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James Madison and the Future of Limited Government [Paperback]

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Item description for James Madison and the Future of Limited Government by John Samples...

The essays in this volume use Madison to engage such contemporary issues as multiculturalism, federalism, the emerging democracies, the scope of international law, and faith-based policy and politics. This book speaks to both the past and present of the American republic.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   224
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9" Width: 6.06" Height: 0.62"
Weight:   0.78 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jul 25, 2002
Publisher   Cato Institute
ISBN  1930865228  
ISBN13  9781930865228  

Availability  0 units.

More About John Samples

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! John Samples directs Cato's Center for Representative Government, and is an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University. He has taught political science at Rutgers University and Southwest Texas University.

John Samples was born in 1956.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Americas > General
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Government > Congresses, Senates, & Legislative Bodies
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Government > Democracy
4Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Government > Federal Government
5Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > General

Reviews - What do customers think about James Madison and the Future of Limited Government?

Good Book, a must read  Apr 14, 2007
This is a must read for anyone that believes that taking our rights away is "good for the common good" and "protects" us from terrorism.

This is a good read for all the second admendment haters that believe that it was a "different time" and tyranny could never come to the U.S.
Foedus respublica! Madison and the Future of Limited Government  Aug 3, 2005
~James Madison and the Future of Limited Government~ is a perceptive anthology of essays on Madison political thought and its relevance today. The legacy of James Madison, the constitutionalist, the federalist, and the republican is celebrated in this succinct little book from the libertarian Cato Institute. Madison's legacy was as an advocate of constitutionally limited-government which was to be effectuated by dividing and separating powers with a horizontal system of checks and balances amongst the legislative, executive and judiciary while concurrently setting the various institutions of government against one another. Likewise, there was vertical check as a true federal republican system is one of dual sovereignty, and all powers not expressly delegated to the federal government were reserved to the states. Madison was a profoundly reflective political thinker with no rosy delusions about the goodness of human nature. His political theory as espoused in the Federalist Papers, his letters, and in the somewhat shrouded constitutional debates manifest his desire for a representative republic and a classical liberal civil society. Madison was practical, appreciative of ordered liberty, and cognizant that human frailty and sinfulness cannot be transcended by perfecting the mechanics and science of government. "But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself," avowed Madison in Federalist #51. Therefore, the very institutions of government must be mistrusted, and must be set against one another. Power must be made to counter power. Thus "ambition would counter ambition" in the Madisonian equation of federalism. What the founding fathers sought to do at the Constitutional Convention was produce an energetic general government exercising powers best performed at the national level such as foreign affairs, national defense, regulation of foreign and interstate commerce, et al. while preserving to the States all powers not expressly delegated.

Madison favored a federal government confined to expressed "enumerated objects" of power. In Federalist #45, Madison declared that the federal government's "jurisdiction extends to certain enumerated objects only, and leaves to the several States a residuary and inviolable sovereignty over all other objects." True Madisonians cannot adhere to the notion of general legislative power vested in the Federal Congress. Madison readily acknowledged that sovereignty emanated from the people, but found its political expression in representative government. He was keenly perceptive of the limitations of democracy, and was mistrustful of it. Like Jefferson, he recognized that democracy works best when localized and is hardly practical beyond the limits of a town. Moreover, democracy like the power of government itself was something to be checked in Madisonian political theory. The tumultuous popular will of the people must not be allowed to facilitate the plunder of property or spoliation of wealth. James Madison's Federalist Paper #10 proclaims: "Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives, as they have been violent in their deaths. Theoretic politicians, who have patronized this species of Government, have erroneously supposed that by reducing mankind to a perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same time, be perfectly equalized and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions and their passions."

**Roger Pilon, the Cato Institute's resident constitutional scholar, addresses Madison's Constitutional Vision: The Legacy of Enumerated Powers, and perceptively elaborates upon the legacy of limited government as envisioned by Madison, and how that vision can be recovered.

**Joyce Lee Malcolm shrewdly explains The Novelty of James Madison's Constitutionalism in a succinct little essay. Malcolm compares American innovations to the former English constitution. Likewise, he explores Madisonian conceptions of popular sovereignty and judicial review.

**Tom Palmer offers an insightful perspective on the group rights dementia in light of Madisonian federalism, in the essay Madison and Multiculturalism: Group Representation, Group Rights, and Constitutionalism. He makes it clear that such concepts as group rights are conducive to factionalism, and destructive and incompatible with a federal polity. Palmer appeals to some astute Madisonian logic to refute the erroneous concept of group rights.

**Robert McDonald offers an interesting take on the Madisonian legacy from a Jeffersonian perspective. The very essay raises questions since Madison was not all that dissimilar from Jefferson in his political thought, and they joined in unison in rejected the usurpations of Hamilton who interpreted the Constitution with such latitude so as to render the notion of "enumerated powers" superfluous.

**Jacob Levy offers a seldom discussed topic about the relation of the federal government to the tribal sovereignties, in a remarkable essay entitled Indians in Madison's Constitutional Order.

**John Samples surmises the implications of unraveling the federal system in favor of a direct democracy in his keen essay Madison and the Revival of Pure Democracy. He makes it abundantly clear that this was not the intent of the framers and dismisses the simpletons who advocate such an incredulous idea in light of Madison's reflective political thought.

