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Attack Plan: American Political Parties

31 August 2008 15 Comments

I think we can all agree George Washington, our first President, was a great American. If anyone disagrees with this (and the Brits don’t count) then you’re an idiot. Not to be crass, but you simply don’t get it.

GW put his life on the line and had to watch (and command) many patriots to their death for a cause – a belief – an ideal. After he helped kick British ass off our great land, he then, very reluctantly, agreed to serve as our first President. He came, kicking and screaming, for a second term of office, but refused a third.  What a man!  The guy literally sweat manliness from his pores.

In his farewell speech to the newly formed idea of a nation, he addressed what he thought could be the end of this ideal – political parties. Here are some excerpts of that farewell address (the whole address can be found here):

…I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the state, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discrimination’s. 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 mischief’s 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 passions. 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…

In short, Washington believed political parties were evil in nature. They were not in the best interest of our country unity and could eventually lead to our downfall.

Ladies and gentlemen…I think we are almost there. If we are going to save ourselves from ourselves, we need a plan…an Attack Plan

Select the best candidate

The biggest problem today with political parties is they often don’t select the best candidate for the job. The party system is set up to select the best representative of the party to win an election. Oftentimes, who is best for the job is not EVER a consideration.

Imagine if that is how it worked in business? This silliness happens all the time, but if you can’t do the job or don’t have the best person to fill the position, it eventually catches up with the business. It will either go bankrupt or toil in mediocrity until you have someone there who can perform the best.

Kill all the lawyers

Shakespeare said it best in Henry VI, “the first thing we should do is kill all the lawyers.” This statement was uttered by a treacherous revolutionary in his attempt to plan a way to be successful. If they eliminated all who might stand in the way of the rebellion, then it just might work. Even though the phrase was spewed to start a rebellion (not necessarily to restore sanity to every day life), let’s consider the possibilities.

Political Action Committees are the bane of our political existence. Lobbyists spend millions every year to push their agendas on our legislatures. There is almost NEVER a bill passed, a resolution ratified, or a roll-call conducted that doesn’t have millions of dollars given to somebody in the government behind it. Political parties rely on this money to win future elections (and to build extravagant lifestyles).

Absolute power corrupts

Political parties’ sole purpose in life is to get people elected. They are nothing more than fund raising tools to lend support to candidates that have elect-ability that will push forward an agenda that coincides with those that give the most money to the party.

Whew! What a mouthful. But it’s true. Every last word of it. It’s the golden rule that is as old as civilization itself – “those who have the gold, make the rules.” And if you want to make the rules with government, you musts get your guy/gal elected. They must win. Plain and simple. Doesn’t matter if they have the best interest of the country, you, your family, or the safety of its citizens in mind. It is not the job of candidates anymore to do this. It is only about winning an election to push forward the agenda of the donors.

This is extraordinarily dangerous and George Washington knew it. He, like so many other founding fathers, could see into the future of what money and power does to people. It changes the intent of serving the greater good to serving the few who helped get them there. Eventually, they predicted, this would bring down the very ideal of why The United States were founded.

Stop the hatred

I am continually ashamed, but almost never surprised, as to the level of hatred that exists between people of opposing views. The Sean Hannity’s of the world are the scourge of the system. They hate first, belittle and demise second, and seek common ground only as a last resort.

GW had this one pegged. He knew the power and money involved in controlling the process was too big to pass. That political parties were a way to mobilize and influence people to follow along with the program (regardless of right or wrong) in order to land top spots that control the government system.

So, today, there is no interest in the betterment of our country – it is only the betterment of the party. If it is good for the country, then it’s a bonus. The sides have become so polarized to their beliefs, they have lost site of the common goal. And in this blindness, a pure hatred for the other side has been formed. So much so, there is no common enemy or friend in the world today for Americans. There is only which are you – Democrat or Republican? If you are not on my team, you are the enemy.

Make voting a privilege, not a right

The United States was formed on the concept of giving rights to citizens. The Constitution and its subsequent Bill of Rights (first 10 Amendments to the Constitution) galvanized the concept of a US Citizen’s rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The right to vote for elected leaders in our representative form of government is clearly defined.

However, the US Constitution was written prior to political parties being formed. There are no provisions in this document to handle what is clearly a threat to our national security and sovereignty. Political parties have taken the concept of the “right” to vote and made a mockery out of the concept.

Select the best candidate

I decided to revisit this one again as I sit watching Governor Palin take the Vice Presidency candidacy on the McCain ticket for this year’s Presidential election. I can’t help think to myself, is this what McCain really wanted or is it only helpful to get elected?

