Obama and his tea party adversaries have something important in common — disdain for the practice of politics within the Framers’ institutional architecture. He and they should read Jonathan Rauch’s “Rescuing Compromise” in the current issue of National Affairs quarterly.
“Politicians,” Rauch notes, “like other people, compromise because they have to, not because they want to.” So Madison created a constitutional regime that by its structure created competing power centers and deprived any of them of the power to impose its will on the others.
The Madisonian system, Rauch says, is both intricate and dynamic: “Absent a rare (and usually unsustainable) supermajority, there is simply not much that any single faction, interest, or branch of government can do. Effective action in this system is nothing but a series of forced compromises.”