The subject of partisan politics recently crossed my path – not just the fact that partisan politics exists (something we’re all well aware of), but rather the dangers that it holds, its subtle nature and the extent to which it has crept into our thought process. Having been politically active for nearly two decades now, more than half that time spent in positions of leadership in both my county, state and national party, it seems I would have already learned this lesson.
Most of us are aware of President George Washington’s warning in his Farewell Address as to the danger of partisan politics. However, we have grown forgetful of that warning and are failing to perceive the effect that the spirit of partisan politics is having on our political landscape. Most of all, we are woefully unaware of the degree to which we ourselves have fallen prey to the mentality of partisan politics.
I am certainly not against the use of a political party as an organization that serves as a vehicle for promoting certain principles and for supporting candidates for public office who uphold those principles. I’m the chairman of a political party and I am constantly encouraging people to join my party and participate in the political process by supporting candidates for office who uphold Constitutional principles and sound moral values.
Nevertheless, after reading a recent article by Constitution Party National Committee Chairman, Jim Clymer, and revisiting President Washington’s Farewell Address, I see more clearly than ever the danger of partisan politics and the snare that it brings – a snare that I perceive has taken the majority of my fellow American’s captive.
Human nature seems to be such that we quickly degenerate from looking to the principles that rallied us to a common cause, to looking instead to the organization that we have learned to mentally associate with that cause. We then proceed to follow that organization with a sort of blind loyalty akin to the support that we show for our favorite sports team. Why? Because it is easier to simply pick a team to cheer for than it is to stay apprised of and be ever vigilant to guard over principles.
I see two pitfalls of partisan politics, one that besets those elected to public office and another that ensnares those of us who elect them.
For those elected to public office, the danger is that they will carry their party loyalties into office with them. Once elected and having sworn the oath of office, a public official’s only loyalty should be to God, the United States Constitution, their state’s constitution if elected to a state office and to the people who they represent, to seek the good, the best interest of, their constituents as the Great Commandment of Love would dictate. Any party loyalty should come subsequent to these considerations and should have no effect on an elected official’s vote.
The fact that most votes taken in Congress and in state legislatures around the country follow partisan lines tells me that we have succumbed to a partisan spirit that places party above principle. If the members of one party were all voting for good and the other for evil, it would be different. However, members of both of the establishment parties currently in power regularly vote to violate the Constitution they swore to uphold; they vote for big government that oppresses those who they profess to serve; they vote to heap debt on the backs of future generations which they should be duty bound by love to protect and seek the peace and prosperity of. Yet while the parties currently controlling our legislative bodies are clearly not divided along lines of pure good versus pure evil, their votes are more often than not divided by a strict party line.
Those of us who elect these public officials are faring no better. Rather than critiquing every action of our representatives by a set standard of timeless principles, we have instead succumbed to the spirit of partisan politics as we mindlessly cheer for our favored team void of any honest, introspective scrutiny of our chosen political party on the basis of the principles that it adheres to – or fails to adhere to.
We praise the Presidents of one party and deride those of another. Yet when scrutinized under the microscope of the supreme law of our land, the U.S. Constitution, we find that Presidents of both parties have voided their oath of office and violated our Constitution with nearly equal impunity. Yet we are daily reminded by the voices that represent our preferred political persuasion, that one is good and the other evil.
For an object lesson in the spirit of partisan politics, turn on the radio and listen for a few days to so called ‘conservative’ talk radio, then to the liberal ‘progressive’ shows. Half the time they are accusing each other of the same things, and half the time they’re right. Most of what passes for political commentary is little more than school yard name calling dressed up in more intellectually sophisticated, college educated terms – and sometimes not – “Hillary is fat” or “George Bush talks funny.” We really haven’t progressed very far from the childhood taunt of “you’re ugly and your mommy dresses you funny.”
The frightful thing is that we are letting this blind partisan loyalty, team spirit mentality, guide our thinking and our decision making and thereby, the future of our once great nation. I grieve for the disgrace that we bring upon our venerated first President by so wantonly disregarding his words of wisdom in warning against the spirit of partisan politics.
Then, whether you have already read George Washington’s farewell address or not, click here to reread that insightful portion of his address warning of the dangers of partisan politics.
Then, once you have been refreshed with a new insight and appreciation for the dangers of the spirit of partisan politics, go share it with others!