“Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar. I will not participate in that. I will not sit back and watch in silence, while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former president’s crusade to undermine our democracy.”– Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming
As our first President left office in 1796, he called for the American people to remain unified, resist the rise of political factions and avoid the influence of foreign powers. Having fought a foe far greater than the British Army during the American Revolution – the politics of a Congress lead by ambitious men – and having presided over that same political body for 8 years, Washington understood how fragile the American Democracy was.
According to Washington, one of the chief dangers of letting party loyalties dominate loyalty to the nation as a whole was that it would lead to factionalism. When Americans voted according to party loyalty, rather than the common interest of the nation, it fosters a “spirit of revenge,” and enables the rise of “cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men” who would “usurp for themselves the reins of government; destroying afterwards the very engines, which have lifted them to unjust dominion.” The last decade has been proof that Washington’s fears were justified.
Yesterday, the “Republican Party” (a party no longer loyal to republican ideals) voted to remove one of the last idealists from their party leadership. I disagree with Ms. Cheney on many political points but her voice (an expression of Free Speech) is a valid and cherished political standard for the last 150 years. She stands for smaller less expensive government (and hence lower taxes), the rights of states to manage their local affairs without undue federal oversight and regulation, the individual rights of the people, the rule of law, a strong national defense, and American Imperialism. These are not bad things! These are the planks in the party platform for Ronald Reagan and George Bush but they are NOT the ideals of Donald Trump and for that the “Republican” Party has chastised her. Shame on you Mr. McCarthy.
You see in 1796, Washington and Adams were guided by a simple principle. They sought to prevent a consistent partisan majority from taking control of the government. Measures were taken to ensure that the diverse opinions were represented in all branches of the government and no single group had the power to oppress the minority. They knew that the fragile consent of the governed would break down, and violence and authoritarianism would follow just like it did in the previous republics (Rome, Athens, Holland, etc). These republics fell into civil wars and ultimate dissolution, and the Framers were intent on learning from history, not repeating its mistakes.
The US Constitution is intently structured to prevent parties from forming. By separating powers across competing institutions, the Framers thought a majority party would never form. Unfortunately, they were wrong. Political parties formed almost immediately because mass democracy favors strong identity and most people vote not for civic principles but rather personality. Yet despite the disastrous formation of political parties, the separation of powers and federalism did work to keep no single party form “owning” the government for a long while. Presidents, senators, and House members all had different electoral incentives, complicating partisan unity, and state and local parties were stronger than national parties, also complicating unity. Until modern communication (TV and especially the internet) made elections national popularity competitions.
Now we live in a world where a wing the Republican Party (the Tea Party) actively denigrates people of color, people of alternate lifestyle and sexual orientation, immigrants (both legal and illegal), women, people who are not Fundamentalist Protestant Christians (even mainstream Protestants like Lutherans and Episcopalians but especially Jews and Muslims), and anyone who doesn’t fit their Aaryan ideal. Other wings of this party espouse (the Trump party) a cult of personality and absolute authoritarianism. They want to harm people who disagree with them going so far as to actually stage an armed insurrection against Congress on January 6, 2021. These people aren’t Republicans like Liz Cheney or Mit Romney, no they are Nazis and our country fought a war to end the reign of the last Nazi party. Its no surprise they want someone who speaks candidly about ideals out, they want to own the government and end democracy.
Well folks, it’s time for us to answer the Minuteman’s call. We cannot allow ANY single party to own OUR nation. We are a nation founded on freedom and diversity, the rights of all people, and clear dedication to representative democracy. We need ALL the political voices but not conformity, loyalty to party, and jackbooted authoritarian rule. Cull the bad actors and send them home but keep the loyal Americans like Congresswoman Cheney, who you might disagree with, to build a “more perfect union.”
“We are Americans first, Americans last, Americans always. Let us argue our differences. But remember we are not enemies, but comrades in a war against a real enemy, and take courage from the knowledge that our military superiority is matched only by the superiority of our ideals, and our unconquerable love for them.”– John McCain