Federalist # 10 is often called America’s first contribution to political theory. In it, Madison seeks to defend the idea of federalism by arguing that it is a salve against the dangers of faction and majority tyranny. In that sense, Federalist #10 can be seen as representative of a republican philosophy rather than a democratic philosophy – as anti-majoritarian.
Michael Parenti, in his chapter Constitution of the Few (part of his book, Democracy for the Few) sustains this argument by tracing both the social and economic circumstances at the time of the founding and by analyzing the ways that the Constitution might discourage and limit popular government.
The task in this assignment is to answer some key questions with regards to Madison’s argument in Federalist #10 and Parenti’s critique of that argument. Our goal is to raise the question how democratic the early Constitution in fact was.
PART I – Madison and 18th Century Republicanism
What is the fundamental problem of politics Madison is trying to solve in Federalist #10?
How does Madison’s views and critique of democracy fit into his understanding of the problem?
What is Madison’s response to this problem of politics, and specifically, how can federalism, and republicanism be seen as a part of that response? (Again, one can trace these issues in Madison, Federalist #10 [federalism] and #39 [republicanism].
Michael Parenti in the chapter A Constitution for the Few, provides the critique of 18th Century Republicanism.
Why was democracy seen as threatening to the interests of founders such as James Madison, Elbridge Getty, Edmund Randolph, Roger Sherman, Alexander Hamilton and George Washington?
What were some of the broader economic/political interests the founders sought to protect in drafting the Constitution the way they did?
In what ways does the Constitution, as Parenti argues, “keep the form and appearance of popular government” while “withstanding the democratic egalitarian demands of the popular class”? In other words, how does the Constitution give the “appearance of popular government with only a minimum of its substance”? (Think again about various aspects of constitutionalism, federalism and republicanism).
More specifically, what are some of the ways the Constitution put up barriers to majority rule (again, allegedly to address concerns about majority tyranny)?
The length of this assignment should be 1-2 pages.
Link to book source:
Chapter 6: Federalism, Lenz and Holman: ATTACHED
Chapter 3: 21st Century American Government: file:///Users/kimberlyraquelglenn/Downloads/21st-century-american-government-and-politics.html
Youtube source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0gosGXSgsI&index=4&list=PL8dPuuaLjXtOfse2ncvffeelTrqvhrz8H
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