Guest Post: The Founding Fathers Tried to Warn Us About the Threat From a Two-Party System

Washington’s Blog

Polls show that a majority of Americans say that both the Republicans and Democrats are doing such a poor job representing the people that a new, third party is needed.

I’ve repeatedly warned that there is a scripted, psuedo-war between Dems and Repubs, liberals and conservatives which is in reality a false divide-and-conquer dog-and-pony show created by the powers that be to keep the American people divided and distracted. See this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this and this.

In fact, the Founding Fathers warned us about the threat from a two party system.

John Adams said:

There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.

George Washington agreed, saying in his farewell presidential speech:

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. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight,) 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 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.

There is an opinion, that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the Government, and serve to keep alive the spirit of Liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in Governments of a Monarchical cast, Patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in Governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And, there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be, by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

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About George Washington

George Washington is the head writer at Washington’s Blog. A busy professional and former adjunct professor, George’s insatiable curiousity causes him to write on a wide variety of topics, including economics, finance, the environment and politics. For further details, ask Keith Alexander…


  1. Jim

    Andy, you’re right.

    In a presidential, electoral-college system, you will inevitably have a two-party system.

    You want a viable third party? Change the constitution to convert the US into a parliamentary system.

    1. Sufferin' Succotash

      Switching to parliamentary government may not by itself do the trick. That plus some form of proportional representation might create enough space for a more-than-two-party system. It’s the single-member district, first-past-the-post election regime that probably does more to perpetuate the two-party system than anything else.

      1. Peter T


        The party system is determined by the voting system more than anything else. The founding fathers gave us plurality voting, so THEY gave us a system where two parties will dominate (with rare changes of the two parties, but even that stopped after 1865).

        1. Peter T

          If we want another party system (which I do), we need to change the voting system, often against the two dominating parties that profit from it. One choice that is close to the current Plurality Voting is Ranked Choice Voting; a more radical step would be a proportional voting system.

          1. Michael W

            A parliamentary system is certainly a democracy and that would definitely be far better than a republic which was designed by Plato to be the antithesis of democracy as the then Greek so-called democrats forced his teacher etc., Socrates, to commit suicide by hemlock. Republics are run by elites while democracies are run by the majority of voters. A democratic republic is an oxymoron and an impossibility.
            A preferential ballot where one indicates first choice, second choice and third choice etc. is better than each party getting the same percentage of elected seats as it received of the general vote. In a preferential ballot if one’s first choice is not the first or second most popular in your electoral district then one’s vote gets transferred to one’s second choice etc. until one candidate gets more than 50% of the vote.
            If one goes to a proportional representation model we would no longer have local regional representation. The members who would be elected by this method would be chosen from a list supplied by the parties and could all come from the same region which results in regions without a local elected member.
            The real gordion knot problem is one of a system which encourages and allows wealth elites and corporations to buy elections and corrupt politicians – specially when the political system is a republic which is already not a democracy and run by elites by design.
            If government is stalemated – who wins? The wealthy or the working class and the poor? The rich win because they are making money fist over paw and if nothing changes which doesn’t favour them and the only change allowed is that which even further favours the wealthy & corporations (which are 80% owned by the top 10% wealthiest individuals); the wealthy will always win more and more while lower income earners get progressively less and less.

          2. Peter T

            Michael, your “preferential voting”, my “ranked choice voting”, or the “alternative vote” all describes the same way to modify plurality voting to avoid the spoiler problem. I agree that this would be a definite improvement, but even open top two primaries would be a better choice than today’s party primaries plus plurality voting.

            You write:
            “If one goes to a proportional representation model we would no longer have local regional representation.”

            What is more important, geographical representation or economic representation? I think that my interests would be more often than not better represented by someone living far away but from a party whose program I like than by a person who happens to live in my gerrymandered districts.

            “The real gordion knot problem is one of a system which encourages and allows wealth elites and corporations to buy elections and corrupt politicians”

            The rich have more influence here and there and everywhere, and it is even protected speech according to the courts. More important, however, is if those moneyed interests are the ONLY well organized interests in town. A proportional voting system has the advantage of increasing party organization, which makes buying legislative votes more difficult, because the party has an overarching responsibility for policy.

            I would like to see some states (California comes to mind) to switch to a British system of democracy.

            I think juggling with terms like “republic” versus “democracy” doesn’t help us much. In many countries, “republic” means just absence of monarchy, and both democratic republics and non-democratic republics exist.

