Considered as the father of the constitution, James Madison made significant contributions to the constitution. Together with other like-minded individuals, they crafted the American constitution with most of their contributions still relied on in the current constitutional dispensation (O’Toole, 2006). Some have either been replaced with better ones while others significantly improved. This paper compares the current constitutional process in relation to the situation as envisioned by James Madison in the 17000s. Further, the paper highlights two major areas that have greatly improved and another two that the current system negates.
The major area that has seen a major shift and improvement is the idea of American federalism. James Madison and the other crafters of the American constitution developed a national system of governance that is totally different from the current one. Their concept dictated that the two sets of governments became total separate with federalism heavily relying on the national government in terms of responsibility. The national government was to take the heaviest responsibility while the state governments were merely to pay workers. That has since changed for the better and federalism in the current system relies heavily on the state government in terms of governance.
Several amendments have been done on the constitution concerning the American citizenry. The thirteenth, fourteenth and the fifteenth civil war amendments came with a totally new definition of an American citizen (O’Toole, 2006). It did away with slavery and entrenched several bills of rights within the constitution that protected the rights of individuals. The federal government was charged with the responsibility of ensuring equity by putting slavery to an end. This is opposed to the earlier proposals by Madison that did need explicitly define citizenship nor enact particular bills of rights that would have protected the individual rights and freedoms.
On the other hand, one major area that the current dispensation has significantly failed compared to the one envisioned by Madison is the general cost of living. During his time as the American president, policies were developed that ensured the reduction of taxes that eventually left a surplus at the federal government level (O’Toole, 2006). Currently, a huge government spending has not only ensured an upward surge of taxes but also significantly reduced the level of federal government’s surplus. Policies, such as the current medical plan, have increased the cost of living for most American population. Madison envisioned a situation where every citizen would be provided with basic services at a small burdening cost.
Either, another area that would shock Madison is the manner in which power shifts have been designed. The presidency's shifted authority was properly under check and balance (O’Toole, 2006). Madison created a three phased system of governance with clear separation of powers at all levels. Of significant interest is the manner in which the Bush administration demonstrated a total disregard to the concept of separation of powers. The trend has significantly increased under the Obama presidency where there has been an increase in the executive power at the expense of legislative power. Such a scenario poses a threat to the American constitution as it makes the presidency and the executive very powerful and unchecked. A clear illustration is when president Obama disregarded the law on insurance for the congress under similar terms like that for general citizens by continuing it even after the congress had stopped the subsidy that was earlier on initiated.
Quite a number of changes have been witnessed in the constitution as compared to the one drafted by Madison. Some changes have negated the Madison’s visions while others have significantly improved his proposals (O’Toole, 2006). The above highlighted examples have been chosen since they provide a basis upon which comparison to the constitutional proposal made by James Madison can be made. Either, they also highlight the transformations that have taken place.
O’Toole, L. (2006). American Intergovernmental Relations. 4th Edition. Washington, D.C.:CQ Press.