The constitution of the Roman republic gave the whole legislative power to the people, without allowing a negative voice either to the nobility or consuls. This unbounded power they possessed in a collective, not in a representative body. The consequences were: When the people, by success and conquest, had become very numerous, and had spread themselves to a great distance from the capital, the city-tribes, though the most contemptible, carried almost every vote: They were, therefore, most cajoled by every one that affected popularity: They were supported in idleness by the general distribution of corn, and by particular bribes, which they received from almost every candidate: By this means, they became every day more licentious, and the Campus Martius was a perpetual scene of tumult and sedition: Armed slaves were introduced among these rascally citizens; so that the whole government fell into anarchy, and the greatest happiness, which the Romans could look for, was the despotic power of the C æ ae originally 'æ'; separated to make searching the text easier sars . Such are the effects of democracy without a representative.
Ultimately, the Founders sought to protect their fledgling polity from what they saw as its greatest threat—the rise of a demagogic dictator—by placing limits on pure democratic expression and rendering a system that incorporated elements of indirect democracy, with “hefty barriers between the popular will and the exercise of power,” as Sullivan puts it. These included limitations on the exercise of the franchise, the indirect voting mechanism of the Electoral College, the Senate as a check on popular passions of the moment, and the independent Supreme Court. And of course the Constitution itself, with its carefully prescribed and proscribed powers, was seen as the ultimate bulwark against the Roman fate.
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