Yet while they differed, they also compromised when necessary — as they did during the ‘‘Dinner Table Bargain’’ that resulted in Washington becoming the nation’s capital instead of New York, Philadelphia or elsewhere.
‘‘They weren’t at each other’s throats politically. They could get together on a major issue,’’ Randall says. ‘‘They wanted the union to survive, so they compromised where they had to for the good of it. That’s the kind of tone there was. They were pragmatic idealists, and in Congress now, they are ideologues.’’
So how do we get back to those more reasonable roots?
The Democratic and Republican parties are strong, and they probably won’t face serious threats from third parties in the near future. They certainly won’t eliminate gerrymandering unless voters force it.
So maybe it’s time for something radical, or at least radically reasonable. Maybe this is the moment for a few of the frustrated Americans in the middle — many of whom reject the extremes, complain about stalemate and fear for the nation’s future — to take a risk.
What if they stepped forward as candidates with a promise that they'll do only what they think will solve the country’s big problems, regardless of what it could mean for their political careers? What if they rejected the strict adherence to orthodoxy that party bosses demand? What if they promised to only serve one term, choosing explicitly to put the country’s future over their own?
And then, by not going to Congress primarily to get re-elected, they just might end up with a surprising reward: getting re-elected.
Wouldn’t the country — not to mention this supposedly neutral city on the banks of the Potomac — be better for it?
EDITOR'S NOTE — Liz Sidoti is the national politics editor for The Associated Press. Follow her on Twitter: http://twitter.com/lsidoti