Front Page Titles (by Subject) chapter thirteen: On the Best Way of Giving Proprietors a Large Political Influence - Principles of Politics Applicable to All Governments
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chapter thirteen: On the Best Way of Giving Proprietors a Large Political Influence - Benjamin Constant, Principles of Politics Applicable to All Governments 
Principles of Politics Applicable to a all Governments, trans. Dennis O’Keeffe, ed. Etienne Hofmann, Introduction by Nicholas Capaldi (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2003).
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On the Best Way of Giving Proprietors a Large Political Influence
The surest and easiest way of giving proprietors great political influence has already been indicated by Aristotle: “To combine your laws and institutions in such a way,” he says, “that the high positions cannot be the object of a calculated interest. Without that, the masses, which, it must be said, are affected little by exclusion from honors,  because they like to get on with their own business, will envy honors and profit. All the safeguards are fine, if the magistracy is not a temptation to greed. The poor will prefer lucrative occupations to difficult and unpaid ones. The rich will fill the magistracy, because they will not need payment.”32
These principles are probably not applicable to all the jobs in the modern State apparatus, because there are some which require wealth beyond any individual holding. Nothing stops their being applied, however, to legislative positions, which increase only slightly the routine expenditures of those in whom they are invested.
Thus it was in Carthage. All the magistratures appointed by the people discharged their functions without payment. Other jobs were salaried. It is the same in England. I think myself on strong ground when I take as my proof that home of liberty. In this country people often denounce the corruption of the House of Commons. Just compare what this corruption, even in difficult circumstances, has done for the crown with what elsewhere other assemblies, largely paid, have done for a thousand successive tyrants.
In a free constitution, where nonproprietors have no political rights, it is outrageously contradictory to keep the people out of representation, as if only the rich ought to represent them, and then to make them pay their representatives, as if the latter were poor.
I do not like strong property requirements. I have given my reason elsewhere.33 Independence is entirely relative. As soon as a man has the necessary minimum, he need only elevate his soul to do without superfluities. It is desirable, however, that legislative positions be in general filled by wealthy men.  Now, on declaring them unpaid, we place power in the hands of the leisured class, without refusing a fair chance to all the legitimate exceptions.
When sizeable payments are attached to legislative positions, these payments become the main objective. Mediocrity, ineptitude, and baseness perceive in these august duties only a miserable speculation of chance, whose success is guaranteed them by silence and servility. The corruption which is the product of ambitious designs is far less deadly than that which results from ignoble calculations. Ambition is compatible with a thousand generous qualities: probity, courage, impartiality, and independence. Avarice is compatible with none of these. If we cannot keep ambitious men out of public positions, at least let us keep the greedy out. This way we will diminish the number of competitors considerably, and those we drive away will be precisely the least worthy.
Paying the people’s representatives is not to give them an interest in fulfilling their functions well, but in exercising them a long time.
Two conditions are necessary for representative duties to be unpaid. The first is that they be important. No one would want to take on, unpaid, jobs rendered puerile by their insignificance, or which would be shameful if they ceased being puerile. But, it must be added, under such a constitution, it would be better were there no legislative positions at all.
The second condition is that reelection be possible indefinitely.34 The impossibility of reelection under a representative government is in all respects a great mistake.  Only the chance of uninterrupted reelection offers merit a fitting reward and lodges in the public mind a body of imposing and respected names. Far from any free people should be both those shameful prejudices which demand distinctions of birth giving access to positions and their exclusive exercise, and also those prohibitive laws which prevent the people reelecting those who have not lost its trust. The influence of individuals is not destroyed by jealous institutions. In every era such influence of this sort as exists freely is always indispensable. The influence of individuals diminishes of its own accord with the spread of enlightenment. Let us not meddle therein with envious laws. Individuals naturally lose their supremacy when a larger number are educated to the same level. Let us not dispossess talent by arbitrary exclusions. There are in the assemblies weak men, who cannot be reelected, men who want either the goodwill of government, in order to obtain some compensation, or to make as few enemies as possible, in order to live in peaceful retirement. If you put obstacles in the way of indefinite reelection, you deprive talent and courage of their due and prepare a comfortable and secure shelter for cowardice and ineptitude. You put on the same level the man who has faced every danger and him who has bent his degraded head under tyranny. Reelection favors righteous calculation. Such calculations alone have lasting success, but to obtain it, they need time. Upright and brave men versed in public affairs are not so numerous that one can reject those who have already merited public esteem. New talents will appear too. The people tend to welcome them. Do not impose any constraint on them in this matter. Do not force them at each reelection to choose newcomers, ones still with their fortunes to make in matters of self-esteem and hell-bent on fame. Nothing costs a nation more dearly than the creation of reputations. Look at America. The people’s votes have never stopped supporting the founders of liberty. Look at England. There famous names have become a sort of popular property, in an unbroken series of reelections.  Happy those nations which offer like examples and know how to trust durably!
[32. ]Aristotle, La politique, V, 8, éd. cit., t. II, p. 382.
[33. ]In Ch. 9 of this same Book X.
[34. ]We can compare Constant’s arguments on the advantages of reelection with Madame de Staël’s in Des circonstances actuelles, éd. cit., pp. 187–190.