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Education, History

The Founders on Political Parties

Have you ever considered the current state of our political party system? Have you ever wondered what our Founding Fathers would say if they saw what the parties have done to our nation?

George Washington, in his farewell address, warned us of the many dangers of political parties (Taken from Source)…

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President George Washington (Click on image to enlarge)

[Political parties] 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… the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it…

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

President Thomas Jefferson  (Click on image to enlarge)

President Thomas Jefferson (Click on image to enlarge)

Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Francis Hopkinson Paris (Dated March 13, 1789), wrote (Source)…

I am not a Federalist, because I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all. Therefore I protest to you I am not of the party of federalists. But I am much farther from that of the Antifederalists.

President John Adams (Click on image to enlarge)

President John Adams (Click on image to enlarge)

John Adams, in a letter to Jonathan Jackson in October 1780, wrote (Source)…

There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.

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Know any other maxims from the Framers on this topic? Feel free to share them in the comments section below. We would love to see them!

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About WilsonNCTeaParty

The Wilson NC Tea Party is a grassroots, non-partisan movement for liberty and freedom that crosses racial, denominational, and political party lines. We are Independents, Libertarians, Democrats, and Republicans. We are black, white, red, brown, and yellow. We are Catholics and Protestants, young and old, male and female and we are unified around the Judeo-Christian principles and values of our founding. We are bringing “our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor” to the table to be a grassroots voice within Wilson County that stands for constitutionally limited government, free markets, and fiscal responsibility. We put principle before party and vote for those who are most aligned with our values, regardless of their political party affiliations. We put integrity and character before flowery words and polished personas. We put common sense before utopian ideals and progressive paradigms. To learn more about us and to find out how you can get involved, go to https://wilsonncteaparty.wordpress.com/about.

Discussion

One thought on “The Founders on Political Parties

  1. I could not agree more! While the formation of some sort of groups organized around common platforms may be inevitable, the two party system seems to have given us the absolute worst situation possible. In some ways it’s worse than an absolute monarchy, because it gives us the illusion of choice and democracy – thus preventing the mass opposition to the two-party system that we should have undertaken decades ago.

    While we have almost no REAL choice in how our country is run, we have the illusion that we do – and that those who favor the opposite party from our own are our enemy.

    No – our neighbors should be our allies. If we sit down and talk together, we’ll find that we have nearly identical goals. The respects in which we differ on how to achieve those goals are practical questions that can be answered through research and experimentation.

    Our enemies are those bent on keeping power at any cost, who so effectively turn us against each other.

    Posted by kagmi | June 16, 2015, 10:03 PM

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Disclaimers

The Wilson NC Tea Party (WNCTP) does not endorse candidates on the federal, state, or local levels. We are simply pointing our fellow citizens to the principles and values of our founding so that they will be able to vote, in the primary and general elections, for those candidates who are most aligned with those principles and values. With that said all candidate-related posts are for education purposes only.

Also, the views and opinions shared as comments on the WNCTP Blog, by its various members, do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the WNCTP leadership and volunteer base. Since the WNCTP is "Of The People, For The People, By The People" and believes in the First Amendment, we cannot and will not deny any member their right to "free speech" regarding their political and/or policy positions, but our tolerance of their views does not necessarily reflect consent.

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