'It has been said that more than a majority ought to have been required for a quorum; and in particular cases, if not in all, more than a majority of a quorum for a decision...In all cases where justice or the general good might require new laws to be passed, or active measures to be pursued, the fundamental principle of free government would be reversed. It would be no longer the majority that would rule: the power would be transferred to the minority. Were the defensive privilege limited to particular cases, an interested minority might take advantage of it to screen themselves from equitable sacrifices to the general weal, or, in particular emergencies, to extort unreasonable indulgences."Do I need to state the relevance of this passage to today's situation in Congress? Through misuse of legislative privileges (most notably the filibuster in the Senate) power has been effectively transferred to the minority, and what is more, with exactly the result predicted by Madison at the founding of our republic- an "interested minority- the very rich- have indeed screened themselves from "equitable sacrifices to the general weal," and have continuously extorted "unreasonable indulgences."
Could there be a more succinct and accurate portrayal of what has gone on in this country the last decade or so, as the Republican party has transformed itself into the party of subversion? But of course, Republicans, who constantly manufacture opinions to put into the mouths of the founding fathers, have no interest in what the founding fathers, with considerable wisdom, foresaw. All the Republican talk about "original intent" is, like most of what they have to say, nothing but noise intended to shout down reasonable and informed opinion, in their unstoppable zeal to extort "unreasonable indulgences" for the rich criminals who pay to keep them in office.
That's mainly what I have to say about this, but I can't let Madison go without reprinting what he says next:
"Lastly, it would facilitate and foster the baneful practice of secessions...a practice subversive of all the principles of order and regular government; a practice which leads more directly to public convulsions, and the ruin of popular governments, than any other which has yet been displayed among us."Once again, Madison proves prescient. We have seen, the last few years, continuous threats by Republicans to secede, so confident are they in their divine right to rule the country, regardless of the outcome of elections. As they dwindle more and more into a minor segment of the American people, and as their anger at their marginalization (which need never have happened, if they had not claimed superior rights for themselves all along) grows, their toying with the essential fabric of our country may very well bring about the "ruin of popular government," completing the job of wrecking the nation in the name of patriotism that they began in 1860.