Madison’s Last Stand
The debate over Obamacare has been about utility rather than constitutionality.
Rich Lowry- National Review
The shade of James Madison hovers over the Obamacare argument at the Supreme Court.
It is the system of limited and carefully divided government powers
that he had a large hand in crafting — and defended so ably in the Federalist Papers — that is at stake in the contest over the constitutionality of the individual mandate.
If the mandate stands, it will be the latest blow to Madison’s
scheme, which is the best architecture for self-government yet devised
by man, but has been steadily worn down over time. It is a damning
indictment of contemporary Washington that, overall, it is so hostile to
the Madisonian ethos. He is a most inconvenient Founding Father since
he tells us: No, the federal government can’t do whatever it wants; no,
we can’t just all get along; no, we can’t rush to pass whatever
legislation is deemed a “can’t wait” priority by the president. Now,
In the mind of contemporary progressivism, these words of Madison from the Federalist Papers
simply don’t compute: “The powers delegated by the proposed
Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which
are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.”
They are an antiquated 18th-century sentiment unsuited to our more
complex and more sophisticated time, to be ignored when not actively
But Madison thought this division of power so important for a reason:
“In the compound republic of America, the power surrendered by the
people is first divided between two distinct governments, and then the
portion allotted to each subdivided among distinct and separate
departments. Hence a double security arises to the rights of the people.
The different governments will control each other, at the same time
that each will be controlled by itself.”