The Party System: There is Another Way


Have you ever given any real thought to the party system? Have you ever wondered why things continue to get worse? A reader contacted me with the following. “I often wonder why, out of the 327 million people in America and the billions spent in Post-Secondary schools, you have the choices for president that you do. We have spoken of the push of excellence to the top; to support the ones who are willing and capable and are clearly in it for the people. However, let’s look at the last election, and out of 300 plus million, those were the choices that the people ended up with.

Indeed! That is an excellent point. So why does this continue? Well, I would imagine it’s for several reasons with one overarching theme. Let’s look into it a bit.

For many years, I have told my listeners that if they truly wanted something to change in this country, they would need to thrust a great leader into power. They would also need to know that this leader would likely not want the job. However, that leader would likely do the right thing and serve as requested… because that’s what great leaders do.

Of course, such declarations have been largely forgotten, as I rarely say such things anymore. While still very accurate, many don’t understand the gravity of what I am talking about. And honestly, I often find that my explanations are met with disbelief or excuses as to why it wouldn’t or couldn’t happen. However, I want you to consider the following before you make up your mind.

There are Different Types of Leaders

Clearly, there are good leaders and corrupt leaders. Unfortunately, the leader that many have a hard time seeing is the lousy leader that can make themselves look like a good leader. This self-serving yet highly inspirational leader is unwilling to encourage independent thought and cares little about anyone but him/herself. Of course, much of this is rooted in the idea that too many are confused about what real leadership should look like. If you’re curious, feel free to browse my other leadership articles. Regardless, let’s examine what I’m talking about more in-depth.

Service Out of Duty

While I could point to more, let’s start with what George Washington and James A. Garfield have in common. They both reluctantly served as Presidents of the United States.

Everyone knows about George. Washington was a born leader and someone many of us admire. However, George wasn’t after the office. He served out of a sense of duty.

And let’s pay homage to Garfield. Garfield wanted to do his part but had zero intention of becoming president. Still, he is remembered as an honest and competent president, but many don’t know that he is quoted as saying things like, “I am very sorry that this has become necessary” or “This honor comes to me unsought. I have never had the Presidential fever, not even for a day.

We can learn a lot from these guys, but let’s start with a question. How do we thrust great people into power? The answer is simple. We do it as they did to Washington or Garfield.

As I mentioned, Garfield didn’t want to be president and never sought the nomination. In fact, he was a loud supporter of Senator John Sherman and went to the Republican National Convention that year to place Sherman’s name in for nomination. But the people loved him and knew him to be a great leader. So the people nominated him. And the nomination didn’t sit well with Garfield. In fact, Garfield is quoted as saying, “I rise to a question of order. I challenge the correctness of the announcement. The announcement contains votes for me. No man has a right, without the consent of the person voted for, to announce that person’s name, and vote for him in this convention. Such consent I have not given!

But as history shows, he did his duty anyway. He did a relatively good job of it too. In spite of his protests and reluctance, he stepped up because the people chose him.

You can learn more about Garfield by clicking here.

It has been done before, and it can be done once again. However, this would require something of you. The people need to be more involved and at least attempt to become more knowledgeable about several things.

Career Politicians

So let’s look at the other end of the spectrum for some contrast. What do John Dingell, Robert Byrd, Carl Hayden, Daniel Inouye, Jamie Whitten, John Conyers, Carl Vinson, Emanuel Celler, Sam Rayburn, and Sidney R. Yates all have in common? Two things. They all served for over 48 years in public office, and they are all Democrats.

Oddly enough, out of the top 100 longest-serving Congressmen and women, only 29 were NOT Democrats. I suppose that if you were ever curious about why we continue to see a shift to the left, this would be a great place to start looking. For that matter, if you are curious about why some things never seem to change (and just get worse), this could also be considered a clue.

We No Longer Abide by Foundational Intent

Did you know that at one point, the loser of the Presidential election would become the vice president? That’s right! The original system for electing presidents had the runner-up become vice president. Can you imagine that check and balance that might bring? It took the 12th Amendment to change that.

Did you know that at one point, the Senate fought for the State, and the House fought for the People? As such, the legislature would elect Senators, and the People would elect House Reps. This ensured a check and balance between the Senate and the House. Of course, today, we see a lot of cooperation between the two. That’s because the 17th Amendment changed that.

