A Braver Way Episode 11

Episode 11: How to fight right with Hamilton and Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton were our nation’s first fierce partisan political rivals. What lessons can the famously long-winded hothead and his calculating, duplicitous political opponent offer our political brawls today? Historian Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky explains, and then we reflect: What makes some clashes more productive than others? And with passionate disagreement baked into our system of government, how do we make sure, in 2024, that we’re truly fighting right?
Credits
Host: Mónica Guzmán
Senior Producer & Editor: David Albright
Producer: Jessica Jones
Contributor: April Lawson
Artist in Residence: Gangstagrass
Cover Art & Graphics: Katelin Annes
Show notes: Ben Caron and Don Goldberg
Featured Song: “Come Unity” by Brother Joe 
A production of Braver Angels
Financial Supporters: M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust and Reclaim Curiosity 
Sponsors: USAFacts 
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Introduction & Welcome [00:00]

  Mónica introduces today’s topic, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, our nation’s first fierce partisan political rivals. What lessons can we learn from their stories? [1:30]

  Mónica introduces our guest, Historian Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky [5:42]

  Lightning Round: Which figure would be more likely to (insert modern context)?: Jefferson or Hamilton [7:00]

  How did Hamilton and Jefferson disagree? What characterized their individual styles? [9:38]

  Lindsay discusses how Washington chose both Hamilton and Jefferson to be in his cabinet very intentionally.  [12:12]

  • Lindsay: “Washington had intentionally sought out both of them to be in the cabinet and worked hard to keep them in the cabinet because he wanted both perspectives and told them as much. He was very explicit about this. And in his decisions, you can almost see him going back and forth between Hamilton and Jefferson.”


Mónica and Lindsay discuss the concept and myth of the “virtuous republican” and how Jefferson and Hamilton didn’t always live up to this ideal. [12:34]

  • Lindsay: “I think the fact that there are a lot of examples is actually really encouraging because we have this idea that there’s like this golden age of politicians when everyone acted nicely and that does not exist.” 

  • Lindsay: “One of the things about history that is so important is we are often really bad at assessing what is important, what is going to stand the test of time, who won, you know, what decisions are good decisions and bad decisions in the moment, and where it takes us a very long time to be able to let go of the emotional weight or the emotional color that we felt about those things.”


  Lindsay summarizes the key aspects of the differences between Jefferson and Hamilton and how much of a threat to the nation they considered the other to be. [21:00]

  • Lindsay: “Hamilton definitely had to think of as a more cosmopolitan approach to what the nation should be. He believed the federal government should be big and strong. It should invest in the military. It should invest in trade. It should invest in infrastructure, by 18th century terms, it should invest in industry and manufacturing. He believed that a relationship with Great Britain was really important because they were the biggest trade partner with the United States and so the economy really depended on it. And he tended to cozy up to merchants and bankers and he lived in city centers and believed that cities were going to be a place where ingenuity and trade and the market flourished in the future.”

  • Lindsay: “Jefferson was definitely more of what was called a yeoman farmer vision, and that the idea behind that was he believed that every white man should have a farm that was big enough to support his family such that he could be financially independent and therefore could be a good citizen and a voter and make decisions separate from their financial interests. He believed that the nation should be closest allies with France because they had been the sister in revolution. He distrusted and disliked Britain. He thought that cities were spaces of sin and corruption and cronyism and of course a little bit of trade was essential because if you’re gonna be a farmer and you’re gonna produce things then you have to sell them somewhere, but he didn’t want the government super large. He didn’t want military investment. He didn’t want the government interfering with things like industry or infrastructure and generally preferred a smaller vision.”


  Mónica asks Lindsay if either Hamilton or Jefferson’s fear of one another’s vision was accurate? [24:44]

  • Lindsay: “Almost all of our best presidents are fairly moderate because they believe in compromise. They believe it’s important to pull from multiple different perspectives And that’s why Washington wanted both of them in the cabinet because they did bring the different perspectives. But if Hamilton had had his way The United States would have been at war with France in 1798 which could have been fatal to the Republic. If Jefferson had his way then the United States would have probably been at war with Great Britain earlier and that could have been fatal. And so there were real dangers in both perspectives if they were pursued to their extreme ends.”


  Did Hamilton or Jefferson find alignment or compromise with one another? [27:00]

  • Lindsay: “I think there were times when they were either in alignment and there were times when they were in alignment and then there were places when they were forced to compromise and I don’t know that they would have wanted to admit it but I think long term they often agreed that the compromise was a good idea as so for example, Jefferson didn’t want, he had opposed the National Bank. Hamilton had been very supportive of it. Once Jefferson was president, he acknowledged that the bank was actually quite useful and he kept it and he used it and it made his presidency better.”


  Lindsay shares how Washington saw Jefferson and Hamilton’s rivalry and his sadness around their contentiousness  [28:39]

  • Lindsay: “I think what made him so sad about the cabinet was this same methodology of having the meetings and the written opinions and the family dinners, it really worked during the war. And I think that’s because they were fighting against a common enemy. . And so I think Washington just felt so much disappointment that that same process didn’t work in the cabinet.

  How Jefferson and Hamilton saw one another as dangerous, and how that relates to today [31:33]

  • Lindsay: “Often in our society, we can look at a problem and multiple different parts of society will see it coming from different places. Like, you know, there’s those polls that say ‘do you think that democracy is in danger’ or ‘do you think we’re heading in the wrong direction?’ Often people on totally different ends will agree, will say yes, but if you dig into it they say yes for very different reasons.”


  Mónica asks if the nation is better for the rivalry between Hamilton and Jefferson and what advice they’d give us now [33:28]

  • Lindsay: “I think that there was a risk that had either view been predominant in, especially in the first couple of years, the nation could have gone down one of the more extreme paths. And Washington was much better off and much better president made better choices by having both perspectives and often finding a middle line in between the two of them.

  • Lindsay: “They demonstrated civic virtue, which is recognizing that the thing they were trying to say was much larger than them as a person or their political aims and so they would encourage everyone to do the same to remember that it is about the long game and the stakes are much higher and one person’s political outcome is way less important than the survival of the nation.”

  Introducing our new media partners: KUOW and Deseret News [36:06]

  Introducing our supporting partner: FIRE | Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression [36:49]


  Mónica reflects on her interview with Lindsay Chervinsky [37:48]

  Mónica and April discuss what they’ve learned about Jefferson and Hamilton’s founding rivalry and how it relates to today [39:11]

  • April: ​​”Honestly, the biggest lesson that I drew in terms of what to do that they did was that they stayed in the room.”

  • Mónica: “One of the big lessons I want our elected officials and all of us to take away is that this nation is not one that we ever stopped building, right? The stakes were really high for them because it was the first years and everything was important, all the precedents, and gosh, poor George Washington, he was really burdened by the weight of that. Oh, I can only imagine. Why aren’t we? We’re still building this thing.”

