Don’t get me wrong, I love the founding fathers just as much as the next guy. However, I found a lot of what Hamilton was talking about in the Federalist 78 to be downright shady. The anti-federalists would claim that Hamilton is trying to push this large, expansive federal government upon the states and by doing so is threatening the sovereignty of the states. He is claiming that the people would have to consent and approve of this federal government, but then carries on about how several members of the federal government would have permanency of office. Outside of this paper, Hamilton mentions how he would prefer permanency of office also for the Senate and the President (Mitchell, pp. I:397 ff), while in 78, Hamilton calls for the court justices to have permanent positions as well. Hamilton in 78 also mentions that the Judiciary is to be the weakest in government, probably seen by him as a means of protecting individual liberty, but seen by me as one less obstacle for someone with “ambition” was Hamilton put it, to step in and take the whole executive office over for life. Hamilton repeats several times inside 78 as well as outside the text that the people must be the voice above all in government, but his proposed actions are speaking much louder than his words.
How can this work? How can a government be committed to the people if they have such few means of accountability? Hamilton assures his readers that the people would be the ultimate voice in government, but stays quiet as far as how exactly they would go about flexing their force. Perhaps Hamilton saw how democratic this government was to be as compared to the rest of the world and decided to use this set up of insulated judges, senators and president as a check to how many people were getting enfranchised at the time. As discussed in the Diamond article, the rules of exclusion of the day only blocked about 25% of the white male population from voting. So at the time period, that many men having the ability to vote was really unheard of throughout the world. Hamilton could have been trying to avoid the formation of factions by insisting that the people be the highest voice, as well as making officials difficult to vote out of office. I think this is a valid counter-argument.
However, I’m still concerned. Paramount to the founding fathers, Hamilton included, was protecting the nation from foreign invasion and domestic instability. With Hamilton’s proposals for an absolute veto for the President, a weak judicial system, and a legislature that would again be weaker than the executive, are the claims by Madison of Hamilton being a closet monarchist plausible? (Mitchell, pp. I:397 ff)
Also think about the time period in which these were published. These newspaper articles are persuasion pieces. Hamilton references multiple times in 78 that the government is only legit if the people approve and consent. He states that the voice of the people is superior to both the legislature and judicial. Note the absence of the executive.
So am I crazy? Is Hamilton being a shady character with all this, or is he just doing what he believes is best to create a stable democracy? I’m looking forward to hearing everyone’s ideas.