These are just two examples that help demonstrate how far we have strayed. Some could argue it was for a good reason, but that’s not the point. In fact, to illustrate the case, let us remember that the word “Democracy” is not found in our origination documents. Instead, the term “Republic” is found. Yet, somehow most Americans couldn’t articulate the difference. If you were to ask the average American what form of government we are supposed to have, they would undoubtedly tell you we have a “democracy.” Well, as I have said numerous times… you cannot love, support, defend, or exercise something you do not know.

I believe our Founders would be appalled by just how large the government has become, how many laws are in place (even though they go against the Constitution), and how apathetic the people have become. Let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment. We have turned into something our Founders made abundantly clear that they didn’t want. This is on us.

The Party System has Failed Us

I have heard it more times than I can count. “The party system has failed us!” Well, it would be important to point out that our Founders warned us about the party system and advocated that it be done away with.

John Adams said:

There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.

George Washington agreed, saying in his farewell presidential speech:

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 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.

So let’s be honest with ourselves. Is your party really looking out for YOU or their own power? Over the years, hasn’t your party been a part of the expansion of government, taxation, laws, and general overreach? Can you honestly tell yourself that your party has done what the people wanted? Or have they pandered to big business and wealthy donors despite the needs or demands of the public have been? Have they become personally wealthy by holding the office?

I contend that the party system is not your friend. In fact, it has often resulted in a false choice that forces you to compromise your principles on some level. As a result, the party will empower those who can sell themselves and their party while also lining their pockets and making a fortune – while you continue to struggle.

Education has Failed Us

Real education is about learning. Yet, you could pick numerous articles from this website and find out pretty quickly that learning hasn’t happened. Many of us don’t know history; we struggle with math, can’t balance a checkbook, don’t understand the complexities of government or taxation, and are often distracted by pseudo-science and emotions. Many cannot remember a fraction of what they supposedly “learned” in school. Be afraid! If knowledge is power, you have been rendered powerless.

Again, you cannot love, support, defend, or exercise something you do not know. And honestly, you cannot be upset about a process you don’t understand. You cannot identify infringements if you don’t know what is yours. In many ways, many Americans have been reduced to productive pets.

The question is, how exactly is one supposed to make a solid decision if they do not have the information necessary to make that decision? Well, who is in charge of education? Who provides the standards? What education model does our system currently subscribe to? Think about it like this: wouldn’t it be difficult to fix something if you cannot identify the problem?

The Media has Failed Us

We have left-wing media, right-wing media, and alternative media. All provide a different take on the same events and words. Rather than providing facts, we are inundated with agendas, emotional triggers, and talking points. How in the world is this helping?

We live in a world where we now have “fake news.” Bias is being poured into our brains via “programming.” That is an appropriate name for it. And as one might suspect, many are on board with “their brand” and resist information that might contradict what their favorite logo is telling them. I have found that many of the “informed” are simply manipulated. If you want a change to happen in this country, then we should probably include this as a top priority.

The People are Divided

Think about how all this plays out. The party system forces you to separate yourself from your neighbors, the news reinforces the behavior, and most are so uneducated that they cannot see the harm of this. In fact, many call for more of it.

Radical ideologies only exacerbate the issue. We are a nation divided, and because too few do not know their history, they are oblivious to what comes of this recipe. Almost ironically, they are encouraged by their choices to remain ignorant and resist those who try to inform them of these truths.

So What’s the Answer?

I’m not sure what the answer is. It seems to me that much of this is a lesson in “cause and effect.” This is a mighty bring problem. I could argue that proper education, one that encourages independent thought and exploration, might be a great place to start. Unfortunately, that is not going to happen until some of these other issues are cleared up first.

So as I review the obstacles, I can’t help but consider our best first step — Term Limits. While I do not believe that this will solve every problem we have, I think that term limits would increase the motivation and opportunity for great leaders to try their hand and eliminate the career politician issue that currently plagues us. If we had term limits, and I mean TRUE term limits, then perhaps we could reduce corruption and kick out bad ideas and policies much faster. Maybe we could reduce the size of the government and empower the citizenry. It seems to me that if we had term limits, the people could once again thrust great leaders into power – leaders who are not there because they want to be but there because they need to be.

Can you imagine someone in government doing the right thing because it was merely the right thing to do? Perhaps then, we could move towards a system where we legislate based on American values instead of party values. Maybe then we could reimagine education, and learning could, once again, be something valued instead of stifled.

It’s just something to consider.

Did you like this article? You might also like “Corruption Everywhere.”