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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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Recovering the Madisonian Dream: Visions of Democracy, Steps to Reform

Recovering the Madisonian Dream: Visions of Democracy, Steps to Reform

(p.175) 7 Recovering the Madisonian Dream: Visions of Democracy, Steps to Reform
Madison's Nightmare
University of Chicago Press

This chapter contrasts the models of democracy and the rule of law embedded in presidentialism and its more appealing counterpart, constitutional pluralism. It presents a series of concrete steps that Americans can take to reassert the vigor of checks and balances and curb the extreme presidentialism that the perfect storm has wrought. Since 1981, American democracy has been hit by something of a “perfect storm.” Most Americans regard democracy as the foundational principle of government legitimacy. Under the theory of presidentialism, it is the election of Presidents that most critically establishes both sides of democratic legitimacy. America needs to address the political and institutional contexts that have enabled and promoted the spirit of faction-ridden government that James Madison decried. It is noted that anything that would make Americans more knowledgeable, more tolerant, and more confident in the future would likely enhance the democracy.

Keywords:   American democracy, rule of law, presidentialism, checks, balances, constitutional pluralism, government legitimacy, democratic legitimacy

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