Our Constitution; Triumph of Compromise and Negotiation.
James Madison, one of the Framers of the Constitution, our fourth president and widely considered to be the Constitution’s principal architect, made the following observation on what was going through his mind as the document that would become The Constitution was finally being signed.
“Whilst the last members were signing it, Doctor Franklin looking toward the President’s Chair, at the back of which a rising sun happened to be painted, observed to a few members near him that Painters had found it difficult to distinguish in their art a rising from a setting sun. I have, said he, often in the course of the Session…looked at that [sun] behind the President without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting: But now at length I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not a setting Sun.”
Our Constitution was signed and became the bedrock of our nation because men with different backgrounds and points of view were willing to compromise some of their own beliefs in order to achieve the ultimate goal. There was disagreement within the group on matters such as how to apportion representation in the Congress, on slavery, and on the manner in which a president should be elected, among other, more parochial, matters. In the end, they came together and agreed on a document that they did not consider perfect but which, as we know today, has withstood the test of time, of many disagreements and of a civil war, and which has made us the nation that we are today.
Compromise and negotiation gave us our nation. Today, however, many of our representatives do not believe in compromise and negotiation, apparently regarding them as weaknesses of character. As is sometimes said, it has to be their way or the highway. And perhaps if they had been in the shoes of the Framers, it would have been the highway and the Constitution which so many of them now claim to defend would not have come to be.
They should consider that recalcitrance more often leads to bloodshed and war which must eventually ensue if reason, compromise and negotiation, fail.