“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. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.”
Who was this, who was so worried about putting party over country? Who warned the country about despotism?
A little further into the letter, he continues:
“All obstructions to the execution of the Laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels, and modified by mutual interests.
“However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people, and to usurp for themselves the reins of government; destroying afterwards the very engines, which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”
The author is George Washington, in a letter penned during his second term, widely considered his farewell address. Years back, Washington resigned his military commission, sending a message to every country around the world, that the colonies would not be under the control of one man.
After serving his second term, Washington was happy to retire and attend John Adams’ inauguration. Adams, however lost the next election to political rival Thomas Jefferson, who he had defeated four years earlier. Adams slipped away quietly in the early morning, not attending Jefferson’s inauguration. It was the first peaceful transition of power to a different political party. It also just happened to be an election where there was a question of legality of ballots that went for votes against Adams.
How about that?