They warned us.
230 years ago the Federalist Papers admonished us about what would happen if we let partisanship run wild in our nation. The clearest warning comes in Federalist No. 10. Generally ascribed to Madison, it is a continuation of Hamilton’s essay entitled: “The Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction.”
Both worried that direct democracy would be a danger to individual rights, because a “common passion could be felt by the majority, and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party.” Their hope was that a larger republic could check these partisan passions.
Both sides are to blame in the present shutdown debacle: Republicans for pushing their “defund Obamacare” agenda too far and Democrats for refusing to compromise. George Washington predicted what would happen if one party alternately dominated over the other: dissention, revenge, and paralysis, eventually broken by political tyranny.
We aren’t up to the tyranny part yet, but so far we’re following the Founders’ script. Let’s hope our leaders can find a way back.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer