Original Argument: The Lost Chapters. Translated by Joshua Charles

The Federalist No. 53

The House of Representatives (continued)

James Madison

Independent Journal

Saturday, February 9, 1788

At this point, I am reminded of a saying that seems to be popular these days, “that where annual elections end, tyranny begins.”  If it is true (as it if often said) that sayings that have become proverbial are generally based in reason, then it is just as true that once such sayings are established, they are often applied and used in ways which are not justified by the reasoning which originally led to them!

We need not look any further for proof of this than the case before us.  What is the reasoning upon which this proverbial saying is founded?  Surely no one wishes to subject themselves to the ridicule they would endure if they pretended that there was, in reality, some sort of natural connection between the sun or the seasons, and the time period during which human virtue can resist the temptations of power.  Fortunately for mankind, liberty is not confined to a single point in time in this respect, but rather exists within extremes which leave plenty of room for the changes which may be required by the various situations and circumstances of civil society.

If it was found to be convenient, the election of judges might be, and actually have been conducted daily, weekly, monthly, as well as annually.  So if circumstances may require a deviation from the rule on one side, why not also on the other side?  Turning our attention to the frequency of elections which have been established amongst ourselves, we find that the elections of the most numerous branches of the state legislatures by no means coincide with each other anymore than do the elections of other civil officers.  In Connecticut and Rhode Island, elections are held every six months, while in all of the other states (except South Carolina), they are held annually.  As for South Carolina, the elections are biennial (every two years), as has been proposed for the Federal government (for the House of Representatives).[1] The difference between the longest and shortest election cycles throughout the states represents a ratio of 4:1, and yet it would not be easy to show that Connecticut or Rhode Island are either better governed or enjoy a greater share of rational liberty than South Carolina, or that any of these three states are different in these respects and for these reasons from the states whose elections may be more or less frequent.

In my search for the basis of this political doctrine, I have only been able to discover one, and it doesn’t apply to us at all.  The important distinction, which is so well understood in America and seems to have been little understood (and even less observed) in any other country, is the difference that exists between a Constitution established by the People and therefore unable to be changed by the government,[2] and a law established by the government and therefore able to be changed by the government.  Wherever the supreme power of legislation has been placed, it has been assumed that in that place there was also complete power to change the form of government.  Even in Great Britain, where the principles of political and civil liberty have been most discussed, and where we frequently hear about the rights of its constitution, it is maintained that the authority of Parliament is transcendent and uncontrollable with regard to both the British constitution, as well as the normal, everyday objects of legislative authority.  In several examples, they have lived up to this claim by actually changing, via legislative acts, some of the most fundamental articles of the government.  Specifically, they have on several occasions changed the length of the terms of elected offices, and most recently they not only introduced septennial (every seven years) in place of triennial (every three years) elections, but also (by the same act) extended their own terms in office four years beyond the term which they were elected to by the People in the first place.  These dangerous practices have naturally alarmed the devoted followers of free government (whose foundation is frequency of elections), and has forced them to search for something which can secure liberty against the dangers which these actions have exposed it to.  Where no constitution either existed or might possibly be formed, and which was completely superior to the government, no one tried to establish any constitutional security similar to that which exists in the United States.  Therefore, they had to search for some other source of security, and what better source could they utilize then simply selecting and relying on some simple and familiar period of time as a standard by which to measure the actions which had been taken by the government, by which to measure the feelings of the nation, and during which patriotic efforts could be made to bring about the desired changes?  The simplest and most familiar period of time which could be used for the sake of such security was one year, so the admirable desire to erect some sort of barrier against the gradual intrusions of an unlimited government gave rise to the idea that amount, or degree of tyranny that exists could be calculated by how far the government had strayed from the fixed point of annual elections.  But how necessary would such a security be for a government which will be as limited as the proposed Federal government, and which will be established by the superior authority of the Constitution?  Who will try and pretend that the liberties of the People of America will not be more secure under biennial elections (which are permanently fixed by the Constitution) than the People of any other nation where elections are annual or even more frequent, but which are also at the mercy of being changed simply by the ordinary power of the government (as occurred in Great Britain)?

The second question is whether biennial elections are necessary or useful (referenced in No. 52)?  Several obvious considerations will show just how appropriate it is to answer “yes” to this question.  No one can be a competent legislator unless, in addition to good intentions and sound judgment, they also possess a certain degree of knowledge of the subjects on which they will legislate.

A portion of this knowledge can be acquired via information which is accessible to individuals in private, as well as public positions.  Another portion of this knowledge can only be attainted (at least thoroughly) by actual experience in the position which requires the use of it.  Therefore, the period of service should in all cases be somewhat proportional to the extent of practical knowledge which is required to adequately perform the service.  As we have seen, the period of legislative service which is established in most of the states for the more numerous branch of the legislature is one year.  The question may now be asked in this simple way: does the period of two years bear no greater proportion to the knowledge which will be required for Federal legislation, than one year does to the knowledge required for state legislation?  The very way in which the question is worded suggests the answer which should be given to it.

In a single state, the knowledge required for a legislator relates to the existing laws, which are both uniform throughout the state and are all more or less familiar to all of the citizens, as well as the general affairs of the state, which are confined to a small area, not very diverse, and also occupy much of the attention and conversation of every class of people.  The great theatre of the United States presents a very different scene.  The laws are so far from being uniform that they are in fact different in every state, while the actual public affairs of the Union are spread throughout a very large area and are extremely diversified by the local affairs which are connected with them.  Indeed, the affairs of the Union would be difficult to learn in any place other than Congress, which is where the knowledge of each state will be brought by the representatives of every part of the empire.  Even so, some knowledge of the affairs, and even of the laws of all the states, should be possessed by the Representatives from each of the states.  How can foreign trade be properly regulated by uniform laws without some familiarity with the commerce, the ports, the customs, and the regulations of the different states?  How can trade between the states themselves be properly regulated without some knowledge of their particular situation with regards to commerce and other things?[3] How could taxes be fairly imposed, and effectively collected if they were not adapted to the different laws and local circumstances of the states with regard to both commerce and these other things?[4] How could uniform regulations for the militia be properly provided without a similar knowledge of the internal circumstances that distinguish the states from each other?[5] These things are the primary objects of Federal legislation, and as such, they very clearly hint at the extensive information that the Representatives ought to acquire.  The less important objects of Federal legislation will require a proportional degree of information with regard to them as well.

It’s true that all of these difficulties will be gradually, but significantly diminished.  The most difficult task will be the initial establishment of the government, and the formation of an appropriate, primitive Federal Code.  Improvements on the very first set of laws will become easier and fewer with every passing year, since the past transactions of government will be a readily available and accurate source of information for new Representatives to work from.  The affairs of the Union will become more and more a subject of curiosity and conversation among the citizens at large, and the increased interaction between the citizens of different states will greatly contribute to the diffusion of a mutual knowledge of their affairs, which will also contribute to a nationwide assimilation of their cultures and laws.  But, even with all of this spreading and sharing of knowledge, the business of Federal legislation will continue to exceed the legislative business of a single state both in originality and difficulty, which in and of itself justifies the longer period of service that has been assigned to those who will actually carry out the work of legislation (the Federal Representatives in Congress).

An area of knowledge which has not yet been mentioned, but which a Federal Representative should be familiar with nonetheless, is foreign affairs.  If they are to play a part in regulating our own commerce, then Representatives ought to be acquainted with not only the treaties between the United States and other nations, but also with the commercial policy and laws of other nations.  They should not be completely ignorant of international law, for insofar as it is an appropriate object of municipal legislation, it also falls under the jurisdiction of the Federal government.  And even though the House of Representatives will not directly participate in foreign negotiations and arrangements, the many connections which will exist between the many areas of public affairs will sometimes require that ordinary legislation be passed in order to provide both legal sanction and/or cooperation between any particular areas of policy.  Some of this knowledge may, no doubt, be acquired in any man’s closet, but some of it can only be acquired from public sources of information, and all of it will be most effectively[6] acquired by a Representative putting forth a real, and practical effort towards understanding the subject during the time of their actual service in Congress.

