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Madison's NightmareHow Executive Power Threatens American Democracy$
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Peter M. Shane

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780226749396

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226749426.001.0001

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Madison's Nightmare: How the Federal Government Became Unchecked and Unbalanced

Madison's Nightmare: How the Federal Government Became Unchecked and Unbalanced

(p.1) 1 Madison's Nightmare: How the Federal Government Became Unchecked and Unbalanced
Madison's Nightmare
University of Chicago Press

This chapter introduces the perfect storm convergence of executive power and partisan aspiration that have produced the current predicament. When the Constitutional Convention adjourned in September, 1787, James Madison made a fateful choice. Madison is generally credited as the lead architect of constitutional design. Impeachment is the sole constitutionally designated process for achieving judicial accountability for wrongdoing. Checks and balances are intended to promote consensus and accommodation in the formulation of national government policy. If the contemporary assault on checks and balances is most deeply attributable to a convergence of institutional structures and political circumstances that rewards the spirit of factionalism and enables presidentialism to succeed as a political strategy, then an adequate response must look to a combination of those institutional design issues that preoccupied James Madison and considerations of cultural context that give life to institutional design.

Keywords:   executive power, James Madison, Constitutional Convention, national government policy, checks, balances, presidentialism

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