There is little argument that the current socio-political sphere in the United States is divisive. I saw one article headlined something along the lines of “he supports trump, she doesn’t: can their marriage survive?” Mind you, this was a “respected” journalistic article, not just click-bait. The article was full of statistics and quotes by marriage counsellors showing an substantial increase in familial strife because of the current political climate, up to and including divorce. If this is your family, may I point you to my most recent article?
Occasionally, we hear media pundits and political commentators make the seemingly reasonable statement that “our country is more divided than ever,” or “this is the dirtiest campaign in American history,” or some variation of those sentiments. I’d like to share some evidence to the contrary, my thoughts on the topic, and the Founder’s solution.
“We would see our wives and daughters the victims of legal prostitution.”
“Murder, robbery, rape, adultery and incest will openly be taught and practiced.”
– Adam’s surrogates speaking of a potential Jefferson presidency
One particularly stinging attack came via one James Callender—an influential journalist of the time whose incendiary pamphlets had been secretly funded by Thomas Jefferson and who had an axe to grind for having been prosecuted and imprisoned by the Adams Administration for violating The Sedition Act.
Callender wrote that Adams was a rageful, lying, warmongering fellow; a “repulsive pedant” and “gross hypocrite” who “behaved neither like a man nor like a woman but instead possessed a hideous hermaphroditical character.”
I could go on, but my point is made: politics have been dirty and divisive from day one, and these two men, two of the Founders, were in the proverbial mud pit slinging the slanderous mud.
But the founders suspected this; indeed, they expected it.
The founders did not have high praise for the elected official. They believed quite the worst in people. Madison said:
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.
So the founders made a delectably ingenious government: one in which the central government was only just large enough to function, but no larger. They recognized that the closer to home, the smaller the division. The closer to the family unit a government could be (in the respect of being controlled by the family, not emulating nor replacing it), the better government would function with the least amount of destructive division. If national political office is less consequential, people are able to overcome division much easier.
In short, the founders knew that national races, like the presidency, would divide America, but they wanted that division to be as limited as possible.
The problem is not dirty politics, divisive campaigns, or even a two party system (which I dislike very much): the problem is a national government that has overreached its bounds and taken upon itself the responsibilities and powers of state and local governing bodies.
Do you want to reduce the division caused by American politics? Vote for candidates who will shrink the size of the federal government; who will localize control; who will decentralize power: this will put our country in line with its original intent, and it will neuter the destructive power of partisan dissidence.
To best protect the family, which is the most important political and societal unit, we must take away the power of the government to destroy it.