The Founding Fathers would have loved to see a “Blue Wave” in the 2018 midterm elections, leaving the United States with a divided government.
This is not because they were particularly partisan towards any of the groups who claim to be leaders today, but rather because they believed that the power of the government does not belong in the hands of any single party.
The evidence of this is clear in Federalist number 10
. The Federalist Papers were comprised of a series of articles published in newspapers to argue for the ratification of the Constitution of what became the United States.
Federalist 10 focuses on the dangers of factions in government.
“Among the numbers advantages promised by a well constructed Union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction.”
The Constitution sought to break and control the violence of faction by splitting the powers of government into three branches, further dividing the legislative branch into two houses, and staggering terms of office, among other measures. The was to deal with the following problem.
“Complaints are everywhere heard from our most considerate and virtuous citizens, equally the friends of public and private faith, and of public and personal liberty, that our governments are too unstable, that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties, and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice an the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority.”
Remember that these complaints were made about the confederacy of states before the Constitution (regardless of how applicable they might or might not sound for today).
The Founding Fathers attributed the existence of factions to the nature of people to be tribal and look out for their own interests. Since getting rid of factions would require either destroying liberty or “giving every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests,” they decided it would be better to control the problems caused by factions through a federal, republican system of government.
“It is vain to say that enlightened statesmen will be able to adjust these clashing interests and render them all subservient to the public good. Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm. Nor, in many cases, can such an adjustment be made at all without taking into view indirect and remote considerations, which will rarely prevail over the immediate interest one party may find in disregarding the rights of another or the good of the whole.”
So instead of a simple, direct democratic government, power was split up. The other value of the Constitution in their eyes was that it would bring a larger number of people into a single government. This diversity of people would help keep one faction from oppressing everyone else.
“Hence, it clearly appears that the same advantage which a republic has over a democracy, in controlling the effects of faction, is enjoyed by a large over a small republic — is enjoyed by the Union over the states composing it….Does it consist in the greater security afforded by a greater variety of parties, against the event of any one party being able to outnumber and oppress the rest? In an equal degree does the increased variety of parties comprised with in the union increase this security.”
The Founding Fathers would have wanted more diversity in our federal government than one party controlling the entire government, as it stands today.
“Extend the sphere and you take in a greater variety of parties and interests; you make it less probable that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens; or if such a common motive exists, it will be more difficult for all who feel it to discover their own strength and to act in unison with each other.”
Election day is an opportunity to extend the sphere of parties and interests represented in the United States government. Changing control of one or both houses of Congress will help protect the rights of everyone — even the losers.
So, vote for a divided government — the Founding Fathers would approve.