James Madison Wants Union with Mexico (to avoid becoming like France)

Federalist No. 10, or, The Same Subject Continued: The Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection,” by “Publius” (James Madison), Daily Advertiser, 22 November 1787, http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Federalist_No._10.

Back to Federalism,” by David Gelernter, Weekly Standard, 10 April 2005, http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/012/062fkzaa.asp (from Bench Memos).

The United States of America should absorb the Mexican United States, creating an 81-state economic and political union. I’ve argued this will shrink the size of government and unite the North American people.

Uniting States of America

Another reason to marry the united States of America and Mexico is that it help build the America of our Founders’ dreams.

In the tenth blog post of a series that would later be published as The Federalist, James Madison (writing under the name Publius) wrote

The other point of difference is, the greater number of citizens and extent of territory which may be brought within the compass of republican than of democratic government; and it is this circumstance principally which renders factious combinations less to be dreaded in the former than in the latter. … the same advantage which a republic has over a democracy, in controlling the effects of faction, is enjoyed by a large over a small republic,–is enjoyed by the Union over the States composing it

In other words, large unions are preferable to small ones because special interests find big unions harder to take over. With a bigger and broader population, ideological minorities can find safe niches to retreat to, and have longer to use asymmetric strategies against their larger competitors.

For most of American history, this worked fine. Under the explicit ruleset of the Constitution, Americans increased their freedoms and their prosperity over the lifetimes. A serious oversight in the Constitution — whether or not States could leave our economic and political union — was resolved at some cost in the mid-19th century. Otherwise, however, the internal strength and happiness of the American States have been the envy of the world.

However, much of this progress was undone in the mid and late 20th centuries. Nationalists — American Gaullists — succeeded in throwing much of American policy into judicial tyranny. The same geography-reducing forces that allow bloggers to community — and allowed the Ottoman Sultans to destroy home-rule in that country — let men like Earl Warren undermine the logic of Federalist 10. With safe local niches destroyed by judicial fiat — and asymmetric strategies rendered impossible due to a Judicialization of the police force — our Madisonian guarantees of freedom were swept away.

Today this undemocratic centralization is seen by our National Judiciary’s leftist stance on abortion…

But the collapse of federalism has ruined this valuable arrangement. The collapse gathered momentum with the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion and was a tragedy for reasons beyond those that are usually discussed; a tragedy even for Americans who believe in completely unregulated abortion.

Roe was a power grab in which uniformity was imposed on a facet of society that had been allowed to vary. “Diversity” is a big selling point on the left, but not among believers in an activist Supreme Court.

— as if the Gaullist belief that South Dakota would be happy with the same abortion laws as the people of Massachusettes was true.

However, such a Gaullist view of America’s economic & political union of sovereign States would be untenable if the 31 southern Continental states and united with the 50 northern ones. The issues extend beyond abortion to homosexualist marriage, education politics, contracting laws, hand-guns, and other issues. It is a mistake – a Gaullist, France-style mistake – to assume that all American people should hand their fortunes to a distant National Government, when they live in states which are closer to their values.

Protect Federalism. Protect Democracy. Let the Mexican States, if they so choose, join our Union under our Constitution.

11 thoughts on “James Madison Wants Union with Mexico (to avoid becoming like France)”

  1. First of all: In my RSS feed, I didn't see that there was anything more uner the graphic. There was no “read more” link. I wanted to comment and only then found out the post is longer. Dont know what's up

    Second, do yuo have any information regarding whether any parts (or the whole) of Mexico would even want to join? I think its pretty far fetched to imagine them wanting to first of all, and second of all us doing it. Little ole East Germany has already dragged the western part down (and still does). The whole of Mexico would ruin us.

    Lastly, I guess we should have just taken more the first time =) not to mention keeping Cuba and the Philppines and making Guam and PR states.

  2. Chirol,

    The East didn't take down Germany. Socialism took down Germany.

    Economically, nothing is better for growth (expanding the production possibility curve [1]) in a high-capital economy than free trade with a low-capital (high-labor) economy. Likewise, nothing is better for growth for a high-labor (low-capital) economy than free trade with a low-labor (high-capital) one.