She may be qualified for the position, although that looks highly unlikely – she is only 2 years removed from being a mayor of a town of 7,000 residents. It is most likely that she is a woman that put her on the ticket. Could she possibly be more qualified than Mitt Romney or Joe Lieberman or Charlie Christ or Mike Huckabee – most definitely not!

Or is it an attempt to woo women voters who were simply voting for Hillary because she was woman? If women voters switch to McCain from Clinton based solely on the gender issue, then my previous notion of making voting a privilege (through some kind of test or other means of earning it) needs to be instituted immediately.

What is really scary about the selection is that McCain met with Palin just once before making his decision on putting her in the second most powerful position in the country if elected. If this does not tell you the process of selecting the best person is all screwed up, I’m not sure what does.

I love the idea of America and all that comes with it. I know George Washington was scared of political parties interfering with that ideal. He decided to never affiliate with one. If George Washington were running for President today he wouldn’t have made it out of the primaries. Then again, GW never ran for President in today’s sense. He was convinced by his peers to serve and lead as they all knew he was the best person for the position. What an amazingly simple idea!!!!


  • Hayden Tompkins said:

    “Political parties have taken the concept of the “right” to vote and made a mockery out of the concept.”


    I also don’t understand why you have to elect ‘teams’. Why you can’t you vote for the President and VP separately?

    Hayden Tompkinss last blog post..What the heck is in your sidebar?

  • Jack said:

    I get your main point and agree with several of your subpoints, but a few of your subpoints were poorly written and poorly argued.

    “Kill all the lawyers.” What does this have to do with your argument? You start off talking about lawyers and then you finish talking about lobbyists. If there’s a connection between the two, you didn’t make it very clear. I agree that lobbyists are a bane to our political system, but what’s with the cheap jab at lawyers? Assuming that you’re arguing that lawyers are bad for politics, I have a few rebuttals for you.

    First, as an attorney I find this offensive. I work hard to hold up my oath to defend the Constitution and to bring justice. And guess what? Most attorneys do take their job in exercising justice seriously. Unfortunately, we only hear about the bad examples.

    Second, the argument that lawyers ruin politics is crap. We should be thankful we have lawyers. Remember the election of 2000? In most countries in the world there would have been armed conflict. Just watch the news and see what happens in other countries when there’s a contested election. It’s chaos! I think it’s a testament to America that instead of calling in the army, we call in lawyers to settle an election civilly and without bloodshed.

    Third, lawyers write better law. Representatives who don’t have any legal training write bad laws. Most litigation arises because a statute or ordinance was poorly written or the author didn’t take into account the legal ramifications of the statute. Reps with legal training can take this into account when writing or analyzing new law.

    “Make voting a right, not a privilege.” Okay, but why? You didn’t make this very clear. Just some vague reference to national security being different. How does making voting a privilege bolster your “Attack plan” against political parties? Also, how do you suggest making voting a privilege? Our country has already tried that with undemocratic results (allowing only white, male, property owners to vote; establishing tests before a citizen can vote, etc.)

  • Dr. Nick said:

    “A lawyer with his briefcase can steal more than a hundred men with guns” Don Corleone(Mario Puzo)

  • Kevin (author) said:

    @Jack – I looked at the post again and you are right. I wasn’t clear. Most lobbyists are lawyers, but not the other way around. I should have said kill all the lobbyists, but that wouldn’t have been as fun as quoting Shakespeare. But your points are valid and I needed more clarity.

    On voting…using past failures of implementation is not a sound argument against the concept. Carte blanche voting works when the electorate aren’t deciding based solely on gender or, worse yet, “cause he seems like a guy I can have a beer with”. In any other profession, likability or whatever ridiculous measure (other than success) is short lived. But not in politics. I think that has to change…just my opinion.

    I do like your comments, though. The writing doesn’t make sense, call me out on it. Something offends you, call me out on that too.

    BTW, I like lawyers a lot. Lawyers help make America great. They can be the ultimate equalizer in our society. But don’t tell me that nearly 40,000 Washington lobbyists (almost all lawyers) for only 535 congress men and women makes sense.

  • Kevin (author) said:

    @Hayden – I think it’s the succession issue that causes this. The US Constitution doesn’t give any powers to the VP other than succession. Without the VP being part of the team and having a voice, NO ONE would want the job. They serve the President like any other Cabinet appointee or Secretary.

  • Brendan said:

    Nice post.

    I have often been saddened seeing billboards for conservative talk radio shows calling demeocrats the enemy.
    Agree or disagree, but never should the fellow american be thought of as your enemy.

