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When George Washington Was President Why Were Political Parties So Divided

Why do we have political parties when George Washington himself publicly warned against them?

We have parties because the founders disapproved of “factions” (they usually didn’t say parties), but didn’t forbid them. Many of the founders, including some who criticized factions, became leaders of the first parties. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were founders of the Republican Party, which sort of evolved into the Democratic Party. Alexander Hamilton and John Adams became leaders of the Federalist Party. Essentially they found they couldn’t accomplish their goals without parties, and their mistakes in trying to create a government without parties were gradually perpetuated. They didn’t plan the two-party system, but it happened because of their decisions. One of the leading anti-federalists who opposed the constitution was the Federal Farmer (still anonymous) who pointed out some of the vote counting problems (plurality rather than majority) that still exist.

Was George Washington right about political parties?

I think he was wrong. I don’t think he was wrong in his understanding that partisanship makes governing difficult, but he seemed to think partisanship was something one could do away with. Here is one quote:They serve to organize faction; to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, ( p14.)What is the delegated will of the nation? Especially in his era when mostly landowners voted and the Southern states counted slaves to beef up their population even if none of the those slaves had a voice, the idea of the will of the nation is wishful thinking.Washington has little experience with democratically elected governments and he lived in an era in which authority was almost automatically respected.Most countries with more modern constitutions understand that parties are a natural part of government and that their power must be controlled by not letting parties grab more power than they deserve. Some countries have proportional representation. In the US we have a constitution that doesn’t recognize parties and does nothing the reign in their unjust use of power.

Why didn't people heed President Washington's advice against political parties?

For any skill-intensive task that needs doing in our society, we create organizations of experts to do it far better than first-timers can. Such organizations thrive because they do a better job more efficiently due to the improved skill levels achieved by practice. In a system that has elections, winning elections is a skill-intensive task. Political parties are better at winning elections because of all the practice, so they're in high demand.A better question is “Why do we allow narrow ideologies to dominate our political parties?” Political parties that are largely indifferent to ideology except for a few notable exceptions allow politicians to win elections without ideological conformity to what is electable. US parties were like that from the formation of the first two all the way down to the 1970s or so. Democrats in the South had more in common with Republicans in the South than with Democrats in the North. Common ground was mostly with neighbors, not with national organizations. But the parties gradually formed detailed national agendas and strong traditions of primary challenges and whip-sharp dicipline to keep the party consistent nationwide.Our geographical ideology has given way to echo-chamber ideology, where we are invisible to our neighbors and allies with the like-minded across the country and across the globe. We have lost the neighborly talents of compromise with the respected friend with whom we disagree, and developed the will to resist the ideological enemy in our midst. That is the national tragedy that George Washington foretold, and which he saw only the first budding stems rise from the earth: putting ideology over community, over people. Once it was a garden, and it wasn't perfect but it was fine. Now it's an overgrown swamp, a tangle that chokes out the sunny optimism and reeks of stagnancy of thought.… I'm feeling melodramatic today, but I trust that you get the jist.

Are political parties what is dividing America?

Both parties are convinced that they have the only solutions to our problems, when neither of them seems to have one that works. They are very good at vilifying the other party trying to convince us that the other party only has their on interests in mind, and that they are bent on destroying our nation. They are so busy trying to tell us how bad the other party is, that it seems to be all they do.

What would have happened if we took George Washington's advice and not formed political parties?

It would've been a beautiful thing and probably slowed down a lot of legislation we are currently bogged down with the founding fathers would be disgusted at. However, parties are what makes it possible for a group to gain enough support for getting a message across. It's all about branding and identification. Our government was designed to be slow to change thus protecting individual liberties. The goal of the federal govt was to protect commerce and preserve states individual rights. But to win elections you need a brand and that is why we have parties. So we can support a candidate who is closest aligned with our individual belief structure. Our need for the 51% vote to secure the electoral college per state causes the reduction of parties to two. If we were more of a simple majority meaning whoever has the highest percentage, other parties may be able to grow. But the democrats and republicans have streamlined their process to monopolize the election process.

Why have political parties become so polarized that they fail to address the concerns of most Americans?

Hi Sam...hope you are coming back next season!

I have been blogging about this issue for many months and could not agree more that we need a true independent party system that allows all parties access to the electorate, first, in the Primaries then in the General Election. I also favor term limits for all elective office holders.

Currently our system is tightly controlled by the major parties and lobbyists, making it nearly impossible for truly representative government. We need to send a message - Politicians who do not listen and do not do what is best for us will be replaced.

What amazes me is the fact that polling showed that Congress was rated lower than President Bush prior to the 2006 Election. There was a shift in power because of it, yet, they still haven't gotten the message.

We want performance of our wishes!

Groups such as Unity08 are a step in that direction.

Jim DeSantis publishes political commentary at . Guests commentary is invited.

George Washington warning...?

Just to Clarify Washington had 3 major warnings in his farewell address, as mentioned the dangers of political parties, The importance of not going into debt and how credit is important, And the endangerment of entanglement in foreign affairs such as permanent alliances and such. Now his warning about Political parties may of been a tad bid utopian but look where political parties led us in the 1800s? The bloodiest war in American history and look at politics today and how the democratic and republican parties are polar opposites and especially in recent months if not years have not been able to cooperate or compromise easily if at all causing a dead lock in senate and the house with very little happening in the way of actual progress. Because even though democrats have the majority in Senate and House republicans can still block any legislation by filibustering the bill. Essentially they prolong the debate over the proposal indefinitely never allowing there to be an actual vote. Filibusters can be ended by invoking cloture which forces the debate to end and put the proposal to a vote but in order to execute Cloture you need to have 3/5ths majority vote for Cloture (60 votes) which the democrats do not have (the republicans have 41 seats, the Democrats have 57 seats and independents control 2 seats). Its hard to say what would of happen if we listened, there may not of been a civil war is one major difference but other then that due to the drastic change I would safely be able to say we would not be where we are today, not saying we would be better off but you cant really say with much certainty because the most important points or parts of history are in many cases unexpected and unpredictable.