Time Essay: The Menace of Fanatic Factions

"Liberty is to faction what air is to fire." When he wrote those words, James Madison clearly expected the faction-ridden nation he helped found to go right on producing special-interest groups constantly pressing for advantage. But even the prescient co-author of the Federalist papers might be amazed at the abundant fulfillment of his vision by Americans of the late 1970s. The nation has entered a period of ascendant factionalism, a time when the larger desires of society can scarcely be heard for the insistent clamor of its numberless segments.

It is the era...

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