1 The Idea of a Non-party State

For it is the nature and intention of a constitution to prevent governing by party.

—Thomas Paine, 1795

SO OFTEN IN THE PAST CENTURY, THE POLITICAL HISTORY OF America reveals a paralysis in the highest levels of our government. Legislation fails to pass, budgets are voted down, compromise seems impossible, and the problems of the nation are neither addressed nor solved. There have been brief periods, of course, when this was not the case: the New Deal is usually held up as an example of a time when American politicians came together to fundamentally transform the nature and the political landscape of our country. But in the generations since then, more often than not we have seen gridlock rather than collaboration. ...

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