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Home / Culture and Society / Time to Abolish Political Parties – Before It’s Too Late
The Founding Fathers were oddly prescient at times. If you think about the system that led Donald Trump to the threshold of the most powerful position in the world, and the corruption that has elevated Hillary Clinton to her party's nomination, you have to wonder if they weren't psychic. Because if we don't do something to resolve this national horror, America will lose everything – including itself.

Time to Abolish Political Parties – Before It’s Too Late

So here we are, America, less than four months from the general election for the President of the United States, and our political system is a disgrace. The recent WikiLeaks exposure of Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign emails has unleashed an online outrage against both – and against the mainstream media that colluded with them to manipulate our electoral system and defeat Bernie Sanders in the primaries.

Those same emails display the contempt with which both hold the American people, particularly dismissive of and prejudiced against the Latino and LGBTQ communities. Sunday’s resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz hours before the Dems’ national convention began was inevitable. What was shocking to many was that Clinton promptly hired her as “an honorary chair” of her campaign – thereby demonstrating how out of touch Clinton is with the American public. As I write this, thousands of people have taken to the streets in Philadelphia to protest, and the DNC is literally constructing a fence to protect delegates from the protesters.

Meanwhile, Republican nominee Donald Trump has been handed the keys to the Oval Office on a silver platter, while Libertarian candidate, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein are stuck on the fringes of the election, without access to the media (who all apparently are being monitored and coached by the DNC) and not even invited to participate in the presidential debates, where the United States will be offered a choice between the embattled Clinton and her corrupt party and campaign and Trump, who may be the only presidential candidate in history who is more unlikable. Normally, neither of these candidates would be electable. Now we are confronted with a choice that frankly should never have existed.

Full disclosure: I’ve been extremely critical of the party system for a long, long time. I’ve voted for a major party candidate once since 1996. I’ve listened to countless harangues about how I’m “wasting my vote” or how my voting priorities “gives the election” to an undesirable candidate. For years, my opinion that the party system is inherently malignant to American interests has been laughed off as some sort of radical position.

And yet, here we are with undeniably the two worst major nominees for President in history, and suddenly Americans are wondering how we got here. How is it possible that Donald Trump managed to gain the GOP nomination when a year ago everyone thought his candidacy was a joke? And how is it possible that Hillary Clinton’s nomination was secured through a collusion between the Democratic National Committee and the mainstream media to rig the state primaries and caucuses in her favor?

donald trumpHow did either of these candidates gain the backing of major political parties when their history is peppered with disdain and condescension for the citizens they purport to represent?

You have to go back to 1828, and the horrific presidential campaign between Andrew Jackson and incumbent John Quincy Adams, to find an election as divisive and corrupt as the one we face now. Interestingly, that election led to the creation of what became the two political parties we have now. And with an American political system already renowned for mudslinging, that campaign sank both parties into a cringe-worthy morass of scandal and corruption.

But this election bids fair to eclipse the 1828 campaign twice over.

America is, primarily, a nation of moderates. But our elected representation isn’t. Our country is governed by an explosive blend of far-left and far-right politicians, whose representation of their constituents is compromised before they ever even take office. In their drive to be elected, candidates require the financial and organizational support of a party. In exchange for that support, they are compelled to run on the principles and party stances as set forth in their party platform. The Republican Party platform can be found here, and the Democratic Party platform here. Take a look at them: As a voter it’s essential that you know what you’re voting for.

President_Hillary_ClintonBecause you aren’t voting for people. you aren’t voting for someone you feel will represent you best. You’re voting for that party platform, and anyone you elect is bound to follow those principles. Oh sure, your local Representative may tack on some funding for a new bridge in the pork attached to major legislation. The platforms don’t cover things like bridges or road repair.

Technically, the U.S. has a multi-party political system, but there have only been a couple of viable third-party candidates for anything since the end of the Civil War. In fact, in our current Congress, there are only two independents – and they caucus with the Democrats. That’s it. There are no members of the House who are independents. Statistically, that’s kind of horrifying. Our representation on the national level is comprised almost entirely of people bound to those platforms: 248 Republicans and 192 Democrats in the House of Representatives, and 54 Republicans, 44 Democrats, and the two independents in the Senate. Our legislature is ripped in half with direct opposite goals and priorities, and there is very little crossover.

