What James Madison has to say to us about the politics of the shutdown

As you read Fallows’ take on the shutdown from James Fallows and his readers, keep in mind James Madison’s institutional design:

Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.

A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

And now, to James Fallows’ readers:

Donald Trump became accustomed to Congressional servility over the last two years; and he clearly expected to extort the same attitude going forward, as if the Republican defeat in the 2018 elections never happened….

It was necessary to demonstrate to Trump and his supporters that conditions have changed, and that the governing process is going to be different — including the futility of attacking government itself as a means of achieving political goals.  That lesson will be essential for future issues, including appropriations bills and the debt limit.  

[…]

Mitch definitely doesn’t have Trump’s political survival as his top priority. He has his own political survival as his top priority.

SOURCE: http://www.theatlantic.com/notes/2019/01/the-shutdown-was-the-price-of-trumps-tuition/581398/

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