The Individual Is Disregarded (For The Good Of The Party)

For well over 200 years, Political Parties have been a major part of the political process in The United States; however, having Parties in our newly established Federal Government was not part of The Founder’s original intent. At The Constitutional Convention, in 1787, Benjamin Franklin, while making a speech, talked about “the infinite mutual abuse of parties.” In Federalist #10, of The Federalist Papers, James Madison wrote how, “the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties.” And, in George Washington’s Farewell Address, he wrote about “the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party.” And, these are but a few of the examples that can be found, in regards to The Founders general dislike of Political Parties, and warnings against Parties in The Union.

For several years now, I have been making a case against Parties, believing that they were the beginning of the end for our Constitutional Republic. And, if we are to get back to our original Republican values, I believe, we need to somehow eradicate Parties from our Federal Government. Our Republic was founded on the principle that We, The People, in our districts, could elect a citizen to represent us in The House of Representatives, in Congress, and our State Legislatures would appoint two Senators to The Senate, in Congress, to represent our respective states. And, if we, in our districts, were not satisfied with our Representatives, then, every two years, they could be replaced.

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Political Parties Are A Smoke Screen

In George Washington’s 1796, Farewell Address to the people of The United States, he warned the country of the dangers of forming political parties in the union. Unfortunately, President Washington’s wisdom, and advice, was not followed; and, as a result, we have this current [Party] system of ours.

I, like many others, would like nothing more then a Federal Government who is confined to their Limited Constitutional Powers, and according to the original intent of our Founders; but, our only hope, in my humble opinion, to getting back to a Constitutionally Limited Federal Government, is to get rid of this red-herring of parties, and hold every individual who runs for office, to the same Constitutional standards.

In the end, all parties are basically a smoke screen; a mirage; a facade, and a store-front. They only serve to divide our country, based on false promises, and with an arrogance, that allows them to far exceed the powers that were Constitutionally given to them, by our Founders, and through the subsequent Amendments to our Constitution.

Unfortunately, the party elites want us to believe that we must be party sheep, in order to have any sort of Government. If that were the case, then The Constitution would have included parties – which it did not. I have long believed that, it is much easier to remove a few bad apples from office, then an entire, corrupt party; and, therefore, the best answer, in my opinion, is to be non-affiliated with parties, and make them chase after our votes, rather then this current system, in which they expect us to line up, like sheep, and vote for who they tell us, at the respective GOP, and Democrat, slaughterhouses!

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Benjamin Franklin On Public Service

“Sir, there are two passions which have a powerful influence in the affairs of men. These are ambition and avarice—the love of power and the love of money. Separately, each of these has great force in prompting men to action; but, when united in view of the same object, they have, in many minds, the most violent effects. Place before the eyes of such men a post of honor, that shall, at the same time, be a place of profit, and they will move heaven and earth to obtain it. The vast number of such places it is that renders the British government so tempestuous. The struggles for them are the true source of all those factions which are perpetually dividing the nation, distracting its councils, hurrying it sometimes into fruitless and mischievous wars, and often compelling a submission to dishonorable terms of peace.

And of what kind are the men that will strive for this profitable preeminence, through all the bustle of cabal, the heat of contention, the infinite mutual abuse of parties, tearing to pieces the best of characters? It will not be the wise and moderate, the lovers of peace and good order, the men fittest for the trust. It will be the bold and the violent, the men of strong passions and indefatigable activity in their selfish pursuits. These will thrust themselves into your government and be your rulers. And these, too, will be mistaken in the expected happiness of their situation, for their vanquished competitors, of the same spirit, and from the same motives, will perpetually be endeavoring to distress their administration, thwart their measures, and render them odious to the people.

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It’s Not About Republicans Versus Democrats

In 1787, when our Constitution was debated and written by the delegates of the thirteen original states, and subsequently ratified by the state legislatures, it was agreed that The United States would be a Federation of sovereign states, with a [Republic] Republican form of Government.

At the time when The Constitution was being debated, there were two primary groups: One was The Federalists, who, at the time, were more like Nationalists, who believed in a powerful top down sort of Central Government, and The Anti-Federalists, who, had several reservations to the new Constitution, and strongly believed in the sovereignty of the states. In fact, it was the anti-Federalists who we can thank for our treasured Bill of Rights; as the anti-Federalists would not sign onto the new Constitution unless a Bill of Rights was guaranteed.

Sadly, after only a few short years of The U.S. Constitution being ratified, factions were already forming, as The Federalists, despite entering into a (Constitutional) contract with the rest of the states, began putting forth legislation that was an obvious abridgment to the sovereignty of the states, and well exceeded the Limited Powers given to The Federal Government.

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Why Permanent Factions Are A Fallacy

In George Washington’s Farewell Address – among the many insightful topics that he covered, his warning of the dangers of forming political parties, in our country, were, perhaps, his most brilliant words of all.

I’m sure there are many definitions of faction; but, when I think of political factions, I think of it as any like-minded group of voters, or elected officials, trying to infiltrate, or influence, our Government, laws, Constitution etc.

