Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Pitfalls of Party Loving Political Scientists

Reposted with author's permission.
Recently two well known political scientists Norman J. Ornstein and Thomas E. Mann have chided columnists Matt Miller and Tom Friedman for calling for a third-party, or independent, candidate for president. The two scholars urge that the American people continue their co-dependent relationship with the two-party system. They acknowledge that this relationship is "dysfunctional," but only offer their "dismay" as to why it is that way.

Their sage advice is that an Independent presidential candidate is a bad idea; in their words, pure "Fuhgeddaboudit," which is a technical term for bull shit. But in sharing their wisdom, they completely disregard the contrary advice of our Founders.

As I show in Chapter Two of my recent book, Internet Voting Now!, among the most important original objectives of the Framers, or authors, of the US Constitution, was to fashion a government that could not be taken over by political parties. Generally, our nation's Founding Fathers abhorred political parties. They regularly referred to parties as "factions." They knew from their own experience that political parties put the party's self-interests, such as winning elections and obtaining privileged legislation, before the best interests of the people as a whole. Wary of such organizations, they sought to establish a system of government that would always strive to act in the best interests of the whole country.

John Marshall, who some say is the greatest Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, wrote, in a letter to his brother, that party politics are "despicable in the extreme... Nothing, I believe, more debases or pollutes the human mind than faction."

Another independent thinker, Thomas Jefferson, had a deep contempt for political parties. A friend once asked Jefferson if he considered himself a member of any political party. Jefferson replied, that "[I have] never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever, in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else, where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all."

With amazing prescience John Adams wrote, "There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties … This … is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution."

Hamilton was contemptuous of parties, in part, and like Jefferson, because they could corrode an individual's sense of civic morality. Hamilton wrote that a "spirit of faction" can drive individuals to do together that "for which they would blush in a private capacity."

Lets not forget the warning of our first president, who said in his Farewell speech that political parties could "become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government…"

As a nation we goofed. We have lost the way our Founders set for us. But instead of one faction dominating the whole, we have a two-party system, which is a malignant parasite on the body politic. Now, as Americans Elect comes along with a slim hope of breaking the grip that parasite has on the presidential election process, these two highly eurdite professors of political science come along with their "collective wisdom."

But instead of being wise, they ask the most pathetic question conceivable in light of our Constitution's original intentions; that is, "Even if an independent did prevail, how would he or she govern?"

The answer is that he or she would govern as the Constitution intended – without the interference of factions! Party loving political scientists have lost the capacity to see that the two-party system smears over the separation of powers originally intended by the Constitution's Framers. They take the smear – Party Government – as the summum bonum of American politics. But just those few quotes from the Founders should be enough to show how wrong they are. The highest good for American politics is not party government, it is Constitutional government, with a separation of powers rather than a smearing together of powers by private self-serving groups.

While Americans Elect is not free of flaws, at least they are making an effort to break off the co-dependent relationship between the American people and the two-party system. We Independents should reject the advice of party lovers, and give our full support to AE.

William J. Kelleher, Ph.D.
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Twitter: wjkno1
Internet Voting Explained on

Marshall,, page 410
Hamilton, Fed 15,

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