Skip to main content
×
Home

Contain the Wealthy and Patrol the Magistrates: Restoring Elite Accountability to Popular Government

  • JOHN P. McCORMICK (a1)
Abstract

Modern republics neglect to establish formal institutions that prevent wealthy citizens from exerting excessive political influence and they abandon extra-electoral techniques traditionally employed to keep office-holders accountable. Inspired by Guicciardini's and Machiavelli's reflections on the Roman, Venetian, and Florentine constitutions, this article highlights three forgotten practices that facilitate popular control of both economic and political elites: magistrate appointment procedures combining lottery and election, offices or assemblies excluding the wealthy from eligibility, and political trials enlisting the entire citizenry in prosecutions and appeals. I present a typology of regimes that evaluates the wealth containment potential of various magistrate selection methods, and propose a hypothetical reform supplying the U.S. Constitution with a “Tribunate” reminiscent of elite-accountability institutions in pre-eighteenth-century popular governments.

Copyright
Corresponding author
John P. McCormick is Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Chicago, 5828 South University Ave., Chicago, IL 60637 (jpmccorm@uchicago.edu).
References
Hide All
Ackerman Bruce, and James Fishkin. 2004. Deliberation Day. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Allen Danielle S. 2000. The World of Prometheus: The Politics of Punishment in Democratic Athens. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Adams John. [1790] 1805. Discourses on Davila. In The Works of John Adams, ed. C. F. Adams. Boston, MA: Massachusetts Historical Society 280304.
Aristotle. 1997. In The Politics, Trans. and ed. P. L. P. Simpson. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.
Arnold Douglas A. 1993. “Can Inattentive Citizens Control Their Elected Representatives?” In Congress Reconsidered, ed. L. Dodd and B. Oppenheimer. Washington, DC: Congress Quarterly Press.
Baehr Peter R. 1997. Caesar and the Fading of the Roman World: A Study in Republicanism and Caesarism. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Press.
Bagehot Walter. [1867] 2001. In The English Constitution, ed. Paul Smith. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge, University Press.
Bartels Larry. 2002. “Economic Inequality and Political Representation.” Paper presented at the APSA Annual Meeting, Boston, August 29–September 1.
Behn Robert D. 2000. Rethinking Democratic Accountability. Washington, DC: Brookings Institute Press.
Black Robert. 1990. “Machiavelli, Servant of the Florentine Republic.” In Machiavelli and Republicanism, ed. G. Bock, Q. Skinner, and M. Viroli. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 7199.
Boix Carles. 2003. Democracy and Redistribution. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Brucker Gene. 1962. Florentine Politics and Society, 1343–1378. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Brucker Gene. 1977. The Civic World of Early Renaissance Florence. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Bruni Leonardo. [1442] 2004. The History of the Florentine People vol. II. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Butters H. C. 1985. Governors and Government in Early Sixteenth Century Florence, 1502–1512. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Cicero Marcus T. 1999. In On the Commonwealth and On the Laws, ed. James Zetzel. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Coby J. Patrick. 1999. Machiavelli's Romans: Liberty and Greatness in the Discourses on Livy. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.
Dahl Robert A. 1989. Democracy and Its Critics. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Dietz Mary G. 1986. “Trapping the Prince: Machiavelli and the Politics of Deception.” American Political Science Review 80 (3): 77799.
Domhoff G. William. 2001. Who Rules America?: Power and Politics. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Publishers.
Duxbury Neil. 1999. Random Justice: On Lotteries and Legal Decision-Making. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Farrand Max, ed. 1966. The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, vols. I–III. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Fiorina Morris P. 1981. Retrospective Voting in American National Elections. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Fishkin James. 1991. Democracy and Deliberation: New Directions for Democratic Reform. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Fitzsimmons Michael P. 1994. The Remaking of France: The National Assembly and the Constitution of 1791. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Forsdyke Sara. 2005. Exile, Ostracism, and Democracy: The Politics of Expulsion in Ancient Greece. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Fraser Steve, and Gary Gerstle, eds. 2005. Ruling America: A History of Wealth and Power in a Democracy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Gilbert Felix. 1965. Machiavelli and Guicciardini: Politics and History in Sixteenth Century Florence. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Gilbert Felix. 1968. “The Venetian Constitution in Florentine Political Thought.” In Nicolai Rubinstein, Florentine Studies: Politics and Society in Renaissance Florence. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 44262.
Gilbert Felix. 1977. “Bernardo Rucellai and the Orti Oricellari: A Study on the Origin of Modern Political Thought.” In History: Choice and Commitment, ed. Felix Gilbert. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 21546.
de Grazia Sebastian. 1989. Machiavelli in Hell. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Grofman B. N., and A. Lijphart, eds. 2003. Electoral Laws and Their Political Consequences. New York, NY: Agathon Press.