In considering the periods of service for Federal Representatives, there are other perhaps less important considerations, but ones which we should think about nonetheless.  The distance which many of the Representatives will be required to travel (along with the travel arrangements they’ll have to make) could’ve been a much more serious objection among those who would be fit for this service if the period of service was limited to a single year, rather than extended to two years.  The situation of the current representatives in the present congress will not provide any arguments related to this subject.  While it is true that they are elected annually, their respective legislative assemblies consider their re-election as almost inevitable.  The election of the Representatives by the People will not be governed by the same principle.

As happens in all such assemblies, a few Representatives will possess superior talent, will become long standing members of Congress after frequent re-elections, and will likely become very thorough masters of the public business, and thus perhaps not unwilling to avail themselves of these advantages.  The greater the number of new Representatives, and the less information which is available to the bulk of them, then the more likely they will be to fall into the traps which have been laid for them.  This remark is just as applicable to the relationship which will exist between the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The advantages of our frequent elections (annual), even in single states which are large and hold only one legislative session during the year, does not take into account the difficulty of both investigating and annulling illegitimate elections in a quick enough manner for the decision to make any difference in the first place, a significant disadvantage indeed.  If votes can be obtained, even unlawfully, and then the illegally elected Representative ends up taking his seat in Congress as a result of such illegal voting practices, he can be sure that he will be able to hold that seat for an adequate amount of time in order to fulfill his purposes.  Thus, a very deadly encouragement is given to using unlawful means to obtain votes.  Therefore, if Congressional elections were to be held annually, then they might end up being very seriously abused, especially in the more distant states.  Each House of Congress is, as it necessarily must be, the judge of the elections, qualifications, and votes of its own members.[7] Either way, whatever improvements experience may suggest to us for simplifying and accelerating the process of dealing with disputed elections, it is likely that such a large portion of the year would unavoidably elapse before an illegitimate member could be removed from his seat, and that the low probability that he actually would[8] be removed from his seat would hardly act as a barrier to unfair and illegal methods of obtaining a seat in Congress being used by those who wished to gain political power.  All of these considerations as a whole justify us in believing that biennial elections will be just as useful to public affairs as they will be safe to the liberties of the People.

Publius


[1]United States Constitution: Article I, Section 2, clause 1

[2]United States Constitution: Preamble

[3]United States Constitution: Article I, Section 8, clause 3

[4]United States Constitution: Article I, Section 8, clause 1

[5]United States Constitution: Article I, Section 8, clause 16

[6]Emphasis added.

[7]United States Constitution: Article I, Section 5, clauses 1-4

[8]Emphasis added.

Glenn Beck can't help but wonder, "What is wrong with us?" in light of the Left's latest move — canceling six Dr. Seuss books due to "hurtful and wrong" illustrations — that takes America one step closer to complete insanity. And now, school districts are jumping on board after President Joe Biden seems to have dropped Dr. Seuss from the White House's annual "Read Across America Day" proclamation.

On the radio program Tuesday, Glenn argued that deleting books is the perfect example of fascism, and asked when we as a country will finally realize it.

"They are banning Dr. Seuss books. How much more do you need to see before all of America wakes up? ... This is fascism!" Glenn said. "We don't destroy books. What is wrong with us, America?"

Watch the video below to hear more from Glenn:


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Former Democratic presidential candidate and Hawaii representative Tulsi Gabbard and Glenn Beck don't agree much on policy, but they're in lockstep on principles.

On "The Glenn Beck Podcast" this week, Tulsi spoke with Glenn about one of her last acts in Congress, introducing the "Protect Women's Sports Act," which she says would "strengthen, clarify, and uphold the intent of Title IX to provide a level playing field for girls and women in sports." But since then, the Biden administration has gone in the opposite direction, and has supported allowing biological men to compete in women's sports.

Watch the video clip below to hear why Tulsi took a stand for female athletes:


Watch the full interview with Tulsi Gabbard here.

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Later this week, former President Trump will attend CPAC and give his first major policy appearance since leaving office. Sources close to the President reveal he will focus on "the future of the Republican Party and the conservative movement."

