Madison and Factions

In our last class we discussed the idea of a minority being squashed by a majority-or further the idea that Madison would support this type of action, as he opposed factions in the Federalist #10. Then we went one step further and discussed the possibility of one of these actions actually being the morally right and getting put down because they were a faction. Essentially-Madison wants to suppress factions but this risks loosing the opinion of factions that are promoting the right ideals. This concept was supporting by the example of the abolitionist movement, as they sought out to abolish slavery, a morally corrupt practice but were slowed by the majority.  The more I thought about this the more I considered it a possibility, and a huge factor as to why certain things in this country move so slowly.

This made me think about all of the movements that began as minority movements or factions that were initially quashed but in contrast to Madison’s wishes, eventually, society realized that they were the right things to do and they gained majority support–mainly civil rights movements.   As Thoreau discusses, slavery was morally corrupt and the abolitionist movement was a morally justifiable movement.  Initially, the slave owners prevailed, but eventually, slavery was abolished. And as I went through the decades, I realized that is a pattern with our history-slavery, then feminism and woman’s rights, and now, gay rights.  These movements in the past started out as factions- bound together by a common interest adverse to either 1) the interests of other citizens or 2) the existing status quo.  In these cases the definition of a faction most certainly applies as all of these groups as they all challenge the status quo and are bound together to advance their rights. History has proven that in the United States history, many factions are squashed, and then finally, if the faction is morally justifiable, the movement pushes through and gains majority support.

Just like the feminism ‘faction’ in the past, I see the gay rights movement or faction gaining much momentum.  They have gone from not having legal marriage in any state to being able to be legally married in 6 states.  “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” has been repealed and Proposition 8 was ruled as a violation of the 14th amendment in a U.S. District Court. Obviously, I, like many, wish that the progress was moving faster.  But there seems to be a natural pushback associated with changing the status quo that mirrors Madison’s resistance to them. And much to the dismay of many, there will be, and has been push back by many in terms of gay rights; just as there was push back for slavery being abolished by the south, and push back for women gaining rights by men.  But the point is that these factions that represent the morally just thing to do don’t always get squashed entirely, and can come back and gain mass support to transform into the majority.

That is not to say that every single faction adheres by the pattern I laid out-I am sure that there are morally just factions that have been put down.  I am simply noting that in the past, some factions that are morally just have gone through this process in which they must push through to reach the majority to become successful.  There is always the possibility that people will not conform to do the right thing.  I’m generally an optimistic person, so I like to think that everyone’s moral compass will eventually catch up to them.  I’m not crazy enough to say that we should put our blind and total faith in the system because many times yes, it does fail us.  But I think that many times people, and the people that run the system-Congressmen, Senators, the government in general-are capable of realizing that it has made a mistake. In history this has happened-and it’s happening right now to gay Americans all over the country that are prohibited from being married in their home states-but state governments and individual citizens have realized that they have made a mistake oppressing the rights of gay Americans in the past. As such, gay Americans are making gradual progress in gaining rights that “challenge the current status quo.”  My hope is that gay rights will follow the pattern of their predecessors-abolitionists and feminists.  I think that government is well on its way to righting their wrongs and that gay citizens will be granted equal rights like every other citizen, as they should.

Here’s a video of NAACP Chairman Julian Bond discussing gay rights and civil rights-if you get a chance, you should watch it.

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