Has American politics always been this divisive? Would you believe it was once much worse?
National Review columnist and visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Jay Cost joins us to discuss how a difference of opinion in the early days of the American republic led to a fight that can still be felt today.
Founding Fathers Alexander Hamilton and James Madison went from being close allies to bitter political opponents shortly after the nation was formed. Jay Cost’s latest book— The Price of Greatness–tells the story of how this epic rivalry between two great men laid the groundwork for much of our political strife today. His message is important in understanding part of what makes our politics so divisive and how we can overcome that division.
In addition to National Review and the American Enterprise Institute, Jay’s work can be found at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Weekly Standard, and various other notable publications. Jay has written three books: “The Price of Greatness: James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and the Creation of American Oligarchy”(Basic Books, June 2018); “A Republic No More: Big Government and the Rise of Political Corruption”(Encounter Books, 2015); and “Spoiled Rotten: How the Politics of Patronage Corrupted the Once Noble Democratic Party and Now Threatens the American Republic”(Broadside Books, 2012).
According to his AEI bio, his interests are broadly focused on civic republicanism in the United States, with emphases on the political theory of James Madison, the problem of political corruption, the role of political parties, the development of civic institutions over time, and the power and responsibility of Congress. He writes and speaks frequently on American elections, with a special attention on placing contemporary trends in historical context.
As will be evident throughout the episode—Jay has a commanding knowledge of U.S. history and its impact on our political world. If you enjoy the discussion but have an unquenchable thirst for more, I’d highly recommend you buy the book and then truck on over to the podcast Jay and his colleague Luke Thompson cohost called Constitutionally Speaking; a show about how the Constitution works and how it was put together.