To the People of the State of New York:
Among the many advantages promised by a better Union, few are more important than its ability to defend against the problem of factions.
A faction is a group of people united by some common interest. A faction’s interest may be opposed to the rights of other citizens. If a faction has a majority, it may abuse its power and make the country less stable.
Complaints are said that the public good is ignored by politicians because of the conflicts of rival parties. Laws are created according to the force of the largest faction, not according to the rules of justice. As much as we may wish that these complaints had no truth, the evidence will not allow us to deny that they are in some degree true.
“Zeal For Different Opinions”
The reasons people divide themselves into factions are due to the nature of man. Feelings for different opinions about religion or government can split people into factions. Liking different leaders that want power can divide people into opposing parties as well. The most common source of division has been the unequal distribution of property. Factions have made men more likely to oppose and oppress each other than to cooperate for their common good.
Therefore, the CAUSES of faction cannot be removed. The best that can be done is to try to control its EFFECTS. If a faction consists of less than a majority, the majority can defeat its views by regular vote. In this way, a minority faction may slow the work of government, but it will be unable to really do anything under the Constitution.
“The Great Question”
When a faction makes up a majority, on the other hand, it can harm both the public good and the rights of other citizens. How to protect against such a danger, and at the same time to save the form of democracy, is then the great question that we must try to answer.
There are only two possibilities. First, it might be ensured that no belief gains the support of a majority. Or, if a majority faction exists, it must be blocked from carrying out bad ideas.
“Two Great Points Of Difference”
A republic a government in which people are represented by elected leaders, gives us an answer to the problem of factions. There are two differences between a democracy and a republic. First, in a republic, the running of government falls to a small number of citizens elected by the rest. Second, a republic can work in a larger country.
The effect of the first difference is to balance the emotions of the people. The citizens who are chosen as representatives can figure out the best interest of the country. This will make them less likely than the masses to allow any citizen or principle to be given up. This means they can protect against a powerful majority faction.
“Safeguarding Against Factions”
The effect of these differences is to allow the government to rule over a larger country. This will also have the effect of guarding against factions. The influence of leaders may disrupt States, but will be unable to spread a general problem through the other States. A religious sect may become a political faction in a part of the nation, but other religious groups in other states will protect the nation against the danger that the faction poses. In the size and structure of the Union, therefore, we see a republican cure for the diseases of political factions.