The defense minister talks with the king of Jordan at the Munich Security Conference about Middle East developments and possibilities of advancing the peace process.19:58 12.02.16 | 0 comments
Indulge me for a moment. I enjoyed your reference to George Washington (and especially its connection to Deuteronomy); it reminded me of something I read recently about Madison. Well, it goes to Alexis de Tocqueville first: A recurring debate in American politics concerns the role of interest groups in a democratic society. Are interest groups a threat to the well-being of the political system or do they contribute to its proper functioning? A favorable early evaluation of interest groups can be found in the writings of Alexis de Tocqueville, a French visitor to the United States in the early nineteenth century. During his travels, Tocqueville marveled at the array of organizations he found, and he later wrote that "Americans of all ages, all condition, and all dispositions, constantly form associations."5 Tocqueville was suggesting that the ease with which we form organizations reflects a strong democratic culture. It continues: Yet other early observers were concerned about the consequences ..... James Madison warned of the dangers of "faction," the major divisions in American society. ... in 1787, Madison said it was inevitable that substantial differences would develop between factions. It was only natural..... But Madison argued against trying to suppress factions. He concluded that factions can be eliminated only by removing our freedoms because "Liberty is to faction what air is to fire."7 Instead, Madison suggested that relief from the self-interested advocacy of factions should come only through controlling the effects of that advocacy. The relief would be provided by a democratic republic in which government would mediate among opposing factions. The size and diversity of the nation as well as the structure of government would ensure that even a majority faction could never come to suppress the rights of others.8 That all comes from pp.322-323 of the eleventh edition of THE CHALLENGE OF DEMOCRACY [American Government in Global Politics], by Kenneth Janda, Jeffrey M. Berry, and Jerry Goldman.