Holding to party lines

“However (political parties) 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.”

— From George Washington’s farewell address

Our first president was not a big fan of political parties. However sensible it may seem that people with shared goals, views and ideals band together to influence or make public policy, George Washington thought the threat of “unprincipled men” to control the “reins of government” was greatly heightened by the existence of political parties.

He also believed that it would be commonplace for those in power to exact revenge upon their political opponents.

In short, the father of our country thought that it was only a matter of time before political parties would view the party’s interest above the country’s. Seizing and maintaining power would be the chief goal.

As one watches the political drama play out in Washington, D.C., over the government shutdown, the first president’s thoughts resonated. This is not the way a democracy is supposed to work. Far from being a dirty word, compromise is the key to good government. No side has a monopoly on good ideas.

But as this is written, everything seems to be drawn along party lines. Gridlock goes on and America’s problems continue to simmer.

(Sources: mountvernon.org and Wikipedia)

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.

COMMENTS