Political Parties : Why We Should Have Listened To Washington

Zack Catuogno, Reporter

The American Presidential Election of 2017 was one of the most divisive and controversial America has seen. With accusations and trash talking running rampant, this was not an election George Washington would have approved of.  When the first president of the United States, George Washington, resigned along with his resignation came a Farewell Address, which was written by Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton. In the address, he left three warnings for the future leaders of our country. He warned against harsh geological distinctions, making permanent alliances with foreign nations, and most relevant to today, he strongly urged Americans to avoid excessive political party divides.

The reason for the warning at the time was due to Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, two of Washington’s cabinet members at the time. They fought so much about their political beliefs that the divide developed into entire political parties, Jefferson head of the Democratic-Republicans, and Hamilton leading the Federalists. While the political parties we have today, Democrat and Republican, do not mirror those of the 1800’s, we can still credit them with starting off our current political divides.

A political party, nowadays, is an alliance of like-minded people who work together to win elections and be in control of the government. However, that doesn’t mean they all have the same beliefs, especially when we are not dealing with members of the cabinets and candidates running for office, but with those who are ordinary citizens who feel the societal pressure to conform to one or another political party, either Democrat or Republican.

And those strong identities in the parties often lead to the voters choice in an election, of course, if you identify as a Republican, you are going to vote for the Republican candidate, and if you are a Republican, you will and should agree with the beliefs of that group. However, that just isn’t the case.

Political Parties are only split up by their beliefs, and stances on how the government should be run, and nothing else. And those differences also occur within the parties, so splitting the two groups of people up is nearly useless. For example, a Democrat is expected to believe abortion should be legal, and Republicans are expected to believe that it shouldn’t. But what if you’re a Democrat and don’t believe in abortion? Then where do you place yourself?

Political opinions are completely subjective, depending on the person, and having our elections and society based off of the two parties instead of the candidate’s specific beliefs is unreasonable. Without the divide of Democrat or Republican, elections are purely based on who you think has better beliefs, or seems like they will be a better leader than the other. Rather than making judgments off of party identification, judgments are made off of research and facts about the candidate.

While it may no longer be the 1800s, and political parties have changed and developed, George Washington’s warnings still ring true. Political parties are toxic and restricting. As Washington said, “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.”

In a time where the politics in our country are more divided than ever, it is important that we step back and look at our own beliefs, and stay true to ourselves, rather than conforming.