Trenchard and Gordon on Rotation in Office

November 12, 2004

Cato's Letters by Trenchard and Gordon was the single most important influence on the American founders. If they spoke in the language of Locke and Hume, and if that language resonated with the American people, it was because both had read those ideas in Cato.

I was thinking about the problems with gerrymandering and the House of Representatives and came across the following passage while reading Cato's Letters as part of my slow-moving revision of chapter one.

A rotation therefore, in power and magistracy, is essentially necessary to a free government: It is indeed the thing itself; and constitutes, animates, and informs it, as much as the soul constitutes the man. It is a thing sacred and inviolable, where-ever liberty is thought sacred; nor can it ever be committed to the disposal of those who [currently rule].
I was thinking about the notion of a constitutional amendment to insist that legislative districts be drawn by nonpartisan commissions, and it seems to me that Congress could probably pass that with a little application of 18th-century political theory to the Republican Government clause in the Constitution. If it justified Radical Reconstruction, it can justify insisting on nonpartisan electoral district commissions.

Posted by Red Ted at November 12, 2004 05:40 PM | TrackBack