As George Washington, astutely, pointed out, the formation of factions, and allegiances, among several like-minded individuals, is, indeed, consistent with human-nature. However, in my humble opinion, they also defy human-nature. For example, we are individuals; and, as individuals, we don’t generally appreciate being controlled, or told to walk lockstep with a certain ideology; yet, we see this in so many facets of our lives, and political system -

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Do We Really Have Two Branches Of Government?

As most Americans are aware of, in The United States’ Federal Government, we have three branches of Government: The Executive Branch, which includes The President, Vice-President, and their cabinet; The Legislative Branch (Congress), which is made up of The Senate and The House of Representatives; and The Judicial Branch, which is The Supreme Court. But, do we really have three branches of government? …

After it was decided by the framers of our Constitution to incorporate the theory of seperation of powers, as conceived by Charles-Louis de Secondat (Baron de Montesquieu), the question, of course, then became: how do the occupants of these three branches get elected or appointed?

While the framers debated as to how The President of The United States shall be appointed, the opinion seemed to be most in favor of allowing Congress to appoint The President. There were also some who thought the state governors should appoint The President. And, finally, some who thought The President should be elected by a popular vote by the citizens. After much debate, it was decided, that allowing Congress to appoint The President was a slippery-slope to legislative tyranny, as it could have made The President beholden to those who appointed him, if he were to retain his position of power. The framers, not thinking it was prudent to allow an often uninformed, and disengaged, citizenry, to directly elect The President, decided on creating the electoral process (Article 2, Section 1, Clause 2), which directed state legislatures to select electors from their respective state, and these electors would select two people who they would elect as President – with the most votes being President, and the runner up, Vice-President. The number of electors was to be equal to the amount of Representatives and Senators that each respective state had in Congress.

And, here is where it began to get dicey:

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Have Political Parties Been Misleading Us?

Over the last year or so, many registered Republicans have wondered how The Republican Party has ended up with so many so-called  (Republicans in name only) RINOs. While there are different theories, and while this is certainly not a new phenomenon, as evidenced by Thomas Jefferson’s own words, I have maintained a theory that the root of the problem is because of political parties:

For several years, many, if not most people have gone to the polls, and naively pulled levers, simply because they saw an R posted next to a candidate’s name; assuming, because there was an R, they would get a Conservative Republican; obviously, that has not always been the case, and is part and partial to the problems we are having today. In my opinion, The R and The D, has given people, in the past, a false (false-positive) sense that they will get what they voted for, and has allowed people to be laxed on doing the necessary research of the “individual” candidates, over the years.

Conversely, suppose all candidates were Independents: the voters then would have no choice but to thoroughly review the candidate’s record before voting for them, if the voter is truly concerned with knowing the candidate they are voting for. Also, if there were “individual” candidates in Congress that we were not happy with, it would certainly be easier to purge out individuals from Congress, then it is to purge an entire party. And with one Independent body, in Congress, the people would have a much better chance of Congress following The Enumerated Powers, in The Constitution, as enumerated by our founders. We’d also remove that extra level of party allegiance that often causes people in Congress to vote one way or the other, regardless of their conscience, or what their constituents demand. The people of The United States would be more likely to be united as well, with one political body, then with separate, and competing factions in our government.

After so many years of having political parties, I can understand why most people feel comfortable with their respective parties; which is why these thoughts will not likely become a reality… unless of course, a great majority of the nation insisted on it. Unfortunately, many people, and by virtue of human-nature, are often more concerned with a specific worldview being advanced, then they are with national unity; or with having one government, obeying one Constitution, according to the vision of our founding fathers.

The Public Good Is Disregarded In The Conflicts Of Rival Parties

“Complaints are everywhere heard from our most considerate and virtuous citizens, equally the friends of public and private faith, and of public and personal liberty, that our governments are too unstable, that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties, and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority.”

- James Madison (Federalist #10)


Further Reading:
George Washington On The Danger Of Political Parties
Thomas Jefferson On The State Of Party Politics

Thomas Jefferson On The State Of Party Politics

“An opinion prevails that there is no longer any distinction, that The Republicans & Federalists are completely amalgamated but it is not so. The amalgamation is of name only, not of principle. All indeed call themselves by the name of Republicans, because that of Federalists was extinguished in the battle of New Orleans. But the truth is that finding that monarchy is a desperate wish in this country, they rally to the point which they think next best, a consolidated government. Their aim is now therefore to break down the rights reserved by the constitution to the states as a bulwark against that consolidation, the fear of which produced the whole of the opposition to the constitution at its birth. Hence new Republicans in Congress, preaching the doctrines of the old Federalists, and the new nick-names of Ultras and Radicals. But I trust they will fail under the new, as the old name, and that the friends of the real constitution and union will prevail against consolidation, as they have done against monarchism. I scarcely know myself which is most to be deprecated, a consolidation, or dissolution of the states. The horrors of both are beyond the reach of human foresight.”