  • Mónica: “I think the lesson from Hamilton and Jefferson is turn it (the heat) up! Turn it up! So that you can be real and you can get angry. But don’t avoid each other. Stay in the arena. Stay in the heat. Let it cook and do it for the good of what at least we say we’re trying to build together.”


  April lets her “partisan side out” and discusses the question of does the “blue side” of politics want to reject America rather than build it? [45:07]

  • Mónica: “I think we’re weak on communicating a love of the country. We’re really weak on that. Because I don’t think it is credible for someone to be pointing out a lot of problems that are difficult to accept and embrace and take a lot of work to go through. The person who’s trying to poke, poke, poke to get us to do that will not be taken seriously if all they seem to be saying is that everything sucks and that we suck. That can’t work.”


  April talks about “Rupture and Repair” and introduces the idea of “The Anger of Hope.” [49:47]

  • April: “I think that if we could all learn one thing, it’s to recognize the anger of hope as an attempt to repair. I feel like with a lot of things we’re teetering on the edge of the anger of hope or the anger of despair.”

  • Mónica: “The real death of our Democratic Republic is when we stop caring, when we stop engaging, if either Hamilton or Jefferson had said like, I’m done, you know, and actually said, ‘forget it, like I’m done.’ Like that would have been potentially the worst thing that could have happened.”


  Mónica shares the importance of fighting productively and skillfully, and how the musical “Hamilton” inspires her to contemplate [52:26]

  • Mónica: “In some ways, it’s not about turning down the heat. It’s turning it up, being in the room. – Inside relationship…don’t avoid your emotional state. Again, get the heck away from the cameras. Be in a place where you can really notice and let come up what’s there. That’s courage.”


  Mónica talks about Braver Angels and how to join as a member  [58:27]

  Closing song: “Come Unity” by Brother Joe [59:46]

  Closing credits and invitation to reach out with questions [1:00:17]

Mónica Guzmán:

Today, we dive in with two giants in American history whose political fights were as bitter as they come. 

Lindsay Chervinsky:

One of the questions I often get is like, who’s vision won? 

Mónica:

Yeah.

Lindsay:

And the truth is that they both won. 

Mónica:

Then thinking about how those two fought in their day helps us apply the lessons in our own. 

April Lawson:

My partisan side is trying to come out, but I’ll let a chill for a minute. 

Mónica:

Oh, well, I mean, aren’t we talking about turning up the heat in the room? 

April:

I guess we are. I just, like, I think specifically… 

Mónica:

All that and more is just ahead. 

(music up and under)

Welcome to A Braver Way, a show about how you can disagree about politics without losing heart. I’m Mónica Guzmán, your guide across the divide. And I’m here to help you hear and be heard by people who confound you.

Across this country, we are proudly conservative, liberal, independent, or just ourselves. And we don’t want to be at war here. We want to be at home. So, strap in, because it’s time we learn how to turn up the heat, turn down the fear, and get real about things that matter with more of our fellow Americans than we thought possible. 

(music out)

Mónica:

Hello everyone. Welcome to a divided America. No one knows what vision for our future is going to win out or what America really is in the present. There are wars abroad sparking huge debates at home. The leaders of our two major political parties can’t stand each other and launch attacks constantly in the press.

Meanwhile, people go about their business, worried in the back of their minds, if not the front, that our Democratic Republic is going to fall apart. I am not talking about Donald Trump and Joe Biden, or Democrats and Republicans. I’m not even talking about 2024. What I am talking about is an even more precarious time in our nation’s history, the 1790s, and America’s first fierce partisan political rivals, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. 

(music up and under)

Why am I taking you back a quarter millennium for tips to get our political act together today?

For a long time, I saw these two American icons as stately statesmen of the highest order. A picture in my mind from high school history class was basically white wigs and genius. Sure, the founding fathers were bloody revolutionaries, and Hamilton did die in a duel, but other than that, I just assumed that when they argued over the fate of our nation, I don’t know, they did it over tea and pound cake, and that the conversation sparkled with civility. I could not have been more wrong.

Alexander Hamilton, the founder of a political faction known as the Federalist Party, was a total hothead with no self -restraint. You know that person in your life who gets worked up about something and then goes on and on and on and on? That’s Alex. 

Lindsay:

Hamilton was boundless in his energy and his efforts on behalf of whatever plan it was that he was pursuing.

Mónica:

And Thomas Jefferson? Well, he spun up the Federalist’s worst nightmare, the Democratic Republican Party. He was deliberate, calculating. 

Lindsay:

Jefferson’s asset was, he was patient. He was willing to play the long game and he was good at that. 

Mónica:

By 1793, Jefferson and Hamilton’s founding father resumes shined.

Tom, governor of Virginia, foreign policy guru, author of the Declaration of Independence. Alex, war hero, financial prodigy, author of the Constitution fortifying Federalist Papers. But that scorching summer, their current day jobs were testing everything they thought they knew about what was right for America and how to fight for it. 

(patriotic music up and under)

Jefferson was Secretary of State. Hamilton was Secretary of the Treasury. The two had diametrically opposed ideas about how to balance power between the federal government and the states, how to structure our economy, whether the heart of our land laid in the city or the country, how to treat our allies abroad, what it even meant, a measly five years after we ratified the U.S. Constitution, to be an American. And they both had to face off day in and day out as members of President George Washington’s cabinet.

You might have noticed those tensions that divided Jefferson and Hamilton then still divide us today. And just like so many of us in 2024, these two did not see each other as mere political adversaries, they saw each other as mortal threats to a vulnerable nation they loved. So no, their biggest disagreements did not sparkle with civility. They simmered with rage, resentment, frustration. To be crass, they did everything in 1793 that this podcast is telling you not to do in 2024. Or are we? 

Welcome to an episode where we draw lessons on better political disagreements from an unlikely place–the rivalry between two passionately partisan American icons, whose clashes got too ugly, but stayed real. My guest today is Lindsay Chervinsky. She’s a renowned historian on political culture and all things founding fathers, and in her book “The Cabinet “she gets up close and personal with the imperfect men who turned the heat way up on their disagreements, but didn’t burn it all down. What can Hamilton and Jefferson teach us about how to fight right for what we believe in? Here’s my conversation with Lindsay Chervinsky.

Lindsay:

I’m always really interested in how people use power, how it changes them, how it affects them, how they can leave their thumbprint on history. And because the founding period, they were creating so much new stuff and there were so few people in office or in positions of power, each individual personality, each specific choice had so much like outsized impact on our national story. And that was really fascinating to me because I’m always interested in how do the personalities actually shape things? How do the interactions shape things? How do the petty animosities and the fights and the grudges, how does that shape how they thought about politics? Cause we know that it shapes how people think about politics today. And so, this period really just captured my imagination.

Mónica:

I can see why. So, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, these two giant rivals, with lots of personality it seems. Each of them. I wanted to bring some of the spirit of the 1790s, if you will, into this election year and this political and media climate with a lightning round. Are you ready for this?

