Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Political Parties: Do We Need Them?

Future president James Madison, after stating that political parties are “sinister” and dangerous says in Federalist Paper 10:

The latent causes of faction (synonymous with political party) are thus sown in the nature of man; and we see them everywhere brought into different degrees of activity, according to the different circumstances of civil society. A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good…The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government.” (James Madison. Federalist Paper 10. Parentheses Added.)

Almost no one today holds to the above view, which reflected that of many of the founding fathers, that political parties were a bad and destructive thing. However, this view did not long remain true even with them, and even those that argued against them eventually joined them, Hamilton, another author of The Federalist Papers, and himself speaking of the their dangers, became the head of his own party, the Federalists.
In modern America we are stratified, on the main, into two political parties. Democrats, who are known as “the left” and the Republicans, who are slightly to their “right.” There are other parties, the Green, the Constitutional, the Libertarian, but these have, taken in all, no substantial power. The two “great parties” have much of the funding, advertisement, and power. Many watch it for entertainment, much as they would a prize fight.
Many say “I am a republican,” or “I am a democrat” but few have ever really even read their own party’s platform, they vote either as their parents voted, or they vote for their favorite candidate who says he will do the best in the current political atmosphere, and after he is gone they continue on with his party. So they vote for the one who has the D or the R beside his name. Many vote based on one or two speeches-Or they do not vote at all.
When we look out upon the political ocean of troubled seas, we find we are on the opposite side of a vast ocean from righteousness and justness. Each party attempts to persuade us to climb aboard their ship, they give us a speech on the greatness of their ship, on its comforts, its benefits. “Ask not what your country can do for you” should end “rather ask your party”. We all saw that the navigation charts of the Democrats were off by a ratio of about 3,000,000 to 1, so we climbed aboard the other ship, and laughed and shouted and had a grand time. But then more and more people began to join the Democrats, the Republicans realized that to hold to power they needed to alter their course. Now we find the ship we have climbed onto is not taking us to the destination it has promised us, but in the direction it once said was folly. Is it still folly? Or is it only folly when it is not popular? Is power so important? I hold it that truth is more so.
You may cry out “Are you not a Republican?” I would reply I stand for principle, not party. A ship is nothing but a vehicle of transport, a catalyst to carry us to the proper place, but if it does not do that, or if they are racing for the rocks, then I will disembark from their ship, and let it perish before America does.
For now there is some hope, in the party that calls itself “the right” there is still some right. How long it will be there I do not know. I will not abandon a ship at the first sign of trouble, but when they continue towards the iceberg it may be time-no, it is time to disengage.
These were not the first parties, and they too may fall as others before them, such as the Federalists, have done. A monolith is only as large as the people allow it to be. Wal Mart could never be a gigantic store if no one shopped there. So do not say the parties are too big to fail. We have toppled many, the Tyranny of England, the Threat of Germany, the Communism of Russia, why may not this also pass?
But by abandoning the party, may we not lose power? I ask, what is power, if you cannot use it for right? If you must compromise to rule, why rule at all? Let those that truly believe what they say lead, they will do it more sincerely, and with less hurt to their conscience. To sit at the top of the mountain, and yet to sit there without being in the right is a hollow power. I say with the great speech maker and Congressman Henry Clay “I would rather be right than be president.”
If the ship is being driven in the wrong direction, than we may either mutiny and take back our party, or we may need to build our own. That is for the people to decide. George Washington once said “Let us raise a standard to which all those wide and honest can repair, the event is in the Hand of God.”

Through His Strength We Will Conquer,
Andrew C. Abbott

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