          3. bmeisen

            I agree broadly with you guys, until the preference for the UK model. IMO the British SMDP system is parliamentary in the sense that the legislature creates the executive, typically along party lines, and cabinet posts are distributed accordingly. The parties are not established in a British constitution and there are no parliamentary thresholds for parties, i.e. British Parliament is not proportional. Furthermore the existence of the Lib Dems is not true evidence of a multi-party system – they appear as the right or left wind of labor, depending on the issue.

            The German federal system is truly proportional. Each voter has 2 votes in federal elections, and parties are established in the Grundgesetz through thresholds and the assignment of specific responsibilities in the voicing of public opinion. The 5% threshold functions IMO adequately to allow diverse opinions to be voiced. The emergence of the Greens in the last 30 years (currently they are supported by 23% of voters) demonstrates that the system is able to evolve with voters.

            Direct democrats may have problems even with proportionalists, but the checks and balances available under highly evolved proportional systems are better able to satisfy demands for more personal impact than the entrenched system that is undermining democracy in the USA.

  2. Founding Forefathers

    The alternative is Madame Bachmann up in the house!
    ‘Roll out the facism, we’ll have a facist good time,
    Roll out the facism, we’ve got the blues on the run!’

  3. Edward

    The problem isn’t a two party system. In fact, the piece, while well meaning, is self contradictory since it clearly makes the case that there is but a false divide between Republicans and Democrats, The two headed hydra are in harmony on that which is most near and dear to their hearts, namely the maintenance of their shared position as legislative gatekeepers.

    It’s not the abrogation of the two party system, as such, that should be brought low-though it is far from a bad idea- but the system that makes a legislator, once elected, almost impossible to dislodge. The conditions that allow the word professional and politician to be joined together should have been prevented. They can be going forward by enacting term limits. And no one can ever serve beyond a total of two terms. Equally, campaigns should be shortened at the federal level. Take money and all roads that lead to making money in politics, out of politics-bribery, regretably, will always be with us- and you will see a very different brand of politics.

    1. Peter T

      Term limits shift power from legislators to lobbyist who stay much longer in place and would know much more. Please let’s NOT do that.

      A better solution would be a less incumbent-friendly voting system like Ranked Choice Voting or open top two primaries.

  4. Schofield

    I much like DownSouth’s efforts a few weeks ago to point out that we live under a Pathocracy – the rule of sociopaths. Clearly extensive checks and balances at all levels of society have to be put in place to thwart their rule not just a new party but that reform or partnership party is badly needed to help implement the containment.

  5. Paul Tioxon

    It is unfortunate that the political analysis here requires rudimentary primers on politics when the insipid phrases of republicrats or bankers own Obama bullshit comes spilling forth even from those that are well meaning and intelligent and not a troll or other lame uninspired comments. For those who really want to see a well considered discussion of 3rd party futility, I urge you to review this article which specifically addresses this pointless advice:

    Third Parties Don’t Work: Why and How Egalitarians Should Transform the Democratic Party
    by G. William Domhoff

    It is good to have a historical perspective, because we can not reduce our social system to just what is ripped from the daily news headlines. But we can gain almost no insight into today’s political problems by referring to the founding fathers. We do not have the electoral process that they put into writing, which was a democracy only among the male WASP oligarchs, and not for the vast majority of indentured servants, all women, slaves, non christians with the exception of Pennsylvania, which had the freedom which we would recognize today in religion, and among the plebian laboring class.

    Our electoral process has been continually reformed, allowing direct election of senators and the primaries which now seem to be some kind campy media event, but which also was a reform, allowing for direct selection of candidates from a wide open field as compared to behind the door back room deals of party bosses.

    The type of political process we have now, is wide open to citizen participation in ways that were illegal and structurally impossible and have since been reformed. You need look no further than the tea party rebranding of the republican party. Long standing candidates have been driven out of the party and out of the office, see Arlen Specter. But what of the weepy eyed, whining sniveling crybabies, such as the regular sissies that complain about the mean and corrupt democrats who take Wall St bankster cash and are virtually identical to the republicans in all matters great and most small?

