Political Representation

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Kaitlin Page, Politics 497, Critical Thought Paper #1

When studying representation it is necessary to understand how past political thinkers defined the concept. This paper will discuss three past thinkers that had differing opinions on how social class affected representation in government. The first of these is James Madison who wrote The Federalist Papers; especially No. 57. Next, the Anti-Federalist Paper #3, written by Brutus, will give an opposing opinion to that held by Madison. Finally, the views of Edmund Burke will be considered by using his “Speech to the Electors at Bristol” and an excerpt from Reflections on the revolution in France.

Before attempting to understand the perspectives taken on social class by these authors, it is important to understand the era in which they lived. These papers were written in the late 18th century when democratic governments were just beginning to form. In the Federalist papers Madison was trying to convince his opposition that the House of Representatives provided good representation of the people along with the Senate. Brutus was a writer of the Anti-Federalist Papers which argued that this House of Representatives did not give good representation of the people. Lastly, Burke gives his opinions on the French Revolution and how this effected representation in France. Also, his “Speech to the Electors at Bristol” presented his view on representation in Britain. The common theme of these readings is the progression towards a more democratic society.

One of the most important issues was how the people of the United States of America would be represented under this new constitution. Early in this article Madison states that “The aim of every political constitution is, or ought to be, first to obtain for rulers men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of society” (Madison 1-24-13). Madison believes that these are the qualities men should have when taking a position of...
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