Guicciardini Francesco. [c. 1508] 1970. In The History of Florence. Trans. M. Domandi. New York, NY: Harper Torchbooks.
Guicciardini Francesco. [1512] 1998. Discorso di Logrogno On Bringing Order to Popular Government. Trans. Athanasios Moulakis Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers.
Guicciardini Francesco. [1524] 1994. Dialogue on the Government of Florence. Trans. Alison Brown. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Guicciardini Francesco. [1530] 1965. In Maxims and Reflections. Trans. M. Domandi. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Guicciardini Francesco. [1530] 2002. “Considerations of the Discourses of Niccolò Machiavelli.” In The Sweetness of Power: Machiavelli's Discourses and Guicciardini's Considerations. Trans. and ed. James B. Atkinson and David Sices. DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 381438.
Hamilton Alexander, James Madison, and John Jay. [1788] 2003. In The Federalist, with the Letters of “Brutus.” ed. Terence Ball. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Hamilton Marci A. 1997. “The People: The Least Accountable Branch.” Chicago Law School Roundtable 4: 118.
Hankins James, ed. 2000. Renaissance Civic Humanism. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Hansen Mogens H. 1991. The Athenian Democracy in the Age of Demosthenes. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Hunt Lynn. 1984. Politics, Culture, and Class in the French Revolution. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Isaac Jeffrey C. 1988. “Republicanism vs. Liberalism?: A Reconsideration.” History of Political Thought 9 (2): 34977.
Jurdjevic Mark. 1999. “Civic Humanism and the Rise of the Medici.” Renaissance Quarterly 52 (4): 9941020.
Keller Bill, ed. 2005. Class Matters. New York, NY: The New York Times Press.
Kersh Rogan. 2003. “Influencing the State: U.S. Campaign Finance and its Discontents.” Critical Review 15 (1–2): 20320.
Krugman Paul. 2003. The Great Unraveling: Losing Our Way in the New Century. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.
Laclau Ernesto, and Chantal Mouffe. 1984. Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Towards a Radical Democratic Politics. London, UK: Verso.
Lane Frederic. 1973. Venice: A Maritime Republic. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Lijphart Arend. 1992. Democracy in Plural Societies: A Comparative Exploration. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Lintott Andrew. 1999. The Constitution of the Roman Republic. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Livy. 1988. In The Early History of Rome. Trans. A. de Selincourt. New York, NY: Penguin.
Machiavelli Niccolò. [c. 1513–19] 1997. Discourses on Livy. Trans. H. C. Mansfield and N. Tarcov. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Machiavelli Niccolò. [1519–20] 1958. “A Discourse on Remodeling the Government of Florence.” In Machiavelli: The Chief Works and Others, vol. I. Trans. and ed. Allan Gilbert. Durham, NC: Duke University Press: 10115.
Machiavelli Niccolò. [1525] 1988. In Florentine Histories. Trans. L. F. Banfield and H. C. Mansfield. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Machiavelli Niccolò. 1997. In Opere I, ed. C. Vivanti, Torino, Italy: Einaudi.
Machiavelli Niccolò. 1997. “Discursus Florentinarum Rerum Post Mortem Iunioris Laurentii Medices.” In Opere I, ed. C. Vivanti. Torino, Italy: Einaudi.
Manin Bernard. 1997. Principles of Representative Government. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Mansbridge Jane. 2003. “Rethinking Representation.” American Political Science Review 97 (4): 51528.
Martines Lauro. 1979. Power and Imagination: City-States in Renaissance Italy. New York, NY: Alfred Knopf.
McCormick John P. 2001. “Machiavellian Democracy: Controlling Elites With Ferocious Populism,” American Political Science Review 95 (2): 297314.
McCormick John P. 2003. “Machiavelli Against Republicanism: On the Cambridge School's ‘Guicciardinian Moments.’Political Theory 31 (5): 61543.
McCormick John P. 2006. “Tempering and Redirecting the Grandi's Appetite to Oppress: The Dedication and Intention of Machiavelli's Discourses.” In Politics and the Passions, 1500–1850, eds. Victoria Kahn, Neil Saccamano, and Daniela Coli. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
McCormick John P. n. d. Machiavellian Democracy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Meyers Marvin, ed. 1981. The Mind of the Founder: Sources of the Political Thought of James Madison. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England.
Michels Robert. [1911] 1990. In Political Parties. Trans. P. Eden and P. Cedar. New York, NY: Free Press.
Molho Anthony, Kurt Raaflaub, and Julia Emlen, eds. 1991. City-States in Classical Antiquity and Medieval Italy. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.
de Montesquieu C. B. S. 1999. In Considerations on the Causes of the Greatness of the Romans and their Decline. Trans. D. Lowenthal. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishers.
Morgan Edmund S. 1989. Inventing the People: The Rise of Popular Sovereignty in England and America. New York, NY: New York University Press.