    Let see what Mr Domhoff has to say about the most recent example of morally smug and unimpeachable politics of 3rd party paragons of Periclean proportions, Ralph”Mr Green Jeans” Nader:

    “But it is not only that the two parties are about the same according to Nader. He also claims that it is useful for the Democrats to lose if activist groups are to be energized enough to realize their goals through nonviolent direct action and lobbying pressure. Democrats take activist groups for granted once the activists endorse them, and the activists tend to sit back when Democrats are in office. The result, says Nader, is disastrous. The Democrats put activists to sleep; they “anesthetize” activists. Thus, he argues that activist groups often do better when the Democrats are not in power.

    Furthermore, he continues, it may be good for the Democrats to lose once in a while so that they don’t take the citizen groups and social movements for granted. This is necessary because “The only message politicians understand is losing an election.” This comes fairly close to saying that it was time to sink Gore, especially when read in the context of the many extremely negative things he has to say about Gore on a wide variety of issues, and most pointedly environmental issues. Here Nader’s reasoning is based on the-worse-the-better theory.”

    Furthermore, 6 years ago when he wrote this, Nader was viewed by some as merely punishing Gore and the Dems and being no more than a spoiler. And that was 2005 when it became apparent just how bad Bush was and how much better America and the world would be with Al Gore. But wait, there is more, the actual political payoff to poisoning the well of hope by demoralizing and disengaging active entry into politics by virtue of the pox on both their house bullshit mentality.

    “Even if the Republicans eventually over-reach in their reactionary efforts on taxes, social security, and the environment, leading to the citizen outcry that Nader believes will restrain them, it won’t do much good now. There would not be enough moderates and liberals in Congress to accomplish significant reforms. Even if economic downturns and corporate scandals provide opportunities for liberals and moderates to act, they may not be able to muster the energy to try for reforms because Bush is sitting there with a veto, and with the ability to appeal to patriotism and white pride if he feels threatened. The progressive “backlash” that Nader hopes for won’t happen without more liberal and moderate Democrats in office, and his third-party strategy works against Democrats winning elections.”

    Well, in 2011, this 2005 analysis of republican over reach is a reality. And there is no one left to fight because the morally pure and holy liberal feel their ideals are corroded by the acid of fill in the blank. The self dealing nihilists of despairing over the republicrat false consciousness is a fraud, that capitulates to candidates and media driven crap instead of taking up the cudgel of hard work, heavy lifting in the trenches from the local, county and state levels. Not as glamorous as bemoaning the lack of a Pecora Commission, but the lot in life for most us who can’t be Liz Warren. We can be the community activists that add up to a tidal wave of democratic reform, by taking over the democratic party and populating it with militant left wing extremist of the most uncompromising nature. WE start by trying not to conform to the petty politics of 2 parties avenging slights by forming a 3rd party to punish the 2 parties that we now have. Take over the democratic party, defend the New Deal and GReat Society accomplishments and expand them with Medicare for all.

    Oh, yea, if you have a birth certificate proving you are an American, that automatically registers you as a voter. At some point, You will have to pick a party. Yea, I have not given up on that, pick a side, it still applies.

      1. Gibbs Van Halen

        “militant left wing extremist of the most uncompromising nature.” Are you referring to our legislature’s “majority” endorsement of relentless foreign carnage, the patriot act, massive expenditures on the security complex? Even after a majority of Americans disagree? WTF are you talking about?

        1. Paul Tioxon

          The left wing of much of anything has been erased from the media to such an extent that of course, your peace bullshit criticism, if it is even mildly authentic and what the fuck are you talking about attitude is typical for the middleclass, suburban college dorm politics you get on this site 99.9% of the time.

          I have not had one response to the counter argument about the auto industry bailouts that left the UAW in a better position than dealerships that were put out of business, shareholders who were wiped out, and bond holders, supposedly with the legal precedents of ages on their side left wanting. While the republicans take power in state after state and begin to publicly execute collective bargaining, the Obama NLRB and other pro union positions stand out like Mt Rushmore. But you would not know it here, due to Manhattan Centric View of the world via Wall St. Obama won’t be anything less than an Albert Speer war criminal until he locks up half of the Hampton’s Banking Executives. And well he should. And maybe he will. But while FDR had over 4000 strikes going on in the country, putting a violent hammer to the head of capitalism, and making FDR do many progressive New Deal initiatives, there is no army of the night in the streets of America. When it does happen, the arm chair prosecutors of Naked Capitalism will be wringing their hands.

