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The Conclusions of a 13th Century Christian Philosopher

13th Century Christian Philosopher

 

If we abandon the historical point of view and place the context of actions taken within the time-frame and mindset of their occurrences, we can perhaps see the founder’s application of St. Thomas Aquinas’s conclusions regarding the best form of government (intended or not). Of the five legitimate forms of government, St. Thomas stated that the best form of government is a combination of three of those forms:

1. Monarchy
2. Aristocracy
3. Democracy

For this is the best form of polity, being partly kingdom [monarchy], since there is one at the head of all; partly aristocracy, in so far as a number of persons are set in authority; partly democracy, i.e. government by the people, in so far as the rulers can be chosen from the people, and the people have the right to choose their rulers. (St. Thomas Aquinas)

 

The founders implemented this combination when formulating the legislative process in the US Constitution.  If we can think in 18th-Century British terms and conceptualize the original text of the Constitution in practice prior to 1913, those links can be easily understood.

The correlations of these are as follows::

  1. Monarchy = Federal Executive (The Executive Branch, specifically the President)
  2. Aristocracy = Senate (Representation of the sovereign state governments)
  3. Democracy = House of Representatives (Representation of the citizens at large)

Under the original Constitution, the citizenry and the state governments had the ability to make laws, while the President possessed (and still possesses) the ability to approve or reject (veto) laws passed by the House and Senate.

Ratification of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution forever changed American legislative system by removing the aristocracy from representation.

 

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