Differences Between Constitutional Models Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Constitutional Models and Political Parties

Constitutionalism and noble representative government are concepts and practices that have existed longer than the American Republic. The existence of these concepts provided the foundation for the formation of the American Democratic Experiment through acting as ingredients towards this process. Since the foundation of American Republic, there are various constitutional models that have been established. These different models have been established in attempts to respond to several governance issues that emerge from time to time. Actually, these different models have provided the foundation for governance models and practices for better governance of the society. Some examples of constitutional models include the 18th Century Madisonian and Hamiltonian constitutional models and Barker's normative democratic theory, which differ with regards to their major components.

Madisonian and Hamiltonian Models v. Normative Democratic Theory

The 18th Century constitutional models basically relied on principles introduced by Madison and Hamilton. Madisonian constitutional model emphasized separation of powers and checks and balances while Hamiltonian model emphasized strong, unitary president. In Federalist Papers no. 48-50, James Madison mourned that developing a government and a Constitution to oversee governmental powers is not an adequate protection against intrusions that result in tyrannical concentration of all governmental powers in the same individuals (Garrison, 2008). As a result, he introduced a constitutional model that divided governmental powers between federal and state governments, three arms of national government, and separation of the Legislative Department into two i.e. House of Representatives and Senate (Madison-Federalist 47,48, 51). The accumulation of all powers i.e. executive, legislative and judiciary powers in the same hands may be precisely regarded as the actual definition of tyranny.

On the contrary, Alexander Hamilton's constitutional model emphasized strong unitary president through centralizing the judicial power of the national government. This model was developed on the premise that energy in the executive is a leading attribute or component in defining good government. In essence, a feeble executive contributes to feeble execution of governance-related processes and activities. Hamilton emphasized the need for a strong unitary president on the basis that energy in the executive is important towards safeguarding the community against external attacks and for strong administration of the laws (Hamilton-Federalist, 70).

These constitutional models that dominated governance practices in the 18th Century differ from the normative democratic theory of Barker in Government. Barker's theory postulates that governance system must proceed through different stages including party, electorate, parliament, and cabinet (Barker, 1942). Through suggesting that a system of government progresses in these four major stages, Barker utilized the British model in his normative democratic theory. Ernst Barker introduced his model through a classic argument for government by discussion, which initiates the party model of government.

One of the major differences between the 18th Century Madisonian and Hamiltonian constitutional models relates to political parties. Unlike Madisonian and Hamilton's constitutional models, Barker's normative democratic theory consider parties and rational choice as core components in governance systems. This emphasis was based on belief that parties are attractive because they provide order, accountability, and efficiency in governance. On the contrary, Madison stresses intentional, balanced government while Hamilton's model centralizes powers. Secondly, 18th Century models differ from Barker's theory with regards to factions where Barker proposes that factions enable the electorate to have programmatic choice whereas Hamilton and Madison consider factions as components that weaken national interest (Woll, 2010, p.58). Third, the 18th Century constitutional models were rooted in political reality while Barker's theory seemingly ignores political realities. Actually, Madisonian system is regarded realistic because it is based on laws of normal political behavior whereas Barker's model is relatively idealistic since it is centered on democratic ideal rather than political realities.

Framers' View of Political Parties

As reflected in Madisonian and Hamiltonian constitutional models, political parties were viewed differently by Framers of the Constitution. This is in contrast with Barker's normative democratic theory, which views political parties as major components of the democratic process. The constitutional and governance models during the framing of the Constitution did not include political parties, which imply that these factions did not play an important role in the political process. According to Philips (2012), the system of representative democracy in the late 1780s was primarily an experiment by the Framers of the Constitution. This is mainly because there was no other country with a democratic representative government.

The Framers of the Constitution viewed political parties as factions, which would contribute to division of the republic. As a result of this…

Sources Used in Document:


APSA Committee on Political Parties (1950). Towards a More Responsible Two-Party System.

Barker, E. (1942). Reflections on Government.

Garrison, A.H. (2008). Hamiltonian and Madisonian Democracy, The Rule of Law and Why the Courts Have a Role in the War on Terrorism. In Papers from the February 2008 conference: terrorism & justice -- The balance of civil liberties. Retrieved from http://www.ucmo.edu/cjinst/Issue8.pdf

Hamilton, A. (n.d.). The Presidency. The Federalist No.70.

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