          Let me tell all of you something. Presenting strategy is not apology. Debunking a poison intellectual position, which the entire cry for a 3rd party usually is, especially in this country. It will only serve up the weaker of the 2 main parties. Usually, the loser will absorb some of the issues, co-opting them, to consolidate disaffected voter segments. But not much else will change. In the 1976 Democratic Convention, teachers, members of the NEA, the 2nd largest union at the time, elected more delegates to the convention than any other union, and made education a policy position for Jimmy Carter, who they made sure got the nomination and then the White House. At the time, they could not be ignored by any politician because they were essentially the walking Mom and Apple Pie union, they were school teachers, mostly women. It was hard to use the phrase union thug and not sound blind drunk. This is in contrast to 1968, when the big Urban Machines, lead by Mayor Daily of Chicago put HH HUmphrey on the ticket against Nixon. The Chicago Police Riot outside and the police state tactics inside against dissenting delegates and even reporters on the convention floor showed the demoralizes left just how useless the Democrats were. That all changed in 1976 with the NEA swamping the Democratic National Party with delegates to the convention, something which was all but impossible. It was due to the primary system on a state by state basis, that opened up delegate selection to the public. It took decades, but has now reached a critical point where organized groups can get into state delegations in huge numbers and influence candidate selection. But unfortunately, the adoration of sports, working like an animal to become partner, etc life’s problems get in the way. Too bad, other people have since taken advantage of the wide open opportunity, that moveon, bold progressive and others might also take advantage of, if they targeted the democratic party for take over, like pirates, like guerrilla warfare, like take your pick of metaphors, like the tea party did last fall.

          Uncompromising left wing positions on Social Security, public education, the rights of unions, full employment, Medicare for all, expanded Pell Grants, universal day care, pre K and K classes, electric cars, solar and wind energy, all of these issues have been and are prominent with huge numbers of democrats for decades, but never get prominent display as non negotiable. Additional calls for the simple active and competent operation of the SEC, the DoJ, FDIC, the Fed to promote full employment, which have been all but abandoned by politically selective enforcement need to be call accountable and prioritized in light of clearly criminal activities of the financial sector.

          And it seems, that in bits and pieces, the DoJ is doing just that, it is not holding grandstanding Senate Hearing to do so. This in from the AP:

          “A JPMorgan unit is paying $228 million to settle civil fraud charges that it rigged dozens of bidding competitions to win business from cities and counties.

          The Securities and Exchange Commission says J.P. Morgan Securities LLC made secret deals with companies handling the bidding process that allowed them to peek at competitors’ offers. Banks help municipalities invest the money so they can earn interest before paying for projects.

          JPMorgan Chase & Co. agreed to cooperate with the Justice Department’s investigation into the issue. Bank of America and UBS have agreed to similar settlements.

          The settlement with JPMorgan covers charges brought by the SEC, the Internal Revenue Service, bank regulators and 25 state attorneys general.”

          Here is sub committtee looking at the mortgage servicing fraud negotiations with states AG.

          And this from Huff Post:

          “Federal Bank Regulators Scrutinizing Mortgage Lawsuits Against Banks, Opening New Worry For Investors, Bankers”

          While commentators regard all of this a mid management prosecution at best, that is where the action is in organizations. Jamie Dimon isn’t sitting in any cubicle in a suburban office park, managing a battalion of mortgage servicers. The CFPB will also be getting into the act:

          The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is preparing to impose rules on U.S. mortgage servicing firms, said Raj Date, the bureau’s associate director.

          ‘When the bureau begins formal operation July 21, “mortgage servicing will be one of CFPB’s priorities,” Date said in testimony prepared for delivery to members of the House Financial Services Committee today.

          The $10.4 trillion industry has structural features “that make it especially prone to the risk of consumer harm,” one of which is lack of consumer choice, Date said. A homeowner doesn’t have the option of shopping for a better or more competent provider, he said.

          “I get to choose my pharmacist. I don’t typically get to choose my mortgage servicer,” Date said.’

          1. JCC

            I wish I understood the point of this post, then I could reliably address it.

            It seems that you are saying the Dems are getting their way based on the comment on the GM Deal, yet the Dems threw over the AFL-CI and US truck driver labor on the Mexican Trucker Issue just two days ago to the benefit of Monsanto, ADM, Cargill, et. al. One example that supported US Labor vs. hundreds that went against American Middle Class and Labor is a terrible example, although of what, regarding your post, I’m not quite sure.