    Bonn managed to screw up this basic economy fact by immediately exporting no-growth socialist regulations to East Germany. Work conditions, collective bargaining, and other rules that hampered economic growth were immediately saddled on a country still groaning from Communism.

    To see how this economic & political Union backfired for the Germanies, first imagined how great it would be for China to have a free trade agreement with Europe. Or how awful it would be if, as part of that agreement, they had to adopt French work laws.

    Economics is working as it should as the relatively more liberal EU takes in ex-Communist states. Exporting far less regulations than Germany did, she is allowing her new daughters to grow briskly and integrate themselves in a Continent-wide economy. And our laws are much more federal and liberal than Europe's, so we will do even better.

    I don't have any poll numbers from Mexican States on a union — though I assume it would be a safe majority. A healthy fraction of Mexicans want to come to the US, and then you have those who would if they didn't have to leave home and face the hassles of our bizarre immigration regime. Similar to Europe, there's always skepticism, but the economic argument won the day.

    Clearly we shouldn't absorb any states that wish to stay out. But we should geographically expand to those who want in.

    I'll check into the RSS. I noticed a problem on the post too, but that probably was a transposition from a comment I was writing at the same time. Strange.

    [1] http://www.digitaleconomist.com/ppf_4010.html

  3. dan – fed x over at a9 has said similar things i think. ive emailed him a link to this and i bet he will be by.

    here is my question – which ive posed to him more than once as well:

    wouldnt a canadian-american block make more sense given the cultural similarities (not to mention economic benefits)?

    another question ive thought about is:

    what would happen to the drug trade if we incorporated witih mexicco?

  4. Blackbird,

    Thanks for the promotion, and the questions.

    Absorbing the provinces was touched on in a previous post [1], but I'll mention it here as well.

    Canada's membership in our Union makes less sense than Mexico's.

    If Canada were to break up, several provinces would be economically better off as independent states (British Columbia and Alberta, especially), while Quebec would be happiest as one as well. There's nothing against Albertan, Manitoban, or Saskatchewanian but nothing particularly for them either. The northern terrirotires could be run as territories by the US, or UN mandates, or Greenland-style quasi-states — it doesn't matter. The Maritime Provinces are either vacation set pieces or ghettos with boats — again, a wash.

    It is from Mexico that we could profit. I've touched on the economic benefits with Chirol. It's basic economics, and works as long as you don't have stifling regulations. The economic gains of union with Mexico far, far outweight anything we could gain by union with Canada.

    When pollsters as “cultural value” questions across nations, America is always the outlier — we consistently score closer to “poorer” states on questions like marriage, execution, work, etc, than the Europeans. America is a racially white country, but we are not a culturally European country. We have none of their baggage of feudalism, and none of their 20th century auto-genocide.

    Canada's differences are compounded by the fact that many (most?) Canadians are descendants of those who fled the Revolution. Given the choice between independence and the Crown, they chose the Crown. We didn't. Mexico didn't. The Canadians did.

    Barnett has described the drug trade as an export from the “Gap” — those countries deprived of globalization. [2] Speed up the Mexican States' membership in the functioning core of globalization, and drugs are no longer a serious export from there. A USA that includes the Mexican States would also be territorially more secure, as the land border would divide the Central American isthmus and not the North American continent.

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2006/03/29/drawing-north-america.html
    [2] http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/projects/newrulesset/The%20'Core'%20And%20The%20'Gap'.htm

  5. Chirol said: ++++Second, do yuo have any information regarding whether any parts (or the whole) of Mexico would even want to join? I think its pretty far fetched to imagine them wanting to first of all, and second of all us doing it.++++

    Blackbird said:++++wouldnt a canadian-american block make more sense given the cultural similarities (not to mention economic benefits)?++++

    Chirol, I would assume that as the hispanic population grows in the US, as it will, the barriers you see to Mexico becoming part of the Union would be reducd as there would be more cultural similarities between us than there are currently. I see this more as a long term process, and doubt it would happen soon (Mexican nationalism) is still pretty strong.

    Blackbird, you are correct and I think any eventual expansion of the United States would be both North and South. Given that Mexicans are extremely religious, and conservative culturally and socially, they would need to be balanced by the more socially and liberal Canadians for the Union to work.

