Monday, January 18, 2010

The End of a Free Government

James Madison's contribution to the science of government has primarily been attributed to his development of institutions and structures. His work in the development of the U.S. Constitution and the its ability to mitigate of competing interests is the stuff of high school government classes. The question remains has been to what end were these structures put in place.

A few have suggested that government was "to dull the edge of a fully participatory and democratic politics." At best, this was to curb the abuses of the rabble. At worst, a few scholars, such as Charles Beard, suggest that the institutions were to protect the rich elite.

Colleen Sheehan has suggested another possibility. Madison believed, according to Sheehan, that public opinion held the republic together. The institutions that Madison developed were meant to protect public opinion. Competing interests and balance of power found in the U.S. Constitution created space for "ongoing teaching, cultivating, arguing, and distilling of opinions."

The U.S. Constitution does not simply take the competing interests and pour them into a meat grinder where majority rules and minorities are protected. The end result is not the decisions of government. Instead, the end result should be a free citzenry.

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