If you want students to really understand the concept of power, moving beyond a survey book's quick discussion of Laswell's “who gets what and how,” Muir's thoughtful Freedom in America might be the book for you. Exploring the words and ideas of such thinkers as Madison, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Tocqueville, Muir discusses the nature and limits of three types of power—coercive, reciprocal, and moral—and then uses this framework to explain how American political institutions work.
If looking for an alternative to a long survey text—or itching to get students grappling with The Federalist Papers or Democracy in America with more of a payoff—Muir's meditation on power and personal freedom is a gateway for students to take their study of politics to the next level. His inductive style, engaging students with well-chosen and masterfully written stories, lets him draw out and distill key lessons without being preachy. Read a chapter and decide if this page turner is for you.
Chapter 20: Political Parties: Machines, Coalitions, Churches
Political Parties: Machines, Coalitions, Churches
[A] pure Democracy, by which I mean, a society, consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the Government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and conceit results from the form of Government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party, or an obnoxious individual.
In Federalist No. 51 Madison stated the central issue addressed by the Constitutional Convention:
In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you ...