George Washington: First and Last Truly Independent President

Today the United States faces just a multitude of issues: an astronomical budget deficit, out-of-control government spending, an unstable economy, increased unemployment, wars with no foreseeable end in sight, healthcare reform, social issues ranging from abortion rights to same-sex marriage, the legality of marijuana, environmental concerns, and continually increasing stark differences between Democrats and Republicans who are unable to legislate effectively, exacerbating our nation’s major problems.

President George Washington wisely warned the dangers a two-party system could inflict on national unity in his 1796 Farewell Address:

“It serves always to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration. It agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and  false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments  occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.”

While in office, Washington remained primarily neutral concerning key issues. The French Revolution led to a major war between France and England. Although two of Washington’s chief advisors, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton held opposing and conflicting views pertaining to how the U.S. should act, Washington “insisted upon a neutral course until the United States could grow stronger.”

I was no party man myself, and the first wish of my heart was, if parties did exist, to reconcile them.
George Washington

Washington stated, “I was no party man myself, and the first wish of my heart was, if parties did exist, to reconcile them.”

What would George Washington say about today’s alarming party polarization, politicians’ inability to effectively legislate, and the animosity between voters alike? To say he would be alarmed is an understatement.

President George Washington fought to achieve the United States’ independence from the British. Today’s opposing political parties should not tarnish the intention of the United States’ Constitution, in allowing us freedom. That freedom should also imply freedom from political parties.

Democrat and Republican extremism has instigated the increase of registered independent voters. However, failure of independent voter turnout has not reflected the independent emergence.

According to Politics Daily:

The American political system is alarmingly bipolar: Those elected to Congress and the presidency are primarily at the ends of the political spectrum and beholden to their party leaders and supporters but not to the independent voters in the ideological center.

 

That has left independent voters feeling disconnected and disillusioned with a government they do not feel truly represents them. They say they are tired of partisan wrangling, which all too often results in either gridlock and a lack of action on the most important issues the nation faces or unsatisfactory legislative outcomes, pushed through by one political party with little input from the other.

Moderation is the key to a balanced political system. Our government was created on the basis of ‘checks and balances’. Independents are increasing in numbers and use their rising numbers to elect more-moderate politicians better connected to the majority of voters.

American society, for the most part, acknowledges the problem of partisanship. If voters were unaware, there would not be an increase in independent registration. However, the political game has yet to catch up to society’s changing values, and that is partially due to voters’ loss of confidence in the political system.