Let’s face it – partisanship has been with us since the founding of this great country. To deny that fact is intellectually dishonest. Since its earliest days, this republic witnessed opposing interests struggling over important issues.
There were Loyalists battling Patriots, agrarians versus commercial interests, Federalists against Anti-Federalists, Jeffersonians versus Hamiltonians, Whigs against Democrats, and so on.
Partisanship is as important a part of our political fabric as any other – the stitching holding it all together, perhaps. Or maybe it is the cloth, and the stitching is the historical instances of bi and non-partisanship that have accompanied the centuries of partisanship.
To mix metaphors, one can describe these instances of compromise as the oil that has kept the American political machine going for all these years.
Since our earliest days, we have been a nation adept at compromise, when required. How else could the Framers have come together to write and secure ratification of the Constitution? The key was compromise. The Framers made deals over the issues of slavery and congressional representation, and over the formation of the Executive branch.
Later, during the first Congress, further compromises were made over the make-up of the Judiciary. And possibly most importantly of all, as far as facilitating the States’ ratification of the Constitution, the Framers agreed upon inclusion of a Bill of Rights in exchange for ratifying the new Constitution. In other words, neither side received everything it wanted.
When it seemed like these compromises might be impossible, or later in jeopardy, politicians like James Madison, Oliver Ellsworth, and John Marshall worked to hold them together through various politically courageous (or at least enlightened) measures. Some were as small as dropping the word “national” for “United States” as a descriptor of the new government. All were essential, though, because nothing was inevitable and there was no “right” answer.
It took concerted effort to make the system work, and to insure establishment of what would become the world’s most successful republican democracy. Vision was required, and yes, compromise. The opposing sides had to come together for the sake of forming the nation. They had to come together to make it all work.
Abraham Lincoln provides yet another example, during the country’s Civil War. Lincoln did all he could do to keep the border states on the Union side, and to coax Southern states back into the Union. He was even willing to forswear emancipation, early in the war, if he thought it would preserve the Union. Lincoln straddled the line between radical abolitionists in the North, and slaveholders in the South – inviting vitriol from both sides, at various points. The Union was his focus, and his primary concern. Preserving it was what drove him.
Lyndon Johnson is yet another example, in our country’s struggle for Civil Rights. Johnson knew that Democrats would lose the South “for a generation” if he signed the Civil Rights Act, but he also knew that it was right for the country. So did George H.W. Bush, when he acquiesced to higher taxes, and lost an election. These politicians knew what was best for America, and went against their own self and party interests in advocating hard choices.
That is where No Labels comes in to play, in our modern, vitriolic political system. I applaud – and am an avid supporter of – a group dedicated to overcoming partisanship to advocate for practical, pragmatic, and workable solutions to America’s problems.
How can anyone be against such an endeavor, and not support it wholeheartedly?
Our system needs adults to referee fights between squabbling party loyalists. Someone has to seek out, stand up, and advocate for compromise. That is why we need No Labels, for the good of the country. America belongs to all of us, not just to Republicans or Democrats.