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George Washington On The Danger Of Political Parties

“I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

This Spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but in those of the popular form it is seen in its greatest rankness and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual, and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation on the ruins of public liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the public councils, and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another; foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passion. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government, and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true and in governments of a monarchical cast patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose; and there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power and proneness to abuse it which predominates in the human heart is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositories, and constituting each the guardian of the public weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern, some of them in our country and under our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them.”

- George Washington (Farewell Address – 1796)


Further Reading:
The dangers of political parties: Washington’s words, explained




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  1. Having “No Political Party” is obviously best so that the Red Herring of having one or two or more will not root itself into the distraction for WE THE PEOPLE to become lost in. We have done just that. We pit our parties against each other rather than stand for principle at all times. The real question is: Who will best serve, Who will best preserve, protect and defend and therefore live by our U.S. Constitution. I greatly appreciate this Article on the obvious dangers of having Political Parties. Thank you Mark.

  2. Well said, Lisa! I agree 100% with you. And, that is exactly what these God-Forsaken parties have done to our country, and our Government. We, The People, should always be voting on principle; and, never by party. But, sadly, we have been led to believe that some party will best represent us; which, thereby, has caused unknown amounts of citizens to compromise their principles (and our Constitution) in the name of party allegiance. Sad!

  3. George Washington’s warnings remain as timely today as back then
    (1796). Perhaps the late Alabama Governor George C. Wallace
    stated it best back in 1968: “there isn’t a dimes worth of difference
    between the Democrats and Republicans!” Why hasn’t a sizeable
    remnant of the American public learned from this? Why do so many
    people (especially the ignorant older socialists suck ups) parrott
    and embrace the party line? To say this is damnable is putting it
    mildly! The moral high ground on this issue rightly belongs to The
    John Birch Society in Appleton, Wisconsin (www.jbs.org). Also,
    the Constitution Party of Oregon (www.constitutionpartyoregon.net),
    and News With Views via http://www.newswithviews.com. The latter
    contains credible commentaries by Devvy Kidd, Pastor Chuck
    Baldwin, Coach Dave Daubenmire and many others. The Bible
    states: “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice:
    but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” — Proverbs 29:2

    • Well said James! And, thank you for the comment.

      Unfortunately, people tend to want to pick a side, and delude themselves into believing that “their side” is always the right side. Personally, I’d prefer to look to The Constitution, the facts, and the data. Parties, especially today, are more concerned with staying in power, and funding all of the special interest groups that go along with it, then they are, good and prudent governance. Parties, in my humble opinion, are the enemy to true Republican (as in a Republic) principles.

  4. Thank you Mark. Your support is encouraging. In addition to The John
    Birch Society and Constitution Party another institution known as
    JPFO, Inc. “America’s Aggressive Civil Rights Organization” via
    http://www.jpfo.org offers educational sources for voters. Though JPFO, Inc. is primarily a pro-gun/Second Amendment group nonetheless, a
    civic minded free thinking voting citizen can learn much on the
    proper role of government from them.

    • You got it James! And, thank you for all the good resources. It is very encouraging to see that there are, still, so many Freedom-minded, and Liberty-loving patriots in our country. I pray, one day, we rid ourselves of this current Socialist, I mean, Federal Government, and re-institute a Constitutionally-Limited, Liberty-minded Federal Government. And, to hell with all Parties!

  5. Pingback: George Washington On The Danger Of Political Parties | The Original Republican | politicalpaladin

  6. Pingback: Did you ever stop to think that maybe YOU are the problem? - Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Conservatives, Liberals, Third Parties, Left-Wing, Right-Wing, Congress, President - Page 2 - City-Data Forum

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