Almost from its birth, America has been pulled in the direction of maximum individual liberty by Thomas Jefferson’s idea that the government that governs least governs best, and in the opposite direction by Alexander Hamilton’s belief in centralized power. It is the perpetual but equal conflict between these extremes that generates the binding force … Too much Jefferson could lead to anarchy, too much Hamilton to tyranny.
Phil Caputo in “What Unites These States?”
“Reader’s Digest”, August 2013, P. 130-137
Drawn from Caputo’s 2013 book, The Longest Road.
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Tension between leaders can be a source of unity.
Caputo and his wife traveled some 6,000 miles from Key West, FL, to Deadhorse, AK, visiting with people all along the way, seeking the answer to that question: What unites these states? He summarized the tension and dissension in America by referencing the views of these founding fathers. (Their vast differences have been noted regularly in this blog.)
While Jefferson didn’t write, “the government that governs least governs best,” there is a strong element of his thinking contained in those words. And Hamilton certainly did believe the opposite, that a strong central government was necessary to hold the nation together. The same tension that marked our nation’s earliest days continues yet today. Caputo suggests that tension that keeps America from going too far in either direction, toward anarchy or tyranny.
How did Caputo answer his own question? He ends this essay by offering the answer given by the woman who loaned them the Airstream for the 16,241 mile way-around-trip. What unites these states? “It’s hope,” she said. “Isn’t that what it’s always been?”
Well said. Mr. Jefferson would agree.
“Our members were very pleased,
and we are still hearing positive comments and rave reviews.”
Associate Director, Oregon School Boards Association
To have your audience be very pleased, invite Thomas Jefferson to speak!
Call Patrick Lee, 573-657-2739