Factions, Homogeneity, Christian Nation, and the Anti-Federalists
In Tom Clancy’s novel Debt of Honor, after a terrorist attack on the Capitol during a State of the Union address kills the President and most members of Congress, the United States of America gets a do-over. Newly sworn-in President Jack Ryan calls for new elections to Congress and says something to the effect of, “Don’t send lawyers, send teachers, small business owners, firefighters, construction workers.” Jack Ryan wants a Congress whose representatives resemble closely the people they represent. As a subtext, as regular people we are all the same; let’s pull together and do the right thing.
Continuing with Thomas Pangle’s course on the Constitution, Professor Pangle describes how republics can deal with factionalism. One, have a strong monarchy or dictatorship which enforces adherence to the government’s plans; two, have a homogeneous body of citizens; or three, structure the government to control, or channel, factions.
The Federalists chose option three, and devised a Constitution and government of checks and balances to channel the factionalism evident in a diverse population in ways which would keep political and individual factions in check, and allow government to function effectively.
The Anti-Federalists preferred option two. Even at the time, that was probably just a pretend option. The United States already covered an extensive territory and held a diverse population. Jefferson could wax rhapsodic on the virtues of the yeoman, but the nation was already more than just its farmers. The Anti-Federalists could insist on the virtues of power residing with the states, smaller entities where it might be easier to pretend there was a homogeneous population; but the reason for the Constitutional Convention was a general acceptance that the Articles of Confederation had not been working.
But President Jack Ryan, in the 20th century, newly sworn-in to administer a nation of 50 states and 300 million inhabitants, still believes the people are at their core homogeneous enough that they can elect representatives like themselves and create a Congress of unity. Populist conservatives seem to share this belief. Belief that we are a Christian nation, or should revert to being one, at its heart assumes a uniformity we can use to rally the citizens around. The Anti-Federalists, Jack Ryan, and populist conservatives today believe the answer to factionalism is to stress the homogeneity of the population. Today’s populist conservatives believe that a Christian nation majority, and its belief system, should be the core around which to build and run government and the nation.