Every crisis we face argues for Triadic Philosophy. This a name for a universal method of dealing with conflict. It operates when individuals accept keywords as a guide.

It is based on the pragmaticism of Charles Sanders Peirce. This is pragmatism with ethics and aesthetics at the center. It is both realism and idealism.

Facing shutdown, we have the conflict. A Congress meant to negotiate triadically is now a binary failure. Binary always fails because it says my way or nothing.

The triadic solution

The triadic solution is always to take some time.

The process of considering is very brief. But it must be chosen and implemented.

The process involves taking the sign (“shutdown”) and submitting it to the values of Tolerance, helpfulness, and democracy. This is the universal ethical index of Triadic Philosophy and it applies to all considerations.

When this is done, we move to the third (aesthetics) stage. We seek a resolution that takes the three values into consideration. The aim is truth and beauty in act and expression.


Tolerance suggests the most bipartisan route; ending a shutdown takes consent of both parties. Only the Senate has such a proposal. It maintains strength while extending helpfulness and honoring democracy.

Helpfulness focuses on what gives a hand up.

It maintains a children’s health program (CHIP) and the Dream Act.

Democracy is served by allowing the democratic process to work.

When two parties cannot negotiate a reasonable solution, the results are harmful. This is not the aim of democracy.


We have a president who may have been fairly elected if we accept the electoral college margins.

But that acceptance is in limbo now because there is an open question about the fairness of the election itself. A triadic resolution of this conundrum involves tolerance for a process of careful, legal examination, helping see that truth is recognized as it emerges, and taking steps to protect democracy from being undermined and subject to attack.

President Trump is beset with tawdry indications of a checkered past and a sense that he is not up to the job he was elected to do. Triadic philosophy finds him deficient in relation to its three cardinal values. The ideal solution would be his removal from office.

The prospects of removal are up in the air. If Trump remains we will have to wrestle with his growing proclivity for operating as an American dictator. This puts supporters in the position of being “good Americans” and opponents outside the camp.


But because America could be said, at its best, to be a nation of tolerance, helpfulness, and democracy, a solution is not so easy. To be outside the camp is unrealistic. A discussion of what America is, at heart, favors those the president has marginalized.