Rule by public opinion is dangerous, not original intent of founders
July 8, 2014 at 2:08 a.m.
Editor, the Advocate:
July Fourth is the day we celebrate the birth of the republic of the United States. On that day, there was a blog post printed in the Advocate on Page A2 that described democracy. It definitely was not the same description that history reveals and our Founding Fathers feared.
James Madison wrote that democracies are as violent in their deaths as they are short in their lives. Unfortunately, the article in the paper mentioned how nice it was that 51 percent of the people could influence our laws, and if you think about it, our society. In Federalist Paper 63, Madison expressed the fear that the public could be persuaded by or blinded by prejudice, envy or delusion, that people could be persuaded by circumstances and powerful influential speakers. Haven't we seen this in history? Consider Hitler, Stalin and others.
The writers of the Constitution foresaw the dangers of reliance upon public opinion, so they arranged for the Senate to be elected by the state legislatures, thereby protecting the states from federal government encroachment and abuse of power. The House was elected directly by the citizens, and they had direct influence on their representatives. It was a very effective checks and balances system until the 17th amendment was ratified. How unstable would a government be if it relied on public opinion?
A good example of the dangers of opinion rule would be that of a posse chasing down a horse thief. They take a vote and all agree to hang him high. Then, along comes the sheriff, and he says the man should have a trial of his peers; that's the law. Now, we can understand the belief the founders had: that our government is only good for a moral and just people.
Do we have the right to make our own moral standard by opinion, or should there be a moral standard to attain to and direct our decisions? I can think of no higher moral standard than that expressed in the Bible. That's the standard our founders believed was the best.
Anthony Corte, Victoria