President Thomas Jefferson is asked to discuss the differences between a democracy and a republic. Clay S. Jenkinson asks listeners to send in a list of five things America could to do to become more of a republic again.
You can read Montesquieu's The Spirit of Laws (1748), in its entirety as a PDF, here. The text is made available by McMaster University. On the show, Mr. Jefferson goes on to point out that:
Montesquieu's Spirit of the Laws is one of the four or five most important books of my time — another is The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, but Montesquieu may have had an even greater impact on the history of constitutional government.
But David takes it too far and learns an important lesson about speaking with Jefferson on the subject of Montesquieu: Don't bring up Alexander Hamilton.
Who cares what Mr. Hamilton thinks? He's a monarchist and he's an aristocrat and he's a corruptionist. I don’t see any reason for us to take his intellectual views of Montesquieu — or anyone else — very seriously.
Now I feel a little miffed. Perhaps we should talk about gardening.
What would it take for America to be a Republic again?
In the podcast intro of this episode, Clay poses a question. From the show:
Clay: I'm going to challenge our listeners: Sit down and write out what it would take for America to be a republic again. Write that list out to your own satisfaction and send it to us.
David: The top five things that America needs to do —
Clay: — to be a republic.
David: That would be a great basis for a show.
Clay: And believe me, this is something that will be useful. Right now, you're probably thinking, "Yeah, I've got some answers to that." Sit down and think about it — and as you do, you will have to think through some of the issues of what a republic looks like in the 21st century.
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1776 Club: A Quarter, A Library & Animadversions
Listen in as Clay & David discuss their summers, the commemorative quarter for Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and new projects — including the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and a new book about conservation. Animadversions on this episode broach subjects such as food, recording quality and bibliophilic materialism.
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