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The Significance of the new American Government

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Today’s Lecture:

The Significance of the American Experiment

Number:

10

Lecture Organization: • Class Announcements

• Introduction • Ratification • How Democratic? • But How is it Supposed to Work? • Significance of The New Experiment

Class Announcements

new website features -- I’ve put some new features on your web pages. -- Journal that keeps track of events for your specific class “My Class” [will continue to have more thing on it over the weekend]

Class Announcements
we’re behind -- we will have to cut some things out of the course -- I’m not really sure what. I’ll decide soon. (we really need to be moving into other struggles)

Class Announcements

test -- exam is February 11th -- second half is on Feb. 13th -- you can avoid the second half by handing in an essay to me on the 13th at a private meeting, where we will discuss it. [explain procedure] -- essay topics will be handed out the Wednesday following the Steelers victory

Questions?

Class Announcements

new website features -- I’ve put some new features on your web pages. Go the course page to see them -- [explain the new features and why you did it]

Class Announcements

test -- here is what I’m inclined to do: -- exam is February 11th -- two options: (a) can take half of it then, the other half on Friday 13th (b) can take half of it then and do the essay -- if you do the essay, handed out Feb 4th, consult with me on that Friday about it, given back for reforms

Questions?

Introduction
“3-branch creature” -- Following the writings of Montesquieu, the framers create a separate and independent branch for each logical function of governance

The King Exec (absolute monarchy) Jud Leg

The American Experiment 4 institutions, three branches of government Selects Composition Bicameral Assembly
PRESIDENT SENATE HOUSE JUDICIARY

Note the significance:
ELECTORAL COLLEGE

• equal and independent franchise

??
STATES
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Ratification

process -- each state had to have a convention where delegates were chosen (by election). -- It takes 9 to ratify. -- disputes were intense (example)

Pennsylvania – The first big test would come in Pa, the first of the larger states to hold a contest. On the one hand, you had Ben Franklin from that state supporting it and James Wilson, who was also widely respected; but the problem was that they needed a 2/3 majority in a 1 house state legislature in order to call for the convention. The federalists controlled the legislature, but fell two votes short of a quorum. The anti-federalists, mostly from the northern and western parts of the state, boycotted the session. So, the federalists resorted to strong arm tactics: they sent the sergeant of arms out with a federalist posse to search the taverns and lodging houses. They located two of the boycotters, and they were forcibly brought to the state house and detained by force. They held them in their seats while the federalists voted for a ratification convention.

Ratification

process -- NC and RI turn it down! -- extremely close in Virginia -- New York looked extremely bad

-- but it finally prevailed

Ratification

Bill of Rights -- not in the Constitution [explain why] -- many ratifying states demanded it

-- the Bill of Rights merely reflect the “rights of Englishmen” from its revolution (very similar sort of declaration)

How Democratic?
A transition society

-- Approximately 160,000 voters participated in the process out of a population of 4 million (figure includes slaves).
-- about 4% of the total population -- Caveats: • America was a younger population. A high percentage was below 21 years. • don’t have stats on the % of free adult males; probably was comparable to the English Revolution (1 in 5)? -- “A post-aristocratic, pre-democratic society” -- J. Ellis

How Democratic?
oligarchic features

-- judges are appointed for life
-- Senators are appointed for 6 year terms -- The president is NOT popularly elected -- The elitist institutions are connected in important ways • Presidents and Senators select the Judges • President and Senate approve treaties • Only the Senate can remove the president in an impeachment trial

How Democratic?
oligarchic features

-- Note the FUNCTION that elitist institutions play …

imagine an elitism index represented by a color scheme
life tenure, inherited life tenure, appointed
SENATE JUDICIARY

longer terms, apponited
PRESIDENT

quick terms, frequently elected

HOUSE

Direct Democracy (Athens)
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The American Experiment

PRESIDENT

SENATE

HOUSE

JUDICIARY

“Law?” veto

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19

The American Experiment

PRESIDENT

SENATE

HOUSE

JUDICIARY

veto
“Law?”

override the veto with 2/3rds majority
Compare to England: the King’s veto was absolute

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The American Experiment

PRESIDENT

SENATE

HOUSE

JUDICIARY

“unconstitutional”
“Law?”

Compare to England: “I don’t understand” [mention Bonham’s case]
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The American Experiment

PRESIDENT

SENATE

HOUSE

JUDICIARY

“Law?”

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22

The American Experiment The People

PRESIDENT

SENATE

HOUSE

JUDICIARY

“Law”

“unconstitutional”

Compare to England: “Unheard of!” The people speak only through their 1/30/2009 representatives!

Copyright, Sean Wlson. 2007

“the people”

23

How Democratic?
“the people’s institution”

-- But the popular branch, the House, has certain key prerogatives:
• taxing and spending bills must originate there • they can charge impeachment (but tried in the Senate) • the House breaks the tie for presidential election in the electoral college

How Democratic?
becomes more democratic later on

-- the framer’s creation will be significantly modified as American history continues …

The Flood Waters of Democracy The Steps of Democracy

Professional Orthodoxy?

