Federalist No. 10 makes a statement that really rings true for me at both the federal and the state level of my government.
Complaints are everywhere heard from our most considerate and virtuous citizens, equally the friends of public and private faith, and of public and personal liberty, that our governments are too unstable, that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties, and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority. However anxiously we may wish that these complaints had no foundation, the evidence, of known facts will not permit us to deny that they are in some degree true.
Of course, the important thing is not the statement of the problem, but the analysis of the available solutions. The primary solution offered is that the form of government being proposed in the Constitution would be supportable over a larger republic and thus would be less susceptible to factions (as it would be harder to form a majority) and that the multi-level structure of government would allow for issues of local concern to be solved at a local level with only “the great and aggregate interests being referred to the national.”
In theory the advantages of a larger nation controlling the influence of factions is good, but that advantage breaks down when large groups of people abandon their own thinking in favor of adopting the thinking of someone else – as Frank Staheli suggested yesterday.
Likewise, the advantages of a multi-level governmental structure evaporate when the vast majority of issues are presented as falling into the category of “great and aggregate interests.” Because of our propensity to elevate everything to the level of national importance the state governments are often left in the position of simply administering programs which are not within their control.