Lindsay:

I am.

Mónica:

Okay, so here’s what we’re going to do. I’m gonna to say, you know, let’s imagine that our friends Tom and Alex are influential politicians today. I’m going to ask you a series of questions and ask you to tell me if it’s more likely that Hamilton or Jefferson would do these things. So, here comes number one. Based on their behavior in their time, who would be more likely to be canceled?

Lindsay:

Hamilton, because he would be live tweeting his every thought.

Mónica:

Who would be more likely to be quoted by global luminaries on Instagram?

Lindsay:

Jefferson, because he was a master of rhetoric.

Mónica:

Who was more likely to politically backstab?

Lindsay:

Both.

Mónica:

Really?

Lindsay:

They are both so political and conniving and Jefferson does a really good job of spinning a story as though he’s not, and it’s lies, complete and total lies. He was more political than anyone else other than maybe Hamilton.

Mónica:

Amazing, and we will get into more detail, I’m sure. Who would be more likely to Google his own name and get consumed by the results?

Lindsay:

Oh, totally both again. 

So, Hamilton was super concerned about honor and reputation, but Jefferson, when he was president, cut out clippings from the newspaper, he only cut out the positive ones, and saved them in a scrapbook.

Mónica:

He did?

Lindsay:

Yes.

Mónica:

Oh, I didn’t know that, oh my gosh. So, He was already Googling himself. 

Lindsay:

He was already Googling. Yeah, it was the, exactly, it was the 18th century Google, but only the positive results, 

Mónica:

Who was more likely to create his own media organization?

Lindsay:

Jefferson, because he did, while he was serving as Secretary of State, and he created the media organization to trash the administration he was serving in.

Mónica:

Hmmm. Okay. And who would be more likely to be called a hypocrite?

Lindsay:

Jefferson. Hamilton had a lot of flaws, but he tended to wear them on his sleeve. Jefferson could talk a really good game, but then very rarely lived up to those values in his own personal life.

Mónica:

Ooh, okay, Now we know!

Lindsay:

Fighting, fighting words. 

Mónica:

Drama. I know. I’ve read about how, many historians, like some folks go, Oh, you’re more Jeffersonian. You’re more Hamiltonian. It just seems like it’s almost impossible to me, to be an American historian and not have an opinion because these two were such giant rivals. So, if we imagined that Tom and Alex were here and they’ve been talking and they’ve hit one of the many deep disagreements they had, and they’re going to let us watch. What do we see in the style of how they disagree with each other?

Lindsay:

So, Hamilton was not known for editing his own words or language all that much. He tended to be very wordy and could go on and on. So, for example, one of my favorite notes that Jefferson took, he was describing the series of cabinet meetings that they had in August of 1793. And so this was to set the scene. This was summer, Philadelphia. No air conditioning. They’re meeting in a relatively small room. The five guys super squished and they’re debating these issues. And Jefferson writes that Hamilton gave a jury speech for three quarters of an hour, meaning he spoke uninterrupted for three quarters of an hour…

Mónica:

What did he mean by jury speech? 

Lindsay:

Well like very grandiose…and lots of gesturing and lots of pacing. He was making his arguments as though he was speaking to a jury. And if anyone has been in a meeting where someone drones on and on, you know what that feels like, or you just want them to stop. The best part was that they came back the next day and Jefferson said that he did the exact same thing again the next day. So,

Mónica:

Oh dear. 

Lindsay:

If we were watching them on stage, Hamilton is probably walking around. He’s not staying in his chair. He is talking wildly. He’s gesticulating. He’s probably trying to engage the audience. He’s probably talking over Jefferson. And Jefferson was known, especially in moments of conflict, to sort of retreat. And so, he would probably be sprawling in his chair, probably leaning backwards, kind of you know, like legs askew and letting Hamilton kind of drone on and on. But then when he had a moment, he would really jump in with something sharp and incisive and witty because he was a brilliant mind, and he could really poke holes in any of the arguments that Hamilton was making.

Mónica:

So, given all of this, would you say, in person, when you just take that context, Hamilton would tend to kind of hold the floor more powerfully? 

Lindsay:

Well, I think if someone was watching them and didn’t know them very well, then yes. But the key element of the cabinet was that George Washington knew Hamilton really really well. And so he knew what his strengths were, and he knew what his weaknesses were. He knew that he could be a bit of a hothead and that Jefferson was very rational and very pragmatic and very logical, and Washington had intentionally sought out both of them to be in the cabinet and worked hard to keep them in the cabinet because he wanted both perspectives and told them as much. He was very explicit about this. And so, in his decisions, you can almost see him going back and forth between Hamilton and Jefferson. 

(Music up and under)

Mónica:

I want to introduce a concept here that Lindsay describes in her book. And that’s one of a “virtuous republican.” And that’s small R, republican. I’ll note that back then, this did not refer to a specific political party. 

This was a time when the founders were literally deciding how their brand new country would function. And what it should mean to be a part of it? This revolutionary republic, that they were creating. One thing they knew for sure is they wanted it to not look anything like the monarchy in Britain. Because that monarchy held itself up so much higher than its people. So, what did it mean to be a virtuous republican? They were supposed to be talented and exceptional, Lindsay writes in her book, “Live modestly. Dress practically. And behave forthrightly in a spirit of accommodation”. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? A really great ideal that we don’t live up to today. And as Lindsay will tell us, they were not living up to it back then either. How did they behave in ways that might be considered unvirtuous republicans?

Lindsay:

I think, one of the best.. Well, there are a lot of, there are a lot of examples.

Mónica:

There really are a lot.  Yeah. You pick. You take your pick. There’s some really good ones.

Lindsay:

You know, and I think the fact that there are a lot of examples is actually really encouraging because we have this idea that there’s like this golden age of politicians when everyone acted nicely and that does not exist. 

Mónica:

That’s so true

Lindsay:

So, true. So, you know, Jefferson was constantly drafting documents for the opposition in Congress to use against Hamilton. So they would be meeting in the cabinet together. They would have these disagreements and then if Jefferson didn’t get his way, which he didn’t get his way about half the time, he would write a proposal, or he would write something for one of his allies in Congress to then introduce to either investigate Hamilton, often with information that they had received from Jefferson to condemn him, to fight against a proposed bill, something like that. And that two faced nature to Jefferson’s political life was not a feature of virtuous republican behavior. You were supposed to be a little bit more honest. 

Mónica:

If he had been found out, if he, it would have gone very poorly for him, right? If someone could have proven it 

Lindsay:

Well, yes, so your language is exactly right, because a lot of people suspected that he was up to it because he had a he was an exquisite writer. And so a lot of times and people knew who the allies were and who got along. So, a lot of people suspected that he was writing these things and they and Washington really knew what he was doing with the newspaper that he created when he was Secretary of State, but kind of let him do it because he valued having Jefferson in the cabinet anyway. But there wasn’t, you’re right, there wasn’t really a way to prove it. And it would have been viewed as very dishonorable conduct if they could actually put two and two together.

