A house divided cannot stand

January 2, 2020 at 11:52 pm (By Amba) ()

“George Washington’s farewell address is often remembered for its warning against hyper-partisanship: ‘The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism.’ John Adams, Washington’s successor, similarly worried that ‘a division of the republic into two great parties … is to be dreaded as the great political evil.’

“America has now become that dreaded divided republic. The existential menace is as foretold, and it is breaking the system of government the Founders put in place with the Constitution. . . .

“The theory that guided Washington and Adams was simple, and widespread at the time. If a consistent partisan majority ever united to take control of the government, it would use its power to oppress the minority [or the disenfranchised majority—ag]. The fragile consent of the governed would break down, and violence and authoritarianism would follow. This was how previous republics had fallen into civil wars, and the Framers were intent on learning from history, not repeating its mistakes.”

~ Lee Drutman in The Atlantic


  1. tom strong said,

    Also: it’s hard to take this kind of argument seriously when Adams himself was president during a period of incredible rancor and partisanship, a fair amount of which he was directly responsible for.

  2. amba12 said,

    Takes one to know one?

    No heroes, only hypocrites?

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