A More Perfect Union Rests on a Balance of Ideas

Excerpt:  “In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” – James Madison, Federalist #51 Classical PhilosophyBy reading the Greek historians Herodotus (484BC-425BC), Thucydides (460BC-395BC), known as the father of scientific history and political realism, Polybius (203BC-120BC), who wrote about political balance, and Plutarch (46AD-120AD) who emphasized the importance of virtue, and philosophers Plato (428BC-348BC), known for his theory of forms and Aristotle (384BC-322BC), who created a system of philosophy, and the Roman philosophers Cicero (106BC-43BC), the famous orator and historians such as Livy (59 BC – AD 17), the framers became well acquainted with the greatest thinkers of Greek and Roman civilizations. From Plato and Aristotle, “they learned about monarchical, aristocratic, and democratic constitutions, about oligarchies and democracies, about tyrannies and kingships, about the origin and nature of government, and about the polity—that regime described by Aristotle as essentially a limited democracy blending the monarchical, aristocratic, and democratic elements of government, in which the greatest political power is exercised by landholders.” From their extensive studies, they concluded, as indicated in Thomas Jefferson’s own words, that, “History informs us what bad government is.” A good constitution enables society to have a high degree of liberty, order, and justice. When people expect a perfect union instead of a more perfect union, this is when we’re headed for trouble. No country has ever attained perfect freedom, order, and justice for everyone, though some have tried to force such a goal. This sort of utopianism breeds disastrous consequences.

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