The Founders Gamble
Actually, Barr is wrong. The “Founders” didn’t gamble that virtue would prevail over the passions. They gambled that virtue wasn’t necessary or even desirable in their newly created “republic.” [Madison referred to religion as a source of tyranny in a letter to Jefferson and alluded to that in the Federalist Papers.] This was noticed at the time by the Anti-Federalists and commented on over and over. For example, if you read some of the Anti-Federalists descriptions of what life would be like in what we call the District of Columbia, they will sound remarkably like what life is like there now.
The “Founders'” project was to regulate the passions by setting them in opposition each other, or as Madison said in Federalist #51, self-interest must be set against self-interest because the only alternative was like relying on “angels” to govern. And of course that was a fantasy.
As Herbert J. Storing said in class once: He wouldn’t teach the Federalist Papers in high school because there was little there besides a reliance on self-interest, that is, passion. He also wrote [In “What the Anti-Federalists Were For”] that the Federalists had the “stronger” argument than the Anti-Federalists and, of course, the stronger and strongest arguments are such because they appeal to the passions, not to reason.
We seem to be harvesting the results of the “Founders” gamble.