Mónica:

I want to zoom in on this story a little more because as a journalist I was shocked. I was appalled to hear what Jefferson did with this newspaper Lindsay just mentioned. The story goes like this, Jefferson wanted to help prop up a newspaper called the National Gazette, so he actually hired the publisher of that paper into the State Department in kind of like a fake position to help give them another revenue stream to make sure the paper didn’t go under. And he did this so that that paper could continue to publish articles that were intensely critical of Hamilton and Hamilton’s party. And this was while they were serving in the same administration, mind you. Hamilton’s response? Launching attacks of his own by writing anonymous articles in a competing newspaper.

Remember that whole virtuous republican thing about being forthright? Yeah, not so much. Now what Hamilton do that was, that Washington would say hey, that’s poor behavior against Jefferson? 

Lindsay:

Well, at one point Washington actually did reprimand Hamilton because they were constantly complaining about each other to Washington. Hamilton complained about this newspaper that Jefferson had financially supported. He complained about all of Jefferson’s other political activities and they just were constantly basically whining to “Dad” is how I think Washington sometimes saw it. And, you know, for a long time, Washington tried to exercise patience. But then at one point he basically said to both of them, you are both patriots. You are both small r republicans. You, I want you both in my cabinet. I believe in you both. Stop it. I’m obviously using 21st century language here. But that was basically the message. And I think in this particular instance, Hamilton was a little bit more savvy and knew when to shut up, and Jefferson wasn’t quite as good about it, and so kind of sometimes occasionally still complained. 

Mónica:

Yeah, amazing. Well, to be fair to Jefferson, I suppose one should keep in mind that as the musical Hamilton put it, you know, “nice to have Washington on your side.” I mean, Washington was the first president. Hamilton and Washington largely agreed ideologically on a strong federal government, you know, while Jefferson was thinking more about states’ rights. And so Jefferson was the kind of odd one out. So Hamilton, I suppose, had that privilege? 

Lindsay:

Well, I think that that is certainly how Jefferson saw it. I think that the reality was a little bit more nuanced. So Jefferson kind of liked to forget all the times that Washington sided with him because it didn’t really fit the narrative that Hamilton was controlling him.

But if you look at the cabinet records, there are a lot of times when Washington sided with Jefferson over Hamilton. 

Mónica:

Oh, amazing. I’m really struck by what you said about, you know, the record shows many times that Washington sided with Jefferson. But Jefferson’s narrative about it maybe just couldn’t see those things. It makes one wonder about all the times that we get into our own heads about political disagreements today. “My mother never understands, never listens”, “my daughter” you know, “she’s all about this and that issue and she doesn’t pay any attention to me” or “they’ll never”… it I guess it just makes me reflect on that even, even the grandest people in our history could fall to that trap.

Lindsay:

Yeah, absolutely. One, I think, you know, one of the things about history that is so important is we are often really bad at assessing what is important, what is going to stay in the test of time, who won, you know, what decisions are good decisions and bad decisions in the moment, and where it takes us a very long time to be able to let go of the emotional weight or the emotional color that we felt about those thing. So you know like today when when there are books that come out about politicians or presidential administrations I really encourage people to think of that as like a first draft and it’s almost like they’re reporting on what people are saying as though it’s like a primary source or something that is happening in real time. But in reality, and this is true for really any history, it takes a long time for all of the sources to come out, to be declassified, for us to get all the information and to be able to analyze it. We can never be perfectly objective as humans, but to do our best to be as objective as possible. It really takes a lot of time and distance to be able to do that. 

Mónica:

It really does. Time and distance. And at least, I suppose, the Founding Fathers, you know, they couldn’t tweet, so they had to take some time. And boy, was it fun to read about these cabinet meetings where Washington’s like well the mail is terrible so I won’t even know what’s going on with the war in France for like another couple weeks until I get to so -and -so I’m gonna pull up to an inn and be like ‘have you all heard what’s going on with the war?’. The president of the United States has to ask people in an inn about the war in Europe you know like at least they had plenty of time I suppose 

Lindsay:

They did, yeah it is amazing the the nuances of history and how things turn based sheerly on how long it takes for information to get from point A to point B.

Mónica:

Right, exactly. So, we’ve touched on some of the big disagreements around, as you put it, the interpretation of the vision of what the country ought to be. I wonder if you can sum up those gian, where Hamilton and Jefferson really, in the cosmic view of the United States, really had giant differences. And, and then also really curious how much of a threat did one man see in the other to the Republic as a result.

Lindsay:

That’s a great question. So, Hamilton definitely had to think of as a more cosmopolitan approach to what the nation should be. He believed the federal government should be big and strong. It should invest in the military. It should invest in trade. It should invest in infrastructure, by 18th century terms, it should invest in industry and manufacturing.

He believed that a relationship with Great Britain was really important because they were the biggest trade partner with the United States and so the economy really depended on it. And he tended to cozy up to merchants and bankers and he lived in city centers and believed that cities were going to be a place where ingenuity and trade and the market flourished in the future.

Jefferson was definitely more of what was called a yeoman farmer vision, and that the idea behind that was he believed that every white man should have a farm that was big enough to support his family such that he could be financially independent and therefore could be a good citizen and a voter and make decisions separate from their financial interests.

He believed that the nation should be closest allies with France because they had been the sister in revolution He distrusted and disliked Britain. He thought that cities were spaces of sin and corruption and cronyism and of course a little bit of trade was essential because if you’re gonna be a farmer and you’re gonna produce things then you have to sell them somewhere, but he didn’t want the government super large. He didn’t want military investment. He didn’t want the government interfering with things like industry or infrastructure and generally preferred a smaller vision.

Obviously, those are very diametrically opposed things and they’re diametrically opposed on everything from financial policy to foreign policy. And I think that those two visions would have emerged strongly and would have kind of become the basis for the first two political parties either way. But because they were in the cabinet so much together in Washington’s administration, sometimes up to five times per week, sometimes several hours per day, again, most of these meetings were taking place in the summer without air conditioning, I think it served as a hot house for political tensions, not unlike sometimes Washington DC does today. 

Mónica:

I was gonna say, we got some hot houses going right now. 

Lindsay:

We got the humidity in the summer. 

Mónica:

With air conditioning! What’s our excuse? 

Lindsay:

Yes, and we know that like, you know, people get really grouchy when it’s hot. And so I think that they were in this space and because they were together so much, it made it happen faster and more in a more intense fashion. And so they began to view the other as this mortal threat. That they were gonna destroy the nation. Jefferson thought that Hamilton was gonna turn it into another Britain. There’s going to be another monarchy. There were going to be standing armies marching through the streets and arresting citizens. Hamilton thought Jefferson was going to tear everything down and there was going to be mob violence and anarchy and slave uprisings. And so they really believe that the other had to be defeated if this republic was going to survive, which they had devoted their, basically their entire lives to trying to create.

