The filtering process of the Federalist was the accross the board understanding of how to create an upper house in congress ( a sea anchor sort of body) and how to have a President not beholden to a segment of the country or elected as a popular demogogue. In sum, all the dangers read in populist democractic regimes up until their time.
Since then, with expansion of the franchise and liberalizing of the participation of the electorate in determining representation, we have had a slow, gradual, change to our structure today -- all without revolution or upheavel on these matters. Very conservative and prudent change, albeit not without flaws.
Hi KC! The thought has struck me that the "expansion of the franchise and liberalizing of the participation of the electorate in determining representation" has had highly revolutionary effects on the social fabric and the evolution of political institutions. Though it is anathema these days to suggest it, we'd probably be a whole lot better off as a nation if the franchise were limited to those who could meet some type of property qualification, and/or pass a literacy test.
This suggestion more than likely wouldn't serve the ideologue's purpose, which is to "perfect society" according to his dreams. But it sure seems to reflect the facts of social reality, given that societies are composed of men, and men -- even "virtuous" men -- are flawed creatures.
The idea that a just and free political society can be constructed out of a tiny minority of virtuous men is patently laughable. In any event, a broad franchise would be unlikely to elect virtuous men. If anything, contemporary voter tastes seem to run in the other direction. But if it did, those "virtuous men" sooner or later, virtually inevitably, would be forced to adopt tyrannical measures, for the unvirtuous would probably not be eager to follow their lead without "incentives" to do so.
The student of history may have noticed a very stubborn fact about political societies, well-known since the time of Plato at least: Political societies are only as good as the "general level of attainment" of the men who comprise them. If most men lack virtue, there's nothing government can do to make a just or good society, let alone one that would "last forever."
Whatever. The problem is, regardless of whether the franchise is restricted or expansive, it seems to me that no "perfect societies" will likely result. The millenialist tendency MacDonald discusses here assumes that man is capable of self-perfection. As Voegelin has put it, it's an exercise in intramundane eschatology (i.e., human "self-salvation") whose real objective, when you boil it all down, is political power for the millenialist thinker.
I just loved his comment that the one thing an ideologue cannot do is to cease being an ideologue (to paraphrase).
Thanks for writing, KC. This has been a great discussion for far. best, bb.