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What Would Madison Say? Calling Strikes in the Political Ballpark

May 2015
Working Paper
By  Bruce Owen
Lawful political corruption is a costly feature of modern American politics, and a failure of Madisonian democracy. The propensity of political agents to self-service at the expense of the peoples’ well-being may not have changed much since 1787, but that propensity is now applied to a vast government that touches virtually every aspect of our lives. After examining conventional solutions to the problem of political corruption, this paper explores possible Madisonian remedies—that is, remedies invoking rivalrous political institutions. The paper con-cludes with a proposal for the addition of an “umpire” function to U.S. constitutional structure. Officials performing this function would have the power to veto legislation that significantly re-duces aggregate well-being or that produces regressive redistribution. Historical precedents, illustrative details, and impediments are discussed.