing dangerous legislation at an unprecedented pace.

                Passions seems to take more research on my part.  Out of the realm of politics, passions range from our feelings for individual’s family and friends, job or hobbies, etc.  Passions are sometime long term and others fleeting, and seem to be harmless; however, when they become introduced to the political stream, they become toxic to the system.  Let us look at some recent legislation and the effect passions of the people played in passing legislation.  As you are aware, we have gone through tough economic crisis which affected millions of citizens.  To help struggling individuals through these tough times, politicians listened to the difficult stories of the plight of some of those adversely affected.  They decided the best way to help people was a stimulus which would create jobs and give unemployment insurance to those out of work.  A few months prior to the stimulus bill were several bail outs.  Once again the plight of the unemployed auto worker or banker was highlighted and directly influenced their decision of legislation.  Another example is during the health care fight.  Senators went to various parts of the country to find citizens that had family members suffer due to not having health insurance.  Those Senators went outside the sphere established by the Founding Fathers and in doing so they have used innocent peoples as props to promote their legislation.

                In 1788, we had tough economic times as well.  There was high unemployment, inflation, and a huge debt to compound the economic process.  A bail out was proposed in the very first session of Congress.  It never made it out of the House of Representatives.  A few years later the first stimulus bill was submitted.  It suffered the same fate as the previous bail out and again, never made it out of the House of Representatives.  Even though the representatives desperately wanted the federal government to help their constituents, the Speaker of the House told them it was unconstitutional and those bills never left the chamber.

                That Speaker was James Madison who understood the temptation of following the factions or passions of groups, companies, or individuals and he lead by example to demonstrate the priority of upholding the people’s Constitution.