Res Publica - Journal of Undergraduate Research


American political development was fashioned by a social contract. More specifically, the American republic evolved through the Madisonian social contract, an agreement premised on James Madison’s intention that deliberative citizenship would collaborate with decentralized government in order to advance the public good. This paper identifies the problem with the Madisonian contract today, that the relationship between citizens and government, or rather, Congress, is one that is infused with antagonism and a record high level of distrust. This present-day characterization of the broken relationship between citizens and Congress is symptomatic of a deteriorated Madisonian contract. Public opinion polls cast the illusion that a broken Congress is responsible for the deterioration of Madison’s contract. However, through an assessment of polling data along with an examination of the exceptional nature of citizenship in America, this paper reasons that the dwindling of the Madisonian contract is due to a decline in thick deliberative citizenship. In addition to diagnosing the current state of Madison’s contract, this paper compares remedies to cure the problem of a thinly engaged citizenry in the hope to rewrite the terms of the Madisonian contract within the contours of American political development.