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Sam Waterston was on Colbert tonight saying why he supports the Unity 08 ticket. He says, "what we have now is faction, which was the thing that scared the Founders more than anything else, where you have people very much on the right and very much on the left and every time they come together you get a volcano."

Well, no. In fact, Madison defined "faction" fairly precisely in Federalist 10:

By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.

At risk of repeating Madison, "faction" -- which was one of the greatest concerns of the Founders -- was not defined by the relative extremity of the position or how much conflict was caused when two opposing positions came together, but by whether that position was "adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community."

You could argue that our current state of government at the federal level is so adversed, but not that this effect is caused by extremeness or conflict. Indeed, conflict is what helps prevent the negative effects of factiousness, but preventing the factions from acting.

Maybe that's why he is just a legal expert on TV, and not in real life. :-) slashdot.org

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<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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