            As for the inference that the Dems are quietly and in the background hammering the Banks, well… that is crap. $228 million is less than one day’s worth of profits for JPMorgan, a pittance relative to the profits they made from this illegal bid rigging.

            So, bottom line, what exactly in one paragraph if possible, is your point? And out of curiosity, how does it relate to the theme of this article?

          2. Corporate Parties

            Raj Date, a former Bankster with Capital One/Deutsche Bank – on the CFPB. In other words, unscathed Mafioso – directly responsible for destroying the economy – continue in positions of authority. We have a war criminal in office, who was elected by f$%king Bankers, so this all makes sense.
            The Patriot Act, temporary suspension of constitutiomal rights, background investigations going back 20 years, and temporary, and inconveninet curtailment of the Bill of Rights, must be applied to those in elected office. Fat, white, rich stooges must recieve special investigative scrutiny, We need to make sure they don’t create more terror. It’s a question of public safety, one we’d all agree is non-negotiable.

          3. JTFaraday

            “Uncompromising left wing positions on Social Security, public education, the rights of unions, full employment, Medicare for all, expanded Pell Grants, universal day care, pre K and K classes, electric cars, solar and wind energy, all of these issues have been and are prominent with huge numbers of democrats for decades, but never get prominent display as non negotiable.”

            And yet, you want people who support these issues to stick with the party that has actively been negotiating them away. Not that ANY of that laundry list of policy issues gets to the root of the problem rotting out the US government from the foundations.

            I have historically not been theoretically opposed to the idea that “progressives” ought to take over the D-Party. However, it does seem to be the case–over many, many years– that those who get elected to the D-Party and those who religiously support the D-Party do not have adequate spine or critical consciousness or personal integrity to resist the pull to the fascist corporatist right exerted by the D-Party structure.

            You can choose to be victim of Stockholm Syndrome, a corporatist and a fascist, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself part of a diminishing in group when your so-called “good intentions” finally lead all of us down the path to hell.

            Pleading ignorance and professing decency while part of the D-Party is becoming an unsustainable position.

  6. Three Wickets

    I agree Yves. It’s not really two parties. It’s one establishment party that has become very good at putting on a kabuki show, and the mainstream media provides the supporting cast. It’s quite depressing. We live in a weirdly Orwellian controlled society.

  7. Francois T

    Parliamentary systems like Canada, UK and Australia are stable, treat their people well and respect civil rights.

    1. bmeisen

      Agreed. Adams et al. missed an opportunity to establish parties in the constitution via a 1 man/2 votes system and thresholds for the admission of parties to the Congress. Being new to the business of democracy, our forefathers made mistakes.

      Under contemporary conditions, the result disasterous. Recall Duvenger’s Law, discussed in Arend Lijphart’s “Patterns of Democracy”. Duvenger asserted that 2-party systems are the logical result of Single Member District Pluralities (SMDP), aka First-Past-the-Post standards. Lijphart reminds us that some SMDP mechanisms produce multi-party systems, e.g. India. I suspect that the corrupt 2-party oligarchy in the USA is first the product of SMDP, which is the standard in almost all federal elections in the USA, a prominent exception being strangely the presidential. Correction opportunities via electoral funding laws have been missed and the result is a system that is very very unlikely to reform itself. Instead it is likely to become more and more corrupt.

      The UK, also SMDP, just rejected an attempt to reform its system – a big story in my opinion, one that few outside the UK followed – and if they couldn’t then it looks indeed bleak for the USA.

    2. Peripheral Visionary

      Canada, the U.K., and Australia, yes, but also Italy, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Israel, Iceland, Belgium, etc., etc., all of whom have had severe problems that have been exacerbated by the parliamentary system. Included among those problems would be the tendency for one party to dominate (due to too much division in the opposition), outsize influence by fringe parties (due to a ruling coalition heavily dependent on just a few votes to hold power), and complete paralysis when the multi-party system is unable to generate a coherent coalition.

      The fact is that, other than the U.K. (which I do not see as representative for a number of factors, not least of which it being a heavily tradition-bound country), the U.S. has the longest-running representative government in modern history. The U.S. system works, in that it has survived; that cannot be said of the parliamentary system, which has produced any number of failures (particularly in the developing world, but even in Europe, e.g., prior to WWII). The U.S. system has weaknesses, but they are known and can be addressed, and are largely ancillary to the system rather than fundamental to it.

