Nor should our assembly be deluded by the integrity of their own purposes, and conclude that these unlimited powers will never be abused, because themselves are not disposed to abuse them. They should look forward to a time, and that not a distant one, when a corruption … will have seized the heads of government, and be spread by them through the body of the people; when they will purchase the voices of the people, and make them pay the price.

—Thomas Jefferson. Notes on Virginia: Query XII, 1784.

The framers of a constitution must assume that the worst sorts of people, with the most depraved morals and evil designs, will obtain office. They must consider it their task to engineer devices to protect the people from exactly such people. To do the opposite, to rely upon constitutional convention, is to sow the seeds of future misery and national destruction.

This article is an extract from the book ‘Principles of Good Government’ by Matthew Bransgrove