Madison on political parties
markstein at prodigy.net
Sun Sep 10 12:14:19 PDT 2006
In referring to "parties" and "factions" in Federalist No. 10, Madison did not necessarily have in mind the party system soon to be established in America. Still, can one infer from Federalist 10 that Madison was more sympathetic to political parties than the other Founders (see, e.g., Washington's Farewell Address)? Are there other statements by Madison on parties during the founding period, before he became Jefferson's underboss in the Republican party?
Federalist 10 is sometimes interpreted to mean that Madison SHARED the distaste of the other civic republican founders for political parties. I disagree. There is a big difference between saying parties are a problem, so we should have none and saying parties are a problem, so we should have many. Even the condemnation of faction that begins Federalist 10 might be seen as a perfunctory bow to civic republican orthodoxies, though perhaps that is a too-modern reading.
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