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. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control of government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.
This policy of supplying, by opposite and rival interests, the defect of better motives, might be traced through the whole system of human affairs, private as well as public [Thus it is that] the private interest of every individual may be sentinel over the public rights.
Jul 8, 2006
How lucky we in the US are
To have had such wise founding fathers. In a piece on the neglected founder, John Witherspoon, Roger Kimball (subscription req'd) quotes Madison, who was greatly influenced by Witherspoon when writing Federalist 55: