Everyone is always invoking the founding fathers in political debates, and claiming to know what they would think on modern issues. The undeniable truth is most of the delegates at the Constitutional Convention abhorred the thought of a two-party system.
"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." -John Adams, Letter to Jonathan Jackson, October 2, 1780
"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 find 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." -George Washington, Farewell address, September 17, 1796
I know the second one is long, but well worth reading and thinking about, especially the lines that I bolded. It gives me chills to see just how much George Washington's fears were justified. But what interests me just as much is that George Washington wanted to avoid parties altogether, let alone a mere two-party system. These are the men who designed this country. If we're not going to listen to them, who will we listen to instead? Radio and TV pundits? The Huffington Post? The CEO of Chick-Fil-A?
I wish we lived in that world, where candidates for every post campaigned on their own laurels and individual platforms, instead of having to be associated with a party, and thus automatically guaranteeing their blind acceptance or rejection by all Americans who identify themselves under one party's banner.
I have to confess, I was inspired to write this post because I have been following the Stein/Honkala campaign's facebook page. Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala were arrested this week at a protest of Fannie Mae home foreclosures. She spent a full day and night in jail, all to show support for the families across America who have lost their homes in the recession while giant lending companies wallow in dough. You can read more about it in this excellent article and I highly encourage you to do so: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/08/03/can-anyone-replace-nader-in-the-green-party-race-for-the-white-house.html
What were Obama and Romney doing this week? I'm pretty sure it wasn't getting arrested at a peaceful protest of what is at the heart of today's economic crisis. And I know that in all honestly, one of these two men will be president in 2013, and not a third party candidate. All I'm asking is to please consider what will be accomplished by you voting for one of these men in November, and then on the flip side what might be accomplished if you showed your support for a lesser known candidate who could actually shake things up a bit. Maybe not in 2012, or 2016, or even 2028. But somewhere down the road, I wholeheartedly believe that asking third party candidates to help us solve our biggest problems is one of the only things we can do to prolong the life of this Republic.
I love this country. I think America really is beautiful. I sincerely hope it prospers indefinitely, and that we never have to have Hunger Games. And that's why I care so much about this issue.