Politics as a tool for self improvement

James Madison in The Federalist Papers (Federalist No. 51) balances between a realistic reading of the human nature and a dream of establishing a social structure as the reflection of the best in man.  In the quote below "ambition must be made to counteract ambition" points to the former, " the line "But what is government itself..." to the latter.   Between the two the current political commotion unfolds. 
"Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary."

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