In 2006, I spent three months in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia working as an environmental lawyer with a small Mongolian human rights group called the Center for Human Rights and Development (CHRD). CHRD was working to stop human trafficking, promote human rights, and protect the environment in the face of extreme poverty, government secrecy, corruption, and a post-Soviet government dominated by former members of the Communist party. During my time assisting the staff at CHRD, I felt I could hear the voice of James Madison echoing through the centuries and across the globe. In The Federalist No. 10, Madison suggested that the greatest threat to democratic government was the potential for violence against the minority by a majority faction that gains political power. He observed that the causes of faction are rooted in human nature and for that reason cannot be eliminated. He suggested that the only way to protect democratic institutions from the violence of factions is to control their effects. In The Federalist No. 51, he set forth the essential challenge of nation-building as follows: “In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” Madison continued: “A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.” Madison argued that in approaching the task of nation-building, one must not only create democratic or republican institutions of government, but also adopt “auxiliary precautions” in order to hold those institutions in check.
Richard A. Spencer,
The Role of Public Interest Groups In Nation-Building: A Maine Lawyer's Experience in Mongolia,
Me. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.mainelaw.maine.edu/mlr/vol60/iss2/17