New Federalist Papers



The Era of Good Feelings

For the first time in this series, the New Federalist Papers will focus on our national character. If we will govern ourselves, what kind of people will we be? What virtues and strengths will define us? As we work to replace this bankrupt system with real solutions, it is important to explicitly reject partisanship in our government.

Believe it or not, there was a time when the 2-Party system collapsed, and politics was not such a contentious matter. During the Era of Good Feelings, the 2nd Bank of the United States financed projects that guaranteed economic growth to most free Americans. Farmers and merchants alike were able to use the system of canals and roads to trade their goods at a fair price, resulting in widespread feelings of optimism about the future. President Monroe sought to actively avoid partisanship in his appointments and policies, with the explicit goal of slowly ending partisan discord. As a result, the opposition Federalist party withered away, and Monroe ran unopposed for his 2nd term, the only president ever to do so.


The Danger of Partisanship


Partisanship is not benign. It may appear to be a convenient way to summarize our ideas. But in reality, it has unintended consequences that shape our thinking. When we affiliate with a political party, this develops an "us vs. them" aspect to our thinking. We begin to see the world in terms of our "team" against the opposing team, rather than seeing our neighbors as fellow Americans who we are working with in a spirit of cooperation. This can lead to effects that are difficult to notice, such as discounting ideas from the other side, or assuming they will always make the wrong decision. When sufficiently reinforced, partisanship leads to tribalism, which is the root of political violence. Now, instead of battling the oligarchs that are destroying our country, we our fighting our fellow Americans.


The Partisan Brain

Partisanship disables our ability to think clearly. It makes us think fuzzy thoughts, blindly accepting ideas from our own "team", while blindly rejecting ideas from the other "team." This is called memetic thinking, where we substitute things that we have heard for our own thoughts, often without realizing it.

For example, the Founders, from Washington to Hamilton to Jefferson all supported internal improvements: canals, roads, and eventually rail. They understood that government could build some projects at an advantage relative to the private market, and that access to transportation would free farmers from private tyranny in the form on transportation monopolies.Yet many people today might reject such infrastructure projects based solely on memetic thinking about "big government" being bad, while at the same time calling for a return to the vision of America that the Founders presented! The fact is, the Founders wanted big government doing things that government is good at, and small government for things the government is not good at. Neither party represents that ideal today, so both parties deserve criticism for their errors, and neither party is ever going to solve our problems without significant changes.


The Need to Wipe Partisan Thinking From Our Minds


Think for yourself.


The strongest force perpetuating the current system is "whataboutism." This is the tendency for people to respond to all criticisms of their own party with "what about your party?" This incessant need to identify with the Republicans or Democrats makes people like they can't criticize their own party without endorsing the other party. Guess what: they're both wrong sometimes!

We can have 20% economic growth, 0% taxes, and no cuts to essential government services (See New Federalist #5). Anyone who does not understand these ideas, or will not support them is a fraud. Do not vote for frauds. Do not defend frauds. And definitely don't waste another second of your life arguing about which fraud is better than the others!

The battle against partisanship begins with each of us. We must stop dividing ourselves from our countrymen by using party, and ideological language to describe one another. Begin using precise language; what do you believe about this proposal, and why? What are your reasons for doing so? When we discuss government with others, we must focus on reasoning from principles, rather than arguing about politically-charged ideology.

When we stop dividing against each other, and unite with our fellow Americans, the 2nd American Revolution will be won without firing a shot.



Further Reading: