In middle school, I first heard the phrase that America had been blessed with “a government of laws and not of men.” That description, originating with John Adams, at first made no sense to me: men make the laws, and change them. Laws don’t draft themselves, or enforce themselves—ultimately, we rely on decent people to give life to the law and to uphold it.
Recently, however, I’ve gained new perspective on Adams’ famous distinction because of the toxic politics of the moment. Media irresponsibly emphasize personalities—and especially the polarizing personality of President Trump. It’s hard to compromise between love or loathing for any individual; and it’s vastly easier to find middle ground on that leader’s policies or programs.
In these polarizing times, all Americans would benefit from greater emphasis on policy, and less focus on personality.