By Mike Maharrey
A faction-first mentality leads to tyranny.
Put in more modern terminology, “faction first” means “party first.” In other words, looking at something as right or wrong based on who is doing it, rather than the Constitution.
Thomas Gordon was widely read by the founders, and he understood the dynamics of faction. In 1744, he warned about the dangers of a faction-first mentality.
“It is with measures as with men; they are praised or condemned not because they are right or wrong, beneficial or hurtful, but because they come from this party, or the other.”
As Gordon goes on to show, parties lead to a cult of personality. And following an individual erodes morality.
“When we have taken a Fancy to a Man, and chuse or consider him as our Chief and Leader, we are disposed to see all Excellency and no Fault in him, to think him every way able to serve and support us, and quite uncapable of betraying or hurting us, or of ill serving us. We represent him to ourselves, just like ourselves, full of warm Zeal for Us and our Cause, without any Views to himself, or any Motives that are personal… Party Principles are therefore substituted for moral Principles.”
In his farewell address, George Washington also warned us about faction, saying, “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.” [Emphasis added]
That’s pretty much where we are today. Most people take a team-first approach to almost every issue. Positions flip-flop based on who is in power. And as it continues over time it keeps getting worse and worse and worse. Washington warned that this will eventually lead 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.”
The only way to reverse this process is to put principle over party. It shouldn’t be about Republican vs. Democrat, or Team Red vs. Team Blue, or Trump vs. Biden. It should be about following the Constitution — every issue, every time, no exception, no excuses.