Party Politics

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In his farewell speech on September 19th, 1796, George Washington warned the American public of the problems he foresaw with the new political landscape taking form. He felt the Federalists and the all too familiar Republicans were essentially dividing the country down the middle and turning its back on the principles on which this nation was founded on. “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.” (Source). While despotism might not have been the perfect word of choice, I believe the jist of Washington’s statement is on point. Politics today have strayed away from the precepts of which it was founded on.

Watching the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, I couldn’t help but be disgusted by the childish tit-for-tats that were taking place. At times I felt as if I were watching some incompetent primetime reality show instead of a platform for the future leaders of this country to spell out in clear English exactly what it is they plan to do. Every speech was a jab at something useless and indifferent rather than a clear definition of stance or future policy. But then again why would anyone want to do that, its boring and dry. We live in the day and age of multimillion-dollar action movies and celebrity gossip magazines flying off the shelves faster than the speed of light. People want some commotion, something to give them a stir, and by golly that’s what the candidates are going to give them.

Lately, the real politics where people assert what they believe have been thrown right out the window as the candidates strap on their boots and get down and dirty. They hire scores of aids and officials with the sole job of finding something that can be exploited. They look for scandals and dents in their opponents armor so they can be publicized. Well here’s an idea, why not put these aids to good use. Instead of worrying about what Barack Obama’s pastor says or making a mockery of John McCain’s age, why not look into some things that might actually affect Americans. Like the fact that unemployment is at it’s highest over the last decade. Or the fact that major financial institutions and pillars of Wall Street like Lehman Brothers, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac, are going belly up (source). Why not assign these people to devise economic strategies instead of smear campaigns. Maybe then the candidates might actually make good on the “change” they’ve been promising lately.

Although political parties shoulder the brunt of the blame for the way politics work today, the mainstream media is partly at fault as well. They eat right out of the party’s hands and fill their front pages with cover stories on the latest gossip. By doing so, they dissuade voters from the things they need to know about. After Obama’s “lipstick on a pig” quote, the media, much to the delight of the Republican Party, ran headlines painting Obama as a women hater and created a whole new battalion of people who vowed not to vote for him. Instead of acknowledging a commonly used idiom, used once by John McCain himself, most of the media slandered Obama and the Republican Party didn’t take a moment’s hesitation to run ads. Ironically, the out of context quote came from a rather important speech on the policies of John McCain (source). So instead of the average person coming away with a view on the policies of the possible leader of their country, they come away with nothing but pure garbage. Which means when those people go to the voting booths in November they’re not going to be able to make informed decisions. Which might lead to the wrong person being elected and possibly eight years of an administration that nobody can stand, sound familiar?

With the varying lifestyles of today’s society, you can’t expect everyone to be on the same page in terms of political ideology. Although it would be nice, it just isn’t realistic. That is where political parties should come in to play. They should serve as platforms to advocate for policies for a broad group of people. Now of course they are going to disagree on certain things, but that is the whole point. The disagreement leads to compromises that find a middle ground and benefit both sides. Unfortunately, things don’t work like that today. Parties today are all about getting a leg up on each other and putting each other down. They breed dissention, which ultimately isn’t good for American society.





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