Who To Fear: The People or The Government?
The Federalists vs. Anti-Federalists
The question: Whether the people or the government should be more feared?
James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, two Federalists, believed the will of the people was to be feared most. They argued that a majority, if unchecked by the government, would gain enough power to become dominant in the political world. The Federalists feared that a faction that had too much power would actually hurt democracy by forcing its will on the good of the nation. This would eliminate one of the key concepts in American Democracy: the right for the minority to have an opinion.
In response to this threat, the Federalist proposed a strong central government to deter the tyranny of the majority. By imposing a strong system of checks and balances, factions would be unable to motivate political change simply by having a large group of supporters. This solution, though widely accepted amongst Federalists, was exactly what the Anti-Federalists feared.
While Federalists proposed a strong central government as a solution, the Anti-Federalists considered it to be an overwhelming concern. According to them, a strong central government would be to similar to the British rule they had worked so hard to overcome. The Anti-Federalists wanted a loose central government and individual state freedoms to prevent a tyrant from gaining control of the freshly created nation.
To the Anti-Federalists , a strong central government sounded like a monarchy and a president, like a king. The Anti-Federalist wanted strength with the individual states, so that no one would be controlled by the national government.
Both these concepts can be applied to contemporary life. The Federalists were arguing against against factions and ignorance. Now we have uneducated voters and two warring political parties that would much rather stay true to their party agenda than compromise for overall progress.
The Anti-Federalists, who feared a strong, overpowering government, also accurately predicted problems in modern political society. The government has been accused of violating privacy with THE PATRIOT ACT and meddling in state affairs with the NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND bill. Both these actions can be considered, whether for good or bad, the government interfering in the personal affairs of the states.