Democracy is a practice and an ideology that is the antithesis of the powerful state, not least because democracy rests on the ideal of individual liberty, on the delegation of authority and power from individuals to government, and on the legitimacy of legal opposition. All of these principles are threatened by current concepts and practices of governance, notably the replacement of free choice by the mistaken idea that the state knows best, the argument of emergency, the appeal to populism, and the notion of elections as a plebiscitary validation of all state policies.

Reading Madison in the Federalist Papers reminds us that many of the issues from the 1790s and 1800s are still resonant. Then as now, the United States was involved in a bitter debate about the nature of power, about the size of the state, about the relationship between the state and the rights of the individual, and about how...

 
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