Book Forum

James Madison Rules America: The Constitutional Origins of Congressional Partisanship

(Rowman & Littlefield, 2010)

October 14, 2010 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM EDT

Auditorium/Wintergarden

Featuring the author William F. Connelly, Jr., John K. Boardman Politics Professor, Washington and Lee University; with comments by W. Lee Rawls, National War College; moderated by John Samples, Director, Center for Representative Government, Cato Institute.

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Critics argue that Congress has become the “broken branch,” marked by extreme partisanship and few achievements. They prescribe nostrums ranging from campaign finance regulation to redistricting reform to foster compromise rather than conflict on Capitol Hill. Yet the American founders, especially James Madison, believed “ambition must be made to counteract ambition” as a way to limit the power of government. The Constitution itself favors broad consent to laws over an efficient implementation of the will of a majority. William Connelly believes many of the “flaws” in Congress identified by critics arise from the Constitution. Please join us for a lively discussion of how and why the Constitution created a Congress marked by conflict, polarization, and partisanship and why that might be a good thing.