The Democrat Progressives Should Blame

I have an essay at The New York Times this morning arguing that James Madison is far more to blame for progressive frustrations than either Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema is. The piece tries to show that the primary test of Madisonian legitimacy is whether a majority has cohered for an interval proportionate to the scale of its desires. According to its own supporters’ boasts, the Build Back Better plan would be a historic, generational change to the social safety net akin to the New Deal or Great Society. In that case, it needs an enduring majority behind it. Instead, Democrats are racing against the clock to pass this generational change on the barest possible majorities. The constitutional system is designed to thwart exactly that. If progressive Democrats are looking for someone to blame, Madison–a founder of their party–is the proper target.

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