Commentary Magazine


Contentions

The Mob on the Hill

“In all very numerous assemblies, of whatever character composed, passion never fails to wrest the scepter from reason,” James Madison wrote in Federalist #55. “Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.”

I was thinking of Madison’s words in the context of the Congressional reaction to the AIG bonuses. I understand the reason for being unhappy with what AIG did; I was too when I learned about them. But watching the “pitch fork populism” sweeping the land is slightly alarming. The rhetoric is ridiculously out of control. I only wish there was half as much rage aimed at terrorists who are trying to kill innocent Americans as there is for those receiving bonuses. It’s worth adding that for some Members of Congress, it appears as if terrorists deserve greater Constitutional rights than AIG employees.

What makes all this doubly galling is that Congress and the Obama Administration, which played key roles in ensuring the bonuses would be paid, are now stoking passions against the bonuses. So we can add hypocrisy to their recklessness.

Madison was, as usual, right. What we are seeing is a mob. Last time I checked, however, there was no Socrates to be found in our assembly. But it appears there are a few Meletus-like characters in our midst. All in all, it is a dispiriting and at times disgusting display by our political class. It always is when passion wrests the scepter from reason.


Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.