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Mr. Ulmschneider's Forums > AP Government: Madison, Paine, and Politics

Madison – Political Realities

posted Dec 18, 2012 03:15:33 by clairepanak
I would argue that Madison also "switched sides" partially because he saw the political reality that the Federalist Party would fail in his goals to protect the Constitution. Madison began his career as a republican idealist who "continually had to make concessions," and ended it a shrewd politician who knew when to jump the sinking party boat. However, Madison did not make the switch for political gain. He fought long and hard as a Constitutional Federalist, co-authoring the Federalist Papers, to ratify the Constitution and was determined that the document he supported was the document that guided the American nation. He did not want a British monarchial style government that Wood says the Federalists supported, but rather wanted the true republican nation outlined in the Constitution. The reason Madison is not as well known is because he didn't author the Declaration of Independence, fight a war against slavery, or help lead the Civil Rights Movement. Therefore, he is not one of the people drilled into students' heads during elementary school. Madison's two views are reconcilable when one looks at him through his federalist standpoint before he was a party member – he very much wanted a republican form of government and did not see the Federalist position on a strong executive branch as being an effective way to achieve this.
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2 replies
Mr_Ulmschneider said Dec 18, 2012 03:19:59
Interesting read! Seeing Madison's position on the importance of the executive as essential to his change in the 1792-1800 period is certainly an interesting take on Wood's piece here. Ultimately, do you think we should take Madison's willingness to alter his political stances to pursue an ideology is something we should see as positive? After all, both parties today call such people 'extremists' or 'disloyal to the party' or 'opportunists' when they switch positions on legislation or programs in order to pursue a more general vision.
"An honest heart being the first blessing, a knowing head is the second." (Thomas Jefferson to Peter Carr, August 19, 1785)
clairepanak said Dec 18, 2012 03:29:59
It's positive because it represents the natural progression of growth. As we grow older, our political, moral, and religious thoughts change and develop (and, if I daresay, become less parroting of our parents and teachers) as we gain experience and perspective. Madison, his contemporaries, and many other wise political minds were not afraid to change their minds because they saw it as a good thing, representative of critical thinking and intellectual ability. It's much harder to individually discern the ideas, motivations, and consequences of every position than to vote along purely ideological or party lines. Dismissing the true "bipartisans" or "nonpartisans" is a simple scaremongering tactic designed to ensure party loyalty.
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