Yes, abolish political parties from electoral campaigns at every level. Ban them from lobbying on behalf of their agendas. Ban them from endorsing candidates. Ban them from organizing front organizations, shell companies, PACs, shell NGOs, and other rackets on behalf of candidates and party agendas. Ban political parties from giving money, assets, and even volunteer services to candidates.
The term “candidate” refers here to both human beings running for elected office or nominated for an appointed position as well as proposed legislation including laws, bills, referendums, etc.
Abolishing political parties and any similar organizations from the political process is a necessary, even urgent electoral reform. Many may view it as a radical reform. Which it is, especially when you consider one of the earlier meanings of the word radical is “root.” Returning to our roots, in a sense, as the American Founding Fathers abhorred the concept of political parties.
The Founding Fathers had just survived the Revolution. They had different views, opinions, understandings, and judgments concerning many issues. Even so they put aside many of their differences in shared sacrifice for the common good. They did not anticipate political parties in America, surprisingly as they had existed in the UK and British Parliament for a little over 130 years prior to the end of the war. The Founding Fathers also had intense dislike of these parties and dismissed them as “dangerous factions.”
Political parties in the UK were associated with quarreling groups competing for power. The home islands of the British Empire were riven with factions and “political clubs” representing different religious groups, aristocratic nobles, nationalist groups, fed up peasant farmers, and increasingly politicalized merchant classes. Such political parties in the UK were associated with civil wars, revolutions, and rebellions. The Americans, having recently emerged from their own revolutionary war, wanted no part of such vicious internal strife.
What the Founding Fathers preferred, first through the Articles of Confederation and later in the Constitution with the Bill of Rights, was group deliberation arriving at agreements. They upheld a vision of logical collaboration to resolve conflict and address issues where people and groups put aside petty differences and personal beliefs for the greater good and the common weal. The best interests of the community, the state, and the nation were placed over the narrow competitive drive for personal power, regional domination, and group self-interest.
Such “groups” were churches and religious groups as well as organizations rooted in different socio-economic classes, states, cities, counties, the frontier, and trades competing for power and resources. Many of the Founding Fathers, while understanding the rational for different groups to self-organize around common local causes, still expected these same groups to subordinate their narrow self-interest to the general welfare of the nation.
Political parties were viewed as divisive and self-serving. They would compete for power at the expense of their fellow citizens. Rather than collaborative processes of deliberation with wisdom tempering headstrong emotions, political parties would rile up the masses and agitate them against one another so rabble-rousers could manipulate them to seize power. The possibility of election campaigns between such parties was viewed with dismay and disgust.
The Founding Fathers feared such elections would divide the nation rather than bring forth the best and brightest together in wise republican government. The United States of America was to be a constitutional democratic republic with measures built in to prevent mob rule and tyranny. The Founding Fathers achieved astonishing success in many areas, such as navigating together constant changes and many obstacles from the end of the Revolution through the Articles of Confederation to establishing the Constitution. They dealt with commerce and financial battles between the states, the first armed rebellions against the national government, and even a movement to create an American monarchy.
A system of government was set up with a Federal system balanced with state’s rights, with triangular “checks and balances” between the three “branches of government,” with separation between “church and state,” with an independent press, and a Bill of Rights. Dismal failures, however, were to haunt the Founding Fathers and their descendants.
These included the failure to conclusively address slavery and racism, women, property rights, relations with Native American tribes including genocide, whether or not to have a national or central bank and if so would it be public or private, and the failure to envision the rise of political parties and their corruption of the political process.
The irony is political factions began early on in the process to organize people into parties around shared beliefs opposed by others. The first such political parties began to emerge during the administration of the first President, George Washington. Eventually those Founding Fathers who chose to stay in politics were drawn inexorably into these new political parties. Once in, they embraced them and leveraged them to pursue their own agendas.
Political parties do have much to offer. They provide poles of polarity for people with shared beliefs and values to rally around. Political parties organize people; raise funds, pool resources, and work to campaign on behalf of their candidates and planks (public lists of issues they support or condemn). Once in power they have entire teams of loyal, like-minded people to draw upon to quickly fill positions in government offices and institutions. And these parties track and monitor each other, plotting to return to power or stay in power. To some degree they do take the best interest of the general public to heart or else they would not be elected.
For a secular nation with many different religions, classes, regions, and ethnic groups political parties served two additional purposes. One, they served as a secular church or temple of sorts and those passionate about politics and engaging in games of power came to regard politics as a sort of secular religion. Two, political parties were able to pull together people from different groups and in doing so establish broad alliances and coalitions across the nation.
In doing so they have entrenched themselves in politics in ways where they do far more harm than good. Political parties have proven destructive, and it is time for them to go. They embody and exemplify the worse aspects of tribalism. It may be a Postmodern world, and these parties have reduced loyalty to blind, violent tribalism. In many other countries political parties arm their members to engage in violent election campaigns that resemble mini-civil wars. Many political parties also have armed militias and even armed forces. In totalitarian nations one political party is often identified as synonymous with “the state” or “the people.”
