The Madisonian Dilemma Discusses Government Authority
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In discussing the Madisonian Dilemma, one must first ask, “How do you give government enough authority to preserve social order and communal values, but not so much that it places unfair and inappropriate limits on individual freedom of choice?” (Bond & Smith 2013, p. 111) This delicate balance between governmental rights and individual freedoms has been a source of much contention and debate. James Madison, a primary framer of the Constitution and author of 30 of the Federalist Papers, believed that the only way this balance of power could be achieved was through controlling the effects of factions through a representative government, fragmenting the power of that government and creating a system of checks and balances within, and abiding by a written constitution. (Bond & Smith, p 55-59).
Factions will arise based on people’s beliefs, opinions, and interests. Madison said, “Liberty is to faction what air is to fire.” (Madison, 1787) Since liberty is the fuel of factions, as well as the foundation of the nation, the removal of it would destroy democracy. Madison surmised that the only way to deal with factions is to control their effects. (Madison, 1787). This can best be accomplished through forming a republic, meaning a representative form of government. Each state elects, by popular vote, a predetermined number of representatives. Each representative is then then the spokesperson for his or her constituency. This representative form of government allows the citizens of the United States to participate, albeit indirectly, in the governance of the country. This not only protect the rights of the minority, but it allows the voice of the majority to be heard.
Creating a representative form of government was a start, but ...
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...outcomes are reached and liberties protected. It is only when one branch of the government attempts to circumvent the established process of governance that these solutions will fail. The failure of the checks and balances system, or the lack separation of powers, can create a tyrannical government that usurps the freedom of the people.
Bond, R. & Smith, K. (2013). Analyzing American Democracy: Politics and Political Science. New York: Routledge. p. 55-59, 111
Madison, J. (1787, November 22). The Same Subject Continued: The Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection. New York Daily Advertiser, p.1
Madison J. (1788, February 6). The Same Subject Continued: The Structure of the Government Must Furnish the Proper Checks and Balances Between the Different Departments. New York Daily Advertiser, p.1)
U.S. Const. art. I, § 8