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.

New details emerge about Trump raid — and 'it doesn't look good for the FBI'

Photo by Eva Marie Uzcategui/Getty Images

New, alleged details about the raid of former President Donald Trump's home at Mar-a-Lago hint that it's "not looking good for the FBI," said BlazeTV host Glenn Beck on the radio program Thursday.

Trump has faced attacks from every direction, but despite all of it, he has "not been found guilty or had any kind of real, solid evidence against him," Glenn pointed out.

Glenn detailed a long list of investigations, accusations, and lawsuits against Trump, and the latest puzzling revelations about the FBI's raid of Mar-a-Lago, which only seem to raise even more questions. For example, did agents truly refuse to give Trump's lawyer a copy of the warrant upon arriving at the home? Because sources have alleged that his attorney was kept "10 feet away from the warrant" and was not allowed to actually read it. If that's true, then it was absolutely against the law.

Then there was the inordinate amount of time spent going through Melania Trump's closet. And did they have the proper authority to break into Trump's safe?

"That warrant had better damn well say that they can break into that safe because the law is, you can't go into somebody's house and ... just tear it all apart," Glenn said. "You have to have a pretty good idea of where things might be located, and you ask for permission for those areas. And you have to know exactly what you're looking for, and if it's in a safe, you need to specifically say, 'it's in a safe and we're having a safe cracker come in.' If they didn't say in the warrant that they could crack his safe, it's the fruit of the poisoned tree. By the way, there was nothing in the safe."

Glenn also explained that the FBI broke into a specific "safe room" that contained national archives, which Trump was allegedly told by investigators to keep in a locked room.

"[Trump] made a safe room, and put two locks on it, at their request. And that's what they broke into," Glenn said. "This doesn't look good for the FBI," he added.

Watch the video clip below to hear more from "The Glenn Beck Program." Can't watch? Download the podcast here.


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There’s an economic axis of evil taking shape right now, and the people in charge of our government are too stupid to acknowledge and deal with what’s happening. The U.S. dollar and the entire financial system are at stake, and, as Glenn Beck reveals on "Glenn TV" Wednesday, our enemies’ PUBLISHED plans to take the entire thing down.

While all of this is happening, our own leaders are making everything worse. We’ve got Nancy Pelosi risking an international incident, accelerating China’s plans to collapse us. And when Biden SHOULD be focusing on the security of our country, he’s instead preoccupied with controlling the weather with his Inflation "Reduction" Act.

Glenn exposes the TRUE numbers on what that bill will do to your family’s budget. Add to that, they’re more than doubling the IRS to make sure you feel the pain. And if you think they won’t come for you, look at what they just did to the former president of the United States. The DOJ and FBI just went after the political opponent of their boss, Joe Biden.

This is what they are focused on, and the threat to the dollar — and the entire financial system — isn’t even on their radar. Pain is coming for us, and they don’t care one bit.

Watch the full episode below:

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Speaking before signing the “PACT Act of 2022” on Wednesday morning, President Joe Biden claimed that his wonderful economic plan "is working" and that somehow July’s annual inflation rate of 8.5% was actually “zero.”

“I just want to say a number: zero. Today we received news that our economy had 0% inflation in the month of July,” Biden said during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre dutifully echoed the president's not-at-all misleading claim:

The truth of the matter is that last month's inflation rate of 8.5% was a (small) step in the right direction, but only because it was lower than June's 41-year high of 9.1% — and the thing is, anyone who's graduated kindergarten knows it.

So, who do White House personnel think they're fooling? On the radio program Wednesday, Glenn Beck and producer Stu Burguiere broke down how the Biden administration came to this latest disingenuous conclusion about the economy, what the latest consumer price index actually shows, and why the inevitable Biden brag-fest will be unbearable.

Watch the video clip below. Can't watch? Download the podcast here.

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Glenn Beck: This is the ONLY endgame that makes sense for the FBI’s raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home

(Left) Photo by James Devaney/GC Images (Right) Video screenshot

If you're celebrating this FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago, you have no idea how much this changes things. We don't do this in America. At least, we didn't. But the left cannot have Donald Trump be president again. His "America First" platform goes against everything they've been working for. So, what's their endgame here? On the radio program, Glenn Beck said there's really only one endgame that makes sense — and it should scare us all.

"If you are not for the destruction of America, you better pay attention quickly. This is a massive move," Glenn said of the Mar-a-Lago raid.

"Who has credibility on this? ... The right will believe Donald Trump, but nobody on the left, so you're not going to change any minds there. Do you think the right will believe the New York Times? MSNBC? NBC? CBS? Do you think we're going to believe the New York Times — the people who have been carrying water for the Biden crimes? The Clinton crimes? And ... I'm talking about her server and having her own State Department people go into a skiff, which is the top secret room, completely sealed off, going in and getting documents, cutting off 'top secret,' and then emailing them to her on her private server. And nothing? And now you're going to try to convince me [that] this has nothing to do with January 6?" he added.

"Remember the [allegations about] bank servers, [Trump] was pinging a bank? Untrue. Carter Page is a Russian spy? Untrue. Donald Trump is a Russian spy? ... Untrue. Collusion with Russia? Untrue. Ukraine, the perfect phone call? Not true. Not true. Wasn't a perfect phone call. Was not impeachable. The pee tape dossier? None of that was true. Here's why they can't have [Trump] as president of the United States. They can't have him as president of the United States because we are headed towards a completely new, all redesigned, non-capitalist, nonconstitutional Great Reset," Glenn argued. "They cannot have him be president because he is America first."

Glenn warned Americans that our federal government is accumulating massive power, case in point the 87,000 new IRS agents. "Coupled with the [IRS agents] they already have ... that's almost the size of our National Guard. Do you feel comfortable with that? Democrats? You don't think there's a possibility ... that someone ... might come in at some point and weaponize the IRS?"

He also warned that the FBI's raid on Donald Trump’s home has implications that stretch far beyond simple dislike for the former president. So what are they hoping to accomplish?

"What is the endgame? You make him into a martyr by throwing him into jail or killing him ... so you make him stronger. That doesn't make sense, why would they want that?" Glenn asked. "So, what is their endgame? The only one that makes sense to me, is to stop him at any cost, then lunatics will take to the streets, and then [the Democrats] will have evidence that the [right is] more dangerous than anyone could possibly imagine. Please, pray for your country."

Watch the video clip below to hear more from Glenn. Can't watch? Download the podcast here.

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To enjoy more of Glenn’s masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis, and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution, and live the American dream.