      1. bmeisen

        Arguably the US has survived despite its system of government. I suggest the frontier solved a lot of problems, for example unemployment and lack of opportunity in the east. The unemployed and excluded could move to the frontier, and remain in the same political system. This solution was not available to many Europeans, because of distinct borders. I wonder about cultures with, let’s say … strongly bound members, or limited resources.

        The single greatest crisis, the Civil War, was caused by the system, not by external threats, to the extent that Lincoln won the presidential election of 1860 and the South rejected him.

        On the contrary, the US has fundamental, i.e. constitutional problems. The most critical is IMO the topic of G. Washington’s thread: American democracy as established by the Constitution does not serve the citizens of the USA. I argue that it’s functionality in the past was a side-effect first of its natural wealth (expropriated from the native Americans) and secondly of a pathological war mentality in which the political opponent has been a foreign godless anti-American, and not a domestic political party. To address the problem the constitution would have to be fundamentally changed, for example by establishing proportional representation via explicit roles for political parties and thresholds for their formal admission to Congress. (After that throw out the 2nd amendment.)

      2. David Graeber

        Why do you think that during the global wave of democratization of the ’80s and ’90s, not a single one of the new democracies adopted the US constitutional system, but instead went for the “unworkable” parliamentary alternative?

  8. razzz

    The Presidential Elections, Martin Armstrong is only tracking history whereas voters get upset enough to effect change as in a third party rising to power, in other words, voters in good faith elect popular candidates to watch them assimilated into the raving manic spending machine syndrome. It’s not the voters fault their trust is constantly betrayed.

    October 11, 1798, John Adams: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

    1. Michael W

      Morality has three positions. Moral, which means one knows what it is and does it; immoral which means one knows what it is and doesn’t do it; and amoral which means one never considers morals in the first place.
      There can be no better operating example of amoral then one for whom dollars are the only or final and deciding value considered before decision and action. This means that all corporations and money motivated wealthy elites are AMORAL.
      Democratic government on the other hand is elected to represent the human and social values (morals) of the majority. Therefore a democratically elected government has the ability to be moral and also has the power to force wealthy elites and corporations to be moral – which is exactly why corporations and wealthy elites hate democratic government and use every tactic to destroy it!
      If democratic government was really a waste of time and ineffective by nature; why would people who wouldn’t spend a penny unless there was a dollar in it for them, spend billions a year to buy politicians and corrupt democracy? The fact that the wealthy spend this kind of loot is proof positive that unmolested by corruption and pay-o-la politicians would be able to control the economic strangle-hold the the minority wealthy have over the vast majority.
      If the Republicans really hated government bureaucracy they would get rid of forty states and have only ten which would reduce by 80% to cost of democracy. But because having 50 states sub-divides government power into frivolity and even though wealthy elites are constantly demonizing democratic government; the advantage to them of having government power divided into 51 plus (if one considers the supreme courts) pieces. However they are only willing to carp about government bureaucracy but unwilling to make easy changes which would greatly diminish the number of politicians and regulators of corporations and make it easier for government to function.
      Ditto for corporate health systems. Half of the people who work at American hospitals serve the interests of and are bureaucrats which serve up wealth for elites and corporations. This massive bureaucracy which serves only the wealthy elites and corporations is apparently OK with the Republicans and their lackey media which is silent on the economic and health damage inflicted on the majority so the small minority of wealthy can suck up even more loot through for-profit-health.

  9. DF Sayers

    If you want meaningful change, you have to redistribute the power over the means of politics and media. Changing to a factionalist or a parliamentarian system will only force the prevalent blocs to reorganize themselves.

    To be honest, this will lead to some changes. Thomas Ferguson recently argued that a critical realignment seems very likely in the upcoming elections, and I think he’s right. The TP reads like a calculated moved for this reason – but it seems to be losing steam; Tyler Cowen over at Marginal Revolution even said as much recently. Perhaps they player their cards too soon.

    Regardless – civil society is not significantly developed in the US. Without society clashing with the state and corporate powers, things won’t really get better. Expect changes, but nothing like the New Deal.

  10. Guy_Fawkes

    I have been thinking that what may happen in 2012, is the Tea Party secedes from the Republicans and the Progressives secede from the Democrats. Then, we would have a four party split.

    In my mind, this would be much more palatable.

