In questions of powers, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the constitution.

—Thomas Jefferson. Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, authored in protest to the Alien and Sedition Acts.

The conduct of the executive should be constitutionally limited, and the laws drafted so as to leave as little discretion to the executive as possible. The opposite end of the spectrum is to have an executive without constraints, who can launch an offensive war on a whim, as the French and Germans had (Bonaparte and Hitler.); or whose merest word can send millions to concentration camps, as the Russians had (Lenin and Stalin.); or whose hare-brained schemes can cause tens of millions to starve, as the Chinese had (Mao.).

This article is an extract from the book ‘Principles of Good Government’ by Matthew Bransgrove