Jeffersonian Cycling Politics

Great NYT article on Jefferson and politics.

What does this have to do with cycling?


Here are some things that he recommended:

1. Take some complete breaks:

“During both of his terms, on the eve of each Congressional session, President Thomas Jefferson warned friends that, in our vernacular, he was about to go offline. “As Congress will meet this day week, we begin now to be in the bustle of preparation,” he wrote a family member. “When that begins, between the occupations of business and of entertainment, I shall become an unpunctual correspondent.”

2. Socialize with all even your political “enemies” and treat them all as humans:

“Men who liked and respected and enjoyed one another were more likely to cultivate the virtuous habits that would truly enable the nation’s citizens to engage in “the pursuit of happiness.” An affectionate man living in harmony with his neighbors was more likely to understand the mutual sacrifices of opinion necessary to a republic’s success. ”

Contrast this with the amount of bile we have whenever a cyclist dies on both sides of the fence.

Oh, Jefferson, where art thou?

3. Ride daily.

OK, this is a stretch since Jefferson rode a horse, but still, it bears mentioning that he kept such a schedule:

“He began the day working at his writing table, doing paperwork and receiving callers from early morning until midday; that gave him, he figured, “an interval of 4 hours for riding, dining and a little unbending.”

4. Don’t waste time on silly arguments:

“Yet Jefferson could be ruthless about the use of his limited time in power. To create an ethos of supra-partisan civility would have required bringing politicians of opposing views together under his aegis. Jefferson had only four or eight years to impress himself on the country and was unwilling to waste any of those hours presiding over arguments, even polite ones, between differing factions at his table.”

Yes, this is one that I can learn from.

5. Set the agenda:

“He chose, then, to use dinner at the President’s House to put himself and his own agenda at the center of things.”

This means that while he was polite to guests, he entertained all, and answered his mail, he didn’t bow to every whim of everyone that he met.

He believed in constant conversation between the president and lawmakers, for “if the members are to know nothing but what is important enough to be put in a public message,” Jefferson wrote, “it becomes a government of chance and not of design.”

Let’s look to Jefferson for his brilliant social skills as well as his adherence to his own message and schedule.

These are truly traits to be admired.


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