Politics, United States

The Main Divider

A peaceful nation; an undivided country where every citizen has a voice. The U.S. is often thought of as similar to this type of utopia, but is this idea a reality?  What is stopping this country from being the best it can be? The political beliefs of the U.S. citizens are very diverse and branch out in many different directions.  Many American citizens like to base their political beliefs off of what they think the founding fathers believed. But in reality, they will find themselves saying the opposite of what they are trying to say. Our beliefs in themselves are a series of contradictions. For example, one might say they believe in equality for all people because that is what the founding fathers thought as well, but the truth is that the founding fathers did not actually believe that all people should be considered equal. They believed in equality for only white male landowners.  The phrase “All men are created equal” was understood to mean that all white men are created equal until Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address included black men into that meaning. Another example of this type of mix up, is if one said that they believed in the values of a certain political party because its values align best with the core values of the founding fathers. What they might not know though, is that some of the founding fathers actually did not believe that having political parties was a good idea at all.  Actually, George Washington himself fought against having political parties in the U.S. because he was afraid of the newly founded nation becoming corrupt: “However [political parties] 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.” (Quotes).  He was the only president to not be associated with a political party..  John Adams, another one of the founding fathers, 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 converting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution” (Quotes).  But, like not having political parties, many hopes do not always follow through with how people planned them out in their minds.  Political parties have played a major role the US for a very long time and have undergone many changes. Just because political parties have been a part of the US’s government for so long, that mean does not that keeping them around is necessary or a good idea.  They divide the nation and lead to corruption within the government.

Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson the Founders of the First Political Parties in the US

During the Washington presidency, America saw the development of its first two main political parties.  They formed due to the national bank that Hamilton and his followers wanted to pay off the debts of war.  Thomas Jefferson opposed this and multiple other policies, therefore forming the main divider between the people.  There were the Federalists and the Democratic Republicans.  The Federalists believed that there should be more power given to the central government and a loose interpretation of the Constitution. As the Democratic Republicans believed in less of an overarching central government, a more State powered government, and a strict interpretation of the Constitution.  Federalists also believed in emphasizing trade with Great Britain, while the Democratic-Republicans believed in focusing on agriculture.  People from the Southern states usually supported the Democratic-Republic party because they believed in fewer taxes on their farms.  Northern states usually sided with the federalists.  Back then, the parties were VERY different and had an extreme dislike for one another.  Nearly none of their ideas were the same, so many compromises had to be made in that period of history.  Because of those first political parties, there formed a divide between the two groups of people on opposing sides.  If parties were abolished, there would be much less of a divide between people.  People could form their opinions more openly, and not be held back by what their party believes in.

Electoral College Map

In today’s world, the two main parties are Republicans and Democrats.  The Democrats arose from the Democratic-Republican party, and the Republicans arose from the Federalist party.  The beliefs of the two parties did not change too much with the names, though.  Democrats still believe in federal power and Republicans believe in state power, but what has actually changed?  The two parties do not hate each other to the degree that they used to, which is a huge plus.  Which states support who now?  It is much harder now to draw exact lines for the political parties than it used to be because of the expansion of the nation and the population count.  It does seem that the east and west coast generally trend toward Democratic and the center trends towards Republican.  With the Electoral college system, the swing states are all that really matter in the election though.  That is why the presidential candidates generally focus most of their efforts there.  But does it really matter?

Democratic Party and Republican Party Symbols

The two-party system in this nation has not benefitted the people much.  Too big of a portion of the population already chooses their own party in the election no matter what, so what is the point?  In the 2016 election, about 94% of Democrats voted for the main candidate in their own party.  A little over 50% of Republicans voted for the top candidate of their party too.  Added together, almost three quarters of people voted their own party.  It seems as if the U.S. is two nations at war sometimes as well, the Democrats and the Republicans.  Riots, hate speeches, and a general intolerance of the other party arise from this system.  U.S. citizens are not supposed to be a nation of hatred and separation.  They are supposed to be united, like in the name of their country.  So why are they not?  What if, sometime in the future, political parties were no more?  People would look into their candidates ideals more, not just look for the Donkey or the Elephant stamped on their candidate’s campaign.  Also without parties, more candidates would have a shot.  A lot of the time there is a clear winner in the beginning of whom is going to represent their party.  If there were no parties, the presidential race would be more one of ideals and less of a popularity contest.  Also, what would happen with a direct democracy?  The founding fathers did not believe in that system because they did not trust the people to make decisions that big.  Should the leaders of the U.S. trust their citizens now to make those decisions?  The Electoral college was put in place for this reason, so that the higher ups could make the decisions with support from the people, not only the people deciding.  That could help the US unite as a country.  When one thinks of the United States, they do not think of a country divided.  The U.S.A. has United in its name, so why must it be divided by political parties?

When the US was first founded it seems that political parties were inevitably going to become a major part of its government system. Maybe it was inevitable that political parties arise and become a major role in the US’s government. Even if this is true, that doesn’t mean that they are necessary role. Political parties go against some of the strongest of the core American values, such as having a government where everyone’s voice has significance, and being a unified as a nation, as one people. Having political parties play significant role in the U.S. does the exact opposite of what these core American values are saying. The effects of political parties can be witnessed today with the current, main parties being the Democrats and Republicans.  It often feels as if the United States is divided in two; one side against the other.  People with true American values and morals can see that this is wrong: that the U.S.’s government was meant to be structured differently. The United States of America is not supposed to be a divided nation.  The Confederates tried that; we can all say that it didn’t work.  This is something that American citizens need to consider for the future.  Should Americans hold onto something just for the sole reason that it always has been that way or should they leave it in the past to enable their ability to improve?  If political parties were to be abolished, it would have a positive lasting outcome on the United States.

HERE are some political party quizzes to check out! Find out your own political views(But do realize that just because you might be put in a box, that doesn’t mean that is all there is to you. Your individual political voice is UNIQUE and IMPORTANT!).

http://www.people-press.org/quiz/political-party-quiz/

https://www.isidewith.com/political-quiz

Article  by Lily Altom and Garrett Watkins

 

Works Cited

“Creating the United States.” Library of Congress, 2017, www.loc.gov/exhibits/creating-the-united-states/formation-of-political-parties.html. Accessed 28 Sept. 2017.

“Quotes about Political Parties.” Goodreads, 2017, www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/political-parties. Accessed 28 Sept. 2017.

Siemers, David J. “Anti-Federalists.” Encyclopedia of the New American Nation, edited by Paul Finkelman, vol. 1, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2006, pp. 134-138. U.S. History in Context, link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3446700068/UHIC?u=eld16218&xid=61d64932. Accessed 14 Sept. 2017.

Stern, Jeremy A. “Federalists.” Encyclopedia of the New American Nation, edited by Paul Finkelman, vol. 2, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2006, pp. 15-19. U.S. History in Context, link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3446700245/UHIC?u=eld16218&xid=3bd3f42b. Accessed 14 Sept. 2017.

Urban, Tim. “Results: WBW Election Survey.” Wait But Why, 6 Nov. 2017, waitbutwhy.com/2016/11/results-wbw-election-survey.html. Accessed 2 Oct. 2017.

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