- Written by Thomas Jefferson in the early 1820s

Should All Elected Officials Be Independents?

In this previous post, I wrote about my feelings on political parties, and how our founders did not advocate political parties when they were creating our system of government.

For this post, I have decided to use a fictitious baseball game as an analogy. And, as with any game, we will need a set of rules; therefore, for our rule book, let’s use The United States Constitution, and all subsequent laws: 

For this game, we will need two teams – so let’s just say, we have Team Democrat and Team Republican. Now, all baseball games have an umpire behind home plate, whose function it is to be an objective observer, and to call balls and strikes, based on the rules of the game. For a moment, let’s think of each of our elected officials as a home plate umpire:

If each elected official was hired to simply, and objectively, called balls and strikes, based on our set of rules, would we be much better off as a country? Conversely, consider if the home plate umpire was in the tank for either Team Democrat or Team Republican – how would that game work out?

Every four to eight years, we end up with a President that is in favor of either Team Democrat or Team Republican, when in fact, we need them to be an objective official, that represents both teams, while utilizing the same set of rules, for both teams. The United States Constitution addresses the powers of The Congress, and the powers of The President, however, there is nothing in The Constitution that explains how Republican elected officials are to objectively represent a Democrat constituency of voters, and vice-versa for Democrat elected officials; therefore, these same principles should apply to all Federally elected officials; and, all with strict term limits, as with the President.

With Judges, there is an expectation for them to objectively interpret the law; and  law-enforcement is expected to objectively enforce the law; therefore, wouldn’t it only make sense that the law-makers begin to objectively create laws? And laws that benefit the entire team, instead of one team or the other? If we had elected officials, in Congress, acting as objective legislators, and utilizing The Constitution as their foundation for creating laws, then I would believe, the need for permanent (political parties) factions would diminish greatly. And, after all, aren’t we suppose to be The “United” States of America?

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

Two Parties Equal Two Problems

I have been doing some research, and my thoughts were confirmed; political parties were not originally present in The United States government; this was exemplified by George Washington’s diverse and ideologically different cabinet. I was actually very interested to read that George Washington considered political parties to be self-serving, divisive, and detrimental to the good of government; and I agree wholeheartedly with him.

I have also read that in a winner takes all, presidential system, that this naturally lends itself to a two party system; with that, I adamantly disagree. If we were to follow this premise, then I would say that The United States naturally lends itself to a two separate country system; one being The Liberal States of America, and the other being The Conservative States of America. Therefore, if we are going to be a country of Republicans and Democrats, and neither party is willing to build consensus with the other, then aren’t we already living in two very different countries that we merely call united?

If we read back to the time to when our founders were drafting The Constitution, you will find that there were The Federalists, who believed in a stronger central government, and The Anti-Federalists, who were concerned that the new federal government would have too much power, and could swallow up the individual rights and liberties of the states, and the people thereof. Ironically, it seems that we are fighting a similar battle today, only the new names are The Democrats and The Republicans.

I definitely lean more toward the Limited Government side, and if I were alive in 1787, I would more then likely be an Anti-Federalist. I am for smaller government, low taxation, and individual rights of states and the citizens of each state. That being said, philosophically, I would likely lean more to the modern day Republican party; however, I still consider myself a center to right Independent, and do not affiliate myself with either of the two major parties. 

If anyone is truly interested in understanding how our founders envisioned our country, then I would recommend doing some reading on events that lead up to The American Revolution, The Declaration of Independence in it’s entirety, the creating of The Constitution, it’s contents, and the differences between The Federalists and The Anti-Federalists. If you read that much, I can assure you that you will really come to appreciate the sacrifices that our founders made, and our modern day system of governance, and how it came into being. In fact, The First Ten Amendments to The Constitution, also known as The Bill of Rights, were a concession made to The Anti-Federalists as assurance that the states, and the citizens of the states would continue to retain their individual rights, even with a new federal government in place. Imagine for a moment, not having the freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the freedom of the press; and they are only from the First Amendment. Our founders believed in a de-centralization of power, realizing that too much power in one branch of government, could lead to tyranny, and an overly powerful federal government; and this is how the different branches of government, with checks and balances, came into being.

Today, I can see some good in both The Republican and Democratic Parties, philosophically, however, on an ideologically, and realistic level, I do believe that both parties, and Washington D.C. politics in general, are very flawed and broken; both are filled with special interests, and lobbyists seeking legislature for pay.  The Republican Party appears to be trying to reinvent itself from the grass roots up, however, I remain skeptical (at this point) that either party can, or will, reform itself; or has done very much to do so.

I do believe, if we are to make forward progression again, in this country, then we are going to somehow need to find some middle ground, and build consensus. If it were up to me, I would abolish both parties, and again resolve to a no party system, to where rigorous debate can still take place, based on our “Constitution,” while leaving behind the party allegiances, and the party line votes.  I pray that one day, we will not only call ourselves The United States of America, but we can once again be The “United” States of America.