Madison the Clinician
Anyone concerned about their personal liberty, the state of American politics and the future of the nation would do well to better understand the US Constitution, the DNA of our national body politic. At this political moment, as we celebrate Independence Day, citizens all over the country are filled with rage and division and the feeling their government isn’t serving them anymore. For this reason, it would serve us well to examine the process James Madison, the chief framer of the Constitution, would do to bring factions together and get us back on course.
At this political moment, when Americans are politically divided along partisan lines, challenged by regionalism, religious beliefs, identity politics, inequality, confronted by climate change, mass incarceration like few other times in recent American history it is important to revisit the framework envisioned by the authors of the constitution and ratified by the people of the 13 states that constituted the United States of 1787. Perhaps more helpful for those who are so inclined is the exploration of the underlying challenges and threats that the constitution was seeking to treat the lofty goals for individual flourishing that shaped the framework for the politics that defines our nation.
We are challenged by regionalism and partisanship like no other time in recent American history. The 2016 election highlighted the many divisions that separate Americans while ignoring the remarkable achievement of our democratic government.
What would Madison make of our current congress, Presidency, courts and media and how can we resurrect his values in this polarized climate? Even more relevant is the question: What would Madison do if confronted with the dysfunction of the political organism he helped bring to life?
In this article, I will explore Madison’s contribution to our American Constitutional Republic to evolve a more modern, up to date, the treatment plan for the “mortal disease(s)” that have developed in our “body politic.” I will describe an approach, a medical case presentation that uses a Madisonian metaphor for the disease in the body politic as an explanation for “treatment” of the pathology in our politics. This will focus on the values (vision), symptoms, history of the present condition, review of the systems, data and information, diagnosis, treatment plan and progress notes for the challenges of the “body politic.”
The challenges that Madison documented and set to address persist today as does the psychology that causes them... The structure he set needs adjustment however. A deep assessment, case study to highlight... The consequences of the Madisonian organism..we can more finely develop a remedy for our diseased body politic... The psychology has not changed.
As a citizen and a psychiatrist, I see the dis-ease of the political body as needing both diagnosis and treatment, which is how Madison approached the political problems of his day. I will also review areas where Madison’s ideas did not serve us well. The article is not meant to be a critical analysis or scholarly treatise about Madison, the Constitution, or the founding of our country, but rather to provide a possible framework for reclaiming the role of the citizen in these difficult times.
The article analysis our political system and employs a citizen-based toolbox to provide “cures” needed to treat the symptoms and eventually, the disease. The Pain Opioid Project will be suggested and the readers of the article invited to take part in the experiment in citizen engagement which will address one of our current “national emergencies.”