The Official Blog Of Edward Cline

James Madison vs. Frank Nitti

Daniel Greenfield, in his
Sultan Knish column, “The
Chicagoization of America
” (April 11th), remarked about the
workings of urban machine politics:

2012, tribal politics became national politics. The country was divided and
conquered. A campaign run on convincing a dozen separate groups to be afraid of
each other and of the majority made all the difference, not in some urban slum,
but from sea to shining sea. The country had at last become the city. And
considering the state of the city… the state of the union does not look good.

His column featured a
photograph of Saul Alinsky, author of Rules
for Radicals
and other Democracy
for Dummies and Democrats
tracts that serve as hands-on instruction manuals
for liberals, leftists, and out-and-out communists and socialists in how to
acquire power and disenfranchise everyone but their patrons. In other words,
elective gangsters. Such as Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton, who admired
Alinsky and his “community organizing” philosophy so much she wrote
her Wellesley senior
on them and even interviewed Alinsky.

Greenfield does not mention
Alinsky in the column, which is about how “democracy” has become a
game and tactic of criminal politicians who manipulate contentious voting blocs
and vested interests. He did not need to. Alinsky’s face and that photograph in
particular are too familiar. Alinsky boasted that he befriended and fraternized
with Chicago gangsters.
That is entirely appropriate, given the state of Chicago and American politics as
described by Greenfield.

Here is an anecdote in
Alinsky’s own words about how cozy he was with Frank Nitti, Al Capone’s
“enforcer.” Nitti liked Alinsky and allowed him to look over the
criminal’s books:

when I was looking over their records, I noticed an item listing a $7500
payment for an out-of-town killer. I called Nitti over and I said, “Look,
Mr. Nitti, I don’t understand this. You’ve got at least 20 killers on your
payroll. Why waste that much money to bring somebody in from St. Louis?”
Frank was really shocked at my ignorance.

kid,” he said patiently, “sometimes our guys might know the guy
they’re hitting, they may have been to his house for dinner, taken his kids to
the ball game, been the best man at his wedding, gotten drunk together. But you
call in a guy from out of town, all you’ve got to do is tell him, ‘Look,
there’s this guy in a dark coat on State and Randolph; our boy in the car will
point him out; just go up and give him three in the belly and fade into the
crowd.’ So that’s a job and he’s a professional, he does it. But one of our
boys goes up, the guy turns to face him and it’s a friend, right away he knows
that when he pulls that trigger there’s gonna be a widow, kids without a
father, funerals, weeping — Christ, it’d be murder.”

Such was the wisdom imbibed
by Saul Alinsky, amoral and pragmatist tactician and organizer of other
criminal mobs, otherwise known as the Left. For what is the Left but a loose
alliance of ideological gangsters who rationalize and sanction force, but who pose
as “humanitarians” sensitive to the feelings of others? Gangster government,

But, in this column we will
not be “going there.” I don’t think it’s necessary to compare
Alinsky’s foul character with that of James Madison. That would be an insult to
Madison. This column will dwell on a species of wisdom not possible to Alinsky,
Frank Nitti, or even to any contemporary politician. Here, in speeches,
separate correspondence and in his Federalist Papers, are some excerpted
thoughts and cogitations of Madison, one of our Founders, defending and
explaining the workings of the federal Constitution after it had been framed in
1787 Philadelphia. The document had been sent out to all the states for debate
and ratification. A multitude of objections to it, some valid, some specious, were
cropping up and distracting everyone’s attention. Madison felt obliged to
defend the document and to refute all the criticisms of it that came his way. Originally,
he questioned the wisdom of including a “bill of rights” that would
specifically obstruct federal incursions on specific realms of individual
But in June of 1789, he submitted a bill of rights to a Congress embroiled
in other issues. He became known as the “father” of the Bill of Rights
rights which Congress today is contemplating their suspension or nullification.

All quotations are from James Madison: Writings 1,
and are followed by the referenced page numbers. Quotations have been edited
for archaic spelling, punctuation and formatting. Notes in square brackets are
my own interjections on meaning and context for clarity’s sake.

In a letter to William
Bradford in January 1774, before the Revolution began, Madison remarked:

contests are necessary sometimes as well as military to afford exercise and
practice and to instruct in the Art of defending Liberty and property….If the
Church of England had been established and general Religion in all the Northern
Colonies as it has been among us here and uninterrupted tranquility had
prevailed throughout the Continent, it is clear to me that slavery and
subjection [subjugation or submission] might and would have been gradually
insinuated among us. (p. 5)

Here Madison was exhibiting
prescience, not only about his later task of construing the Constitution for
his readers, but was commenting on how a state religion can suppress liberty. He
would later call for the separation of church and state. We now have two state
“religions” that perform that role: environmentalism,
and “gay
,” and the state has been empowered to enforce obeisance to