Mónica:

Right. Okay, so I’m going to push on a couple elements of that because I think there’s something really interesting here. These were two extraordinarily well -educated, very smart, really tactful men.

So I guess the first question is, do you think either of them were right in the degree to which they saw the other as a mortal threat to the Republic? 

Lindsay:

I think so. I mean, I think if either vision had been pursued to its most extreme, it would have been fatal in some way…

Mónica:

Gotcha, but I think that’s important to note. 

Lindsay:

It is important and I think you know this is an example where almost all of our best presidents are fairly moderate because they believe in compromise. They believe it’s important to pull from multiple different perspectives. And that’s why Washington wanted both of them in the cabinet because they did bring different perspectives. But if Hamilton had had his way The United States would have been at war with France in 1798 which could have been fatal to the Republic. If Jefferson had his way then the United States would have probably been at war with Great Britain earlier and that could have been fatal. And so there were real dangers in both perspectives if they were pursued to their extreme ends. 

Mónica:

Got it. Do you think there was a danger to the Republic in the fact that they saw each other to this degree of threat?

Lindsay:

I don’t know if there was a danger to the Republic, but it certainly set the stage for the type of political conflict that we can have. What was really interesting about the early period is they were not political parties like we think of political parties. They were sort of these like baby political factions, and they were pretty weak. And so, as a result, what happened is when you have a weak party, they can’t protect moderate voices. They can’t encourage and promote compromise and working across the, you know metaphorical aisle. And so instead the radical voices tend to take over and you see a lot of intraparty fighting where the radical voices are attacking their more moderate members And so that really happened towards the end of the 1790s when the Federalist Party sort of ate itself because it was attacking within. And so, I think, that that extremism can create dangers to political parties and instability in the political system in that way.

Mónica: 

Right, right. Oh, amazing. They spent all these hours together, as you’ve said. Did they manage to meaningfully, on any issue, genuinely influence the other? On even a small, little, tiny piece of the vision? 

Lindsay:

I’m not sure that they ever convinced the, the other person that they were right. I think there were times when they were either in alignment and there were times when they were in alignment. And then there were places when they were forced to compromise and I don’t know that they would have wanted to admit it but I think long term they often agreed that the compromise was a good idea. And so for example, Jefferson didn’t want, he had opposed the National Bank. Hamilton had been very supportive of it. Once Jefferson was president, he acknowledged that the bank was actually quite useful and he kept it and he used it and it made his presidency better.

And so there were areas where, even if they didn’t want to admit it, the other was occasionally right. –

Mónica:

Yeah, yeah. And again, because most of my education on this period is because my son is a school or who memorized the musical Hamilton. I do know about the song, “The Room Where it Happened”. I want to learn a little more about that hot room on the second floor of Washington’s home. This is a small room for, what was it, how many men were in there? Four members of the cabinet, George Washington. 

Lindsay:

Five

Mónica:

There were five men, lots of big furniture, really crowded. The reason I guess I wanted to come back into that space is because Washington seemed to really try to mediate between these two. And given that, you know, this is a podcast where we’re talking about ways to equip ourselves to bridge the political divide, there’s a lot of research and frankly, just intuition that shows that taking a break tends to work, pausing and talking about something else, sharing a meal and you could really, you know, come back to something. There was a line in your book where I almost felt you as the writer sort of sigh with the sadness that Washington must have felt. And the line you wrote was just it was one of these cabinet meetings 1793, big argument over a really bad behaving French minister. My goodness! We don’t have time for that but geez, this guy..you guys gotta read the book.

But your line was after the meal ended and the debates resumed. So Washington, you know, hours upstairs, you know, Jefferson and Hamilton mostly leading the charge here, lots of big disagreements about what to do with this foreign minister. And Washington’s like, let’s go have a meal. Let’s go have a family meal. They called it family meals. How sweet. Let’s go talk and like have dinner. And then after the meal ended and the debates resumed, you wrote, Jefferson and Hamilton still did not agree. And there was just sadness and the other sentences around that piece that I felt on behalf of Washington. He seemed really almost hurt that these two, because what you were saying earlier was like well sometimes they discovered they agreed, they discovered they aligned, but they didn’t move hardly at all sometimes. 

Lindsay:

Yeah I think you know Washington saw the cabinet as an opportunity to try and build consensus which sometimes he was able to do. They actually did, you know, they agreed on not more than they disagreed, but they did agree on things. He saw it as a way to, he could actually get political cover for controversial decisions if he wanted it, but mostly it was a way to get advice from a lot of different perspectives. And so he usually went into a cabinet meeting and he would present a series of questions and they would debate, and if they disagreed, then he would ask for written opinions, which is why we have such wonderful records of these conversations, thank goodness. And the written opinions were really important ’cause they allowed Washington to make a decision slowly. He tended to study on things. He wanted to make sure he had all of the information. He wanted to make sure he understood the different arguments. And I think that was so essential to how he worked. And he had developed that strategy during the revolution when he had war councils with his officers. And I think what made him so sad about the cabinet was this same methodology of having the meetings and the written opinions and the family dinners, it really worked during the war. And I think that’s because they were fighting against a common enemy. And so no matter how much they disagreed, they could kind of put that aside and fight against this common enemy. And you know, He did things like having these family dinners and having holiday balls to try and build up the esprit de corps. But ultimately I think it was they could set aside differences and focus on the big goal. 

Mónica:

Wow

Lindsay:

And so I think Washington just felt so much disappointment that that same process didn’t work in the cabinet.

Mónica:

But wait, hang on, hang on, why wasn’t, you talked about the high stakes that these guys all felt, and the precedence. I mean, I know that it certainly seems like Jefferson and Hamilton took that seriously. 

Lindsay:

They did.

Mónica:

Why was that not enough of a “let’s set us this aside at least to try because we’ve got to get this done”? Because this is this is such a good sticking point right here because I know that a lot of people a lot of people talk about I can’t bridge the political divide because the differences are too big. Period.  End of story. 

Lindsay:

I think that they saw where the danger was coming like they understood the stakes were incredibly high, but they saw the problem so differently that they saw danger coming from different places. Whereas during the revolution, it’s clearly the British army. There’s no question that it’s the British army.

Whereas in 1783, they are viewing the French with through a different lens and they ultimately kind of come to a place that they can agree, but it takes months and months and months of negotiations to find this middle ground.

So I think they just saw the dangers coming from different places. So when they were thinking about what they were fighting, they were often fighting different things and at different purposes. And that, I think that feels very similar to me in this, our current moment, because often in our society, we can look at a problem and multiple different parts of society will see it coming from different places.

Like, you know, there’s those polls that say ‘do you think that the like democracy is in danger?’ or ‘do you think we’re heading in the wrong direction?’. Often people on totally different ends will agree, will say yes, but if you dig into it they say yes for very different reasons. 

