The American government as we have it today started in 1789. George Washington was as much named as the President as he was elected. He was not challenged for the office and that was true in 1793 when he started his second term. People today might find it hard to believe, but the founders of our republic for the most part found the idea of political parties repugnant. They felt that such a division would inevitably led to the downfall of the nation. The national elections in 1796 changed all that when Federalists, lead by Adams defeated Democratic-Republicans lead by Jefferson. That happened in large part because of Washington supporting Adams as the next president. But even then the politics of party affiliation lasted only as long as there was an actual election in progress.
In the years between 1789 and 1860 there were a number of national parties that elected a president. The last of these were the Whigs. The parties of the early 19th Century were mostly focused on the issues of the day, chief among them was slavery, conditions for accepting new states, and American expansion. Other issues such as temperance, religious conservatism, and economics were relatively unimportant to the average voter. The only election where economics played a major role was in 1840 which saw Martin Van Buren elected after crop failures and cotton price collapse during the Jackson administration. Ironically, Van Buren was Jackson’s vice-president. Such a scenario is unimaginable today.
The politics of the 21st Century have become so divisive that it is anyone’s guess as to how much progress any Congress will make between elections. It seems that one party or the other becomes extremely stubborn about a particular piece of pending legislation that the idea of finding middle ground is hopeless. Each party, however, is quick to point out how it is the other that is obstructing progress. The truth is, both are guilty. They are so tied to making a political point that they forget what they were elected to do.
Two of our three parts of government, executive and legislative, are commanded in the Constitution to do the will of the people. Only the judicial is exempt except that it is the will of the people that the judicial protect us from illegal and unconstitutional acts.
Even though I am still a registered Democrat, there has never been a time in my adult life that I have always held views that one party or the other embraces as its own. It is my firm belief that I am actually in the majority in that respect. I think the number of people who hold only conservative or only liberal views is in the minority of either side or even when combined.
Our elected official seem wont to bring us the bad news. Neither side is willing to stand up and admit that one of the prime functions of government is that of regulation and taxation. Article 1 Section 8 of the constitution specifically says, congress has the power “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes” and then by the Sixteenth Amendment which say, “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived.” Our founders recognized immediately that commerce unregulated was detrimental to the nation as a whole.
In the Preamble to the Constitution is the phrase, “to promote the general welfare.” The preamble has one simple purpose. It sets out the ideals that are the basis for everything that is written in the document. Part of the oath of office that all public officials takes is to uphold the constitution. It is my opinion that about 2 seconds after they take the oath of office, our elected officials choose to forget the words they have just spoken. They are not there to do what they think is right, but what we desire and to insure that our general welfare is of highest priority.
I maintain that all 535 members of Congress are guilty, to one degree or another, of substituting the will of the people and their common good, with the desires of party leadership and their political goals. Each of them is allowed to be in congress if they act as an independent agent of those who elected him. They should make it a point of honor, the duty of conscience, and the directive of the people, to carry out the will of those who elected them independent of their own personal feelings on any issue without exception. To put a point on it, I am 100% anti-abortion, however, were I elected to congress I would always vote in line with the majority of the people I represented which where I live means voting to uphold a woman’s right to free access to abortion. In such issues in particular, my personal point of view is irrelevant when it comes to doing the will of the people.
The answer to my initial question is an emphatic yes! Politics in this nation now reigns supreme. And while such politics sometimes is in line with what the people desire, more often than not, it is an impediment to progress the nation dearly needs. Politicians need to stop talking about making hard decisions, they need to follow through. We are presently heading down a road to self-destruction if the politics of today is allowed to continue unchanged.