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"Ambition To Counteract Ambition”
Why it's better to have two political parties instead of only one.
By JOHN LEAKE
Throughout American history, partisan passions have always run strong. Think of the lethal duel between Alexander Hamilton (a Federalist) and Aaron Burr (a Republican). Or Preston Brooks (a pro-slavery Democrat) who beat Charles Sumner (an abolitionist Republican) almost to death with a heavy cane on the Senate floor.
Though such partisan passions often bring out the worst in people, it is hard to imagine a free republic without at least two political parties. If there were just one unified and disciplined party running the show, the lack of debate and counterbalance would likely result in tyranny. One-party states are almost invariably dictatorships.
James Madison understood this well and wrote extensively about it. As he put it, “ambition must be made to counteract ambition” as a way to limit the power of government. It’s easy to lose sight of this when we feel disgust and contempt, but if we are going to avoid civil war in this country, we’d better not let these emotions get the better of us.
This is one of the reasons why I wrote earlier today that even Republicans and dedicated Donald Trump supporters should welcome Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s candidacy for the 2024 presidential election. Many commentators responded to my post by suggesting that the entire Democratic Party is so irredeemably corrupt as to warrant abolishing it altogether.
This strikes me as neither possible nor desirable. Far better would be for a reasonable and honorable patriot like RFK, Jr. to make a contribution to moderating the party—to talking candidly about its problems and leading it back to integrity and prudence. When the opposing candidates are both respectable and respectful, they can debate in good faith without producing all of the dreadfully hard feelings we witnessed in 2016 and 2020.