AMERICAN FORUM

By Antonio Gonzalez and Kathleen Rogers

On September 17, 1787, a group of visionaries and leaders signed our Constitution. They were intent on creating a functioning government based on universal truths and extraordinary principles in an environment complicated by disparate regional economies and wildly divergent parochial interests. Back then, differing proposals for the shape of our government divided our country into two camps, but the necessity to address the need for a common defense and a cohesive economic policy made our Constitution a great pragmatic solution that brought together two polarized sides.

Within a few years of our Constitution’s signing, these political camps became political parties and they refined their differences as they mobilized. At times, violent partisanship became so common that outgoing president George Washington, in his farewell speech to the American public denounced the dangers of such divisions: “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.”

Notwithstanding his warning, our country has been fortunate to have had leaders that have embraced bipartisanship to produce some remarkable achievements worthy of the U.S. Constitutional framers. President Truman and a bipartisan coalition led the U.S. to invest in the Marshall Plan, which has cemented stable relations with Japan and Europe for the last 60 years. Lyndon Baines Johnson steered Congress through polemic waters in order to pass the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, despite the hit that he would take from the Southern Democrats. The best examples of bipartisanship result when thought-leaders of different perspectives came together on common principles and developed pragmatic solutions free of partisan politics.


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