Political Expediency Essay, Research Paper
Compromises of Political Ideals in Favor of Political Expediency
The Constitution of the United States of America was a document that contained many compromises the balanced political idealism with political expediency. Political idealism is the set of beliefs that the Constitutionalists ultimately wanted to achieve in the new government. Political expediency limited and put off certain political ideals in order to achieve agreement between the states on a central government, quickly enact the new government, and to avoid controversial topics until a later time. This caused a battle with ideals and realism in forming a new government.
When the Constitutionalists met in Philadelphia in 1787 many representatives had different ideas on how the new government should be structured, the powers allotted to the central government, and how much political power should be given to common citizens. One Constitutionalist, James Madison, believed in a strong central government with a lower house elected by the people that in turn elected an upper house that elected the executive branch. The amount of representatives given to each state would depend on the population of the state. Madison s Virginia Plan would separate the national government completely from the states, give the national government authority, and give greater power in the national government to larger states. This plan was very different from a plan suggested by William Paterson.
In Paterson s plan, called the New Jersey Plan, states would only have an equal amount of representatives to the national government putting all states on a level playing ground. Like the Virginia Plan, the New Jersey Plan would allow the executive branch to be appointed by the legislative branch. However, the executive branch appointed members of the judicial branch instead of the legislative branch having this power.
In both of these cases the political authority of the citizens was severely limited. Some believed that this political ideal was necessary in order to create stability. Alexander Hamilton was one such person who believed that other alternatives would put policy making at the mercy of the passions of the mob. The Anti-Federalists, including Patrick Henry and Samuel Adams, fought against the ratification of the Constitution because they believed that the Constitution would lead to an aristocratic tyranny. Instead they believed that power should remain with the states allowing more political power to the citizens.
Needless to say, the Constitutionalists had to compromise their ideals to quickly pass a new government to solve the immediate problems facing the states and later fight for their ideals. One of the greatest problems that the framers of the Constitution faced was the type of government that could balance the power of the states and the national government. This resulted in the Great Compromise, or Connecticut Compromise, which was the combination of the Virginia and New Jersey plans to create a balance of power between states. Under this compromise the political ideals of strong national government, and state power were set aside to crate a government were one house was determined by population and the in the other house states were given equal power.
Another compromise of political ideals was counting of slaves in the population. The south wanted to have slaves counted in the population in order to increase the power of the southern states in the national government. Meanwhile, slaves would not be taxed as property. The north, which had few slaves in comparison to the south, wished to maintain it s power in the house determined by population by not counting slaves in the census but taxing them. This battle over the ideals of slavery was brought to an end with the Three-Fifths Compromise, which stated that slaves were only counted as 3/5 of a person for the purpose of representation, and of taxation.
Another point of contention between political ideals was the involvement of the ordinary citizens in the election of the executive branch. Hamilton s ideal of little involvement by the common citizen and the Anti-Federalists ideal of involvement in the political process of citizens was compromised with the creation of the Electoral College. Through the Electoral College people had direct democratic control over the electors who had control over the election of the president. This helped in the actual election of a president by avoiding the counting of the national populations votes instead of only a limited number of votes by electors. This increased the expediency in which elections could take place.
All of these compromises between political ideals were in an effort to create political expediency. This political expediency was achieved both in creating a government that the states would be in favor of and avoid the controversial political ideals at that time, including slavery and states versus federal rights, in order to enact that government. Political expediency was also achieved by the taking away of individual’s say in the political process. The United States Constitution compromised the political ideals of many politicians and citizens in order to quickly form a new and functioning government.