The New Federalists
- October 21, 1996
A group of contemporary thinkers is collaborating to produce The New Federalist Papers, a compilation of essays designed to counter the current "disenchantment with government" that is "bubbling up to challenge the whole constitutional system," says Richard C. Leone, president of the Twentieth Century Fund, which has commissioned the project. The original Federalist Papers, written more than 200 years ago by John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, are considered the most famous work of political science ever produced in the United States--85 essays on the merits of the Constitution. Historian Alan Brinkley of Columbia University, political scientist Nelson W. Polsby of the University of California at Berkeley and legal scholar Kathleen M. Sullivan of Stanford University are writing the new essays. So far, they have completed 13 of the essays. Some, like the original Federalist Papers, have already appeared as opinion pieces in newspapers across the country, and eventually all will be collected in a book. "Public discourse is almost completely dominated by critics of government and contempt for the federal government," Brinkley said in an interview with The Washington Post. "This is a small effort to provide balance." And similar to the ideals of Hamilton, Jay and Madison, the new authors are "trying to persuade people that it's possible to understand better how the system actually works," Polsby said. "That's the prerequisite to deciding whether you want to change it."