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Something to Think About: Parties, and Not the Fun Kind
September 21, 2015
Photo I. Giovannetti
Political parties. You either love them or you hate them, but our governmental system could not exist without them.
Congress relies on the existence of majority and minority parties in order to function. Our elected officials are almost exclusively chosen from our country’s two primary political parties, Democrat and Republican. And, most importantly, people need something to rally behind, somewhere to find common ground.
But in the last eight or so years (coincidentally, around the same time President Obama has been in office), we’ve seen a national disdain develop for political parties, or for partisanship in general.
And it is because nothing is getting done.
Partisan gridlock in Washington and throughout local government is the reason that people hate Congress, the reason that people don’t vote in elections, and the reason that people distance themselves from politics.
No one wants to see a grown man reading from The Cat in the Hat for five hours just to keep health care legislation from passing. No one wants to see a United States senator hold up a snowball on the Senate floor and deny climate change (yes, that actually happened and you can watch it here). No one wants to see the government shut down. Again.
In fact, I’d say that the only people who really enjoy watching so much dysfunction are the guys from late-night television. Because this stuff is comedic gold.
But the typical American wants to see that their tax dollars are being put to good use, and that their leaders are acting as such.
In every American history class you take, your teacher will take a moment during their lecture on the Articles of Confederation and their infamous uselessness to remind you that George Washington actually warned against political parties. Just goes to show you, they’ll say, Washington was always right.
And yes, not having constant, meaningless rhetoric between liberals and conservatives would do this country some good.
But I would also argue that what Washington was asking for is, and should be, impossible.
In a democratic society, there is no way to avoid the alignment of people with similar views. It is exactly because of the principles that Washington believed in that parties exist today.
But those principles were liberty and freedom of thought and expression. Not combativeness and showmanship.
The way that things are going today, it is difficult to picture a future in which compromise is a reality and the filibuster is a last resort.
But in the meantime, do not let the divisiveness of partisanship push you away from the political system. There are issues that need to be talked about and solutions that need to be found.
And if our congressmen are too busy repealing Obamacare for the 237489676th time, we’ll just have to take care of it ourselves.