# Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Thomas Jefferson v James Madison

This question of direct democracy versus representative government that Dad and I are talking about is not a new one. As I said the founding fathers of this country struggled with the very same question. The Federalist Papers contain James Madison's debate with Thomas Jefferson on this point.

Jefferson wished for a pure democracy whereby the citizens could assemble and administer the government in person. All people could then have a direct say in how they are governed and share in the power that is used to govern. He talked all about a new revolution every 10 years, yadda yadda yadda. No wonder he liked the French-they are still fighting the French Revolution and the Revolutionaries at the Bastille in July 1789 were quoting Thomas Jefferson (who was in Paris at the time as George Washington’s ambassador) as if he were their spiritual leader. So the French?  How many constitutions have they had since 1789? Last I counted it was 6, not to mention all that Napoleon crap. (Let’s also not forget the Reign of Terror.)  How many have the United States had? One quite successful one.

James Madison believed that we are all prone to faction--"citizens...united and activated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or adverse to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community" (Federalist Papers #10). "No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause," said Madison, "because his interest would certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity."

Duh. Madison argued that the remedy to the risk of faction (or"special interests") was a representative government where a small but carefully determined number of citizens are elected by the rest to act on their behalf and in the interest of the public good. He won, Jefferson lost. Basically Thomas Jefferson gained some ground in a 215 year old debate last week with the election of the Terminator.

Sorry Dad.

So everyone, just remember the United States is not a democracy, but a Representative Democracy. (And yes we are a republic too, but so are the commies in China.)



posted on Wednesday, October 15, 2003 7:27:54 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [16] Trackback

Total Recall


My Dad did not agree with my thoughts on the Recall Vote- see his email below.


I disagree 100% with Dad. For starters, there is a recall every 4 years. The founding fathers would not be proud, they deliberately created a representative democracy, not a true democracy. The Federalist Papers warn of mob-rule (I know Dad I still have your copy, I should give it back to you to re-read). Remember that the founding fathers did not trust the electorate (only white males at the time) the Senate was not even elected, but appointed! They did not trust the electorate, why should I. Plus I have 230 years of history to judge the electorate by.


I do not support referendum and initiative, just look at Switzerland trying to vote to enter in the UN, enough said.


Dad's message:


-----Original Message-----
From: Albert J Forte

Sent: Wednesday, October 15, 2003 9:14 AM
To: Stephen Forte


you have spent too much time at high altitude. Our founding fathers would be

proud of caliiiiiifornia.

Only 4 recalls and one succesful in  40 years. Comparing this to 9/11 is

rediculous. when did you lose faith in the electorate. Jefferson would love

this. The voters want recall on the books. I also support referendum and

initiative. Get some sleep ; you are nuts.


A little direct democracy once in a while might shake up the flow of special

  interest money.


I dare you to print this reply on your blog

posted on Wednesday, October 15, 2003 3:14:05 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [7] Trackback
# Wednesday, October 8, 2003

The Biggest Threat to Our Democracy


While I am a big fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s movies (I have seen each and every one more than once), read his work-out book for travelers and am counting the days until Pumping Iron is released to DVD (33 days), I think that the California Recall of Governor Davis is a larger threat to our democracy than the 9/11 attacks and all of the controversial steps taken to ensure our safety (like keeping the prisoners in Cuba, etc).


For starters, I tend to be a centrist, but lean more to the right, so technically I should be happy. I am not. I am losing sleep over this. This threat to our way of life has nothing with Democrats, Republicans or the Terminator. It has to do with the “What have you done for me lately, “ short attention span, need results now, Internet culture that is evolving in this country.  Now people’s short attention span has turned to elections. This is bad.


Another problem is that people don’t like to take responsibility for their actions anymore. The voters have the option to recall an elected official, every 4 years! Governor Davis was elected barely 11 months ago and less than 4 months after he was elected the recall movement was started.


This clearly has to stop. The “what have you done for me lately” culture was seen during the recent war in Iraq. While not taking any sides on the war issue, about 6 days in the news media and popular culture were saying that it was taking “too long”. Six days to invade and take over another country? They can’t be serious. But alas the news media and popular culture were.


People have way to much of a sense of entitlement and this attitude will only come back to haunt us. What is next? Why not elect the president via TV ratings like predicted in the late 80s TV show Max Headroom?

posted on Wednesday, October 8, 2003 3:31:59 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [18] Trackback