Najemy John M. 1982. Corporatism and Consensus in Florentine Electoral Politics, 1280–1400. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.
Najemy John M. 1990. “The Controversy Surrounding Machiavelli's Service to the Republic.” In Machiavelli and Republicanism, eds. G. Bock, Q. Skinner, and M. Viroli. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press: 102117.
Nedelsky Jennifer. 1991. Private Property and the Limits of American Constitutionalism: The Madisonian Framework and Its Legacy. Chicago. IL: University of Chicago Press.
Nicolet Claude. 1980. The World of the Citizen in Republican Rome. Trans. P. S. Falla. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Ober Josiah. 1993. Mass and Elite Democratic Athens: Rhetoric, Ideology and the Power of the People. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Padgett John F., and Chris K. Ansell. 1993. “Robust Action and the Rise of the Medici, 1400–1434,” American Journal of Sociology 98 (6): 12591319.
Patten Alan. 1996. “The Republican Critique of Liberalism.” British Journal of Political Science 26 (1): 2544.
Pettit Philip. 1999. Republicanism: A Theory of Freedom and Government. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Pettit Philip. 2000. “Democracy: Electoral and Contestatory.” In Nomos XLII: Designing Democratic Institutions, eds. I. Shapiro and S. Macedo. New York, NY: New York University Press, 10546.
Phillips Kevin. 2002. Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich. New York, NY: Broadway Press.
Plamenatz John. 2006. Man and Society: Political and Social Theories from Machiavelli to Marx. London, UK: Longman Press.
Pocock J. G. A. 1975. The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Political Tradition. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Posner Richard. 2004. Law, Pragmatism and Democracy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Powell G. Bingham. 2000. Elections as Instruments of Democracy. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Przeworski Adam. 1999. “Minimalist Conception of Democracy: A Defense.” In Democracy's Value, ed. Ian Shapiro and Casiano Hacker-Cordon. Cambridge, MA, 2355.
Przeworski Adam, and Michael Wallerstein. 1988. “Structural Dependence of the State on Capital,” American Political Science Review 82 (1): 1129.
Przeworski Adam, Susan C. Stokes, and Bernard Manin, eds. 1999. Democracy, Accountability, and Representation. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Richard Carl J. 1994. The Founders and the Classics: Greece, Rome, and the American Enlightenment. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Ridolfi Roberto. 1963. The Life of Niccolò Machiavelli. Trans. C. Grayson. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Ridolfi Roberto. 1968. The Life of Francesco Guicciardini. Trans. C. Grayson. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf.
Rubinstein Nicolai. 1954. “I primi anni del Consiglio Maggiore di Firenze, 1494–99.” Archivio Storico Italiano 112: 15194.
Rubinstein Nicolai. 1966. The Government of Florence Under the Medici, 1434 to 1494. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Salvemini Gaetano. 1899. Magnati e Popolani in Firenze dal 1280 al 1295. Florence, Italy: Tipografia Carnesecchi e Figli.
Sanders Lynn M. 1997. “Against Deliberation.” Political Theory 25 (3): 34777.
Sellers M. N. S. 1994. American Republicanism: Roman Ideology in the United States Constitution. New York, NY: New York University Press.
Shapiro Ian. 2003. The State of Democratic Theory. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Silvano Giovanni. 1990. “Florentine Republicanism in the Early Sixteenth Century.” In Machiavelli and Republicanism, ed. G. Bock, Q. Skinner, and M. Viroli. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 4070.
Skinner Quentin. 2002. Visions of Politics, vol. II: Renaissance Virtues. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Stephens J. N. 1983. The Fall of the Florentine Republic, 1512–1530. Oxford, UK. Oxford University Press.
Strauss Leo. 1958. Thoughts on Machiavelli. Glencoe, IL: Free Press.
Sunstein Cass R. 1988. “Beyond the Republican Revival,” Yale Law Journal 97 (8): 153990.
Taylor Lily R. 1990. Roman Voting Assemblies. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.
Taylor Matthew. 2005. “UK Low in Social Mobility League.” The Guardian (April 25).
Vatter Miguel E. 2000. Between Form and Event: Machiavelli's Theory of Political Freedom. Amsterdam, Netherlands. Kluwer Publishers.
Viroli Maurizio. 1990. “Machiavelli and the Republican Idea of Liberty.” In Machiavelli and Republicanism, ed. G. Bock, Q. Skinner, and M. Viroli, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.: 14371.
Wantchekon Leonard. 2004. “The Paradox of ‘Warlord’ Democracy.” American Political Science Review 98 (1): 1734.
Wootton David, ed. 1994. Republicanism, Liberty and Commercial Societies, 1649–1776. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Yack Bernard. 1993. Problems of a Political Animal: Community, Justice and Conflict in Aristotelian Political Thought. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Young Iris M. 1990. Justice and the Politics of Difference. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 19
Total number of PDF views: 127 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 493 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 24th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.