The Anti-Federalist Society
I have an anarchist friend who has referred to the Constitution as “the Clinton Health Care plan of 1787, except it passed.” I was reminded of that quip recently while rereading large parts of the Federalist for a Liberty Fund seminar. Every so often you come across statements that ring somewhere between funny and tragic given how things have worked out. Federalist No. 45 has a couple of good ones:
On federal tax collectors:
If the federal government is to have collectors of revenue, the State governments will have theirs also. And… those of the former will be principally on the seacoast, and not very numerous…
On the commerce power:
The regulation of commerce, it is true, is a new power; but that seems to be an addition which few oppose, and from which no apprehensions are entertained.
But my favorite is one I use in the book. From Hamilton in Federalist No. 68, describing the presidential selection system (which to be fair, we haven’t stuck to):
The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States. It will not be too strong to say, that there will be a constant probability of seeing the station filled by characters pre-eminent for ability and virtue.