The Love Story of Political Parties and Their Inseparable Ideals
This election cycle has been an absolute whirlwind. There are often moments where I have to remind myself that I’m in fact not dreaming when I think back upon the candidates and events that led us to this general election.
As a 22 year old, this is the first election that I’ve been actively interested and passionate about participating in. I think many people my age agree, not only because we’re finally old enough to vote, but largely due to the unprecedentedly high stakes of this election. Let’s face it: there’s a handful of Supreme Court justices who are getting old as f**k. Openly acknowledging the fact that I fall about as far left as they come, it’s important to me that we fill these seats with liberal justices so that we can uphold and support issues like the same-sex marriage decision, a woman’s right to choose, and government subsidizing of renewable energy research.
No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, this election is critical for everyone. Many say that elections have become increasingly divisive over the years, and this election in particular is arguably the most contentious in history.
How did we let our political discourse get so volatile? So personal? Instead of talking about the real issues affecting Americans we have candidates discussing the attractiveness of one another’s wives, perseverating over the ethics of essentially harmless emails sent half a decade ago, and alienating entire religious and ethnic groups in blanket statements.
The fuel for all of this nonsense lies entirely in one socially constructed framework: the two party system.
The allowance by both the people and the government for the two party system to exist is, in my opinion, one of the most primitive and obtuse demonstrations of modern society.
This is expected, however. What happens when you create two groups, with a specific set of criteria, in which both groups vie to get more votes and support of the constituency than their counterpart? It’s simple — people become pitted against one another in hopes of contributing to the ‘greater good’ of their party. Loyalty becomes the prevailing force, and even if you deep down disagree with a candidate or feel differently about an issue.
There is also the innate human desire to belong. For many, their identification as either Republican or Democrat plays a large role in defining their sense of self, their conscious and subconscious way of knowing and distinguishing themselves from others.
Parties wouldn’t present themselves as an issue if they were flexible, but of course they’re not. It never ceases to confound me that subscribing to one party comes with an actual list of moral and political values that you must ascribe to. Why are ideals absolutely inseparable from political parties?
Bluntly, this image I created is what your average voter is faced with:
In fact, our founding fathers fiercely warned us about the perils of the 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
Over time, our government has put a number of laws in place to prevent large groups from gaining an excess of power. For example, in 1890 we passed the Sherman Antitrust Act to address oppressive business practices associated with cartels and monopolies. In 1962, the Supreme Court decided in Engel v. Vitale that prayer in public schools is illegal as it represents and empowers the establishment of religion. Such laws were put into place to protect Americans from powerful factions both economically and psychologically. Yet, the treacherous, overwhelmingly powerful two party system lives on to this very day.
From an objective standpoint, America’s party system is no different from the group mentality that surrounds religion, or the power that monopolies control over businesses and consumers. It’s time for us to collectively abolish the legality of the party system. In lieu of supporting the premise of a contrived party, let’s begin rallying around novel, untethered ideas.