It may come as a surprise that our only President to be truly non-affiliated with any major party was our first. The fact that George Washington is consistently ranked among our countries’ greatest leaders, has nothing to do with “beginner’s luck” and almost everything to do with his nonpartisan standing. Washington may have been one of the only presidents to continually rise above the antics of stubborn ideologues that plague our modern political discourse. It wasn’t long though before rifts grew within Washington’s own cabinet which laid the foreground for what we now know as the two-party system. Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton advocated a strong central government that could regulate the economy and establish a national bank; while Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson advocated for a more agrarian society based on individual liberty with minimal to no government intervention in daily life. Washington’s parliamentary style cabinet initially enabled progress, but as bitterness grew the opposing sides began to disassociate into sects. Washington didn’t take this emergence of parties lightly, he predicted the rise of these troublesome entities so prophetically in his farewell address:
“All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.
However combinations or associations of the above description 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.”
In this eerily accurate prediction, we see Washington’s clear condemnation of political parties and their ability to high-jack the interests of the nation as a cover for partisan agendas. Keep in mind this was before the emergence of omnipotent plutocrats such as John D. Rockefeller, JP Morgan, or Charles Koch who could profoundly distort the political narrative of the country. What Washington was really picking up on here was our unfortunate inclination as a species to form packs and tribes based on superficial differences whether physical or ideological. Our greatest capacity for unconscious violence and destruction reveals itself when the tensions between two rival tribes reach a threshold and the counter party is dehumanized; whatever incarnation that tribe may take: nationality, race, ethnicity, religion, philosophy, gender, political affiliation, class and yes even home team rivalry. Whether unwittingly or consciously, this is the trait partisan politics preys upon, our primal desire to form a tribe and be part of something while simultaneous viewing those outside our circle with great suspicion. Once the party gains a majority it can push forth its agenda, which most times is actually at odds with public consensus and represents the interests of the a select few.
But the two-tiered system has actually become a lot more ominous and tyrannical than Washington could’ve ever imagined with both parties engaging in ideological trench warfare, while at the same time pledging themselves to their donors; providing the perceived notion of progress, while propelling the interests of plutocrats. For example, majority of the country favors a form of guaranteed healthcare, free higher education, action on climate change and the legalization of marijuana but none of these policies ever really come to fruition. Instead we see a continuation of corporate welfare, growing inequality, imperialistic foreign policy, growing inflation that outpaces minimum-wage growth, increasing college tuition, higher medical costs, increased incarceration under both parties. This is not a surprise considering most of the donations from special interests are blanketed over both parties.
Now for those of you who are currently clenching your fists in uncontrollable anger saying “If it weren’t for those damn Republicans, we could be getting so much done!”, “yeah but the Democrats are like 1000x better”, or “Vote Blue No Matter who”, “We need to vote for the lesser of two evils”. You are part of the problem. Here’s why: a grid-locked congress high-jacked by far right radical politicians is a somewhat accurate explanation for the troubles we face in cultivating progress but the problem with this narrative is that it portrays the democratic party as an altruistic protagonist. The Democratic Party can be described as the protagonist in the political equivalent of “Good Cop/Bad Cop”, at the end of day both are trying to screw you over and are beholden to a much larger ominous ploy in which you are a willing participant.
We are truly at a crossroads, we cannot no longer be participants in a rigged system. Impending existential threats like climate change, foreign wars, looming economics crisis’, should not be left in the hands of people who strive only for power and claim they will cultivate change in a system, that through corruption and ideological obligation has become a mainstay of stagnation.
Voting within the Democratic establishment at this point is morally reprehensible. The fear mongering perpetuated by the party establishment has the American people exactly where it wants them. Trump’s totalitarian rhetoric perfectly caters to their narrative; they can now scare people into voting for an establishment candidate. I’m not saying Trump doesn’t pose a real threat (though in actuality he is just a socially liberal Reaganite maximizing the “Southern Strategy” to gain support, and ironically he closer to Clinton on the political spectrum than many assume), I’m saying what you should be more afraid of is a never-ending cycle of superficial partisan wars that mask the overreaching hand of oligarchs in our politics, which ultimately crushes true democracy.
In 2012, a vote for Barack Obama was legitimate, in that Romney was blatantly more entrenched in oligarchical affairs and there also was a lack of other viable options. Now we do however have an alternative, the tumultuous and multi-factional state of this race is unparalleled in the past 70 years or so. Now is not the time to work within the establishment and play it safe with candidates that don’t really deserve our vote, it is time to stick your guns and vote for someone you can truly believe in because this may be your only chance to do so. There is great opportunity in this race for partisan reformation that could drastically alter American politics for the better. Let’s not let that chance slip. The answer lays not with the pathological demagogue, but with the Brooklynite with the moral character of Jimmy Carter and impassioned principle of Teddy Roosevelt.
– Kidd Munny