A Chat with Mr. Jefferson

Me: Thanks for joining us. My guest today is the distinguished Mr. Thomas Jefferson. Mr. Jefferson, thank you for joining us here today.

Tom: Call me Tom. I thought I was dead?

Me: Ha ha! That famous Jeffersonian wit!

Tom: No, really, I remember…

Me: So, Mr. Jefferson, what do you think of the current political situation? The government is, to a large extent, shut down, and people are suffering.

Tom: Well, frankly, I find it very frustrating.  I can assure you we never meant for the machinery of government – a constant helpmate in times of trouble and a guarantor of the good life – to seize up like this.

Me: Really?

Tom: Yes. As you know, I am a strong supporter of democracy. The will of the majority is sovereign. No man stands alone; we are all part of a community and must work together toward common goals.

Me: Like independence from the British?

Tom: Well, from the King. Our British brothers are, as are we, citizens of the world, after all.

Me: Quite right.

Tom: [sighs] The troubling thing is the system we set up isn’t working any more.

Me: You mean divided government? Checks and balances?

Tom: Yes, exactly. I have always held that the individual is nothing; the majority must hold sway. I personally fought the Bill of Rights. Damn that rascal Madison!

Me: That’s not quite the way history would have it. I thought you were a defender of individual liberty?

Tom: Of course not! I owned slaves, for heaven sake! No, slavery is only consistent with strict majority rule or despotism, which is what I have always insisted upon.

Me: Okay.

Tom: You see, the Republicans lost the election. They are in the minority. They should just get over it. But no, they insist on holding a gun to the government and refuse to negotiate.

Me: They’ve sent compromise bills to partially fund the government, or even entirely fund the government, in exchange for a delay in the ACA, or revoking the medical device tax, or making Congress subject itself to the ACA.

Tom: Those are just stalking horses for repeal! The Democrats won, the act was passed, it was upheld by the Supreme Court. The fight is over; just accept it! The ACA is settled law.

Me: But…

Tom: Oh, I get it. You’re one of those so-called “teabaggers.” Going to spout some line the Koch brothers gave you?

Me: No! And I consider myself a libertari…

Tom: [Jumping to his feet.] A libertarian!?! No thank you, sir! I will not be a party to anarchy! I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences of too little liberty than to the chaos of too much!

Me: I’m not an anarch…

Tom: Enough! When Bush was in office we had to put up with him. Now Obama is in office, and it is our turn!

Me: I didn’t realize you were a Democrat.

Tom: How could you not? Haven’t I always maintained that the government must be there to prescribe our medicine and diet, lest we let our bodies be in poor keeping?

Me: I don’t recall you saying that.

Tom: That is because you are not a student of modern history!

Me: Modern history? That sounds oxymoronic.

Tom: I’ll have no more of this tripe! I am a friend of energetic government; only such can free us from oppression! [Storms out.]

Me: Uh, I guess the interview is over. Join me next time when my guest will be James Madison, who will explain that the executive alone has the right, in any case, to decide the question whether there is cause for declaring war.

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