Send Gen. Honoré to civics class

COL Paul Yingling (ret) responds to an editorial by GEN Russel Honoré:

"There are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: the one, by removing its causes and the other, by controlling its effects. There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: the one, by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving every citizen the same opinions, the same passions and the same interests.

"It could never be more truly said than of the first remedy that it was worse than the disease. Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an ailment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish for the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency."

Unlike Honoré, Madison understood the folly of trying to give every citizen the same opinions, passions, interests or purposes. Instead, Madison created a system to control the effects of faction, harnessing the tensions in America's diversity for the public good.

Our founders gave us a large, diverse republic governed by majority rule, subject to checks and balances designed to protect individual liberties. Politicians may bring extreme views to government, but no one leader or branch of government can impose those views on the country. Under our Constitution, dramatic change is difficult, and most reforms are slow, noisy and messy, just as intended.


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