Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Madison’s mind and politics and the first parties

I just noticed that John Zvesper’s "Political Philosophy and Rhetoric: A Study of the Origins of American Party Politics," is back in print (paperback) from Cambridge. Pricey, but worth it. Also note that the, what to call it, less philosophical--and more readable--version of it, called "From Bullets to Ballots" is avaliable here for free (note the good documents section as well).    

A handsome volume landed on my desk yesterday (also from Cambridge) by Colleen Sheehan: "James Madison and the Spirit of Republican Self-Government". I read about twenty pages into it and then had to force myself to put it aside (to go back to Lincoln) because it was so enticingly written I was afraid that, out of control, I would read it all now. It’s hard to be moderate sometimes. You should look at this book as soon as you are able to allow yourself pleasure.    

Discussions - 3 Comments

While I would not be completely unhappy to have From Bullets to Ballots thought of as ''an extended intro to A New Birth of Freedom,'' you should notice that my argument in From Bullets to Ballots suggests some disagreements with Jaffa's account of the Jeffersonians' partisanship. Here is a brief, explicit and (I think) pretty readable summary of those observations.

Thanks, Bullets to Ballots looks solid, and while Ken Thomas seems to be the expert, it sounds like it works in well as an extended intro to A New Birth of Freedom, to exasperate Jaffa one could add in Becker's The Decleration of Independence: A study in the History of Political Ideas. Folks who object to combining Mill and Toqueville, might cringe at a sort of Aristotle/David Hume/Madison/Lincoln/Jaffa/Becker combo. But it does seem that if you are talking about a readability philosophy tradeoff you are unto the purpose of Hume's intro to the Inquiry.(The question bothering him, why should this book not fall deadborne from the press?)

Of course folks are reading more Anne Rice only because another author has come along who can write about vampires. So I am not saying that this is a conservative reading list, In fact thematically I still think you could include both of Obama's books with the Audacity of Hope in particular. But that maybe "conservative" is a genre, and the question is why should this "genre" not fall deadborne from the press? The answer must be that it contains wisdom worth preserving, and so when folks say that conservatism can draw from Mill they figure Universal Suffrage and inductive reasoning aren't half bad:) Or maybe they seek to grab more cross traffic. In one sense this is the rub, I figure most republicans/democrats politicians want as much name recognition and votes as they can get, so it is about cross traffic/getting folks to think favorably of them. The tension then is still between those who believe in a thing, and those who by association with that belief seek to advance themselves or a slightly differing cause, in this case if you can find a way to "genre"/connect and link up your ends with a broader set of beliefs then you gain the sort of cross traffic that lesser known authors gain on Amazon(If you liked this book, you will like...or as Colbert says if you enjoy this show tell your friends, and if you disliked it tell your ennemies). In this sense the fusionists in politics are fairly close to Hume's Association of Ideas, which means that the idea of gold and the idea of mountain need not be complementary along lines more discerning than the idea of a gold mountain is non-contradictory.

Along these lines then it is instantly apparent why Obama's blank canvas persona is so valuable of a political asset...

Thank you very much for replying generously to my disjointed thoughts.

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