  11. Septeus7

    I believe the problem lie with undemocratic nature of representation in Congress which has undermined the basis of the theory behind the Constitution i.e. the balance of powers.

    Every human society will always have political disputes between “the one,” the “few,” and “the many.” In order to balance these power, John Adam’s historical study of Constitutions which became the basis for the Massachusetts Constitution ( by incorporating the all of conflicting elements of with different branches of government.

    The two-party system is a result of an increasing oligarchical tendency of legislature of the United State Federal governmental primary and the of the state government which essentially follow the structure of the federal governmental organization to a certain extent.

    The body which is suppose to represent the the voice of “the many” is the lower legislative chamber i.e. the House of Representative however I think the tendency of limiting the number of representative to 435 has resulting of a ratio of representation which started at 1 representative for every 30k to now 1 rep to over 700k.

    The math alone proves that as population grows popular representation must decrease and therefore oligarchical tendency within the Federal government must also increase until we find ourselves with the current situation where elite owned corporation are declared persons with free speech rights to bribe politicians openly and the people are entirely without representation with a Congress that can only consider option that the Oligarchy considers in their interests.

    In order to fix this problem, I suggest we move to restructure the organization of all the legislatures of our country using the basic principle of the balance of powers. I have two reforms.

    The first reform is as follows:

    1. Instead of using the idea of “limited representation” we use direct democratic voting and legislating via the internet. The reason for limited representation made sense in 1789 when logistics made direct voting an impossibility but with today’s technology we know that it is not a problem at all especially since major corporation are able to use tools like Facebook to gather staggering amount of data about what consumers want without much trouble at all.

    I propose a new branch of government where a government agency works to gather data for legislative proposals from a group of no more than 3k individuals and always works to inform their group of exactly what legislative issues are currently being voting upon and whether or not his constituents approve and once this public polling data is collected then the delegate must vote according to how the major of his “mirco-district” voted. The delegate thus become true representatives legally tried and accountable for voting for exactly what the people wanted.

    People we be able to vote directly on most legislative issues what I call direct and complete representation rather than the increasingly “limited” representation we have today.

    Now for the second reform.

    2. As the current Congress of 535 individuals within are country of 310 million must be consider an very elite and indeed an aristocratic group I suggest that we should create additional qualifications for membership into this elite club as long as they retain legislative powers. What good is an aristocratic legislature without technocratic qualifications?

    I propose the term for the new 540 Technocratic Congress (I’m adding 5 because of the math) members be increase to 4 years and qualification for running be a graduate degree and 5 years of professional practice within what are roughly 10 fields of human economic activity i.e. Farming, Factory Manufacturing, Fisheries, Forestry, mining, communications and art, science and R&D, transportation, medicine and healthcare, construction and urban planning,

    Once this body upon a new proposed legislation slits into two chambers. A Senate of 100 of the people of the most relevant technical qualifications and they have equal voting power to the rest of the 440 lower chamber. The result is that we have effectively several Senates at the same time each optimized to legislate on the issue at hand against the less qualified general body.

    This technocratic Congresses legislation must be approved by the direct democratic voting system described in reform 1. Once the legislation is approved by the people then it moves to the president to signature or veto.

    The system I have described should seem very familiar as it is in principle no different from our current Constitution. All I have done is update the system using the logistical specifics that improved technology makes possible in order to restore the fundamental idea of democratic representation in government in a Nation of 300 million plus individuals.

    I hope that someone finds these proposals interesting and challenges them so we might refine our thinking further.

  12. Kiste

    A better electoral system like they have in most democratic countries? One that’s based around parties and proportional representation?

    The two-party system is a direct consequence of how the electoral process works in the USA, which is total shit. If the Founding Fathers wanted a different outcome, maybe they should have come up with a better system.

    1. Dave of Maryland

      The founding fathers invented a very different system, but it didn’t work so hot & was quickly gutted by the 12th Amendment.

      In the original system, state legislatures elected the president (more or less) and then sent two direct representatives – their senators – to keep an eye on him. In the original system, the president was co-equal to individual state senators, since senators were the direct representatives of the people who got the president the job to start with. Which might be why the VP got tasked with keeping track of the senate, and why treaties & presidential appointees need senate – not House – approval.

      But this was hard and cumbersome, and never really got sorted out. Power-hungry men – would-be presidents – wanted an easier route, but the states still had to be appeased. So there was a compromise. The popular vote was extended to the presidency, on an individual state by state, winner-takes-all basis.

