How to sustain federalist power by enhancing control over its citizens

Governments are formed for various reasons, including collective action. Through collective action, governments have been successful because some goods can only be attained by working in cooperation with others. Governments also exist for the joint pursuit of security for their citizens (Brown, 2017). This paper seeks to draw links from the Sedition Act of 1798 to the theory of governmental control. The report will describe the Sedition Act of 1798. It will discuss how this act enhanced governmental control over U.S. citizens. This paper will also explain how the U.S. government incorporated atomization, preference falsification, and peer-policing techniques into the Sedition Act.
The Sedition Act of 1798
The Sedition Act of 1798 was passed on July 14th by a Federalist-controlled Congress in the United States as part of different measures called the Alien and Sedition Acts, superficially meant to handle the threats in the “quasi-war” with France (Mackey, 2021). This act reinforced foreign-born Americans’ limitations and restricted speech condemning the government.
Hafner (2017) posits that the Federalist Party, which recommended a robust central government, were convinced that Federalist policies criticism from Democratic-Republican was unpatriotic; they were afraid of non-citizens or “aliens” living in the U.S. sympathizing with the French during the war. This resulted in a Federalist-controlled Congress passing four laws collectively called the Alien and Sedition Acts. The four laws increased the residency conditions for citizenship from 5 years to 14 years. They sanctioned the deportation of “aliens” by the President and allowed the arrest, incarceration, and deportation of “aliens” during wartime. The Federalists suspected that the Sedition Act was requisite in ensuring the security of the U.S. during the Quasi-War with France (Mackey, 2021). According to Scherr (2020), the Sedition Act made it an offense for an American citizen to utter, print, or publish any erroneous, dishonorable, and spiteful writings about the U.S. government.
The four laws were focused against the Democratic-Republicans, a party believed to have been supported by new citizens. Brown (2017) adds that the only journalists sued under the Sedition Act were editors from the Democratic-Republican newspapers. Hafner (2017) argues that the Sedition Act trials and the Senate’s use of its disdain powers to subdue dissent set out a blaze of criticism in opposition to the Federalists. As a result, this played a part in their loss in the 1800 election; the acts were then revoked or allowed to lapse. However, the disputes surrounding these laws gave way to some of the earliest tests of the restrictions of freedom of speech and press (Scherr, 2020).
How the Sedition Act of 1798 enhanced governmental control over U.S. citizens
Governments exist mainly to generate rules which citizens have to follow. Xia (2016), however, argues that the regulations that are desirable or necessary in any state are open to question; different types of governments have generated various rules to control their citizens. According to Brown (2017), governments were initiated to safeguard people from disputes and provide law and order. Shames and Atchison (2019) add that governments first arose as people realized that protection was simple if everyone stayed together in groups and if they all concurred that one (or some people) in the group needed to have more power than others. This realization formed the foundation for sovereignty, or the right of a group (a country) to be free from external interference (Scherr, 2020).
A nation, then, needs to not only safeguard its citizens from each other but also to organize to avert outside attacks. Sometimes governments establish Great Walls and protect them from invaders. They also lead their citizens to safe areas or raise and train special groups to offer defense to the rest. In gaining control and protecting its citizens, the U.S. government sanctioned the Sedition Act of 1798. through this act, the U.S. government allowed the punishment of those who spoke out against the Federalist Party. The U.S. used the Sedition Act to enhance control over its citizens by making it a crime for any individual to condemn the U.S. Government, the President, or Congress. Through this act, President John Adams apprehended, detained, and repatriated any non-citizens whom he considered a danger to the security of the country. Through the sanction of the Alien and Sedition Acts, the U.S. government could sustain federalist power hence enhancing control over its citizens. The U.S. government could control anyone who might have thought of opposing President Adam and the federalists.
Atomization, peer-policing, and preference falsification in the Sedition Act of 1798
Xia (2016) defines atomization as the process of isolating people to keep them from forming a group that could endanger a leader’s hold on power. In atomization, people are prevented from developing any personal bonds. Leaders can achieve effective atomization by incorporating peer policing and preference falsification techniques. Shames and Atchison (2019) contend that peer policing is whereby a leader has people watch or police each other. Peer policing may at the time happen can sometimes occur impulsively; however, leaders may at times incorporate some constitutional elements for it to work effectively in preventing rebels. For instance, the U.S. government enacted the sedition Act to limit the freedom of its citizens. It achieved this by ensuring that no one could speak, print, or publish anything condemning the government, President, or the federalists. In peer-policing, leaders usually encourage citizens to participate by acting against possible revolutionaries. According to Xia (2016), this can be achieved easily by making it an offense for failing to report a person’s efforts to form a rebel group. By making this a law, the U.S. government ensured peer policing was effected, whereby anyone who witnessed such offenses being committed was obligated to report to the necessary authority since it is illegal. In peer policing, governments prevent rebels by preventing coordination by keeping revolutionaries separate (Shames & Atchison, 2019). For instance, the Federalists were convinced that criticism from the democratic-Republican was unpatriotic. The federalists believed foreigners were a threat and were afraid of non-citizens living in the U.S. sympathizing with the French in wartime. Therefore, they sort to prevent a rebel from forming by sanctioning the Sedition Act.
Shames and Atchison (2019) assert that preference falsification occurs whereby people are forced to communicate a preference that contradicts their actual choice. Xia (2016) posits that governments employ the preference falsification technique as part of the peer-policing and atomization process to keep citizens unconnected and prevent the formation of groups. If people cannot express their genuine feelings concerning their government, then possible revolutionaries can’t know whether there are people who share their views. The Sedition Act prevented people from communicating, printing, or publishing any malicious and scandalous writing to libel the government or stir up a rebellion within the country. As a result, Citizens could not communicate their opinions of the government, making it hard for revolutionaries to form.
Leaders and governments incorporate different techniques to gain control over their citizens. For instance, the Sedition Act of 1798 reinforced non-American citizens’ restrictions and limited any speech condemning the government. By incorporating techniques such as atomization, preference falsification, and peer-policing, the U.S. government was able to prevent revolutionaries and group formation from threatening its existence. The U.S. government enhanced control over its citizens through these techniques and affected its agendas.


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