In the late eighteenth century the Federalists and Anti-Federalists argued for the future of the United States. Arguments lead to progress but often when people think of them there is the belief that there must a clear winner and loser. However, the argument between the Anti-Federalists and the Federalists was heated and polarized much like the ones today between the Democratic and Republican party, finding middle ground did not seem possible. As we discussed in class the Federalists had the stronger argument and ultimately won the debate against the Anti-Federalists.
The Anti-Federalists were defeated but was it truly a complete loss for them?
In a way they achieved a sort of victory in defeat in terms of the Bill of Rights. The Anti-Federalists feared that a central government would have far too much power and become tyrannical. They compared the formation of a central government to the English monarchy the fought to break away from. Ultimately the Anti-Federalists were able to make a compromise with the victorious Federalists. The central government, which today we call the Federal government, would be formed but in exchange the Bill of Rights was included in the Constitution. During the debates the Federalists had written off the Bill of Rights as unnecessary and potentially harmful because the rights guaranteed by it were clearly defined, there were only so many rights that were guaranteed by it. However, the Anti-Federalists deemed it necessary in order to prevent the government from violating the rights of the citizens and becoming tyrannical.
Although the Anti-Federalists achieved victory to a certain degree through the inclusion of the Bill of Rights often people overlook the importance of this part of the Constitution. In 2010 the Supreme Court case against the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, Citizen United v. Federal Election Commission. The Bill of Rights was key in the ruling. The Court ruled that free speech was essential in a free society and that speech was not less protected because the speaker was a corporation, labor union, or other organization. As part of the ruling the Court struck down parts of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act that put limits on corporate funding for campaigns from corporations and labor unions;Click here to read about more landmark supreme court cases related to the Bill of Rights. Although we do not remember the Anti-Federalists as the victors the compromise between them and the Federalists has had a great impact on the United States.
We are fortunate for these so-called losers.