The Federalist Papers (originally published as just The Federalist) are a collection of essays published in newspapers in 1787-1788 arguing for the ratification of the American Constitution. Each was published under the pseudonym "Publius" though most were written by Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. (There are a few written by John Jay.) They were collected and published in groups during the ratification of the Constitution and then published as a group following ratification. They are among the most important documents articulating the political philosophy underlying the American Constitution itself.
The essays are widely available in many forms and have been published by many presses. You can get a free version from Project Gutenburg. The Wikipedia entry for the Federalist Papers contains extensive links and structure to the papers and cross-references to each of the essays.
We will be discussing selections focused on the arguments for the basic structure of the proposed government -- the separation of powers, the importance of commerce, the primacy of union, and the problem of faction:
1 - Outline of the essay series
10 - Defense of large republics/addressing the problem of faction
11, 12 - importance of trade and commerce to the new republic
14 - Defense of the extended republic; that the proposed republic is a new, modern government
15-17 - Why more federal power is necessary and too much state power is problematic
39 - On republican principles of government
47-51 - On the separation of powers as a central, necessary feature of the proposed Constitution
We will also read Letters III and IV from Brutus, one of the most cogent and outspoken of the objectors/Anti-Federalists, to give a flavor of the discussion that gripped the new country at the time.
I would highly recommend the Cambridge edition which contains all the essays themselves, some useful introductory material, the Articles of Confederation and the original Constitution, and the complete set of the "Letters of Brutus."
Maybe there is no satisfactory answer to this question, but I would be curious to hear a detailed discussion on why Mitt Romney feels that universal health care would be okay at the state level but unconstitutional at the federal level.
Bill B says
A discussion about why the Affordable Care Act is, or is not, constitutional, would center around the 10th amendment in the constitution and what, if anything, in the federalist papers can be used as supporting the 10th amendment. I hope this relation of the 10th Amendment to the Federalist papers will be part of the discussion as well.
As for Romney, he passed the law in Massachusetts, defended the mandate to buy insurance which is in that law, and at the time said it would be a good model on a national scale. Now he says something else because he is a politician. This is not meant as a knock on Romney; this is what politicians do. All of them.
That is precisely how I see it, and most people I talk to will tell me the same thing. The problem is that Romney obviously has his fan base too, so how do they reconcile this duplicity? How would a Romney disciple or Romney spokesman explain away this obvious contradiction.
Again, I realize the the full and most honest explanation might be presicely what you have already given, but I am trying to be generous and understand the other side here. What arguments (vacuous or substantive) does he use to justify this contradition?
Bill Burgess says
Romney fans reconcile his duplicity the same way Obama fans reconcile Obama’s duplicity; by acceptance of duplicity as inherent in politics or by self-delusion that their guy is simply not a duplicitous as his opponent.
As to how Romney is answering this problem; he is saying that his position that leaving health care legislation to the states is consistent with what he did in Mass. When confronted with his touting of the Mass. as a good national model, he says something to the affect that it is a good model for states across the nation rather then for the federal government and that the Obama campaign is running duplicitous ads twisting his words.
The ‘fact-checker’ at the Washington Post agrees with Romney on this one: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/mitt-romney-and-the-individual-mandate-a-highly-misleading-dnc-ad/2012/03/11/gIQATACV6R_blog.html
I don’t want to get into a discussion on who is lying on this one, or who is the biggest liar generally. But I can’t take anyone seriously who claims that their guy doesn’t lie. Lying is necessary in a two party political system like ours.
Hannah Arendt’s book, On Revolution, has some very worthwhile chapters discussing The Federalist Papers and putting the American Revolution in the context of other revolutions and of political thought in general.
Bear Mathun says
I would also recommend the following from the Smithsonian Institute. It puts the men who wrote these papers into context.
The Federalist Papers …ideas matter. For any citizen interested in how our government has made a mockery of itself and of us all, I found these talks informative. I recommend to Democrat “liberals” especially: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8kla2T0NQQ
Billie Pritchett says
I don’t know if you guys have recorded this, but if not would you mind mentioning again in this podcast material from the Aristotle discussion, about, especially, the primacy of the state and the possibility for a full democratic life as seen in the polis?