The Political Theory of a Compound Republic: Designing the American Experiment

The Political Theory of a Compound Republic: Designing the American Experiment

The Political Theory of a Compound Republic: Designing the American Experiment

The Political Theory of a Compound Republic: Designing the American Experiment

Excerpt

DANIEL J. ELAZAR

Foreword

The rediscovery of the theory underlying the American federal constitution has profound implications for American democracy in our time. Since the beginnings of this rediscovery in the 1950s, no work has contributed more than Vincent Ostrom The Political Theory of a Compound Republic , first published in a limited edition by the Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1971. Until the appearance of that book, the field had essentially remained in the hands of the students of Leo Strauss, foremost among them the late Martin Diamond, who did yeoman work recovering the contribution of the American founding fathers, particularly James Madison and the other authors of The Federalist , to political philosophy. The Political Theory Of a Compound Republic added a new dimension to the study of The Federalist by applying the political theories of its authors to questions of constitutional choice and design, questions which were derived from the concerns of public administration and political economy.

Diamond emphasized the importance of the federal dimension of the Constitution, and much of his writing focuses on it. Taking his definition of "federal" from late medieval sources and his interpretation of the United States Constitution from The Federalist , Diamond concluded that the federalism of the Constitution was constitutionalized decentralization rather than true federalism; the latter had been tried under the Articles of Confederation and found wanting. For Dia mond . . .

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