The parallels with today’s discontents are striking. Only, in an ironic role reversal, it is the party that honors Jefferson in an annual dinner that has adopted policy positions and rhetoric more in keeping with those of Hamilton’s Federalists. Having retaken the Congress and the Presidency in the last two elections, Democrats are closer than ever to nationalizing health care, a goal they have pursued for more than half a century. Their proposed legislation includes provisions that many find objectionable, if not downright threatening. Additionally, they have voted for partial federal takeover of auto, banking, and insurance companies, and for trillion-dollar deficits…

It is to be hoped that the parallels will stop there, at the rhetorical level, and that no modern-day equivalent of the Whiskey Rebellion will ensue. On both sides of the debate, cooler heads speaking in softer tones need to prevail. But because they control the government, the burden to conciliate and comprise falls on President Obama and his party. For, as John Locke put it in The Second Treatise on Government, a work Jefferson echoed in the Declaration of Independence, it is “as impossible for a governor, if he really means the good of his people, and the preservation of them and their law together, not to make them see and feel it, as it is for the father of a family not to let his children see he loves and takes care of them.”