Front Page Titles (by Subject) The Constitution Establishes an Aristocracy - Liberty, Order, and Justice: An Introduction to the Constitutional Principles of American Government
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The Constitution Establishes an Aristocracy - James McClellan, Liberty, Order, and Justice: An Introduction to the Constitutional Principles of American Government 
Liberty, Order, and Justice: An Introduction to the Constitutional Principles of American Government (3rd ed.) (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2000).
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The Constitution Establishes an Aristocracy
The size and diversity of the existing confederation, in other words, led the Anti-Federalists to believe that the union envisioned by the Framers should not even be attempted.
By republicanism, the Anti-Federalists meant democratic self-government, government close to the people, limited in scope, in which the representatives were held directly accountable through frequent elections. The problem with the new Constitution, they argued, was that it gave representatives too much power and independence. Once elected, representatives would be far from home, comfortable in their jobs, enjoying a big salary that they set themselves. They would be living in some distant, yet-to-be-built city far removed from the watchful eye of the people they represented. Under these circumstances, they surely would lose touch with their constituents. The system was an invitation to despotism.
These fears and suspicions were also confirmed by certain deficiencies in the Constitution itself. The Constitution, for example, made no provision for recalling elections; and rotation in office, argued the Anti-Federalists, was not frequent enough. A common theme in Anti-Federalist literature was the complaint, as “A Plebian” from New York wrote, that “the power of the general legislature to alter and regulate the time, place, and manner of holding elections [Article I, Section 4] … will place in the hands of the general government the authority whenever they shall be disposed, and a favorable opportunity offers, to deprive the body of the people, in effect, of all share in the government.”
Republicanism also meant rule by the majority. But the Constitution, insisted the Anti-Federalists, seemed to encourage government by minority factions and wealthy aristocrats. There would be too few members in the House of Representatives (only one for every 30,000 persons), and a mere handful of Senators—as few as eighteen if only nine States joined the Union—would be able to block legislation desired by a majority of the people. “Far from being a regular balanced government,” complained “Centinel,” a Pennsylvania Anti-Federalist, “it would be in practice a permanent aristocracy.” Patrick Henry of Virginia echoed these sentiments, contending that the two-thirds requirement for proposing amendments and the three-fourths requirement for their adoption allowed entrenched minorities and “the most unworthy characters” to obstruct the will of the majority. It would be impossible, he argued, to pass an amendment by those difficult means:
To suppose that so large a number as three-fourths of the States will concur is to suppose that they will possess genius, intelligence, and integrity approaching to miraculous. … For four of the smallest States that do not collectively contain one-tenth part of the population of the United States may obstruct the most salutary and necessary amendments. … A bare majority in these four States may hinder the adoption of amendments, so that we may fairly and justly conclude that one-twentieth part of the American people may prevent the removal of the most grievous inconveniences and oppression by refusing to accede to amendments. A trifling minority may reject the most salutary amendments. Is this an easy mode of securing the public liberty? It is, sir, a most fearful situation when the most contemptible minority can prevent the alteration of the most oppressive government. … Is this the spirit of republicanism?
Quoting from the Virginia Bill of Rights, Henry went on to assert that “a majority of the community have an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform, alter, or abolish” their government when it becomes inadequate. “This, sir, is the language of democracy: that a majority of the community have the right to alter their government when found to be oppressive. But how different is the genius of your new Constitution from this.”