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By Robert W. Hoffert

Publication through Hoffert, Robert W.

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Extra resources for A Politics of Tensions: The Articles of Confederation and American Political Ideas

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For consensualists America is born whole somewhere around 1776 or 1787. The doubts, the disagreements, and the divergences of nearly two centuries of political experiences on either side of these watersheds are ignored.

And even in its rule-setting and enforcing role, government should not assert itself beyond the practical needs of public order. If process is too rigidly and comprehensively defined, it will inadvertently prescribe results. This, too, is inconsistent with the requirements of negative governance. To preseve a proper balance between government and individual authority, a secular realm is created for politics. The resulting spirit of tolerance is not a reflection of indifference or hostility to basic political, religious, or moral choices and values.

The assertion of an American political consensus, typically said to derive from John Locke, is based on significant, recurring patterns in American political thinking and experience but camouflages the inherently dynamic elements, mysteries, and diversities that are in tension with those patterns. In fact, America's political consensus is itself the source of a great national paradox. That consensus reflects persistent and pervasive agreements among Americans about their fundamental political values and purposes, but it simultaneously structures the most significant historical and contemporary conflicts within American politics.

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