My friend and I are beginning a self-improvement exercise called One President a Week, wherein we email each other fun facts about each American President. We're currently in Week One: George Washington.
In researching George, I came across his Farewell Address, which he gave to the country in 1796. I should point out here that I am registered as an Independent, although I always support the Democrats. I am a huge Barack proponent and couldn't be happier that he was elected. My face was covered in tears of joy when he gave his acceptance speech. I think he is just what this country needs.
However, I can't help but notice that our country as a whole is dangerously divided. So many of the Democrats I know won't even listen to a Republican, and vice versa. This is no way to progress a country. Too many Americans treat political parties like sports teams, fanatically and blindly supporting their colors with an unhealthy hatred for the opponent. We forget that we're all on the same team. That's why I have long been wary of the narrow two party system that our nation now follows.
I support the Democratic party because it follows more closely with my true beliefs. But, only paying attention to 2 party candidates makes it easy for many Americans to not take the time to learn about specific issues. Our country was not founded on political parties. In modern history, it has morphed into Right vs Left, with little room for discussion or cooperation. It's scary, and I hope Obama leads us in a direction of unity.
As for George Washington, I couldn't help but feel an eery feeling of admonishment when reading his farewell address. Even then, he clearly warns against the grave dangers of political parties.
Check out some excerpts:
"To the efficacy and permanency of your Union, a government for the whole is indispensable. No alliance, however strict, between the parts can be an adequate substitute."
"...the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.
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 finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions."
"The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism."
Kinda makes you want to hug a Republican, no?
(On second thought, I'm not sure I could....)