    That said, it is doubtful that Mexico or Canada would join (maybe some states within may, but currently it is doubtful) unless we adopted far more of their constitutions than we are likely willing to do. I like Dan's position with regard to this, you can join only if you are willing to accept our rule-set, otherwise maintain the status quo, otherwise we may loose more than we gain in the process.

  6. Nykrindc,

    Thank you for stepping in. Some thoughts building on yours:

    1. I prevously wrote about the structural power of evangelicals in American politics [1] The culturally “unbalanced” aspect of Mexicans would make absorption of Mexico attractive of culturally conservative Americans. Indeed, if America keeps trending culturally conservative (with or without increased Mexican immigration), the desire for Union with Mexico will grow even strongly, without an equal desire for Union with Canada.

    2. I think it's important to remember that America, as it was designed, is an economic & political union of sovereign states. Amendment X is in our Constitution for a reason. Oaxaca can have its own cultural ruleset, as can Oklahoma, as can Oregon. It's unfotunate that Nationalists like Earl Warren weakened the Amendment X protections, and thus threw a stumbling block into expanding our Union, but hopefully their ill work will be undone.

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/06/09/the_neocon_theocon_axis_winning_and_losing.html

  7. “Indeed, if America keeps trending culturally conservative…” – Dan tdaxp.

    Dan, I think that may be an illusion produced by the greater reactionary outspokenness of cultural conservatives to the changes which began in the 60's. If you were to look at television programming, for instance (boosted by MTVist cable expansion), you would see that America is growing more socially liberal. The fact that GWB supposedly gained from a “stronger” conservative religious movement does not take into consideration the younger generations who are now moving into adulthood, a majority of whom are at least open to the idea of gay marriage, if not in favor of it, etc.

    Then, of course, you also run into the problem of getting the social conservatives, many of whom are also strongly anti-immigration, to support a union which includes Mexico.

    I wonder, actually, if the effect you cite might actually work in the opposite: Mexico becomes more culturally liberal after union, rather than America becoming more culturally conservative.

    I wonder, given also the strong Catholic tilt in the recent Supreme Court, if we would see a growing split between Catholicism and various Protestantisms, within the U.S., if Mexican states were incorporated into the U.S.

    I also wonder if economic liberals in the U.S. would welcome Mexican states with open arms, since an expansion of the poorest classes in American society would give them a broader platform for socialist economic policies. At the same time, I wonder if big-business support, now of increased immigration, would wane as the benefit of production in Mexico decreased along with the benefit of hiring immigrant Mexicans, with the increase of wages in Mexico (remember the Federally mandated minimum wage, which many Democrats want to increase, and which would apply across the board.) Given these considerations, I think that you are more likely to find Democrats supporting union with Mexican states than Republicans.

  8. hmm… more intriguing dan. thanks for the tip BB.

    i wish i could respond at length. for now, let me pose a question… would you support, alongside an expansion into a nation almost half our size, a similar increase IN RATIO of the size of the house… or would you adjust that ratio?

  9. Federalist,

    I've thought about the House. The best solution seems to be to leave the number of Congressmen constant.

    Increasing the number hurts small states, while leaving it the same hurts larger states. However, large states have the most to gain from uniting our Continent (ethnic populations that would support it, big business interests that support it, less meddling from Washington in a bigger union, etc). By contrast, small states have little to gain from Union.


    I do not now support and have never supported the creation of a “Caribbean slave empire.”


    As to the consercative nature of the American electorate, I don't think it can be dismissed as outspokenness. Religosity polls by the Economist finds contemporary America the most religious it has ever been. The homosexualist marriage controversy seems more generated by the fading remnants of the Eastern Establishment than popular choice — indeed, the democratic will is resolutely against such a thing.

    The political viability of expanding the Union with social conservatives is an issue. My assumption is that as long as the Catholic-Evangelical union continues over social issues, and the Catholic (Mexican) population increases, you'll see more and more Evangelo-Catholic syncretism.

    The liberal branches of Christianity [1] probably would fade faster with Union, but like the Establishment they may be considered “dead” [2] already.

    If Mexico follows the lead of the Prairie and East Germany, we should see the most “energetic” citizens leave, leaving behind their conservative/populist in Mexico. Mexican politics after that may become similar to contemporary Polish politics, featuring scuffles between social conservatives and business conservatives.

