The Founding Fathers Tried to Warn Us About the Threat From a Two-Party System → Washingtons Blog
The Founding Fathers Tried to Warn Us About the Threat From a Two-Party System - Washingtons Blog

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Founding Fathers Tried to Warn Us About the Threat From a Two-Party System

Polls show that a majority of Americans say that both the Republicans and Democrats are doing such a poor job representing the people that a new, third party is needed.

I've repeatedly warned that there is a scripted, psuedo-war between Dems and Repubs, liberals and conservatives which is in reality a false divide-and-conquer dog-and-pony show created by the powers that be to keep the American people divided and distracted. See this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this and this.

In fact, the Founding Fathers warned us about the threat from a two party system.

John Adams said:

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.

George Washington agreed, saying in his farewell presidential speech:

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.


  1. Jesse Ventura thinks we should do away with parties:

    I tend to agree with him -- why not abolish parties and call them what they are, PAC's??? And I agree with the author of the above blog entry -- we've got to do away with all the big money in elections. Until we do we're stuck with a hopelessly corrupt government.

  2. I disagree, the Dems and Repubs are doing a GREAT job representing the interests they serve; the Fed, Wall Street, the Pentagon and Israel.

    As for 'We the People,' we're nothing more than an obstacle to be ignored or tossed in jail.

    DC politicians have been bought and sold so many times it's pathetic.

    They have nothing but contempt for the people.

  3. Great Post! This is the first time I've considered giving my vote to a third party. I guess that's the only solution? Any others? I've tried pushing the Democrats in a more progressive, honest direction but that doesn't work. Crazy.

  4. Call the parties what they are, organized crime syndicates.

  5. There is a new party gaining power and those in control wish to create a switch to disable it.

    If your government shuts down the internet, shut down your government. - Not sure, don't care

  6. Adams and Washington both had the right idea for the wrong reason. Their primary worry was mob rule. In other words, THEY OPPOSED DEMOCRACY.
    The real reason they worried about parties was that they were worried about the Jeffersonian push for democracy.

    They were right about the ultimate destructive effect of parties, but their reasons were wrong. Parties should have a natural lifespan; when they outlive this, they turn from conduits for expression of the moved consciences of human beings into machines for the suppression of the individual conscience.

  7. How can a third party be a solution to this problem?? Such third parties exist in many countries and are additional sources of corruption and levers for those playing the divide-and-rule game.

    Here is a sketch of one possible solution in the European context. It could be implemented without significant modification in the US also:

    "The liberal-democratic multiparty political system should not enjoy a monopoly, because the result of such a monopoly is that the voter has no real political choice: whichever politician he or she chooses as a representative will behave in the same way, seeking to turn concrete issues into abstractions that can be utilized as political currency in competition with other similar politicians.

    An Independent Citizens’ European Assembly (ICEA) would set itself the task of breaking this monopoly by competing with the existing system as a whole, not as one among a number of contending parties but as an alternative non-party legislature. Seeking to apply consensus procedures rather than voting in its deliberations it could put itself forward as an alternative to the European Parliament, seeking a mandate once every five years through a pan-European referendum. If it wins the referendum, the ICEA would become the European Union’s legislative body, consigning the European Parliament to consultative status, whose task will be to criticize the ICEA and seek to win back the mandate for itself at the next five-yearly referendum

    The pan-European referendum transferring legislative powers to the ICEA will be valid for every lower level: national, regional and local. However, at these lower levels the supporters of liberal-democratic multiparty institutions will be free immediately after the pan-European referendum to challenge the mandate of the ICEA at their specific level, and if successful retain the mandate at this lower level for the remainder of the five-year period.

    The Independent Citizens’ European Assembly will be comprised, as the name implies, of independent citizens. This will mean – as is feasible in the age of the internet – that full participants in the ICEA will not be dependent on political mediators: the media. Any citizen appearing on television or making use of any other medium of communication other than those free from external editorial control, or under the control of the ICEA itself, will not enjoy full recognition as an independent citizen and will not be acceptable to the ICEA – except, at most, in a consultative capacity. Similar restrictions were imposed in the past, in some places, on civil servants, and the ICEA will indeed seek to exercise many of the functions that were once exercised by the professional civil service.

    The Independent Citizens European Assembly seeks to break the power of the mass media over the political system, and this is one of the methods by which it proposes to achieve this objective."

  8. @Orangutan, Third parties will only work if they are given equal exposure and time, and people show interest from day 1; not when the final two reach the "championship game"! If the money involved wasn't so exorbitant, and we could vote on the best of ALL of the 3rd parties in the primaries, then it may stand a chance without watering down the vote as it does now with a D or R bound to get in!

    @Wayne, in it's present form, there's too much BIG money and greed backing the candidates for ANY party to succeed! Someone for REAL change will be suicided!

  9. While the IDEA is correct and it proves the the founding fathers had wisdom and insight that is timeless. The basic problem is that 50% of the people dont even pay attention. Of that 50% those that do vote, vote simply on the basis of how a canidate or party makes them FEEL about themselves or because thier mothers, fathers and or idols have allways supported that point of view...or against a party because of irrational dislike of a particular individual or issue.
    there are probably 20% of each party that are fully commited ideologically to the party. The rest of us vote becaue we make a decision based upon the closest canidate to our own belief system.
    I becomes purely a numbers game, therefore a 3rd party canidate simply robs from the party to which they are most closely alligned with, insuring defeat - or apeals to the idealist that can no longer justify voting for a party which has failed them time and time again.
    The REAL problem is in our society and it is one that cannot be solved and grows worse with each generation. Its not that not enough people vote, its that too many are allowed. Not everyone is cut out to make descisions, you dont have workers deciding how much and what to produce in the factory and likewise you should not have people with limited intellect and dubious emotional stability deciding who is going to run the country. Simply put the people that make this country work should make the desisions. 50% do not pay any net taxes, even less than that have any impact in the world at all...Running business, emloying, educating etc. This was the one thing I fear that the founding fathers never saw comming and it is our downfall. It is an ever tightening vice from whch there can be no escape. What hope can there be when most people dont have any idea how a job gets created?
    This house of cards is comming down, not today, maybe not next month or next year..but anyone who cares to look can see the inevitable. Its completley unsustainable.

  10. Why China has One China Policy and not America? Division is not allowed in China?


→ Thank you for contributing to the conversation by commenting. We try to read all of the comments (but don't always have the time).

→ If you write a long comment, please use paragraph breaks. Otherwise, no one will read it. Many people still won't read it, so shorter is usually better (but it's your choice).

→ The following types of comments will be deleted if we happen to see them:

-- Comments that criticize any class of people as a whole, especially when based on an attribute they don't have control over

-- Comments that explicitly call for violence

→ Because we do not read all of the comments, I am not responsible for any unlawful or distasteful comments.