In a speech before the
Convention in June, 1787, Madison inveighed against “pure” democracy,
and warned how religion and combative blocs in a population would lead to
anarchy and tyranny.

all cases where a majority are united by a common interest or passion, the
rights of the minority are in danger.…Religion itself may become a motive to
persecution and oppression. These observations are verified by the Histories of
every Country ancient and modern. In Greece and Rome, the rich and poor, the
creditors and debtors, as well as the patricians and plebians alternately
oppressed each other with equal unmercifulness. 
(pp. 92-93)

In this same speech, Madison
endorsed the idea of dividing the federal government into three branches – the
executive, the legislative, and a senate – and prohibiting the branches from
developing overlapping authorities. We don’t see much of that separation today.
The only branch that has retained some independence from the other branches is
the Supreme Court, but that separation can be nullified by an executive or
president who seeks to pack the Court with justices friendly to his agenda. Senate
confirmation hearings on Court nominees are supposed to weed out those who are
hostile or ambivalent to a strict reading of the Constitution. That has not

On the role of the Senate,
Madison had this to say at the Convention, in answer to another delegate’s
proposal to make the Senate as large as the House of Representatives:

use of the Senate is to consist in its proceeding with more coolness, with more
system, and with more wisdom, than the popular branch. Enlarge their number and
you communicate to them the vices which they are meant to correct. (p. 98)

The function of the Senate,
to act as a check on populist legislation and causes with its “coolness
and wisdom,” was annulled by the Seventeenth
Amendment in 1913 which allowed the direct or popular election of U.S. senators,
instead of by state legislatures. Nineteen-thirteen was a banner year for
Progressive statism. The Sixteenth Amendment or the Income Tax Amendment was
ratified in February, and the Federal Reserve Act was enacted in December.

On July 20th,
1787, Madison addressed the Convention on the subject of executive powers and
the impeachment of the president.

Madison thought it indispensable that some provision should be made for
defending the Community against the incapacity, negligence or perfidy of the
chief Magistrate. The limitation of the period of his service was not
sufficient security….He might pervert his administration into a scheme of peculation
or oppression. He might betray his trust to foreign powers. (p. 128)

This projection of the
executive branch’s potential depredations can be applied to any number of
administrations since, say, President Grant’s term, but it certainly describes that
of Barack Obama. Anyone remember Solyndra, or Obama’s assurances to dictator
Vladimir Putin that, once he was reelected, he would have “more
” in compromising this country’s ability to defend itself?

But Madison could not imagine
that the whole of Congress could become so corrupted as to pose just as
perilous a danger to the country as would a president wielding dictatorial powers.

case of the Executive Magistracy was very distinguishable from that of the
Legislature.…It could not be presumed that all or even a majority of the
members of an Assembly would either lose their capacity for discharging, or be
bribed to betray their trust. Besides the restraints of their personal
integrity and honor, the difficulty of acting in concert for purposes of
corruption was a security to the public. And if one or a few members only
should be seduced, the soundness of the remaining members would maintain the
integrity and fidelity of the body….(p. 128)

Do we laugh now, or later?
There are only a handful of Senators and Representatives who are
“restrained” by their personal integrity and honor from feeding with
the rest of Congress at the spend-and-tax-and-regulate trough. Madison can be
forgiven for his naïveté. He lived in an era of intellectual giants, and
presumed the swine of his time would be kept in their pigpens.

Madison forecast the problems
with universal suffrage and recommended that the power to vote for any
candidates in national and state elections be limited to property owners. In a
speech to the Convention August 1787, he explained why:

right of suffrage is certainly one of the fundamental articles of republican
Government. A gradual abridgment of this right has been the mode in which
Aristocracies have been built on the ruins of popular forms….In several of the
States a freehold was now the qualification. Viewing the subject in its merits
alone, the freeholders of the Country would be the safest depositories of
Republican liberty. In future times a great majority of the people will not
only be without landed but without any other sort of property. These will
either combine under the influence of their common situation, in which case the
rights and public liberty will not be secure in their hands; or which is more
probable, they will become the tools of opulence and ambition, in which case
there will be equal danger on another side. (pp. 132-133)

In short, Madison was saying
that those who owned land would be more likely to defend its sanctity and their individual rights than would a
“democratic” mob that wished to expropriate it, and vote for
individuals who were pledged to protect it against populist measures and
clamors to “narrow the gap” between the rich and the poor. Madison
could not have imagined a federal government that had the power to “narrow
the gap” with powers not enumerated in the Constitution. Neither he nor
even the most ardent Federalist, such as Alexander Hamilton (who also
contributed to the Federalist), could have predicted the mammoth,
wealth-consuming welfare state that cripples the economy and redirects (or
“redistributes”) the productive energies of the country to the
omnivorous, bottomless pit of the unproductive and anti-productive.

