Policy before party
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During his farewell address, the first president of the United States George Washington warned against the formation of two opposing political parties. Of course, the country did not heed his warning, and instead did the exact opposite, forming two major political parties that we now know as the Democratic and Republican parties.
The majority of Americans today consider themselves a member of one of these parties, with the Democrats and Republicans owning most of the seats in the Senate and House of Representatives and always winning the presidential election. Many people believe that having two distinct political parties makes it easy for Americans to identify with the one that fits their ideals and beliefs, however, over the years Americans have become blinded by their party loyalty, which is more evident than ever right now.
With the Donald Trump presidency in full swing now, many people are (understandably) concerned with the president’s various apparent conflicts of interest and suspicious interactions with foreign countries. Whether the numerous allegations against him are valid or not, it should go without saying that anyone in a position of power, especially the president, should be thoroughly vetted and investigated if any concerns are raised about his or her integrity. This, I would think (and hope) is a nonpartisan way of thinking. However, because of party loyalty, many Republicans and Trump supporters are completely disregarding these serious concerns and dismissing them as irrelevant and unimportant, or prematurely defending the president before the facts are revealed. The same people who chanted “lock her up” as a response to Hillary Clinton’s various scandals are suddenly OK with president Trump having suspicious business ties to foreign countries. To be clear, this party loyalty also blinded many Clinton supporters from her serious scandals and integrity concerns as well. It is by no means a one way concern.
Second president John Adams once famously said “facts are stubborn things.” We can see this sentiment very clearly today. Rather than looking at facts and basing their political opinions on the truth, instead many of us decide what we believe as facts based on our political opinions, which is an incredibly poor way to form our opinions and ideologies. This is how some people still deny the truths of global warming. We very often believe what the political parties we subscribe to say, rather than what the truth actually is.
Many people would argue that without the support of the massive Democratic and Republican parties, no candidates would be able to fund or run a successful campaign. However, just in this previous election cycle, this was proven completely false. Bernie Sanders, an independent Senator from Vermont, was able to fund his entire campaign with local donations from actual Americans. Despite almost the entire massive Democratic party opposing him and supporting Hillary Clinton, he was able to make up a 50-point lead on Clinton in six months, and narrowly lost to her in the Democratic primary. Without the support of the major political parties, not only can candidates run a successful campaign, but if they are funded by their constituents, we would constantly receive candidates that we actually like, and not have to give our vote to the “lesser of two evils.”
Political parties have blinded Americans from the truth and urged them to pledge loyalty even when and if they don’t fully represent our opinions and ideas. They have corrupted politicians by largely acting as businesses, and constantly leave us with few or no favorable options. We should have heeded George Washington’s advice in the first place, and we still have a chance to now.