New York (CNN)
-- The clock is ticking in Washington on the bipartisan supercommittee, those 12 members of Congress tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction by Thanksgiving.
More than 140 of their colleagues, both Democrats and Republicans, are encouraging them to be bold and go bigger -- reaching $4 trillion of deficit reduction in order to put the U.S. on stable long-term fiscal footing and avoid another round of downgrades.
But if their colleagues' counsel isn't persuasive, there's an additional voice the supercommittee could find inspiration from -- the original founding father, George Washington.
In his farewell address to his fellow countrymen in 1796, George Washington set out his lessons for future generations. It was penned as the "warnings of a parting friend," and in it, Washington laid out the long-term dangers that his understanding of history and human nature dictated could undermine the independence of our democratic republic.
Washington warned about the dangers of what we would today call hyper-partisans: "They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community." These platoons of polarization have driven us to the paralysis we are now in, too often unable to reason together even in the face of crisis.