on 7 July 2011
This book does exactly what it claims to do. It updates the language of key Federalist Papers, so they can be read and understood by modern readers, without changing the meaning of the text - a very difficult task. The book also (as promised) shows why the Federalist Papers (the "oringinal argument" for the Constitution of the United States) are relevant to current political disputes.
So why only four stars and not five?
That is because this work assumes the Federalist Papers to be correct (and the anti Federalist position to be wrong), whereas a case could be made that the growth of government in the United States (the decline of the Republic) is not entirely due to the disregarding or distortion of the Constitution by "Progressives", but that it is also (in part) due to certain real flaws in the Constitution itself which modern collectivists have taken advantage of. Flaws that the Antifederalists pointed to and that the Federalists denied. Of course there were various different "Antifederalist" positions - but the basic case was that the Constitution set up the STRUCTURE (with, for example, the House of Representatives and the President being elected in proportion to the population of the States - thus undermining the principle that the States were equals and that most things should be decided at local and State level, not Federal level) of a strong national government and that to expect this STRUCTURE not to be used (at some time) to go beyond (way beyond) the FUNCTIONS the Founders set out for the Federal givernment.
The Federalists wanted a strong national government (out of fears that the United States would either break up and/or be invaded by European powers without one), but they also wanted this strong national government to be limited in its power over ordinary life - and these two aims may not be compatible. At least not compatible without very carefully worded limitations on the power of the Federal government, yet such things as the Tenth Amendment (passed to prevent the very things the Federal government now does) have not just recently been disregarded - they have essentially been dead letters since the 1930s, and were often violated long before that (as Glenn Beck, with his knowledge of the Progressive movement of the early 1900s, knows perfectly well). The ideology of someone like Barack Obama may be far worse even than that of the early 20th century Progressives, but he using much the same tactics and, so far, the Constitution of the United States has not proved much of a defence against these tactics.
After all such disputes as whether the "general welfare" is simply part of the purpose ("the common defence and general welfare") of the specific powers that Article One, Section Eight grants to the Congress, or whether there is a catch-all "general welfare spending power" (allowing the Federal government to spend tax money on anything it holds is for the "general welfare") can only be decided (according to the Constitution and the Federalist Papers) in Federal courts - courts where the judges are appointed by the very Federal government that the Constitution is supposed to limit.
I am not saying that the Antifederalist case is true, but a strong argument can be made for it - and this work (with its defacto assumption of the correctness of the arguments of Hamilton, Madison and John Jay) basically ignores the various Antifederalist arguments.