The future of the GOP is a question that demands real discussion before elections in 2022 and 2024. Right now, I can see three possible answers for how you act:

  1. Those in power and senior positions will ignore the reasons behind Donald Trump winning in 2016. They will be vindicated in their minds because they outlasted him, as they view DC as a job for life. These leaders will go back to business as usual and seek forgiveness from the left, hoping for unity and acceptance in the future.
  2. The second outcome is another section of the party that is understandably very angry over the left's Presidents treatment. They still support and believe in Trump. They think it's time to take off the gloves and treat Biden/the left exactly how they treated Trump.
  3. The few policy positions offered in public will be centered solely around opposing the left. They will also make the case how the left suck, are dangerous, and how you need them in power. The next four years are merely a countdown for Trump to run again and right the wrong of 2020.
  4. The third outcome is very similar to the second, but with one key difference. While they appreciate everything Trump accomplished while in office, they feel it's time to unite behind another candidate.
Question

Which of these three positions will work best for the American people? Which helps built a political base for elections in both 2022 and 2024?

If you seek to help save America, it is critical to do some soul searching. Whether you love or hate him, Donald Trump got 75 million votes and made advancements in key demographics. What did he do well that you can develop further? In what areas was he poor, and how can you improve?

I want to raise six principled points everyone on the right should be forced to consider in the run-up to 2024.

1 - Understanding American Exceptionalism

FACT: America is an exceptional nation. If you read enough of world history, you will find ample evidence that America acted in ways that made it unique and significantly different from other countries in the past and modern times. These reasons must be understood and promoted through the culture and body politic.

One of those reasons is the layout of your Declaration of Independence. If you look around politics today, you will see people on all political sides telling you what they hate, why the other side is the enemy, and how they must be defeated.

In the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson also made that case against the English when he listed 27 grievances against the King. So how is the layout key? It took Jefferson 357 words to get to those grievances. Your Declaration is your mission statement: it tells everyone in the world what America aspires to be. It states the belief that all were created equal, all had certain rights that come directly from God, and that it is the government's job to protect rights -- not give people rights.

The left is successfully painting everyone on the right to be a terrorist who enjoyed the Capitol Hill riots. If you ever want to win another election, it will be critical to explain what you stand for to the American people.

After all, ask yourself which makes you the most passionate to vote - removing someone from office or voting for a vision and change you believe in?

2 - The Constitution

Is there a better place to start this vision than the Constitution? Yes, it is mostly ignored today by those in power and is only referenced by politicians and media when it fits a narrative.

The Constitution is a beautiful and complex document but is primarily based on a straightforward principle. The government should be extremely limited in its power, but it should be as close to the people as possible where there is a clear need for government. Who can argue with this principle?

Who wants someone they have never met, dictating how they live their life?

This is why the Constitution grants the President no real power, and gives Congress 18 clauses of power, listed under Article 1, Section 8. Any and every power not mentioned there belongs at the state level.

3 - Finances

The power structure in DC has changed many times over the last twenty years, with both parties having the opportunity to rule the different federal branches. There have been two periods where one party controlled all the power in DC:

  • 2008-2010: Obama / Dem
  • 2016-2018: Trump / GOP

Despite these changes, your government continually grows, you continue to spend money you don't have, and in ten out of the last thirteen years, you have added over $1,000,000,000,000 to your national debt, which now sits just under $28 trillion. Does this seem sustainable to you? Of course not, but sadly your finances only get worse.

America has revenue of over $3.2 trillion every year, yet DC has not passed a budget since 2008. Can you imagine any business running that way? Do you think Apple, Amazon, or Disney have a budget? It is time to get America on a path to financial sustainability, work towards a balanced budget, and explain to the American people how you will achieve it.

4 - Taxes

Do you remember discussing taxes during the Tea Party?

We used to make the simple moral case to the American people: any money you earn is yours, you should use it to plan your life, and the government has no right to take it from you. This was so successful around 2012 that Herman Cain ran for President with one primary policy: the 9-9-9 plan.

If America is to return to prosperity after Covid, lower taxes and a simpler tax code must be a central theme.

5 - Cutting Government

Look at the size of the US government in 2021. Are you happy? Can you name the numerous departments? Is it now the freedom-loving Americans' position that agencies like Education, Energy, EPA, and Commerce are constitutional bodies of government and are well-run?