      Which as a by-product trashed the Senate, since the president was no longer answerable to it. As a result, in the 19th century, senators, who were for the most part appointed by their state legislatures, became playthings of the local spoils system. Before the popular election of senators (17th Amendment, 1913) there were many times when local deadlocks resulted in various states lacking one, or even both, senators. Since the Senate, as a whole, liked the results of the patronage system, the 17th Amendment only became law to head off a general Constitutional Convention. Which the States were on the verge of forcing.

      The current system, where popular vote settles everything, is, as we can see, a race to the lowest common denominator. The original system pitted powerful groups against each other, resulting in a complex balance.

      In the original system, of 1789, the people got the House.

      In the original system, state legislatures, elected by popular vote, got both the senate, and the presidency.

      In the original system, in practice the president had to appeal both to individual voters (the House) as well as the individual states (the Senate). It was hard to play the House against the Senate, which was precisely what was intended.

      This post-12th Amendment, degraded system, was further corroded after the Civil War when radical Republicans hard-wired the Republican and Democratic parties into election law, thus eliminating the possibility that any new party might usurp them. And in fact, for 150 years, none has, and this despite tremendous effort. At that point democracy in America was lost. At that point, you got one-party towns, one-party counties, one-party states. Republican or Democrat. Every one of them corrupt. Are you surprised that on the national level, one party has now won out? Why ever did it take so long?

      In the process, States Rights were lost. States could huff and puff, but if individual states could not, in the end, make or break the presidency, nor effectively control the senate, they were powerless. They still are. Impotent Texas flaunts its imaginary power by executing the innocent.

      Are there solutions? You will note that in parliamentary systems, the people do not directly elect their supreme leader. Never have, never will. You will also note modified parliamentary systems, such as in Israel, which have popularly elected figurehead presidents. Guys who cut ribbons and attend state funerals. And there is the modified Franco-Russo system where president & prime minister co-rule, in some murky fashion. In all cases, a popularly elected president, ruling on his own, is a ticket to dictatorship. This isn’t the only flaw in the American system, but it is one of the biggies. So we shouldn’t blame the Founding Fathers for our current mess.

  13. SteveA

    Gore Vidal remarked in an interview that there is only one political party in the U.S., the property party.

    Here’s a cheerful prediction by Benjamin Franklin: “[the new government] is likely to be well administered for a Course of Years, and can only end in Despotism as other Forms have done before it, when the People shall become so corrupted as to need Despotic Government, being incapable of any other.” (Speech in the Convention at the Closing of its Deliberations, Sept. 17, 1787.)

  14. gatopeich

    Critical thinking People, and we will do with almost any form of organization (even government!).
    Though that apparently requires ‘interesting’ times. Oh well, let’em come.

    (Now will you please not distract me from watching HDTV on my brand new ultimate iToy?)

  15. Leverage

    The real problem is politicians need contributions from big money to win. If you limited contributions to fees from the bases of parties to a limited and fixed quantity affordable by almost anyone and have transparency and control off course… The influence of big business would be less.

    I agree more than bipartisan system is preferable, but being european myself, I simply can’t say that’s a big deal, because at the end of the day big money still rules parties (also in most Europe parties are the ones who rule, not politicians themselves, you have to be into the structure of the party and do inside politics, in Europe something like Ron Paul or Kucinich wouldn’t happen ever).

  16. Craig Austin

    The root of our economic problems is operational rather than political. Well-intended policymakers are only as good as their economic advisers. Economists are giving the wrong advice to policymakers because they misunderstand monetary operations. The objective is never to balance the budget. The objective is always to optimize the budget. Fiscal optimization at any level of public spending requires balancing tax revenues with spending while running deficits at a rate corresponding to users saving rate. In order to balance spending with tax revenues, government must destroy money through taxes before it creates money to spend in the marketplace. Recognizing that some users choose not to spend, government deficits must correspond to the users savings rate in order to maintain a given level of output. The challenge of the issuer is to spend enough money to displace the saving rate but not enough to exceed it. For those of you interested I’ve outlined a laymen’s explanation here –

    Seriously where are the adults these kids are going nuts!

  17. Ransome

    The alternate is what we have, rule by the Superclass that chooses the candidates prior to the vote. The similarities between Bush and Obama are uncanny, considering the polarization.

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