America Is Now the Divided Republic the Framers Feared

John Adams worried that “a division of the republic into two great parties … is to be dreaded as the great political evil.” And that’s exactly what has come to pass.

George Washington’s farewell address is often remembered for its warning against hyper-partisanship: “The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism.” John Adams, Washington’s successor, similarly worried that “a division of the republic into two great parties … is to be dreaded as the great political evil.”

America has now become that dreaded divided republic. The existential menace is as foretold, and it is breaking the system of government the Founders put in place with the Constitution.

The theory that guided Washington and Adams was simple, and widespread at the time. If a consistent partisan majority ever united to take control of the government, it would use its power to oppress the minority. The fragile consent of the governed would break down, and violence and authoritarianism would follow. This was how previous republics had fallen into civil wars, and the Framers were intent on learning from history, not repeating its mistakes.

James Madison, the preeminent theorist of the bunch and rightly called the father of the Constitution, supported the idea of an “extended republic” (a strong national government, as opposed to 13 loosely confederated states) for precisely this reason. In a small republic, he reasoned, factions could more easily unite into consistent governing majorities. But in a large republic, with more factions and more distance, a permanent majority with a permanent minority was less likely.

The Framers thought they were using the most advanced political theory of the time to prevent parties from forming. By separating powers across competing institutions, they thought a majority party would never form. Combine the two insights—a large, diverse republic with a separation of powers—and the hyper-partisanship that felled earlier republics would be averted. Or so they believed.

From the mid-1960s through the mid-’90s, American politics had something more like a four-party system, with liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans alongside liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats. Conservative Mississippi Democrats and liberal New York Democrats might have disagreed more than they agreed in Congress, but they could still get elected on local brands. You could have once said the same thing about liberal Vermont Republicans and conservative Kansas Republicans. Depending on the issue, different coalitions were possible, which allowed for the kind of fluid bargaining the constitutional system requires.

The Democrats, the party of diversity and cosmopolitan values, came to dominate in cities but disappeared from the exurbs. And the Republicans, the party of traditional values and white, Christian identity, fled the cities and flourished in the exurbs. Partisan social bubbles began to grow, and congressional districts became more distinctly one party or the other. As a result, primaries, not general elections, determine the victor in many districts.

Over the past three decades, both parties have had roughly equal electoral strength nationally, making control of Washington constantly up for grabs. Since 1992, the country has cycled through two swings of the pendulum, from united Democratic government to divided government to united Republican government and back again, with both sides seeking that elusive permanent majority, and attempting to sharpen the distinctions between the parties in order to win it. This also intensified partisanship.

These triple developments—the nationalization of politics, the geographical-cultural partisan split, and consistently close elections—have reinforced one another, pushing both parties into top-down leadership, enforcing party discipline, and destroying cross-partisan deal making. Voters now vote the party, not the candidate. Candidates depend on the party brand. Everything is team loyalty. The stakes are too high for it to be otherwise.

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Here we go again. The OP complains about the rise of two monolithic parties by stereotyping the two major parties. Naturally Democrats are the party welcoming diversity and hosting sophisticated cosmopolitan values while Republicans are the party of white Christian identity, white supremacists. Conveniently ignored is the terrible impact of Democrat policies masquerading as compassion in cities like Baltimore and states like California.

Waa, Trump won. Worse, his policies are delivering real benefits like the lowest unemployment in history to urban non whites. Quick, cite the very Founders the Left previously vilified as rich, white male, slave holders, as authorities warning against the two party system. Well, really warning against a party headed by the bad Orange man. :grimacing:

Never mind the sham impeachment engineered by hyperpartisan Democrats. Proceedings so corrupt the only bipartisan support came in opposition. The real problem is Republicans refusing to join the lynch mob. :roll_eyes:

There’s PLENTY of blame to go around but blaming the current affair on one side is sure to perpetuate the problem.

As if you are not guilty with your regular TDS nonsense?

Unfortunately they are pretty much spot on.

Eliminate the major cities and there are virtually zero democrats or democrat counties.

