American politicians must do more to defend our political system. One way to do so is by upholding the range of competing viewpoints as a feature, not a bug, of our democracy. The diversity of views that will inevitably characterize an extended republic like ours, combined with the complexity of our governing arrangements for separating, checking, balancing, and decentralizing power, mean that we must resolve our differences through deliberation, negotiation, and compromise within our political institutions, not by running the electoral table and forcing the other side into submission. The former is the work of statesmen, and leaders seeking to practice it must defend this approach to politics and government.
Statesmen must also come to the defense of the beleaguered institutions central to healthy politics in the United States. Above all, this means ensuring that our electoral processes are readily accessible to all eligible voters, secure from outside interference, competently administered, amply funded, and appropriately trusted. Our elections are the wellsprings of our politics. If their waters are poisoned or diverted, nothing good will happen downstream.
Defending politics also means supporting Congress as the place where the different viewpoints and agendas in our society are represented and negotiated, if not always reconciled, in a democratically accountable fashion. This is how the founders intended for the nation to make its laws and oversee their administration. The practice of American statesmanship, therefore, requires building up and working through Congress, not tearing it down or working around it.