Of course, today, if suffrage
was to be based on property ownership, the definition of property would need to
be expanded to include other kinds of property as well as land, such as private
home ownership and one’s estimated worth in the way of stock holdings and
derived income. But, this is a technical issue beyond the ken of contemporary
theorists and politicians.

In a long letter to Thomas
Jefferson in October 1787, Madison remarked on the foolhardiness of democracy
and the dangers it posed to an individual rights-protecting republic. Jefferson
was in France during the Convention. It would be intriguing to speculate on the
character of the Constitution had he attended the Convention.

who contend for a simple Democracy, or a pure republic, actuated by the sense
of the majority, and operating within narrow limits, assume or suppose a case
which is altogether fictitious….A distinction of property results from that
very protection which a free Government gives to unequal faculties of acquiring
it. There will be rich and poor, creditors and debtors, a landed interest, a
monied interest, a mercantile [commercial or business] interest, a
manufacturing interest….(p. 150)

But, Madison wrote, these
different classes needn’t be hostile to each other nor be in political conflict
with each other as long as the government did not favor one over the other with
special legislation, that is, for example, if neither Congress nor the
executive branch were open to subornation by lobbyists and other special

In the same letter to Jefferson,
Madison listed three motives which he thought would not protect individuals or a minority against the actions of a
democratic mob or act as guarantors of individual rights: “A prudent
regard to private or partial good…Respect for character….Religion.” Of
religion, he said:

indeed Religion is kindled into enthusiasm, its force like that of other
passions is increased by the sympathy of a multitude. But enthusiasm is only a
temporary state of Religion, and while it lasts will hardly been seen with
pleasure at the helm. Even in its coolest state it has been much oftener a
motive to oppression than a restraint from it….(p. 151)

In his Federalist No. 10,
Madison noted the dangers and impracticality of democracies, big and small. In
a “pure” democracy

common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of
the whole; a communication and concert results from the form of government
itself, and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker
party, or the obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies have ever
been spectacles of turbulence and contention, have ever been found incompatible
with personal security, or the rights of property, and have in general been as
short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths….

of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs, may intrigue
by corruption or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and then betray
the interests of the people…. (pp. 164-165)

What a fitting description of
how Barack Obama has won two presidential elections. He is, after all, a man of
“factious temper” with an agenda of “sinister designs.”

Finally, Madison had
something to say about the differences between a democracy and a constitutional
republic, and in Federalist No. 14 wrote in answer to critics of the
Constitution who alleged that a constitutional republic was as dangerous as a
pure democracy:

republic may be extended over a large region [i.e., continental North America].
To this accidental source of the error may be added the artifice of some
celebrated authors whose writings have had a great share in forming the modern
standard of political opinions. Being subjects either of an absolute or limited
monarchy, they have endeavored to heighten the advantages or palliate the evils
of those forms by placing in comparison with them the vices and defects of the
republican, and by citing as specimens of the latter, the turbulent democracies
of ancient Greece and modern Italy. Under the confusion of names, it has been
an easy task to transfer to a republic observations applicable to a democracy
only….(pp. 168-169)

It is a confusion which
persists to this day, when even advocates of limited government, such as the
Tea Party, persistently refer to our republic as a “democracy,”
unable or unwilling to distinguish between the two systems, thinking that no
distinction exists or is necessary.

Madison penned twenty-six
more Federalist numbers, the last in March 1788. But you cannot help but scream
to the ceiling when comparing his grasp of political principles and folly with
the unadulterated folly, ignorance, and indifference paraded by contemporary politicians
and even theorists. Today’s politicians are not Madison’s intellectual heirs;
they are Alinsky’s, and Frank Nitti’s, with numerous political go-betweens on
the descent to legislative thuggery and imbecility:  the prim and proper Progressive Woodrow
Wilson; the disgraceful Warren G. Harding; the socialist opportunist Franklin
D. Roosevelt; the pouting thug Harry S. Truman (the model for Ayn Rand’s
“chief of state” villain, Mr. Thompson, in Atlas Shrugged); the bland nonentity Dwight D. Eisenhower; the
fascist John F. Kennedy. And all of those who followed, including Ronald

The collectivist pot has boiled
away, and what is left in it is the heir and essence of collectivism: Barack
Hussein Obama, the mean, small, malevolent, arrogant graduate of the Alinsky-Nitti
School of Practical Statism, who has succeeded in “Chicagoizing” the American

1.  James Madison:
New York: The Library of
America, 1999. Ed. Jack N. Rakove. 


Margaret Thatcher: A Singular Ambition Revisited


Boston: The MSM’s Exploded ‘Journalism’


  1. Teresa

    Thanks, Ed for another informative article. I have just ordered the Federalist Papers for my Kindle.

  2. Edward Cline

    Teresa: I took copious notes in preparation for this article on all of Madison's Federalist papers, and may write another column on the ones I haven't used.

  3. Anonymous

    How little we remember of our own history… How Madison foresaw, what we cannot look back to recognize.

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