In Colorado, Eliminate Denver, Boulder, Greeley, Ft Collins and Aurora, from the population base and the state is overwhelming red. So it gos in every state with major cities.

The point being is the democrats have engineered a highly partisan group of party that are unwilling to compromise. The expect to take over politics and have it remain democrat forever. They expect half the country to just suck it up.
Not likely to happen.

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Clearly you didn’t read the article.

Good article.

Sadly, the divide is so deep now I don’t know that there’s any coming back.

I totally agree.

Have a retired professor brother in law who was staying with us that was so radically left that I said, enough is enough, pack you junk and freeload on someone else.

Haven’t spoke with hime since.

He of course is totally right and claimed I was infringing on his right of free speech in my home.

Shame on me.


Which party has been engaged in a scorched earth campaign of so-called Resistance since the 2016 election? Which party looks the other way when thugs on a national scale engage in violent riots? What party did the member of Congress, a committee chair no less, who exhorted a mob in a park to form groups to harass members of the Trump administration when they are seen in public?

Which party pushed through a sham impeachment inquiry by whatever means necessary using secret proceedings followed by a strict party line vote to impeach. I note that you enthusiastically endorsed the kangaroo court, anything to do away with the administration of bad Orange man.

It’s nothing but blatant propaganda to suggest both sides share equal blame when the Democrat Resistance has been burning the village to “save” it. :roll_eyes:


Again, as long as you blame everything on one side, you’re being naive, hyper partisan and contributing to the decline.

Oh you want to start fresh after the last blast from the anti trump democrats or do you want everyone to forget everything they have done for the last 3 years.

Are you done blaming trump for everything and start all over beginning when, after the next election if a democrat happens to stumble into the WH?

The same thing the left was saying after a witch hunt during the presidency of Bill Clinton. A hunt that started out after real estate deals that happened long before he was president, spanned both terms, and ended up convicting him of something wholly unrelated. FUCK the partisan hypocrisy of the right.

And most people have the same resulting attitude to the hyper partisan ship you bring here very day.
Fuck the partisan hypocrisy of the left and the anti trump hatred you bring here daily.

And that gig is about over with. No worries.

Not without a fight aka another…civil war!

More and more deplorable Americans are beginning to feel that way.

How blind can you be to ignore the Dems palace coup as soon as Trump won the election over the "Revered " HRC.Remember he won the required number of Electoral College votes.
Since then , the Dems have done everything they can to oppose and oust Trump, dividing the country with the help of their allies in the media.
Both Clintons have a trail of questionable dealings in their wake. Cigar Bill lied under oath.
You ignore Schmobamas admin with its phony obstruction charge and the clowns in the DOJ with the Steele Dossier.
Ptesident Trump is a people person going to where the voters are to discredit the divisive Dems.
There will be mass suicides and people jumping out of windows after Trump is reelected.

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Again beadencup, the republicans did the same thing to Clinton, worse. Barely in office a year they began investigating a “real estate crime” he allegedly committed long before he was even president…:flushed::flushed::flushed::flushed::flushed:. Imagine if the democrats had done that.

The republican witch hunt continued on for well over four years spanning both his terms, they even tried to pin the suicide of Vince Foster on him, they settled upon him lying about a relationship with an intern that DIDN’T EVEN WORK AT THE WHITE HOUSE when the investigation began… Let that sink in.

How could anything be worse than the Steele Dossier and the conduct of Strozk,McCabe and others. Thry had no real evidence of obstruction.
There are no questionable " suicides " of former Trump associates.

Oh look, the same person who haughtily dismissed the Democrats engineering a partisan kangaroo court impeachment targeting President Trump now whines about poor Bubba getting mistreated. :roll_eyes:

You do recall that Clinton’s impeachment inquiry was conducted under the fair rules adopted for Nixon? You do remember that Clinton’s impeachment had bipartisan support?

Oh but it’s just so easy to mindlessly complain about Clinton impeached for lying to a grand jury. As Democrats so frequently spout, no one is above the law except if they are a Democrat. :smile:

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