James Madison’s Warning Of Tyrannical Elitists

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Posted: Sep 06, 2021 9:17 AM
James Madison’s Warning Of Tyrannical Elitists

Source: W.L. Ormsby/Library of Congress via AP

James Madison had warned of tyrannical elitists, such as Woodrow Wilson, in Federalist 39 when he said, “It is essential to such a government that it be derived from the great body of the society, not from an inconsiderable proportion, or a favored class of it; otherwise a handful of tyrannical nobles, exercising their oppressions by a delegation of their powers, might aspire to the rank of republicans, and claim for their government the honorable title of republic.”[1]

Madison understood this was an inherent possibility and proceeded to put forth a proposal to mitigate such a grab of administrative power. Ultimately Wilson would successfully bypass Madison’s warning to become president.

Wilson despised America’s founders and its Original Intent. Aligned with most Progressives, Wilson believed that the Founders, the Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence were outdated, antiquated, and only somewhat reasonable for that time period – the late 18th century. Wilson was also a democratic socialist. He believed, like Karl Marx, that democracy was simply a path to socialism, and in Wilson’s specific case he believed in an administrative socialist state.

Woodrow Wilson was an elitist statist who believed that the rights of society took precedence over the rights of the individual, which was in direct opposition to the founding of the Great Experiment. In 1887, Wilson wrote that:

The thesis of the state socialist is, that no line can be drawn between private and public affairs which the State may not cross at will; that omnipotence of legislation is the first postulate of all just political theory.

Applied in a democratic state, such doctrine sounds radical, but not revolutionary.  It is only an acceptance of the extremist logical conclusion deducible from democratic principles long ago received as respectable.  For it is very clear that in fundamental theory socialism and democracy are almost if not quite one and the same.  They both rest at bottom upon the absolute right of the community to determine its own destiny and that of its members.  Men as communities are supreme over men as individuals.[2]

It is stunning why so many Americans voted for such an anti-American elitist, as Woodrow Wilson, who had nothing but contempt for American’s founding, its Founding Fathers, and the American people themselves.  

[1] James Madison, January 16, 1788, Federalist Paper No. 39.   Taken from James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay, The Federalist Papers: The Classic Original Edition, (SoHo Books), p. 108.

[2] Arthur S. Link, ed., 1966-1993, The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, 69 vols., (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press), Vol. 5, pp. 559-562, referencing Woodrow Wilson, August 22, 1887, “Socialism and Democracy.”