“Ambition need to be made to against ambition,” claimed James Madison in Federalist 51, warning a young America the checks and balances are essential in a republic.

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Madison further instructs that of the three branches of republican federal government - executive, legislative, and judicial - the legislative branch branch must be the most powerful. This instruction sounds odd to those of united state who paid fist to this year’s election, however it is crucial to remember, and crucial to the founders’ design for a country complimentary of tyranny.

Whether we wanted Clinton, Trump, or neither, the 2016 election for many of us concentrated heavily top top the presidential race. This provides sense. The chairman represents the entire country and also is newsworthy throughout the country. Let’s go back to Madison’s warning: certainly anyone that takes the time and also energy to mountain a major-party operation for chairman must have plenty that “ambition.”

The an initial question because that Madison, and for us, is why have to we withstand that ambition?

Concentrating power in one office has its appeal. Because that example, “gridlock” would certainly be a point of the past! however Madison and also the rest of the founders had learned a hard lesson in executive prominence under King George. You will remember countless of the abuses of strength from background class: quartering of soldiers in exclusive homes, restricted legal rights, and also most importantly taxes without representation.

With Madison’s urging and approval, we have a strong legislature to counteract the “ambition” of the president. No matter just how ambitious a president may be, conference alone has actually the power to tax, borrow, provide for defense and welfare, regulate commerce with international nations and the states, establish immigration and also bankruptcy laws, safeguard intellectual property, create and also regulate the armed forces, and declare war, among other powers.

It is not enough, said Madison, to just have a legislative branch to against the president’s ambition. As the most powerful branch the government, over there is lot of of ambition in the legislative branch branch that itself requirements to be checked.

Madison tells united state that the legislature should separate the powers, again reflecting his well-founded are afraid of concentrating power. He suggests that there must be different methods the electing the two houses and different features for them.

We have actually mostly lived approximately Madison’s instructions for the legislature branch, through one exception. Prior to the 17th Amendment, Senators were chosen by state legislatures to represent the understand of the states. This different an approach of electing the Senate was designed not only to represent state understanding in Washington, but likewise to save the Senate and the home from ending up being too comparable in their “ambitions.” whether justified or not, political press spoiled this check, and also the 17th revised was easily ratified, placing election of senators in the hand of the people. This result in much more democracy, yet pushed us further from Madison’s ideal, giving much much less separation of powers and also arguably much less of a duty for the legislative branch.

No discussion of the legislative branch branch would be finish without acknowledging bad Congressional approval ratings. Maybe this is in component because Congress has strayed from the purpose and also structure that Madison recommended. Yes, congress still provides laws and sets budgets, yet it has watched plenty of actions through presidents the both next erode that is authority. A restoration of Congress’ initial purpose and structure would alleviate the possibilities of the Executive ending up being too powerful and probably tyrannical, and also could also increase approval ratings.

Sources as diverse as significant pastor Franklin Graham and The Nation referred to as the 2016 election the most crucial of ours time. It’s a statement certain to obtain attention and also sell a few magazines, but I don’t think the founders would certainly agree with that assessment. Ns think lock would view the present state of the separation the powers and take the position that the most essential election of ours time is still come come.

The most vital election of ours time will be the one in which candidates for Congress indigenous both parties pledge to execute their part to regain the balance of powers as described by Madison and as draft in the Constitution. Till then, the executive will proceed to rise its power and get all of the attention, i beg your pardon is exactly what the co-founder feared adhering to their negative treatment through the King.

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Adam F. Packer is one Indianapolis attorney and a volunteer for the Indiana Bar Foundation.