George Washington, in his farewell address to the nation in 1796, spoke decisively about the future of the nation and political parties’ influence on that future. This famous speech warned against the power of political parties:
All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.
More than two hundred years after President Washington’s speech we sit, divided by party and party ideology, on the cusp of a pivotal election. This #SaturdaySchool discussion provides a much needed historical perspective on the role political parties have played in our Democratic-Republic. Hosted by @ProfRagsdale & @BlakeEllis this chat is one you don’t want to pass up.
Some of the topics discussed, in addition to the history of political parties, is the importance of getting involved at all levels of government. One of the most important things to remember about government and the political systems that make it work is that we are as responsible for what happens as the persons we elect. If you’re more like Washington and choose not to participate in party politics, there are plenty of non-partisan ways to get involved. You can join movements like Rock the Vote, Voto Latino, The League of Women Voters, and numerous other groups who make it their goal to increase the number of people voting in local, state, and national elections.
Did we leave out your favorite non-partisan group? Leave a comment below the #SaturdaySchool chat and tell us which group gets your time and energy.
And, don’t forget to vote this year because as the old saying goes… EVERY VOTE COUNTS!!
#SaturdaySchool: The History of Political Parties in the US
Each week @ProfRagsdale gathers loyal followers around the twitter hearth to spread knowledge, build community, and create change. This week’s co-host is U.S. political historian Dr. @BlakeEllis. (September 1, 2012)
Storified by FunkNBeans · Sun, Sep 02 2012 09:50:30