After gaining their independence from England, a committee of colonial representatives convened in Philadelphia to write rule of law for the newly formed country. Thirteen diverse colonies had unified to fight a common enemy. The writers had to create a document that unified but would be acceptable to thirteen different states. For that reason, The Constitution of the United States is known as a document of compromises. To legislate and execute its laws common ground had to be found.
Authors of the Constitution intended that it would not be a static document. They avoided specifics and included “tools” (amendment process, elastic clause, precedents, interpretation) to make it a ‘living document’, capable of adapting to change.
Political Parties are not mentioned in the Constitution. In his first term President George Washington appointed a Cabinet, a team of assistants and advisers, setting a precedent. The first Cabinet positions were Secretary of State (Thomas Jefferson), Secretary of Treasury (Alexander Hamilton), and Secretary of War (General Edmund Randolph). Jefferson’s political ideology differed from that of Hamilton and Adams, which caused division. In his Farewell Address to Congress, George Washington warned against forming political parties.
A political party is like a club formed in support of ideology. Each club establishes its own rules. Its purpose is to select and gain the election of candidates that will represent party ideology. The rules do not have to be democratic. Political parties are divisive, so our country is best served when there is moderate representation from both sides. A pendulum has been used to demonstrate the historic tendency of our electorate to swing back and forth between liberalism and conservatism. When the movement stays in the center there is common ground. When a party, or both parties, choose to elect only extremists we have tribalism and gridlock.