Political parties tear us apart, going against the founding principles of the U.S.



Jimmy Connor

Courtesy of Wharthon Magazine

George Washington, in his well-known Farewell Address, strongly expressed his opposition to the formation of political parties. Washington believed that America would be best served if no one belonged to a certain faction, but rather, held individual beliefs on each issue and worked out common agreements. I wish people had listened to good old George.

The existence of political parties diminishes the effectiveness of the United States government. Today, politicians will support something they don’t personally agree with because they need to support thier party’s decisions. If a Democratic senator falls from the pack and advocates for less government regulation in a specific industry, then he or she just committed political suicide. Because of this, Congress works in a top to bottom fashion. Party leaders can wield great influence on the party’s platform and positions, rather than the majority of the people that make up the party.

More importantly, political parties rip Americans apart. During a conversation about politics, if the person you’re taking to states that he or she is from the opposite political party, you instantly assume several negative things about that person. A common saying is “Don’t talk about two things at the dinner table: politics and religion.” This is because these discussions escalate, and personal anger for each other is created. Politics and religion should be discussed, often. The human mind may be the most powerful weapon in this world, and the most powerful war in this world is the war of ideas. Successful people are the ones who express their opinions fiercely, but who also listen to the ideas of others. 

Political parties have single-handedly created stereotypes that foment ill will between common Americans. Democrats think Republicans are rich, old white men that are sexist, racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and anti-gay. On the other side, Republicans think that Democrats are God-hating, welfare bottom feeders, union members and non-contributing members to society. It is a sad reality, because the truth is that these stereotypes are just flat out false. An American who is a Republican associates him or herself with the Republican Party because he or she genuinely believes that conservative policies are the best way to move America forward. An American Democrat genuinely believes progressive policies are the best way to solve our country’s current problems. 

The first founders of political parties didn’t mean for this to happen. The original purpose for political parties was to form a group of people with similar views so they could accomplish their agendas more easily. Makes sense. However, right now, America is more polarized and divided than it has been in recent times. There is so much evident bias that a thing once called compromise isn’t even feasible in today’s society.

If the other side makes a reasonable point backed by factual evidence, it is still far too difficult to agree with it because “they are not on our side.” There are many issues that all Americans agree should be addressed. They just believe they should be addressed in different ways. Our elected officials should get together, negotiate, compromise and strike a deal down the middle with both sides getting some of what they want. However, they won’t even meet, and negotiations are not initiated.

Take a look at the current election: most of the media coverage is on the insults each candidate used against each other on that given day. They talk about these ad hominem attacks to get ratings but they should be talking about the hard policy positions of each candidate.

Before we are Republicans and Democrats, we are all Americans. And before we are Americans, we are all people just trying to do our best. We should’ve just listened to George Washington.