Washingtonthe Madison in Elite describing Papers Federalist the need Courts – “law” Statesmen for a Senate to Monarchical? Jefferson treaties 1787 Senate Virtuous appointments Revolutionary? impeachment trials
6 year term veto President appointment Political Clamor commander in chief 4 year term money bills Houseimpeachment bills money House impeachment 2 year terms
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1

2 year terms

26

The Flood Waters of Democracy The Steps of Democracy

1828

Courts – “law”

2

treaties Senate appointments impeachment trials 6 year term veto President veto President appointment appointment commander commander in chiefin chief 4 year term 4 year term money bills impeachment House House2 year terms bills money
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impeachment 2 year terms

27

The Flood Waters of Democracy The Steps of Democracy

Today
3

Courts – “law” Senate Senate
treaties treaties appointments appointments impeachment trials impeachment trials 6 year term 6 year term

President President

veto veto appointment appointment commander commander in chiefin chief 4 year term 4 year term

money bills impeachment House House2 year terms bills money
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impeachment 2 year terms

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But How is it Supposed to Work?
judicial branch … very interesting creature De Tocqueville -- was a French writer -- comes to America around the 1830s -- He makes an interesting observation: • The Judiciary has the last say over legality • Therefore, every social or political question will degenerate into a legal question • And that Courts will end up ruling everything
“Jurocracy” – Alan Keyes

But How is it Supposed to Work
judicial branch … very interesting creature De Tocqueville -- was a French writer -- comes to America around the 1830s
“Jurocracy” – Alan Keyes

Question: -- He makes an interesting observation: Question:
• The Judiciary has theIs De Tocqueville last say over legality What does Alexander

Hamilton have to say • Therefore, every social or correct?question will political about degenerate into a legal question this?
• And that Courts will end up ruling everything

But How is it Supposed to Work
judicial branch Hamilton -- in Federalist #78, writing 40 years earlier: -- Don’t fear them for two reasons Political Powers -- they lack the key political powers: • power over the purse (tax and spending)

• power over the sword (military and police state)

Conceptualizing Hamilton

Congress Executive SocietyDoesn’t happen this way

Courts

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Conceptualizing Hamilton

Congress Executive Society Doesn’t happen this way either!

Courts

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But How is it Supposed to Work
judicial branch Hamilton -- in Federalist #78, writing 40 years earlier: -- Don’t fear them for two reasons “Judging is Special” -- Judges don’t declare policies like other organs of government

-- Judges are bound by a legal orthodoxy
“reach decisions neither by will or force, but by judgment”

Hamilton #78 Whoever attentively considers the different departments of power must perceive, that, in a government in which they are separated from each other, the judiciary, from the nature of its functions, will always be the least dangerous to the political rights of the Constitution; because it will be least in a capacity to annoy or injure them. The Executive not only dispenses the honors, but holds the sword of the community. The legislature not only commands the purse, but prescribes the rules by which the duties and rights of every citizen are to be regulated. The judiciary, on the contrary, has no influence over either the sword or the purse; no direction either of the strength or of the wealth of the society; and can take no active resolution whatever. It may truly be said to have neither FORCE nor WILL, but merely judgment; and must ultimately depend upon the aid of the executive arm even for the efficacy of its judgments.

Hamilton #78 Whoever attentively considers the different departments of power must perceive, that, in a government in which they are Suggestions: separated from each other, the judiciary, from the nature of its functions, will always be the least dangerous to the political • the judge’s chambers are a capacity rights of the Constitution; because it will be least in not to annoy smoke-filled,The Executive not only dispenses the or injure them. cigar-chewing rooms. honors, but“Judging sword of the community. The legislature • holds the is special?” not only commands the purse, but prescribes the rules by “Law” is separate from politics? which the•duties and rights of every citizen are to be regulated. • law is a professional orthodoxy The judiciary, on the contrary, has no influence over either the sword or (craft); it is aboveeither of the strength or of the the purse; no direction the mud and dirt wealth of the society; and can take no executive found in legislative and active resolution whatever.politics? It may truly be said to have neither FORCE nor WILL, but merely judgment; and must ultimately depend upon the aid of the executive arm even for the efficacy of its judgments.

Hamilton #78 Whoever attentively considers the different departments of power must perceive, that, in a government in which they are Suggestions: separated from each other, the judiciary, from the nature of its functions, will always be the least dangerous to the political • the judge’s chambers are a capacity rights of the Constitution; because it will be least in not to annoy smoke-filled,The Executive not only dispenses the or injure them. cigar-chewing rooms. honors, but“Judging sword of the community. The legislature • holds the is special?” not only commands the purse, but prescribes the rules by “Law” is separate from politics? which the•duties and rights of every citizen are to be regulated. Question: • law is a professional orthodoxy The judiciary, on the contrary, has no influence over either the Is the mud and sword or (craft); it is aboveHamilton right? dirt of the the purse; no direction either of the strength or wealth of the society; and can take no executive found in legislative and active resolution whatever.politics? It may truly be said to have neither FORCE nor WILL, but merely judgment; and must ultimately depend upon the aid of the executive arm even for the efficacy of its judgments.

But How is it Supposed to Work
important question … examine this picture

The American Experiment
CONGRESS PRESIDENT SENATE HOUSE JUDICIARY

Question: Question:
Which institution is supposed Which Institution is to LEAD the government ? most powerful? Which is the most important policy organ?
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But How is it Supposed to Work
which branch is more important … the framers no doubt thought that the Congress was the central policy branch. However, there is still a wide latitude of disagreement here …. Madisonians -- Madisonians were parliamentarians (Virginia plan) -- The idea: Congress is the boss; the executive is a clerk -- Madison was so extreme, he thought that the Congress would actually manage the executive branch

But How is it Supposed to Work
which branch is more important … the framers no doubt thought that the Congress was the central policy branch. However, there is still a wide latitude of disagreement here …. Hamiltonians -- The executive would have a substantial leadership role

-- The oligarchic/monarchical structures were independent, equal and significant


				
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Description: Lecture given in Philosophy and Development of American Government. See http://ludwig.squarespace.com/amgovcourse-page/