The Science Behind Political Polarization

Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

Our nation’s founders seemingly thought of everything…

With Jefferson outlining so clearly and passionately our founding principles in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truth’s to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…

To James Madison concisely enumerating guidelines to effectively govern our united states in the Constitution and Bill of Rights: “We the People of the United States in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the Unites States of America.

Yet none of the founders initially envisioned there would be political parties. They assumed Americans citizens would simply use common sense to elect the candidate they felt would best represent them.

So, back at the beginning, during a presidential election, the one who received the most votes became president, and the one who received the second largest number of votes became vice president.

Immediately following his signing the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Franklin set sail for France, becoming the first Minister of France, living in Paris for eight years.

Thomas Jefferson replaced Benjamin Franklin as the Minister of France and called Paris his home for seven years.

John Adams also resided across the Atlantic for a number of years as a diplomat in several European countries.

Three Founding Fathers, three key visionaries, were outside the country when our very young nation was still a tiny sapling and very impressionable.

Back on the home front, an ambitious brilliant young military officer named Alexander Hamilton, rose in the ranks to become Aide-de-camp to General George Washington during the Revolutionary War, and was a key figure in the decisive victory at the Battle of Yorktown that won the Revolutionary War. This was a stunning success. Alexander Hamilton was now at the top of his game.

Because Alexander Hamilton had become a close confident to George Washington during the war, and because of Hamilton’s immense ambition and passion for money and wealth, after George Washington was sworn in as first President of the United States, he named Alexander Hamilton as his Secretary of the Treasury, and Thomas Jefferson as his Secretary of State.

This dynamic became quite tumultuous soon after Jefferson and Hamilton began working together.

Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, who ardently believed everything he’d written in this historic document, was the champion of the hard-working industrious farmers and firmly espoused that the common man could govern himself and live freely on the expansive verdant land that seemed to stretch on indefinitely to infinity.

Hamilton believed that only the wealthy and privileged would have the proper amount of education necessary for governing and that America should be run similar to a monarchy, or even an autocracy — with an iron-fist.

Jefferson was startled that Hamilton had forgotten the principles outlined in our founding documents. Hamilton was in disbelief that Jefferson thought farmers were educated enough to know how to make good decisions. Jefferson was unnerved that Washington had such high regards for Hamilton after the war, and that Hamilton had far more say on critical issues than Jefferson. Hamilton soon formed the Federalists. Jefferson eventually countered by forming the anti-Federalists who later became known as the Democratic Republicans.

These were our first political parties. Two polar opposites.

So you see, it was Jefferson and Hamilton who taught us how political polarization happens in a democracy. The Declaration of Independence and Constitution are in the middle. Our nation’s principles and beliefs seem to be very clearly defined so there won’t be any mistakes about how to apply them to our modern life.

However, as soon as one key player or group/party becomes extreme with interpretation, there immediately forms an opposition group to offset this force — thankfully. This process is very scientific and is easy to visualize.

Thus, the extreme polarization created by our current president, is a measure of how far off the center of our founding principles this new negative force has taken us. The resistant opposition currently battling trump and the GOP, is a predictable outcome based on Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion. The same outcome as was seen with Thomas Jefferson’s resistance to Alexander Hamilton.

Now that we understand what’s been taking place this past year and the science behind it, it’s easier to see what needs to be done to correct the situation. It seems that the only way to really stop these polarizing swings is to get back to the middle. But until we get back there, we need to maintain a fierce opposition the same way Jefferson did.


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