Rise of the Political Party Machines. The two-party political system in the United States has not always existed. The U.S. Constitution contains nothing about political parties at all because the U.S. Founding Fathers never wanted party-based politics to dominate and corrupt the political system. In fact, when the U.S. Constitution was signed in 1787, there were no political parties in the United States at all. Moreover, no other country in the world at that time had a political party-based ballot access process that linked the political candidate selection process to the official election process.
George Washington Warned Us About Political Parties. In George Washington’s 1796 Farewell Address he explicitly warned the American people and his Congress that establishing a political party system would create opportunities for corruption, distracting and wasteful political maneuvering between power-hungry politicians, and despotic abuses of political power that would hurt the American people, among many other problems. George Washington understood these dangers because he observed them first-hand in France, England and Spain, where party politics led to systemic corruption, misappropriation of the public treasury, and bloody turf wars.
Congress is Less Popular than Cockroaches. Over 200 years after George Washington’s grave warning, the
modern political system in the United States today is dominated by the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. These two parties have won every U.S. presidential election since 1852 and they have controlled the U.S. Congress since at least 1856. Today, the politicians in the U.S. Congress are literally less popular than cockroaches and have fallen to the lowest popularity rating in the history of U.S. opinion polling.[i] [ii]
The Voters’ Paradox. It’s clear that Americans hate their political overlords, but that’s not even the worst part. On what alien planet would it be possible for the members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate to be so universally despised by their constituents and still manage to get reelected over 90% and over 80% of the time, respectively?[iii] Only on a planet that has a political system that is systematically rigged and manipulated by political parties to give overwhelmingly unfair advantages to incumbent candidates who use taxpayer funds to campaign approximately 80% of the time they’re in office serving their constituents.
Voters Are Trapped. Now we have another illogical political paradox in the United States: Americans keep sending the humans they hate the most to Washington to represent their interests on the gravest of matters, including the prosperity of their families, their communities, and the quality of their daily lives. Why? Because voters currently have no meaningful alternative.
The Ideological Straight-Jacket of Political Parties. The current party-dominated candidate selection and corresponding campaign financing process controls every aspect of the political election process. The party machines are wired to homogenize their pool of candidates, forcing them into a narrow ideological band of ideas to ensure that each party’s candidates appeal to the broadest possible swath of the animal kingdom. Over time, the voters in every party-dominated political system inevitably become captive prisoners trapped in an ideological straight-jacket that, by its very nature, squeezes out any diversity of ideas that would otherwise exist in a system free from party dominance. (My apologies, General Washington; yes, I know you warned us.)
A Sorrowful Ritual. In essence, the voters feel trapped, with no other place to go. They ritualistically drag themselves to the voting booth every couple years based on some vague, hazy notion that it’s their civic duty, a show of solidarity for the departed spirit of Democracy. Many of them feel guilty because they don’t have the enthusiasm of their ancestors who, they hope, must have pranced to the ballot box with giddy anticipation to vote for their bygone champions of liberty. They’re not sure about that either, but they hope it’s true; they can’t imagine any generation taking joy in a ritual that causes so much pain. In the voting booth and in their hearts, they feel like they’re signing the guest book at the funeral of a distant relative—just another obligatory scribble added to the millions of other names that have no power to breathe life back into the deceased body politic that they respectfully mourn during every solemn election season.
[i] Congress Somewhere Below Cockroaches, Traffic Jams and Nickelback in Americans’ Esteem – Public Policy Polling
[ii] Public Faith in Congress Falls Again, Hits Historic Low – Gallop Poll