How about the IRS, which targeted Tea-Party groups under President Obama? Do they deserve support, or is it time to start sharing a vision of the departments that should be abolished?

This principle used to be a big part of the Conservative platform. It played a massive role in 2012 when Rick Perry ran for President. His campaign was destroyed in 45 short seconds when he could not remember the three agencies he would abolish.

Maybe it's time to refresh this debate but change the parameters. How about we discuss the agencies that should be kept?

6 - Bill of Rights

Today, the Bill of Rights is under constant attack. The far-left/woke mob hates free speech, and they seek to cancel anyone with an opposing view. However, the attacks on the Bill of Rights don't always come from the left.

America has a second amendment that guarantees you the right to bear arms. The last time the GOP held both houses of Congress and the Presidency, they banned bump stocks - but who really NEEDS a bump stock?

As the years have passed, some have admitted they are open to red flag laws. Is this still the case?

While the second amendment may be under attack, it is clear the fourth amendment is dead. Regardless of which party holds power in DC, the NSA is given continuous ability to spy on Americans. The simple, principled case from Rand Paul of "get a warrant" always falls on deaf ears.

The Bill of Rights should be a unifying document for most Americans, as the principles are self-evident and a significant part of any freedom platform going forward.

Conclusion

America will face significant challenges over the coming years. As the government continues to grow, the far left get more hostile, and central planners seek a great reset. If you share my concern, then now is the time to forget our tribes and ignore the debate on who should be President in 2024.

It's time to work hard to build a platform by raising a banner of bold colors, not pale pastels. We must share a clear vision to the American people of a bright future where they are free, prosperous, and can pursue their happiness.

When the platform is built and successful, people can identify the best candidate to run in 2024.

"First, you win the argument, and then you win the election." — Margaret Thatcher

Jonathon Dunne is a keynote speaker, weekly podcast host on Blaze Media, and published author on major platforms such as The Blaze, Glenn Beck, Libertarian Republic, Western Journalism, and Constitution. Since 2012, he has reached millions with his message of American exceptionalism.

You can find him on social media – Facebook, Twitter, MeWe

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is under fire for questioning President Joe Biden's nominee for an assistant health secretary position, Dr. Rachel Levine, about her alleged support for giving children puberty blockers and sex-change surgeries.

During a confirmation hearing Thursday, Paul pointedly asked Levine, who is a transgender woman, about her support for allowing children to change their sex, and whether she believes children are capable of making such life-altering decisions.

Levine evaded the question, answering instead with a vague statement about the complexities of transgender medicine, which she would again reiterate for Paul's subsequent questions.

Watch a video clip of the confirmation hearing here.

Predictably, Paul has been labeled "transphobic" and accused of trying to derail Levine with "transphobic misinformation" by the leftist media.

On the Glenn Beck Radio Program Friday, Paul said his questioning Levine had nothing to do with who she is or the fact that she is a transgender adult, but was about the question of gender changes for children.

"The interesting thing is, none of it was directed towards her personally or who she is. It was directed towards the question of whether children can consent. And this is an intellectual question. It's not an inflammatory question. It's a question of serious consequences," he explained. "Most people would argue that children can't really make an informed consent. You know, we have laws against a man having sex with a 12-year-old, even if the 12-year-old says 'yes', because we don't think a 12-year-old is capable of consenting. They just aren't old enough to make the decision."

Paul went on to add, "I guess the danger is, you have to have some chutzpah. You have to have some guts, some courage to stand up because it is a culture out there where ... everybody is saying I made transphobic comments yesterday. All I did was ask whether a minor could consent to this kind of dramatic surgery. Nothing I ever said was hateful. I said nothing hateful about these people. I said nothing hateful about adults who choose to do this. But the culture is out there is so strong that so many in office are afraid to speak out. And it's getting worse.

"There's a handful of us that will speak out in the Senate. There's a handful in the House, and we just have to grow our ranks. But we have to resist or it just will roll over us. And we'll live in this terrible cancel culture world where nobody speaks out, and everybody is afraid to say anything."

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:

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