In the United States today, the Democratic and Republican Parties are both polarized within between vitriolic, internal factions. They have become so broad in their attempt to be the Center many no longer identify with these parties and are fed up with how both parties fail to address truly serious and complex issues to focus instead on riling people up over emotionally-laden social issues. Both parties have been corrupted and are beholden to the Big Banks, Big Corporations, Big Unions, Big NGOs, Big PACs and Special Interest Groups, and their swarms of lobbyists.
Political parties, especially when they get big enough to earn attention, serve as routes of infection into our government by Big Business and the banksters. Yes, politicians from time to time attempt to overthrow the yoke of the money power, battle corruption, punish corporations, or regulate the financial sector. Sometimes it’s all a show. Often the politicians don’t have the power to enact meaningful and deep reforms.
They work together to squash dissent within the own ranks from innovate visionaries as well as extremists. Republicans and Democrats work together to maintain control over the machinery of government and dominate the electoral process. As such they block reforms and prevent the rise of any minor political parties to major party status.
Viable third parties such as the Libertarians and the Greens today and the Progressives, Bull Moose, and Independent parties of bygone eras don’t have the power to seize power and instead often serve as spoilers to draw votes away from the other two. This is often glossed over with the justification third parties have the freedom to highlight controversial stands publicly avoided by the major parties but eventually coopted by them.
We need to clear out the logjams of political parties and release their stranglehold on our elections and politics. Significant reform is necessary in numerous areas now. As long as politicians rely upon outside corporate structures to raise, capture, hold, and funnel wealth to then and their election campaigns they will rarely if ever fully vote for the public interest. They will instead work to benefit their benefactors. They are beholden to the outside Money Power.
Many well-intentioned men and women become politicians to sincerely make their county, city, state, and nation a better place. They even want to help make the whole world a better place. And once inside they find they have to compromise away their values not in the best interest of the nation for the common good but to betray themselves to uphold the powers of their benefactors.
We need major reform of our entire electoral process as well. Political parties already block such reforms and will continue to block any threat to their chokehold on elections and thus on power. Thanks to the Democrats and the Republicans and all those parties preceding them in power Government has become separated in the minds of the people from the people and instead identified with the party in power.
If a hallmark of Totalitarian regimes is identification of one party with the government, what would we call it when we see the same two parties in such domination of the political machinery as to be identified with the government?
Tyranny. Tyranny disguised as democracy because people were led to believe they had choices they could freely vote for.
Political parties…Abolish them all!
To be clear, the Constitution gives human beings the freedom to assemble and the right to free speech among others. So people would have the right to organize into political clubs and parties to discuss their passion for politics over rounds of beer. Political parties are free to espouse their opinions and views. They would simply be banned from politics.
What does this look like?
To be effective, abolishing political organizations from the political process means:
- One cannot hold public office, an appointed government job, or employment in a government position as an active candidate of a political party. Similarly, military members have to resign from the military to serve in civilian capacity in government.
- Political parties cannot run candidates for political office or support them for appointed positions.
- Political parties cannot endorse candidates for office or any appointed position.
- Political parties and their members cannot organize and work on behalf of any candidate as an active member of any political party.
- Political parties cannot contribute, loan, donate, or otherwise give funds to candidates and referendums organizations.
- The ban on participating in elections and supporting members for appointments include all levels of government from the national to the state and local levels.
- Political parties include PACCs, clubs, NGOs, unions, or any group that masquerades and claims it is NOT a political party yet behaves as one.
- Political parties and related organizations may not endorse, front, or otherwise have armed gangs and militias.
- Campaign finance and other electoral reforms must be instituted as well. Such reforms will reinforce one another.
In a long, round about way perhaps the original views and intentions of the Founding Fathers toward political parties will be vindicated. Perhaps a Constitutional amendment is necessary to abolish the participation of political parties in the political processes of our nation. Or maybe this can be done without such an amendment.
In other countries around the world the people must also find methods to liberate themselves and their political processes from political parties. Such reforms will also empower politicians to take on the Big Banks and the Corporations as well as institute reforms in any area. Political parties clog the machinery of government as tumors from inside a body choke off life.
Ironically for us to institute significant electoral reforms, including abolishing political parties from our elections, we may first choose to join political parties in the beginning. We can join – openly, without infiltration or any secret society crap – to use political parties to install enough politicians into power as to officially ban parties from running our elections. We don’t need parties to determine our loyalties. We don’t need parties to determine for whom we vote.
We the People can reclaim our Government as one of the people, by the people, and for the people.
William Dudley Bass
Friday 14 October 2011
Revised & Reprinted Wednesday 23 November 2011
NOTE: This was first published as “Abolish Political Parties from Elections” in At the Brink at <http://atthebrinkwithwilliamdudleybass.blogspot.com/2011/10/abolish-political-parties-from.html>.
Copyright © 2011, 2016 by William Dudley Bass. All Rights Reserved until we Humans establish Wise Stewardship of and for our Earth and Solarian Commons. Thank you.