Mónica:

Exactly, so I love the way you put it. You see danger coming from different directions. You can’t unify against that danger or set your differences aside the same way. I think that’s profound. That’s profound and what a what a lesson that history gives us from way back when on this. Do you think the nation is better off because they spent that time together in the cabinet ticking each other off that long?

Lindsay: 

I do. 

Mónica:

Tell us more about that.

Lindsay: 

I think that there was a risk that had either of you been predominant in, especially in the first couple of years, the nation could have gone down one of the more extreme paths. And Washington was much better off and much better president, made better choices by having both perspectives and often finding a middle line in between the two of them.

Mónica:

Yeah, as you say, thank goodness that those giant personalities were able to stand the heat for as long as they could because of those tensions between the visions that they had are still with us, aren’t they?

Lindsay:

They are, they really are. You know, one of the questions I often get is like, who’s vision won? 

Mónica:

Yeah. 

Lindsay: 

And the truth is that they both won, because if we look at the world we live in, it’s very much Hamilton’s world. We have technology and infrastructure and the internet and cities and trade and we live in this international community. But when we talk about, you know, there’s always the like average American or the ideal American And that ideal tends to conjure up white picket fence, little house for every family, yard, and that is very much Jefferson’s creation. And so in some ways, they are both really responsible for the American identity. 

Mónica:

Last question, what advice would Tom and Alex each give to a nation in an election year?

Lindsay:

So they did a lot of bad things in election years, but when push came to shove, when it was really close to all falling apart, and in particular, I’m thinking of the election of 1800, they ultimately prioritized the Constitution over their own political interests and their own party’s interests. And I define that as civic virtue. They demonstrated civic virtue, which is recognizing that the thing they were trying to save was much larger than them as a person or their political aims and so they would encourage everyone to do the same to remember that it is about the long game and the stakes are much higher and one person’s political outcome is way less important than the survival of the nation.

Mónica:

Yeah. Well, I want to raise a glass to Hamilton and Jefferson because hey, it’s been 231 years. We’re still kicking. So, thank you. 

Lindsay:

We still are. 

Mónica:

Thank you, Lindsay. This was an incredible conversation. I learned so much. 

Lindsay:

Thank you for having me. This was really fun. 

(music up)

Mónica:

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After talking to Lindsay about Hamilton and Jefferson, something about the division in America today, for me, hit different. So Jefferson and Hamilton, they must’ve thought they’d failed to work together for the sake of the country, right? I mean, they hated each other, they couldn’t persuade each other. In December 1973, just a few months after that hot summer in Philadelphia, Jefferson quit Washington’s cabinet to keep building the nation’s first opposition party against Hamilton.

 And Hamilton never ever saw things Jefferson’s way. They got angry, they got really petty, and contemptuous with each other, which was awful and inexcusable. But here’s the thought that kind of surprised me. Given the force of their arguments and their passions, given everything that they taught America about the tensions that still define us to this day, not in spite of their disagreements, but because of them, because they had to work through them, what if they actually succeeded in doing the work together that really counts?

To break out what to do and what not to do, given Hamilton and Jefferson’s example, I want to bring in my friend and political red to my blue, April Lawson. 

(music under)

Mónica:

Hey April, how are you?

April:

Good, how are you?

Mónica:

I’m good. I’m ready to talk about these two brawlers back at the founding of our nation. So yes, what stood out to you from the interview? 

April:

I loved the first segment where you asked who would be canceled? Who would do this or that on social media? I loved it because I care a lot about America and political philosophy, but history rarely feels quite that relatable to me. And I was like, oh yeah. Hamilton would totally just say this stuff. Like he would be the like Trump style, Twitter, like tweeter, So I loved that. It felt, it enabled me to feel connected to them. 

Mónica:

I loved how quickly Lindsay answered those questions. She did not skip a beat and it was a reminder, frankly, the entire conversation that even though we, these people have been long gone for a very long time. And even though we didn’t record hardly anywhere near as much, of anything back in the 1790s, the documents we have and the dedication of our historians, it felt like Lindsay has been hanging out with them for years and she can just gossip about these guys. And I thought that was awesome.

April:

It was great.

Mónica:

So let’s skip to some of the lessons that these guys from so long ago have for today. So as a red for you and as a blue for me, where do we see the parallels to our modern day politics? And what lessons do you think your side can take away? Do you want to kick us off on this one?

April:

Sure. Yeah. I mean. I don’t know. I saw a lot of parallels to modern day politics, I think that the Founding Fathers had some real genius. Rather, there are things to idealize about them, but there are also things to be like, oh, yeah, they like, begged, borrowed and stole and they did all the things also. And which is just to say politics is politics and that’s, actually to me in a weird way reassuring because there’s so much apocalyptic talk these days and maybe some of that’s appropriate, but like just remembering, Oh no, a lot of this stuff, it’s just been there. And honestly, the biggest lesson that I drew in terms of what to do that they did, was that they stayed in the room.

It was five guys in a hot Philadelphia, second floor, room, which sounds like, you know, a small version of hell.

Mónica:

Yeah, it does. The hot house. 

April:

Yes. The big thing was though, that man, you can imagine like Hamilton is going on and it’s minute 35 of 45 and Jefferson is like, Oh my gosh, stop. And like the.. But he doesn’t leave.

He doesn’t get up and say, I will not deal with this kind of person. I will not tolerate this kind of speech. I will not you are violating my boundaries, I think there was really something, honestly, it reminds me of the podcast you and I did a long time ago. I asked the question, what does the Hispanic community, like what way do you, does that community bridge that the rest of us could learn from? And you referred to the way that there is just such an intense bond, family bond, especially, that It’s not optional. you’re going to work through the stuff and you’re going to argue about it. And is it all going to get resolved? Probably not. But it’s that continuity of bond that I loved. And we, that’s just like what the country needs. 

Mónica:

One of the big lessons I want our elected officials and all of us to take away is that this nation is not one that we ever stopped building.

April:

Mmhmm. 

Mónica:

Right? The stakes were really high for them because it was the first years, and everything was important, all the precedents, and gosh, poor George Washington, he was really burdened by the weight of that.

April:

Oh, I can only imagine…

Mónica:

Why aren’t we? We’re still building this thing. I wish that we had that same spirit because to your point about Jefferson and Hamilton were in the arena. George Washington had to convince Jefferson over and over again to stay on the cabinet. He stayed one year longer than he wanted to because Washington was just appealing and appealing and appealing. But imagine, right? If you had to put, Gosh, you can name all your Democratic and Republican politicians today who feel like they would never be in the same room together. We have so many ways of having our ideas interact while not having to deal with each other.

April”

Exactly.

Mónica:

We have so many ways of avoiding. And it just makes me wonder, you know how some people compare the American government and Congress to Parliament in Britain and how in Parliament they yell, they just yell. And it’s okay. And so it’s funny because right now we’re saying the problem is that we yell and it’s like, well, what if the problem is that we don’t yell?

April:

Interesting.