    The minimum wage, like the rest of federal regulations, as it now stands would be a problem. Perhaps it could be readjusted to be relative to the poverty of the state in which the work is done. It makes as little senese for Oaxaca and Oregon to have the same minimum wage as Oaxaca and Sonora, or Oregon and South Dakota.

    [1] http://catholicgauze.blogspot.com/2006/02/geography-and-downfall-of-anglican.html
    [2] http://zenpundit.blogspot.com/2006/04/foreign-policy-and-american-elite-part.html#114443048369615229
    [3] http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/003079.html

  10. but if you leave the house constant, you do more than hurt large states. you hurt the republican principle itself. people become more and more meaningless in the republic. eventually, they become unrecognizable.

    we have our own history to look towards to see. we have, afterall, admitted mini-mexico in the past… texas. and when we did what of the right to petition congress?

    pre-texas, petition was as sacred a right as assembly.

    post-texas, it was removed from the arsenal. and civil war shortly thereafter broke out.

    which rights would you be willing to sacrifice for this move then?

  11. “As to the conservative nature of the American electorate, I don't think it can be dismissed as outspokenness. Religosity polls by the Economist finds contemporary America the most religious it has ever been. –“

    Nominally, perhaps. But if in 1950 you asked people how many believe in God, you would have had very large numbers indeed. Anyway, a declaration of the existence of God is very easy to make, less easy to follow-up with action for those Americans enamored by non-divine idols (American Idols) and Internet pornography, sex- and violence-filled cable television and cinema, etc.

    “The homosexualist marriage controversy seems more generated by the fading remnants of the Eastern Establishment than popular choice — indeed, the democratic will is resolutely against such a thing.”

    The democratic will has always been against such thing. (I'm assuming that by “democratic will” you mean the majority opinion while glossing over the relatively recent increase in openness to the idea of gay marriages, etc.) So, again, look at 1950's America, 1960's America, 1970's American, 1980's America, etc., and tell me how opposition to gay marriage is a new thing indicative of a trend.

    Then look at the 1950's-1980's and tell me how many more open gays and lesbians are not only on television but succeeding there. How many more open gays and lesbians are able to adopt children now than before? How many more states and municipalities have at least adopted civil union legislation, if not gay marriage legislation?

    But this is only considering one issue. I know that your outspokenness against a so-called “homosexualist agenda” is a reaction to the liberal trend in America, or a reaction against the more organized and broader conscientious push for increased equality for gays and lesbians in America. I also know that American society is really more liberal on the issue than it was when I first stepped out of the closet about 16 years ago — so I have some personal experience to bring to bear on the question concerning trends.

    Including Mexico in the Union will not squelch the debate or lead to a “dead homosexualist agenda” nor a “dead liberalism.” A year ago, a government-sponsored commercial in Mexico aired in which a mother nervously prepared dinner for her son's boyfriend —


    — as part of a tolerance campaign supported by President Fox, after he signed legislation making discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation illegal. And here's a link to a photo of a “mass gay wedding” held in Mexico City in 2001:


    Then there is the El Clóset de Sor Juana, a Mexican lesbian civil rights group, and the first-ever open lesbian to be elected to the Mexican legislature, Patria Jimenez.


    That was in 1998. There are more now. Sure, religious conservatives in Mexico are fighting against the, er, trend; but the same could be said for virtually every part of the globe. But thinking that Mexico is somehow a cure for liberalism would not be prudent, I think.

  12. Federalist,

    Concern for the “republican principle” as such would be more valid if we lived in the American Republic. Happily, we do not: we live in the United States of America. Specifically, we live in a federal republic, an economic and political union of 50 member states.

    Note that this post's title inlcudes “to avid becoming like France” — the Gaullist Establishment attempted to create a unitary republic in our land. Fortunately, they appear to have failed.

    The guarantee that “each State shall have at Least one Representative” underlined the federal in the federal republican nature of the House, and the loose interpretation of “Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand” was a second emphasis.

    I don't understand the Texas analogy. Could you explain it to me?


    The survey I was refering to (sadly I am no longer a subscriber — perhaps one of the CAers can find it?) showed higher religosity than in the 1950s — though lower church attendence.

    The rise of personal choices and uncertainly in life appear to be contributing factors in the rise of religosity.

