“It has been so often said, as to be generally believed, that Congress have no power by the Confederation to enforce anything, for example, contributions of money. It was not necessary to give them that power expressly, for they have it by the law of nature. When two parties make a compact, there results to each a power of compelling the other to execute it.”
—Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Edward Carrington, 1787
“Has it not, on the contrary, invariably been found that momentary passions, and immediate interest, have a more active and imperious control over human conduct than general or remote considerations of policy, utility or justice?”
—Alexander Hamilton, in The Federalist Papers, Section 6, 1788
What do you want for America?
In a recent op-ed piece in the St. Louis Beacon, retired senator John Danforth made an impassioned plea for politicians to focus on the core issue of whether we should continue growing the federal government or whether we should lessen the government’s role in being responsible for each individual. Instead, we have candidates pointing fingers and calling names and voters voting for people just because they don’t like the other guy. What’s going on, and why should you care?
At the end of the eighteenth century, the Federalist Alexander Hamilton supported the idea that a strong central government responsible for making decisions for its citizens’ well-being was the right model for the newly formed United States of America.
The anti-Federalists, championed by Thomas Jefferson, felt that individuals should make their own decisions regarding personal well-being instead of being dictated to by a domineering albeit well meaning federal government.
This debate, which continues today, is one of the societal miracles of our unique form of representative government. It’s never static. It was put in place over 200 years ago as a constant exploration of “doubt,” and it is at the very heart of every election cycle.
Yet you probably won’t find any reference to this core debate in the television ads, radio interviews, and political flyers of congressional and senatorial candidates today. Instead we see finger pointing, accusations of corruption, single-issue rhetoric, blame, and trivial comedy at the cost of one’s political opponent, even in expensive television debates.
What’s going on?
It’s simple. Your Learner/Researcher says that aligning with your Knower/Judger’s understanding of the world (whether you’re a gun-toting survivalist or a tree-hugging environmentalist) allows you to make the other guy look like scum. And if you make the other guy look bad, the voters will vote against him.
So you don’t have to convince voters to vote for you. You just convince them not to vote for the other candidate.
Today, voting is not about the candidate’s position on the Federalism versus anti-Federalism debate. It has to do with how the candidate accepted the pay raise Congress got last year, and how that makes him a thief.
Make a Learner/Researcher choice.
Since the 2008 election, the Hamiltonians have been on a roll. Programs have grown. Who’s to be taxed by how much to pay for programs is shifting. There’s nothing inherently wrong with what’s happening. The question is, what do you want?
Whether your Knower/Judger aligns with Hamilton or Jefferson, I urge you to get into your Learner/Researcher. Explore the “doubt.” Look behind the rhetoric and finger-pointing and personal insults, and vote for the person who truly aligns with your vision of an American future. Research the candidates’ stand on key indicators in the debate (the size of federal programs, taxation, project funding, etc.), and please don’t just “not vote” for someone identified as the worst human being on the planet—by the other candidate!