Mónica:

What if the problem is that we don’t yell to each other the right way in the hothouse, out away from the cameras? What if that’s the problem? What would happen if you actually put the big Democrats and the big Republicans in our Congress. And you said, okay, you’re all going to go in this room and you’re going to turn up the heat rhetorically and you’re going to do it for the good of our nation.

And you know what? We’re not going to have cameras in there, but we need you to figure things out because we are sick and tired that you’re not figuring things out. What would that be like? What could that do for us? I dream. I dream. But it seems so counterintuitive, right? We’re all about “everybody calm down, turn down the temperature”. But I think the lesson from Hamilton and Jefferson is, turn it up! Turn it up! So that you can be real and you can get angry. But don’t avoid each other. Stay in the arena. Stay in the heat. Let it cook and do it for the good of what at least we say we’re trying to build together. 

April:

That’s beautiful. I, my partisan side is trying to come out, but I’ll let it, I’ll let it chill for a minute.

Mónica:

Oh well, I mean, aren’t we talking about turning up the heat? 

April:

I guess we are, I just I think specifically, and I’m curious, what you would say about the blue side to learn from this. But I, I feel like sometimes, it feels like the blue side wants to reject America rather than build it. And I am curious, like, am I misunderstanding that? I once saw, there’s a TV show, called “Man in the High Castle” about, it’s a alternate dystopia alternate reality where the allies lost Germany and Japan won. And so they’ve divided the US and the Eastern part of the US is run by the Germans and the Western part is run by the Japanese and, so it has this incredibly powerful intro, and they’re all like, they take the American Eagle, and then it turns into the German Eagle.

And they the flag is all different. And, it’s the dystopian melding of American symbols and American songs into. Germanic and Japanese ones. And it feels like violation to me. Like it’s intense. And I have this memory of, sitting, watching this with my family. And I saw my mother like tearing up about it. And my mother is this like intense critic of America in all these ways. And I remember saying, mom, like what I thought she was just a critic. And she made a joke about Oh, maybe even in my cold, cold heart, I actually do love this country.

And it reminded me that I do think that cynicism can be a form of idealism. You just want the country to be so good that you’re so frustrated that it’s not. So maybe that’s what’s going on the blue side. I don’t know, but I want us all to put your shoulders to the wheel folks.

Mónica:

Yeah, no as you say that, like my being on the blue side makes me want to say no, no, no! When we call out the problems really deeply, I think the blue side, it’s because we’re afraid the red side is not looking at them clearly enough. And isn’t being forthright and clear.. 

April:

Sometimes true

Mónica:

..about, history, for example, there’s a lot of debates about that.

History is never finished being told the values of every era color, the stories we tell about ourselves. That’s just what happens. What that means though, is that as we become more aware of values that prior eras maybe didn’t live into the way that we now feel is important, it is our duty to reevaluate our stories. That’s what I think. And I think the blue side is pretty good at that. It’s our duty to go back and reevaluate our stories. So that’s been going on with a lot of things that feel important to understanding our country. 

But here’s where I think we’re weak, to agree with you. I think we’re weak on communicating a love of the country. We’re really weak on that. Because I don’t think it is credible. for someone to be pointing out a lot of problems that are difficult to accept and embrace and take a lot of work to go through. The person who’s trying to poke to get us to do that will not be taken seriously if all they seem to be saying is that everything sucks, and that we suck. That can’t, that can’t work. So that’s the gift I think reds give, is they keep nagging blues to be like, It sounds like you hate who we are.

April:

Yeah.

Mónica:

What is that? And I agree with reds on this. I think that there’s a balance here and it’s one of the many places I think reds and blues are yin and yang, right? 

April:

They need each other.

Mónica:

Which is another thing, like with Hamilton and Jefferson, you could say, Jefferson had the right vision. You could say Hamilton had the right vision, but as Lindsay was saying, if either vision had been taken to the extreme in their time,

April:

For sure.

Mónica:

…It might have been fatal to our nation. And that’s probably still true today.

April:

I feel like we’re stuck in this like frustrating dialectic where one side is but you don’t see the problems and the other side says, but you don’t love me, our country, 

Mónica:

It’s that, isn’t it? There’s something about. when you believe that the other side has no love for what you think the nation is, then it justifies all kinds of bad behavior. And that’s actually one of the questions that’s been dancing in my head since all of this is look, like bridge builders, we, again, we try to turn the temperature down, we’re often seen as just calling for compromise, right?

And the truth is, we have giant divisions. They had giant divisions then, we have giant divisions now. There’s no, there’s only so much sugar coating or anything that you can do. It’s like somebody needs to argue for this stuff, and argue hard. 

April:

There’s a one more idea I just want to throw out here because I, I talk about my parents a lot because we’re different politically and and so right now a theme in our conversations is, rupture and repair. It’s a, like what happens when there’s a break there’s a rupture, there’s a fight or something, a breach in a relationship and then you have to repair it. And there’s an interesting thing from the research on kids, which is that they go through phases. There’s the rupture and then there’s something called the anger of hope, and then the anger of despair, and then there’s detachment. And so the idea is that, so there’s an argument And then first. They protest and they say, Hey, why did you do that? But they’re still trying to reconnect, it’s the anger of hope but then at a certain point they transitioned to. I’m angry because we’re not going to reattach. they give up basically. And then eventually that sort of spirals into just silence. and I think that if we could all learn one thing, it’s to recognize the anger of hope as an attempt to repair,

Mónica:

Yes. 

April:

That’s, I feel like with a lot of things, we’re teetering on the edge of the anger of hope or the anger of despair. 

Mónica:

Absolutely

April:

Does that make sense?

Mónica:

Oh, yes, absolutely. I’ve been thinking about this that I think for, I think a lot of people have in their minds that engagement, It’s a positive, right? And when we’re pushing back and we’re angry at each other, that’s not engagement. That’s something else and we need to stop. But that is engagement! That, that is it! Think back to the Founding Fathers. They knew that there were tensions built into all of this. I don’t think they thought we were going to figure them out for all time. It’s built into our democratic republic and the structures and institutions of it, this constant tension.

So I think it’s another way of saying exactly what you’re saying, which is that it’s not a sign of failure. to get, to be getting to the point where you’re really mad. In fact, if you flip it around, you can think of it as a sign of success because, hey, we’re bringing our passions to it. We care. And it does, man, I think you’re getting to something really profound here, right? That is like the real death of our Democratic Republic is when we stop caring, when we stop engaging.

If either Hamilton or Jefferson had said “I’m done!”, and actually said, “forget it! I’m done!”. That would have been potentially the worst thing that could have happened. 

April:

I’m curious if, like we’ve gotten into territory that has real repercus…, like implications in personal life too. And I don’t know, what’s your experience with all that? And is there anything that came up for you based on this interview?

 Mónica:

One of the big reasons I did this interview and got so curious is the musical Hamilton. Is it so uncool now that it’s been almost 10 years since the musical came out? 

April: 

Oh. For people our age, it’s cool, Móni.

