Founders guarded against demagogues

By

Opinion

December 31, 2019 - 9:46 AM

President Donald Trump speaks to the media on Christmas eve from his estate Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla. (Richard Graulich/The Palm Beach Post via ZUMA Wire)

There has been much talk lately among both Democrats and Republicans of the intents of the founders in the writing of the Constitution, especially involving the powers of impeachment and removal from office.

What has been sorely lacking from this conversation is an awareness of the framers’ overwhelming conviction that there was nothing more poisonous to constitutional democracies than demagogues — which to them meant a very specific kind of threat.

Less than two weeks after the start of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, George Washington wrote to his friend, the Marquis de Lafayette, on June 6, 1787, explaining that his critical purpose in attending the convention was to prevent a demagogue from gaining power in the politically unstable young nation and thus destroying it.

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