    Brendans last blog post..Empty Threats Land High School Student in Jail

  • Anonymous said:

    I usually do no reply to blogs (nor really read them(only being here because of some idiots, who say George Washington had a party, I’m trying to get that political party quote for)), but there was just one thing that has not been said in the comments that really bugged me.

    George Washington didn’t kick and scream for another term. Being new to the colonists that just became Americans, they were unsure and voted George Washington for a second time, who left after that second term, being the most amazing thing in many people’s eyes. And if I am wrong on this, sorry, but it was also the way you approached on the “kicking and screaming” since I could not imagine that.

    And another thing, that I thought should be added. George Washington did say not to get involved with other countries (Not saying if I do or do not support the war in Iraq). If that was said, I am sorry for repetition, for I did not see anything that had said so.

    This is mostly from prior knowledge from my teachers, lost debates, and even clients (when we chit-chat) that I had received the information. I am sorry if I had ended up being wrong anywhere, though it’s really hard to find a right or wrong answer. If I was wrongly educated, I prefer to simply be corrected with a simple explanation, not argued on a fact.
    (heh, and here I am just unsure to press the submit button.)

  • RAPters said:

    I couldn’t have said things better myself. I have always hated the idea of political parties and I think they do more harm then good. Out of principle I will never declare myself for one party or another. Any time I talk politics I always bring up Washington’s warnings.

  • masradar said:

    I agree with you George washington was one of the greatest leader in this world. But my vote goes to Abraham Lincoln,he successfully led his country through its greatest internal crisis, the American Civil War, preserving the Union and ending slavery.
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  • Michael Whitley said:

    (masradar) I beg to differ with you. Abraham Lincoln was not the Great emancipator every one thinks he is. He was the reason for the first shots to be fired in South Carolina. The ending of slavery only came about because he thought the north was loosing the battle, so he said he would free the slaves if they would fight for the North. Abraham Lincoln forced the South to remain part of the United States. You need to dig deeper in your studies on him. He was Anti-Black. Read some of his speaches.

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  • 7BillionPlus said:

    Where to begin?
    Well let’s start with George Washington a pretty smart guy, started out in life as a surveyor I believe. The first Census guessed the population of the USA at 3 million. Washington probably wasn’t elected because trying to get everyone to vote for one guy was such a logistical challenge they had to do the electoral college for that.

    So you see Washington was a man of his time, what he did probably wouldn’t work today for the simple reason that a lot of things will work in a frontier of 3 million people (with slaves) that will not work in a wire bound country of 311,138,757 and a World pop of 6,911,284,773 at 11:25 UTC (EST+5) Apr 10, 2011.

    Someone steals something from you in a frontier town of Washington’s time where you might not even have a jail. What do you do? Well you could probably just banish the poor guy, and he would probably have to walk to the next town just to get a meal.

    Where do you banish someone to in a country of 311,138,783 people? That’s what lawyers are for. What if it turns out he didn’t steal anything and you banished him because you hated his guts?

    Countries can work without political parties Australia does it and they also FINE their citizens if they don’t vote. I don’t think voting is a right, or a privilege, I think it is a duty. However, being former USAF I tend to think of things in terms of duty. Just like I think it is my duty to inform you that population size and consumption of energy have a hell of a lot more to do with the political process than most people give them credit for.

    If Washington were starting out today if he had any surveying left to do, he would it with GIS and EDM and he probably would have to go to college for that training. He would have went to Iraq where he probably would have worn a diaper into combat (why? because you don’t want to stop vigilance long enough to s__t) Another little change from Valley Forge. If he had lived to get to the rank of General he would have probably been kicked out for asking why we were in Iraq in the first place.

    But all that is no big deal, because unless a miracle happens, and someone figures out how to make fuel from CO2, George Washington’s world of small population and ultra low energy consumption, will come back very soon. Because peak oil is coming, and just like overpopulation it will steam roller our political process like no single human ever could. So that what kind of government you used to have will pale in comparison to the information on where your next meal is coming from.

    Have a nice day, and be thankful you have had so many. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst, and vote for people who admit Peak Oil is coming, there are a few of them.

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  • Bryan said:

    Your arguments seem bland and uninformed. The lawyer comments were not the main point of the article, if you look closely you can see that Washington was right. He said that political parties would lead to resentment, power hungry politicians, and the wrong candidates being elected. If I’m not mistaken thats exactly whats happening. Oh wait I’m not mistaken I’m exactly right.

  • Nate said:

    The problem most of the time with elections is when an elected official preforms poorly or makes bad decisions, it takes a lot to get them out of power. Only because people are too lazy to do anything about it. I agree, however, with the idea of no political parties. Too much division.

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