Mónica:

Right? I only got obsessed with it because my middle schooler got obsessed with it and we’ve just been hearing it nonstop. I think there are so many lessons. It’s actually pretty darn accurate on history. It’s really interesting. There’s a line in there where Alexander Hamilton is telling Aaron Burr, Aaron Burr likes to wait, likes to say, I’m not going to stand up for this or that thing. I want to see where the wind blows. I want to see what happens. I’m not gonna. And Hamilton goes, I’d rather be divisive than indecisive. I’d rather be divisive than indecisive. And what so in my personal life, and my life in general, I came up as a journalist and my job, is and was in a lot of ways. Just understand, let other people make decisions. Just understand, right? And then as I kept evolving in the way that I look at how I want to do journalism, I thought about being a convener and a moderator. And I love that, and that’s what I do. 

But there is a part of me going, If you stand for nothing, Mónica, what do you fall for?

April:

Exactly.

Mónica:

Which is another line from Hamilton. If you stand for nothing, Burr, what’ll you fall for? And Hamilton and Jefferson, it’s very clear from how much they did and how hard they worked that they stood for something. They stood for something and what if history judged them? And I have that sometimes. What if there’s things I ought to be standing for really hard, but I don’t, but I don’t. And I say, Oh, it’s because I want to be a moderator. Oh, I want to be a convener. But what if it’s because I’m scared to fight, right? What if that’s what I’m doing? So I think about that. 

April:

I wonder.. I have a couple of different reactions and sort of questions based on that. I feel like again, I want to get at what kind of fighting because I feel like in America right now, there’s a whole lot of we should just speak up about X thing or Y thing. And to me, there’s this cacophony of people speaking up and it’s not doing anything because everybody has their opinions and they’re performing this and that. And it’s just, it actually hasn’t the opposite effect. 

Mónica:

Yes, yes!

April:

It silences often rather than engaging. And I’m curious, like what, what does it look like to stand for something To me, I would say inside, I would, my guess is that you need to stand for things inside relationships rather than just sort of as though you’re not you, but as though I’m standing on a mountaintop somewhere, holding forth to the wind. On the theme of what not to do, that’s the hypocrisy, right? The publishing and anonymous newspapers. 

So what’s the opposite of that? The opposite of that is say it to their face, right? It’s and I was thinking about, how in my experience, so I recently had an interaction with somebody I felt super judged by because I got a divorce and, I have spent a lot of time like angry at that person and avoiding things and whatever. And I think that. the right thing is to try to actually face them and have that conversation. And I know part of the reason I think it’s right is because I know that when I do that, my words will be different, right? It’s, I will not say that so and so who like, how, who, how dare they what will happen when I actually have that conversation with that person is I will say something that sounds more “this is what I felt.“ And I don’t want to have that be the final note in our relationship. Something about being in front of them means that I need to show it for real, like show the edge, right? Not just say polite things. So I need to bring the fire, not just pain, but a little bit of “err” but I think if I do it face to face, it will change the way that I do that. So, for me, that’s a little bit of standing up inside a relationship and not doing the hiding. And so does that relate to.. so what does that mean in public life?

Mónica:

Can we demand? Wha I don’t know, can we? We’re America! We invented reality TV! We know hothouses, we gave the world social media. We know how to turn up the heat. It would just be super fun if someone passed a bipartisan bill that every so and so, the head of the Democratic and the head of the Republican have to be in a room for six hours, and there has to be witnesses in there that they are talking about the real stuff. There’s a witness in there who can just attest to yes, they talked about it and we’re not going to tell you what they said. Like for the good of our country, can they just do that? Because if they’re acting like courage is avoidance, then I’m done with that excuse. I am.

April:

Yess.

Mónica:

So that’s the message, yes, from “A Braver Way” to our politicians is fight more! I know we’re all saying that oh everything’s too hot and too divided, but in some ways it’s not about, it’s not about turning down the heat, it’s turning it up. Being in the room, let it cook 

April:

Inside relationship. 

Mónica:

Inside relationship, exactly. Don’t avoid your emotional state. Again, get the heck away from the cameras. Be in a place where you can really notice and let come up what’s there. That’s courage. Give it a try. Give it a try. Save America. Let’s go. We can do this. Please. Okay. All right, April. Wow. Thanks again for for another, roller coaster ride 

April:

Yeah. Thank you. and yeah. Also, gratitude to Jefferson and Hamilton for all the things they did well and all the things they didn’t.

Mónica: 

All the things they did poorly

April:

We’re here. And we’re glad we’re here.

Mónica:

Exactly. All right. See you later.

April:

Bye.

Mónica:

A Braver Way is here for you, not just because the circumstances kind of demand it, but also because a growing and brilliant nationwide community supports it. Braver Angels is leading the nation’s largest cross -partisan, volunteer -led movement to bridge the political divide. Through community gatherings, real debates, and grassroots leaders working together, we’re offering America what it needs to overcome the bitterness of our politics. And you can join us and be part of the solution. By becoming a member of Braver Angels, you can fuel our movement at whatever level feels comfortable and meaningful to you, starting as low as just $12 a year.

You’ll also become part of our grassroots community, working to fix our broken politics from the ground up, and we’ll plug you in with updates on our impact, opportunities to learn more, build new skills and take some action. Head to braverangels.org/join to get started. That’s braverangels.org /join.

Find the link in our show notes to become a member and support our growing movement. 

With that, I’m ready to send you brave souls back to your worlds with a song.

It’s called “Come Unity” by Brother Joe, and it was an entry in the 2020 “Braver Angels” song competition. Take a listen. 

(vocal music up)

Thanks everyone so much for joining us on A Braver Way.

If this episode sparked questions or stories you want to share with us, trust me when I say we can’t wait to hear them. You can always always reach us at abraverway @braverangels .org or join our brand new text line to check in throughout the season from right there on your phone. To get started, just text the word “Brave” to 206 -926 -9955. That’s 206 -926 -9955.

A Braver Way is produced by Braver Angels and distributed in partnership with KUOW and Deseret News. We get financial support from Reclaim Curiosity and count USA Facts as a proud sponsor.

A Braver Way is a production of Braver Angels. We get financial support from M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust and Reclaim Curiosity and count USA Facts as a proud sponsor. Our senior producer and editor is David Albright. Our producer is Jessica Jones. My disagreement buddy is April Lawson. Our theme music is by the fantastic number one billboard bluegrass charting hip hop band Gangstagrass. A special thanks to Ben Caron, Don Goldberg, Gabbi Timmis, and Katelin Annes 

I’m your host and guide across the divide Mónica Guzmán  Take heart, everyone. Until next time. 

(music up)

♪ Come, unity, oh, come, unity, come, unity, come ♪ ♪ We are the same as one another ♪ ♪ We all bleed the same red blood ♪ ♪ We can live in peace together ♪ ♪ Break down walls and rebuild trust ♪ ♪ Evergreen and every color  ♪ And no matter who you are Community,

 community, come Community, oh, community Community, come

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