Democracy – Self-governance of the people, by the people, for the people.
In his farewell address to the nation, President George Washington gives sage advice to the fledgling republic he helped found, as it tries to find its footing in self-governance, in an era of feudalistic societies.
Among other things, he lays down a case for self-governance without political parties. He puts forth a well thought out argument as to how the mere existence of political parties could imperil our democracy, because by their very nature political parties stand to benefit from factionalism and divisiveness. They achieve this by false propaganda, pitting communities one against the other, thereby weakening the Union.
He writes, “One of the expedients in party to acquire influence within particular districts is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts.” He cautions the voter, “You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heart burnings which spring from these misrepresentations.”
Given the unmitigated levels of toxicity in election campaigns and the corruption in our government, the truth in these eloquent words, sounds prophetic. What if we lived in a world as advocated by our first President?
Imagine, an election cycle without any political parties – no democrats, no republicans, no green or any other party. An election cycle, where the individual candidate, unbeholden to any political party, does not have to lean either left or right, but stand upright and run for public office only on the strength of their credentials and beliefs.
Imagine, an election cycle where political conversations cannot be dominated by partisanship, simply because there are no parties to be loyal to. Think about the rancor and venom that could be pushed out of political discussions, which could create opportunities for constructive dialogue between voters and candidates, to devise the ways in we should govern ourselves.
The unfettered candidate would be encouraged to speak his or her mind without having to constantly worry about appearing disloyal to their political party.
The voter, free from the constant drumbeat of toxic swill from the hate media and misinformation of the corporate controlled news media, may have an opportunity to pay close attention to what each independent candidate has to offer, enabling a well informed electorate.
If elected to public office, these representatives would have the freedom to legislate and vote conscientiously, with emphasis on the welfare of the communities they serve, because there are no powerful parties’ leaders to meddle with their decision making process.
Without the institutional protection offered by a political party, each elected representative would stand in stark relief, making accountability easier, relative to the current system, thereby diminishing the influence of political think-tanks and other special interests.
The faceless nature of institutionalized politics makes individual accountability hard, enabling a climate of secrecy which would encourage powerful egoists with selfish motivations, to game the system in their favor, since they can negotiate without much risk of exposure, with the very representatives, we the voters have elected, to work in our interests.
The dissipation of power would make it harder for lobbyists and other shadow powers to thrive, because they would be forced to approach legislators, one-by-one or few at a time, which would reduce the probability of a successful implementation of their agenda, because there are no institutionalized behemoths, with top down power structure, making power-bargaining easy. Instead, they would have to deal with the capriciousness of transient, splintered political alliances, which could get prohibitively expensive, but more importantly, it would increase the risk of exposure to their secret agendas.
A no-party system would not entirely eradicate the corruptibility of the human soul, but it also cannot thrive at the same strength as it can when power is concentrated between few political organizations, which makes the masses feel that they are always fighting invisible, impenetrable walls.
Maybe, this is the change we seek in our government – to have a more even representation. Maybe, government doesn’t have to be big or small; what we want is a voter-centric government.
Maybe, the no-party system is the answer to the constant gridlock in our government, by breaking down the bastions of power.
It is time to listen to the Father of our Nation, who had wisely foreseen and fathomed the misery that we endure today as a nation – in eloquent articulation – long before our time and has offered sage solutions.
It is time to weed out the crass, opportunistic politicians from those who care about our welfare and cast the former into oblivion, so that we would no longer be red or blue or purple Americas, instead would stand together as the United States of America.
Note: All the ideas I have furnished here, stem from the, “Farewell speech of George Washington”. In this letter to his beloved nation, he explains with cerebral eloquence, what it is to be an immigrant nation, what hurdles we could face in our democratic governance and how to overcome them.