In this episode, Jay and Luke discuss the political philosophy of James Madison, the author of the “Virginia Plan” of government submitted to the Constitutional Convention. The Virginia Plan is Madison’s best effort to solve the ancient problem of securing justice in a government. The state should remain neutral between all quarters of society, Madison believed, but because individuals are self interested, republican governments tend to play favorites on behalf of the numeral majority.
The solution, he argued, was well organized political conflict. A diverse polity that takes in a number of factions would reduce the likelihood that any one group would amount to a numerical majority, and thus increase the chances that public policy would be respectful of individual rights and consistent with the general welfare.
Moreover, a system of checks and balances, which makes each branch interdependent upon the others, would prevent self-interested politicians from misusing their authority for their own purposes. This, Madison urged at the Constitutional Convention, was the way to address the “inconvenices of democracy” while remaining true to the “democratic form of government.”
- The Virginia Plan
- James Madison, Vices of the Political System of the United States
- James Madison to George Washington, April 16, 1787
- James Madison, Speech of June 6, 1787
- James Madison, Federalist 10 and 51