George Will has a good column out today in which he pits the philosophy of James Madison against that of Woodrow Wilson. Let the battle between the founder and the progressive begin:
Today, as it has been for a century, American politics is an argument between two Princetonians -- James Madison, class of 1771, and Woodrow Wilson, class of 1879. Madison was the most profound thinker among the Founders. Wilson, avatar of "progressivism," was the first President critical of the nation's founding. Barack Obama's Wilsonian agenda reflects its namesake's rejection of limited government.
Lack of "a limiting principle" is the essence of progressivism, according to William Voegeli, contributing editor of the Claremont Review of Books, in his new book "Never Enough: America's Limitless Welfare State." The Founders, he writes, believed that free government's purpose, and the threats to it, is found in nature. The threats are desires for untrammeled power, desires which, Madison said, are "sown in the nature of man." Government's limited purpose is to protect the exercise of natural rights that pre-exist government, rights that human reason can ascertain in unchanging principles of conduct and that are essential to the pursuit of happiness.
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