Thursday, October 26, 2006

Gridlock: On the Protection against Faction

There's a part of me that never left the political science department at Bureaucracy University.* This is the part that's still has a soft spot for Montesquieu, Mill, Madison, and other political philosophers that don't begin with "M". This is the part that understands things like separation of powers and dialectical materialism. This is the part that understands, as Mill and Hegel did, that conflict is not necessarily a bad thing, but can result in a form of creative destruction. Most importantly, this is the part that understands the value of gridlock - the complete inability to move a political agenda forward.

In the last six years we've seen what, back in a more politically attuned age, would have caused people to flood into the streets in violent mobs: wars, curtailment of civil liberties, increase of cronyism and nepotism, corruption, and, above all, incompetence at the highest levels. At the same time we have seen complete and total domination of one party at the expense of the other and at the expense of the good of the people that they supposedly represent and govern. I would go so far to suggest that these represent the hallmark of tyranny. And while others may try to make excuses for it, a tyranny of the majority is still tyranny.

In The Federalist Papers, Madison discusses at length the danger of faction. He argues that the remedy to the problem of the most egregious examples of faction, the tyranny of the majority, is a republican form of government with sufficient checks and balances [Federalist #10]. He says, "A pure democracy can admit no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will be felt by a majority, and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party." The only solution is to mitigate the effects of faction, by a division of the governmental structure into branches and bicameral legislative bodies.

So, while the Founders here never contemplated the rise of organized national political parties, the sentiments can be extrapolated just the same: the domination of any one faction needs to be mitigated. Majority faction must be checked in order to secure the rights of the minority. This, however, has not happened: one party, on faction, has now come to dominate all three branches of government. The result is exactly what Madison predicted: the mischiefs of faction.

The point is this folks: gridlock - for lack of a better work - is good.

Gridlock crushes a rampaging majority.

Gridlock slows the trampling of rights.

Gridlock allows compromise and clearer heads to prevail.

Gridlock, that dirty word that politicians rail against, will save this country from the unintended consequences of its own desires.

So on November 7th: vote for America; vote for gridlock.

* Go Fightin' Triplicates!

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