    As for states adopting homosexualist marriage/civil unions legislation — I mentioned a number of state courts have already acted. But this no more implies a democratic will than a military coup would imply a democratic will. It does mean a constitutionally-empowered elite is sympathetic to the program, however.

    Mexico's overclass is white, rich, and Europhilic. Their influence over Mexican politics far exceeds what the Establishment could do here. Mexican social legislation has traditionally meant social legislation for the white, rich, pro-European elite.

    It is interesting to wonder how the Mexican elite would fair if Continental parties were competing in their States, and not just “Mexican” ones.

  13. dan: i don't believe you mean to imply that the constitution works only on a federal principle… do you?

    that is, the constitution isn't merely a balance of power between state and federal governments… it is also a balance of power between the federal government, as a whole, and the people who rule over it… is it not?

    the reason i ask, i'm familiar with a school of thought which reads “the people” and the pre-constitutional debates therein as simply exoteric appeals to the unruly masses. judging from your other writings, you are not of this school… but then again, this is a hard thing to determine.

    anyway, if you are, then of course this argument makes no sense to you whatsoever, if you are not though, must you not at least concede that the law of “federalism” and the law of “republicanism” are two components which help to make up the scheme of government prescribed by our constitution? afterall, we guarantee a republican form of government to all people in this land.

    query whether an annexation of mexico would make such a republican government formally possible without increasing the size of the house?

    the historical analogue to texas is, of course, almost exact. we finally annexed texas in the mid 1800s. this was no small feat. in many ways, texas at that time (relatively speaking of course) was a mini-mexico, the annexation of which was a grea accomplishment.

    but if you note the size of the house during the course of that debate, you will note due to compromises reached, the size actually went down (for the only time in american history). this occurred at the precise moment we brought in texas and its legions, and alongside a general population boom.

    congressional districts had never swollen so much. the sentiment of the public, for the next decade, towards it government had never soured so much. within a decade after this size decrease, our nation found itself at war. you may consider that a coincidence, but you if you study the average size of congressional districts, you will note that when the decade to decade rate of increase outpaces a derivative of the cube root of the population, social upheaval occurs. more specifically, everytime the ratio of reps : people is halved, a major, typically violent, social movement sweeps the nation. margo anderson has some work on the cube root rule and the size of the house, the ratio of reps:people can be easily deduced from that.

    the annexation of texas is a preeminent example of this, but history gives us many others. i fear the type of upheaval which would occur should we annex mexico without having the foresight to similarly increase the house. afterall, even madison believed the house would swell, from time to time, as would the population, and a practical increase would therefore need to be afforded.

  14. Federalist,

    I agree that our Federal Republic is both federal and republican. However, saying a certain magic number of representatives destroys one or the other would be a stretch.

    The mention of a cube root is interesting – a compromise might be to adjust the size of the House up, but as a lesser fraction than the actual increase in population. Again, one way or the other isn't magical — or disastrous.

    I still don't understand your reference to a desecration of the right of petition.

  15. the right of petition… sorry, forgot to tie that in.

    as i'm sure you're aware, petitioning congress meant more in colonial america than simply the ability to send your congressman a letter (which is how the courts construe it now).

    it was a way to embarass your representative. it was used often in the colonies to address state representatives who had compromised the will of their constituents with that of, shall we say, more wealthy voices.

    we have no generational memory of this in our country anymore. and the reason why is because it was, by house rules, abolished. the reason the house rules were changed was mainly because abolitionists “abused” the right by repeatedly forcing southern delegations in the house to submit to a laundry list, once or twice a month, of the horrors of slavery occurring in their very districts… query whether this is “abuse”.

    one of the many “deals” cut in order to bring texas into the union was to decrease the size of the house. you'll note if you follow the cube root of the population, the actual apportionment jogs decidedly off the line at this point.

    anyway, to make a long and otherwise boring story short, the “new” house, with its limited size, was able to manipulate the rules or order much more effectively than before. less bargaining was required. a small group of southern representatives (i'm apparently related to one of them it turns out) banded together and terminated the use of the petition right in congress.

    of course, we can't say the admission of texas was the efficient cause of the loss of the right of petition. but we can say, in a rather true manner of speaking, that the admission of texas was the material cause of the loss of the right of petition.

    steve higginson at yale law has done some very good work on the history of the petition right, paying careful attention to it as a colonial due process requirement. i recommend it.

    as for the impact of the texas negotiations, you'll either have to do digging on your own… or wait until the article comes out!