My major misgiving about this book are efforts by some of the contributors to graft Madison's political theory onto the emerging internationalism as if a world federalism is tenable. The idea of an "extended republic" on an international scale runs contrary to the spirit of the Federalist and it is absurd to think the founders would lend credence to delegating away powers to an international body. That Madison desired a "universal peace" does not by implication mean he favored supra-national institutions of governance (i.e. world government) to mediate and effectuate that peace. Like Washington, Jefferson and Adams itinerated-the founding fathers recognized the value of a foreign policy based on non-intervention, avoidance of entangling political alliances and overseas obligations while embracing open commerce with the nations of the world. Both John Samples and John Tomasi pander to the internationalist rhetoric which I found disconcerting.

In summing up, John Samples has edited an overall worthwhile product which a must for any gumshue jurist interested in constitutional law from a Madisonian perspective. One might not agree with the essayists in whole, but there are some very keen insights on Madisonian political thought. This is vital to the political dialogue today as Tenth Amendment issues still resound and there is popular cry for restoration of states' rights and a limited federal government. Rediscovering the statesmanship and proverbial wisdom of James Madison is a must for all freedom-loving citizens.
Doesn't Quite Do It For Me.  Jun 4, 2004
Let me start by saying that I am a libertarian, firmly committed to most of the ideas represented in this book. In a way, then, it feels strange to have come away from this book with the dry feeling that I did. Here's why I did.

First, on television and radio, I am always skeptical of endorsement deals. "Hi, I'm [insert hot-shot sports star] and I use [insert hot-shot product]. You should too." Well, this book is what i call a 'political endorsement' book of the type where the endorser, Madison, is conveniently dead. "Madison believed [insert policy]. Therefore you should too."

Now, I guess that the title of the book alone should've indicated to me that this was what to expect,and i guess in some sense I did. With essay titles like, "Madison and Multi-culturalism," one expects that the goal is to take Madison's writings and apply them to contemporary situations. Maybe i just didn't expect so much of the, "...since Madison said x, x must be right," bit.

Before I go into my one MAJOR problem with the book, I did give it 3 out of 5 stars. Here's why. Whereas about half of the essays are 'endorsement deal' essays, about half are legitimately not. Of course, as the book is on Madison, they might mention him in passing, but most of the 'non-endorsement deal' essays do something like this: "Madison thought x to be a problem. I think x is a problem too. I will argue my own case and I might mention Madison only in passing." The best essays in the book (about a good half of them) do exactly this. They argue on their, not Madison's, merits.

The only thing funny about that is that for all practical purposes, those essays needn't be in a book on Madison at all. In fact, if one took the 'endorsement deal' essays out of the book and left only the others, one could safely take Madison's name from the title. In fairness, my simultaneous criticism of 'endorsement deal' essays relying too much, and other essays relying not enough, on Madison, seem to have me wanting it both ways. I guess I wanted (a) a book that was more about history and less about polemical advocacy; and (b) just a little bit more substance than "Madison believed it, therefore, so should we."

Now for my big criticism. A few authors claim for Madison views seemingly more extreme than Madison seemed to hold. Some authors say that Madison was a big defender of laissez-faire. I've read much Madison and i've yet to see the essay he wrote on private economic activity. Sure, he writes on strictly limiting the NATIONAL govt.'s powers, but he, as Jefferson, believed in things like public education, wrote nasty words about the unequal relationship of creditors and debtors, and generally did not write against states ability to regulate economic behavior. Was Madison a federalist? Yes. Did he believe in limited government? On the NATIONAL level, yes. Does that mean he supported laiseez-faire economics? Not exactly. And the CATO writers did a poor job showing he did. They do things like point to Madison's position on contracts BETWEEN THE STATES or his non-interventionist approach to dealing with other nations and jump to the conclusion that he supported free-market economics. They must do better than that.

Lest I get on too much of a diatribe, I have to say that, for all that, the book was decent. I gave it three stars for the 'non-endorsement deal' essays, and as they are about half of the book, the book is worth getting. I simply expected better for the other half.

Classical Liberals Unite!  Oct 27, 2003
As a classical liberal my beliefs have become an anachronism in America. I belong to a philosophical social club so small that when books like this come along we are given hope that the masses will wake up to the tyranny. Alas, hope is quickly dashed upon the realization that the Fabian socialists have dumbed down the masses over the last forty years to the point that the arguments presented in this book are far beyond most Americans' comprehension, let alone their ability to affect change.

Nonetheless, this is an outstanding group of expertly written essays that are well presented by editor John Samples. Samples also writes one of the essays and an excellent introduction. Some of the topics presented are: Federalism, abuse of the general welfare clause, multiculturalism, democracy, and the essence of representative government, pure democracy, rule of law, and foreign policy. Using historical documents each author is able to help us understand the brilliant mind of Madison and that the abuses of government we are experiencing were foreseen not just by the Anti-Federalists but by Madison as well. These brave men gave us a system that, while less then perfect, is the most advanced in human history.

However, as the editor notes, there is an implicit understanding for this design to work. That understanding is that there is virtue among us. Madison once asked, 'is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks -no form of government can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people is a chimerical idea.' Do Americans possess enough virtue to maintain a limited government? To do so we need to be well educated, remain skeptical of government, and act on that skepticism. We must reject statements from family and friends like "they should do something about that." No they shouldn't, we should. Keep the government out of it.

I, like one of the contributing authors James Buchanan, am less optimistic about our future. I think the socialists are winning and have created a society where individual liberty has been cast aside as an old conservative idea and replaced with an environment "where everyone seeks to take wealth from someone else." Sadly I have tended to give up on the dream that liberty, free thought, speech, and economic markets can once again be a reality in America. I vote now for total gridlock so as to hopefully stop all new legislation, taxes, and pork.

This wonderful book renews my love of our experiment even if it has gone awry. It offers me solace in these tough times of ever increasing government abuse. This book has renewed my vigor to keep up the fight for what is right and not just settle for government gridlock.


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