As a people, we all have differing points of view. I am an independent moderate. I tend to be more liberal on social issues, moderate on foreign affairs, and conservative on fiscal issues. With third-party candidates rarely able to garner enough support on the state level to get onto the ballot, those other points of view rarely make it to the Senate or House floor. In the presidential race, America is handicapped by an electoral system that’s literally winner-take-all. American presidents have to have only a plurality of votes, and there is no consolation prize. Originally, the candidate with the second-most number of votes was elected Vice President, but all it took was a couple of contested elections between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson to inspire the Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution, which gives us the system we have today. The election of 1800 was particularly horrible, with Jefferson and Aaron Burr both receiving the same number of electoral votes. The Twelfth Amendment worked fine for a time – a time in which fewer than 10% of the American population was permitted to vote.

But that’s no longer the case. In a nation of some 320,000,000, the system no longer works. The choices no longer represent the cross-section of the population, and during this election cycle that fact has been hammered home with a hydraulic jackhammer. As a country, we can no longer afford the restrictions inherent in party politics. We can no longer afford a system in which better candidates are repressed by an all-powerful political entity that is not elected by the people. We can no longer afford a system that disqualifies candidates from major political office because of their stance on a single hot-topic issue. We can no longer afford for single-issue PACs and lobbying organizations to dictate American policy that runs contrary to the will of the American people.

Last week, we watched the circus that was the Republican National Convention. This week, we are witnessing the almost-certain fiasco of the Democratic National Convention. Then, we will emerge into a political season that will only increase the unrest and divisiveness our nation is currently struggling with. And while we struggle with a terrible choice between Clinton and Trump, potentially better candidates will be ignored by the mainstream media, denied invitations to debates where the American people can actually learn about these candidates, and ignored by both the major parties as not worth bothering with.

And those of us who refuse to vote either Democratic or Republican will be the ones who “gave the election” to one or the other.

At this point, it doesn’t matter who’s elected in November. Either candidate will be an unmitigated disaster in the Oval Office. But what we need to start doing now is creating the movement necessary to destroy the absolutism of party politics in this country. Let candidates stand on their own merits and their own principles. Deny mega-lobbies that represent a tiny fraction of the citizenry the ability to fund or interact on a policy level with either candidates or elected officials. Keep corporate money out of politicians’ hands. Give the American people a chance to go to the polls and vote according to their conscience, instead of herding them like sheep toward one side of the aisle or another. immigration-rally

Because I have to tell you this: The majority of the people I know could give two hoots about creating a national infrastructure bank, but do care about 401k legislation. Those of my associates who are pro-life are usually anti-automatic weapons. The ones who are pro-immigration restrictions believe in equal civil rights for LGBTQ Americans.

But they don’t get to reflect that in their voting choices. They are forced to determine their choice based on the single issue most important to them. So if they’re in favor of stronger gun ownership legislation, they have to compromise their beliefs on abortion rights – and vice versa.

Our system inherently makes citizens settle for ideological beliefs that do not reflect their own.

Abolishing political parties across the board is the only way to stem this destructive tide, and we cannot wait much longer to do so. And since Adams and Jefferson got us into this mess, it seems only fitting to close out with a pair of quotes from them that apply only too well to the political system that evolved as the result of their rivalry.

From John Adams, second President of the United States: “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”

And from Thomas Jefferson, the third President: “Our country is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction, to wit: by consolidation of power first, and then corruption, its necessary consequence.”

The Founding Fathers were oddly prescient at times. If you think about the system that led Donald Trump to the threshold of the most powerful position in the world, and the corruption that has elevated Hillary Clinton to her party’s nomination, you have to wonder if they weren’t psychic. Because if we don’t do something to resolve this national horror, America will lose everything – including itself.

About Celina Summers

Celina Summers is a speculative fiction author who mashes all kinds of genres into one giant fantasy amalgamation. Her first fantasy series, The Asphodel Cycle, was honored with multiple awards--including top ten finishes for all four books in the P&E Readers' Poll, multiple review site awards, as well as a prestigious Golden Rose nomination. Celina also writes contemporary literary fantasy under the pseudonym CA Chevault. Celina has worked as an editor for over a decade, including managing editor at two publishing houses. Celina blogs about publishing, sports, and politics regularly. A well-known caller on the Paul Finebaum Show and passionate football fan, when Celina takes times off it's usually on Saturdays in the fall. You can read her personal blog at www.kaantira.blogspot.com and her website is at www.cachevault.org

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5 comments

  1. The two-party system does indeed have these problems. What’s the alternative, though? If every candidate ran as an independent, and I found a candidate whom I agreed with on ALL the issues that were important to me, wouldn’t only a small fraction of the electorate agree with me on that candidate? Wouldn’t we be incredibly fractured, and wouldn’t actual governing be very, very difficult? – Jon Sobel

    • I’ve also been making the same point for some years now.