  16. Federalist,

    I am assuming here you are arguing that the “right of the people … to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” refers to the Congressional rule of order you are describing.

    As interesting this extra-judicial interpretation is, its flagrant contradiction of Article I, Section V (“Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings” calls it into strong doubt. Arguing that the admission of Texas led to the loss of this “right” is like saying the 1994 election led to the loss of the “right” of Americans to see their Representatives vote absentee.

  17. dan: not sure i understand you. i apologize if i'm missing your point, but let me try…

    on the narrow issue, let me make it clear:

    a) the 1st amend is in no way contradicted by art. I (only a very poor post-brennan interpretation could find such a rule);

    b) the rules which vitiated petition were part of the overall texas admission negotiations… not at all as remote as you might think.

    unfortunately i'm out of the country, and far away from my books right now, so i cannot find appropriate cites for you. but i will post on this in more detail at my blog and send you the link when i return.

    in the meantime, i would like to again recommend to you the history of petition as described by steve higginson. his article in the yale law journal is quite informative. the more well known akhil reed amar also has done some work here, and his history of the bill of rights includes some rather informative discussion of petition, the ratio of reps : people, and madison's views therein.

    finally, on the more broad issue, and bringing this back full circle to your post… if you take madison's arguments in Federalist X seriously, you must take seriously the alteration to the balance of power which has occurred ever since 1911 (when our congress passed the 435 limit on the house). madison's brilliant “extend the sphere” argument requires an adjustment to the population in order to avoid the “cabals of the few”.

    query whether we've crossed that point already, and launched ourselves on an adventure in aristocracy from which there is no turning back.

    therefore, taking madison at his word, were we to increase the population of the US by almost 50% and simultaneously fail to increase the size of the house, we would, irrevocably in my view, but drastically in any view, alter the balance of power between the federal government and its sovereign…

    it would exacerbate the agency problem involved in any republican scheme, and make the virtue of sympathetic government almost an impossibility (here again, i'm away from books, but prof. natelson has done good work on sympathetic government, and has a good article in the kentucky law journal which i commend to you).

    while i freely concede that today's republic is far different from that which was founded, i do not concede that the issue of the size of the house is a trifle. bringing mexico in without attending to the very important consequences this would have on legislative due process, would make “the problem of freedom” quite apparent, and the “lawgiving act” (as dr. jacob klein describes it) would arguably become “arbitrary” for more than just a dissastified minority. this is the situation to which i was referring, and i was hoping we could think of ways to avoid.

  18. “It is interesting to wonder how the Mexican elite would fair if Continental parties were competing in their States, and not just “Mexican” ones.” — Dan

    I agree.

    I think first, however, the conservative parties in America would need to a) purge the anti-immigrationist pseudo-racism (or whatever it is) from the conservative U.S. movement and b) prepare a way of establishing economic or at least wage parity between Oaxaca and Oregon. Otherwise, the more culturally liberal and economically liberal parties would have a fairly good chance of winning Mexican support.

    I am curious to know which concern would predominate in the Mexican electorate, cultural issues or economic issues. My suspicion is that an introduction of Mexican states into the Union would immediately raise questions about economic parity, and that economics would move more voters than cultural issues.

  19. Federalist,

    I'm not disagreeing that the Houses may have changed their rules as part of Texas's accession — I just don't care.

    The Congressional rules of orders are not “rights.” They are rules. Conflating a Congressional rule referred to as petition with the 1st Amendment's right to “petition… for redress” seems dishonest. It's especially so, as you seem to say the right of the Congress to chart its rule of petition “in no way” contradicts the 1st amendment's guarantee for petition for redress of grievances.

    Perhaps we are speaking past each other. If you are saying some nice or handy rule may be changed by incorporation of new states, I would both agree and would not care. If, however, you are saying that some Constitutional right may be lost by incorporation of new states, I would disagree and note that there is no historical president for such an event.

    The incorporation of Texas (if I'm reading your comment correctly) led to the loss of a nice and handy rule. Thus, I agree and don't care.

    We've had a “cabal of the few” for more than a century [1]. The size of the House wouldn't have harmed or helped this Establishment that much one way or the other. A smaller house would, in your view, help them create that cabal. A larger House would have allowed them to run up their machine advantages in larger states, thus minimizing the “caboose breaking” power of small states. But again, it doesn't matter that much.

    Indeed, that irrelevancy is something I want to stress. It /is/ a trifle. Whatever cabal of a few you fear for the House already exists, in a much stronger form, in the Senate. Indeed, the Senate operates almost exactly as the House would if the House was limited to 50 seats.

    As the size of a House is a trifle, I don't see if effecting an expansion of our Union except in the technical matter of getting the expansion approved.

    I am unfamiliar with the phrase “the virtue of sympathetic government,” but I would say that governmental schemes that rely on virtues tend to be short-lasting. Our political system currently works out of a mesh of self-interested or ideologically-interested calculations. It handles factions pretty well.


    I have no idea why “culturally liberal” parties should be expected to do well in Mexico, except to the extent that such factions might leach of existing economically liberal national parties.

    I think an extension of “prairie populism” to the Mexican States seems extremely likely. Take my home state of South Dakota, for example. Rightist social conservatism, Rightist economics when it comes to our money (our Governor and Legislature tend Republican), and Leftist economics when in comes to your money (our Senators and Representatives tend Democratic).

    As I mentioned above, Poland seems a good model for admitted Mexican states to follow. Tax competition combined with pushing for subsidies combined with social conservatism.

    In Europe, however, the new member states are outnumbered by the old, so demands for increased subsidies don't go far. As they would in a United Mexico, whose ~100m people and ~30 states would both be outnumbered by the northern ~300m in 50 states.

    [1] http://zenpundit.blogspot.com/2006/04/foreign-policy-and-american-elite-part.html

  20. dan: i do apologize. “petition” as it was used by our founders, was a well used right in colonial america. you seem to be confused about this. no “rule” established it. congress never “allowed” petition.

    petitioning the legislative body had been custom for a very long time… since stuart england in fact. i am not conflating the first amendment guarantee of petition with a congressional rule. i am only pointing out that a congressional rule did away with the guarantee (which had been utilized for the first six decades of the country.)

    i am sorry to hear you don't care about the virtue of sympathetic government, nor do you care about the size of house. if you read natelson's article, i think you'd find it far less substantive a virtue than you seem to think it is. indeed, i find it somewhat confusing that the term “virtue” would immediately mean something substantive rather than procedural. but perhaps i'm odd in that respect.

    both sympathy and the size of the house are inter-related issues which madison, and the rest of the founders, agonized over. they didn't think it a trifle.

    indeed, george washington, as i believe you know, kept a principled silence during the constitutional debate in philadelphia. he did, however, break that silence on one issue: the size of the house of reps.

    your comparison of the house to the senate betrays the point here… if the same ratio of representation americans are afforded today was applied back to the time of the founding, there would a handful of congressmen… in other words, the house would be the smaller of the two bodies.

    perhaps if you realized that contractions in representation spreads over time yield social and political upheaval in this country, you might think differently? maybe i should get that article out sooner rather than later.

  21. Federalist,

    I'm sympathetic to quirky interpretation of the Constitution. However, that does not mean I believe them.

    The use of the word “petition” in the 1st Amendment seems to mean.. petition. As in, the Congress can't ban signed petitions from being sent to it (as the Parliament had). “Petition,” as you are using the word, appears to mean the write of a certain number of people to force a Representative or Senator to introduce some motion, question, etc, to the floor.

    I never said I didn't care about “the virtue of sympathetic government,” I said “I am unfamiliar with the phrase…” As you didn't clarify what you meant (except for the cryptic “i find it somewhat confusing that the term “virtue” would immediately mean something substantive rather than procedural”), I still am not.

    “perhaps if you realized that contractions in representation spreads over time yield social and political upheaval in this country,”

    This is an interesting claim, and one I would like to hear more about. I'm skeptical of legalistic explanations of social phenomena (legalisms tend to follow, not lead), but I would be open to an explanation.

    “i should get that article out sooner rather than later.”

    I'll enjoy reading it! 🙂

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