Political Parties are Ruining America and We’re Helping Them
With election season in full swing (at the time of the original article) I’m once again reminded how blindly most people follow herd mentality when it comes to political party ideology. We’ve all seen the arguments about which party is worse, or whose candidate is the least trustworthy, and even more amazing is people openly admit they ‘settle for the lesser of two evils’. How have we let ourselves get to a place where voting for the guy who lies less than the others being our best choice? What causes people to cover their own eyes and ears and ignore all of the problems of their chosen party because it’s not as bad as the other one?
George Washington warned us in his farewell address:
“All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. 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; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.
However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”
Sound familiar? Political parties will become powerful organizations, more concerned with power and control rather than fair governance. Washington was our only independent president, and possibly our only truly independent politician. He firmly believed that political parties would be the downfall of our democratic republic, and it’s hard to argue with that belief. Everyone seems to complain about dishonest politicians and the power and control of political parties, but when it comes time to vote we all line up like cattle at the stock yard and pull that lever for our chosen party like it’s some sort of religion.
Recently I had a discussion with someone online who had read one of my past articles that criticized the tribalism mentality of ideological zealots, and the trend to ostracize anyone who doesn’t agree 100% with a group’s dogma. One of my examples was modern feminism, and the gentleman asked why I didn’t criticize conservatives more. I explained that my point was not specific to one party or the other, but that I simply chose one popular example to explain it. This, of course, led to a discussion in which he tried to convince me that liberals are the innocent saviors of America, and conservatives are responsible for all the evils in the world. As the conversation went on he became more defensive of his chosen ideology, and more dismissive of the idea that there are no innocent players in our two-party dominant political system.
That’s just one example and I know most people reading this have been in the same situation, especially if you believe, like I do, that both parties in the U.S. are equally complicit in the ills of our society. It’s one of the reasons people avoid discussion of politics as much as religion, which should say something about the nature of such discussions. There was a time when political discourse was normal fare at any gathering of people, but now it’s taboo unless people want to start an argument online.
We’ve essentially become willing participants in our own ignorance. We limit ourselves to the news sources that already cater to our party ideology. We argue endlessly with people outside our party, dismissing any legitimate criticism as lies from the other side. We vote, almost mindlessly, based entirely on the letter after a candidate’s name, and all the while those party leaders, funders, and power brokers benefit from our distraction. We are victims of the most elaborate sleight of hand imaginable, and we do it all to ourselves. While we’re so busy defending ‘our guy’, he’s selling us up the river for more money, a longer term, more votes, or his pet project.
So where am I going with this? If you belong to a political party, or staunchly sit in one camp or side of anything for that matter, consider George’s words. Is it in your best interest to support someone just because of an R or D after their name? Are political parties just a way for a select few to control the many, and is your strict devotion to that helping anyone but them? When’s the last time you said, “Well, I don’t trust this guy but he’s a Republican so I’m going to vote for him anyway,”? Do you want real results from politicians? Maybe next time you vote put some doubt in their heads and vote against your party, vote 3rd party, or for the other ‘side’. Let them know your vote isn’t a sure thing just because you’re a registered Democrat. In the end what’s the difference right?