…because expecting our leaders to work together or think their way out of a paper bag is apparently too much to ask…

“During the contest of opinion through which we have passed the animation of discussions and of exertions has sometimes worn an aspect which might impose on strangers unused to think freely and to speak and to write what they think; but this being now decided by the voice of the nation, announced according to the rules of the Constitution, all will, of course, arrange themselves under the will of the law, and unite in common efforts for the common good.”

~ Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, 04 March 1801


The Election of 1800 was one of the most bitterly contested in the entire history of the United States.  Two Founding Fathers with opposing ideologies squared off against each other in a highly inflammatory contest about the very nature of the new government under the Constitution.  The rift it sowed not only in the new nation itself, but between two giants of liberty who had been fast friends, is almost the stuff of legend.  Some historians have even gone so far as to refer to the outcome of this election as its own political revolution about defining the new government’s role.  Yet, when the battle was over and the winners and losers decided, both sides went to work together for the good of the nation as a whole.  And despite the seemingly impassable chasm that separated Jefferson and Adams afterwards, they too eventually became friends again.  Perhaps they recognized the answer to one of life’s more interesting quandaries – deadlock only persists because both sides refuse to end it.  It is probably the only cycle one could argue is potentially perpetual and self-fueling.

So why fuel it?  The even greater irony is that it only takes one side to just say this is ridiculous.  If one side refuses to continue to play the game, then the other side is left fuming, but unable to keep the deadlock up.  Does that mean compromising one’s principles?  Giving everything over to the other side?  Letting the other party winner-take-all?  Certainly not.  As the Founding Fathers showed us in their own workings after the 1800 Election, there were still debates to be had, still items to be worked out, and compromises to be made.  But they were actually reasonable and skilled enough to recognize that you win some and you lose some.  You don’t have to nor should you expect to get your own way in every last thing all the time.  It only takes one side to end the stupid political games.  But our politicians are so inept and weak they can’t even stop playing, even when it means putting the country on the brink again and again.  All it takes to stop the deadlock is to just stop.


Res Publica


Documentation without Representation:

Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, 04 March 1801

Electronic Text Courtesy of The Avalon Project at Yale Law School

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