      We don’t elect parties, we elect local politicians to represent us in national politics.

      Your scenario is false, Jon; You have no way of knowing how many others agreed with you until after an election – and may be pleasantly surprised…

      I don’t think we would be incredibly fractured, nor would governance be difficult. It just takes a while for consensus to emerge on issues, which is not a bad thing either.

      We should indeed do away with political parties, but we also need too change the way politicians are financed.

      This last point is probably even more important given the corrupting effect we see of lobby groups and corporate finance.

      • I agree entirely.

        Right now, political parties primarily fund the candidates, and the parties are primarily funded by single-issue PACs. For example, the NRA has a membership estimated by themselves as five million but estimated by outsiders at closer to three. (The NRA refuses to permit membership numbers to be released to the public.) The NRA rakes in over $250 million annually, much of which is funneled to their Political Victory Fund PAC (great article about this at https://www.yahoo.com/news/the-nras-brazen-shell-game-with-donations-a-116744915796.html) The PAC spent $37 million on the 2014 elections alone. Immediately after the Orlando massacre, the NRA pressured the GOP to amend its party platform to include this on page 12–“We oppose ill-conceived laws that would restrict magazine capacity or ban the sale of the most popular and common modern rifle. ” The support for assault rifle bans in the US has risen 13% since December of 2015–from 44 to 57% (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/06/15/something-might-be-changing-after-orlando-americans-suddenly-want-to-ban-assault-weapons/) But because of the GOP platform, every candidate under that party aegis has to toe the line–regardless of their personal opinions or the preferences of their constituents. So there are two ways to eliminate that kind of single-issue control over policy: abolish the party-system, freeing our politicians to create their own platforms that reflect their ideology OR abolishing all PACs and restricting campaign donation sources and amounts–no corporations, and no “personal” donations over $5,000 (just to throw out a random number that will tick the 1% off).

        I don’t think that getting rid of political parties restricts voters, and our system can’t get more fractured than it is now. As a voter who supports multiple social issues and economic/international policies, I’ll never find a candidate that lines up 100% with what I believe. But without the parties and their restrictive platforms, I will at least have the ability to choose a candidate whose campaign ideologies agree with what’s most important to me IN THAT ELECTION CYCLE. Those priorities change with each election. Eight years ago, gun control wasn’t as important to me as it is now. I know many people for whom the Second Amendment rights are the paramount election issue–but they shouldn’t be forced to support an ideology that curtails women’s reproductive rights just because they like to hunt–and vice versa. Consider, too, that party politics determines who breaks tie votes in the legislature and also, frighteningly, who sits on the SCOTUS. So those PAC donations and party platforms affect American society for years, even decades, beyond that single election.

        There’s no doubt that our electoral system requires a complete overhaul. We shouldn’t be trapped in a system that hasn’t really evolved since 1800. As the past few months have proven, political corruption is at its healthiest within the two major parties–a tumor on the whole process. Time to cut it out. We are a nation of moderates. We can no longer be bound to policies on the far edges of the political spectrum that are diametrically opposed to each other–or elect corrupt candidates to the most powerful office on the planet because we have no other choices.

  2. This problem has been made clear during this election cycle – many people don’t want either candidate nominated by the major parties. As an Independent, I was not allowed to vote in either primaries – like a second class voter (or is that third class?). Perhaps dissolution of the parties is not feasible, but clearly something has to change. If Bernie ran as an Independent (I still think that he should) many people would leave both parties to vote for him because many do not like Trump or Clinton. Look at all those walking out of the convention in Philadelphia to get an idea about unhappy voters are now.

    • I absolutely agree. As each day passes, we are given multiple reasons to dislike both major parties and their nominees. The disenfranchisement of non-party aligned voters is a HUGE problem for me, especially in a world where superdelegates and party interference can overturn the will of those who are actually allowed to vote in primaries to begin with. The only possible good resolution to this election cycle would be the overhaul of the process itself. It is essential that we begin preparations now for the fight that must follow. We must organize and take on big party politicians and the system that perpetuates a government that works against the democratic rights of its citizens.