In an interview with Fox News on Sunday, Lynne Cheney, wife of former Vice President Dick Cheney, told Fox host Shannon Bream that she considers partisanship a principle that began with our country’s founders and she notes their “partisan furor equals anything we know today.”
Her new book, “James Madison: A Life Reconsidered” explains not only America’s fourth president’s role as the “Father of the Constitution,” but also his role in founding the first political party.
“We tend to think that the founders were compromisers and they got along, and everything was rosy,” she told Fox. “But in fact, he [Madison] was a very stubborn man. He stood quite firmly for what he believed in. He founded the first political party so that he could defeat the direction in which Alexander Hamilton was trying to take the country.”
She continued, “So he really launched a whole decade of partisan furor that equals anything we know today. So I think that is a little bit surprising about any of the founders, to understand how stubborn they were and how willing they were to fight for the ideas they believed in.”
Cheney explained that President Madison recognized the importance of a “legitimate opposition” and she calls his creation of one “a great gift.”
She countered claims that politics today is the most vitriolic and divisive it has ever been: “People actually dueled, they killed each other over politics. So it was, I think, every bit as fierce as now. Perhaps a difference is that the megaphone wasn’t so large. You didn’t have television and blogs and it wasn’t broadcast so lively. But emotionally, it was every bit as intense.”
Last week at a Hollywood fundraiser, President Obama blamed congressional Republicans for partisanship and creating a “spiral of even more cynicism and more dysfunction.” He went on to tell donors that with the GOP “gridlock reigns” and he implored them to help him with Democratic victories not only for 2016 but this year.
Other Democratic complaints last week about partisanship included the launch of an election-year investigation of the Benghazi attack. Rep. Trey Gowdy, the head of the new Benghazi committee, expressed his desire for the committee to transcend politics but Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the committee a “political stunt.”
“People today don’t like partisan bickering any more than they did then. It is kind of the sound that a Republic makes,” Cheney told Fox News.