Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Jefferson on Compromise

Thomas Jefferson on Compromise
I just received a letter from my friend Thomas Jefferson. He has a message for Tea Party stalwarts: “Every man cannot have his way in all things. If his opinion prevails at some times, he should acquiesce on seeing that of others preponderate at other times. Without this mutual disposition we are disjointed individuals, but not a society.”

Okay, so I didn't actually get mail from the principal author of the Declaration of Independence and 3rd President of the United States. But, Continental Congressman and "Penman of the Revolution," John Dickinson did and Jefferson's message of compromise in public debate is no less relevant today than in 1801.

Tea Party zealots and their Republican Party facilitators would do well by America to heed Jefferson's words and dispense with extreme my-way-or-the-highway politics. Their suicide-bomber legislative tactics in the House of Representatives, according to their own revered Founding Father, are not merely inconsistent with a functional representative democracy, but anathema to the fabric of society. In short, Jefferson would consider today's right-wingers barbarians, not to mention hypocrites.

Jefferson, notwithstanding, a gaggle of candidates vying for the Republican nomination are pandering to Tea Party faithful and sympathizers by competing for the title "Most Intransigent." Imagine the outcome if Jefferson and the other delegates to the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787 had behaved similarly.

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