American Democracy was not Designed to handle Political Parties

Our political system isn’t injured. It’s been decaying for the last 150 years due to forces that our founders never envisioned. It was never designed to handle political parties.

The founders were against political parties, but again, did nothing to stop them.

America’s Founded on: No Rights, No Parties

George Washington’s fear of political parties is well documented. He was concerned they’d be divisive and lust for power. Yet there was nothing in the Constitution, nothing in the design of the country to handle political parties. There are no checks and balances on them.

In the Federalist Paper Number 10, James Madison wrote about how to guard against factions. His hope was that by making the U.S. a federation of states, it would be able to resist the tendency for small groups to form factions. But it was just a hope.

Parties formed quickly. They dominate American politics

Parties arose quickly and dominated American politics since the early 1790’s. They formed over a few central issues.

In the first 30 years, one side wanted a strong federal government, close ties to Britain, a centralized banking system, and close links to men of wealth. The next 3 decades, one party favored the Presidency and building up industry. The other favored Congress and forming a US bank.

From 1854 to the 1890’s, the Republicans were against slavery and for “national banks, railroads, high tariffs, homesteads and aid to land grant colleges.” During this time, the parties became large voting blocks, aligning Americans with them.

You can read the Wikipedia article above to see the rest of the details. The point is- they formed naturally and quickly, despite being disliked by the founders.

What’s bad about parties

Parties concentrate power and can be corrupted. They are hierarchical institutions, controlled at the top by a few people. Their focus can easily narrow. Being dependent on budgets, they are subject to corruption. They are easily dominated by special interests.

Parties are bad in that they split up important issues. They do this to oppose each other and gain supporters. Rather than allowing a rich conversation in the media showing many sides of issues, the parties make it seem like there are only two sides. Other opinions within the party are silenced and not represented, so the party can focus on “talking points.”

Parties are bad in that they split up America. Republicans could criticize Democrats for wanting socialist health care. Or for involving the government in social security. Instead, they simply call them socialists and equate the party with “tax-and-spend.” Many Democrats simply call Republicans idiots.

There’s more about the parties in the next post.

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