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Joining a political party means surrendering your freedom

By DOUG THOMPSON
March 23, 2011

I cringe every time someone describes themselves as a “die-hard Republican” or “committed Democrat” or some other phrase that shows an allegiance to a political party.

Joining a political party is, to me, a surrender of independence, an unwillingness to think on your own and a dependence on the agenda of others. I worked inside politics for a number of years but I never joined one party or the other.

I’m not a Democrat.

I’m not a Republican.

I’m an American.

There is a difference.

I find it disheartening that members of each party question the patriotism of the other side because they don’t agree on issues.

This nation was founded on the concept of freedoms: Freedom of speech, freedom to choose, freedom to have differing opinions.

Political parties want to stifle those freedoms by demanding adherence to lockstep beliefs based on ideologies that limit freedom. Both parties have become dominated by extremists. There’s no room for bipartisanship, no room for coalition building, no room for compromise.

“My way or the highway,” my granddaddy used to say. That may be OK in a totalitarian world but it has no place in a democratic republic.

That’s why this nation is in the mess it faces right now. Compromise is a dirty word. So is listening to opposing points of views. Debates become shoutfests and become brawls.  Anyone who questions is branded as “unpatriotic” or worse. Reasoned thinking is replaced by buzzwords and insults.

Look at the signs waved at any rally, be it a Tea Party gathering or a rally by liberals.  The words on too many signs are the same: Mean, filled with hate and disregard for the views of others.

Yet in a free society, we must tolerate the hate along with those who seek a more balanced solution. That’s why the Supreme Court was right to rule that a fundamentalist church that uses hate of gays to dishonor veterans who died in war is free speech. What they are doing may be disgusting but it must be allowed in a free society.  And that’s why we have the Patriot Guard, a determined and dedicated group of motorcyclists — mostly vets — who attend the funerals and act as human shields to keep those demonstrators out of the view of the families who suffered the loss.

Sadly, both political parties promote hate as part of their agenda. Both use stereotypes to try and destroy their opposition.  Both contribute to a system that is flawed and out-of-control. Neither puts America first because doing so conflicts with the agendas of both the right and the left.

It’s all about power.

It’s all about control.

It’s all about suppression of freedom.

George Washington, in his farewell address as President, said:

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the state, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

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.

Our first President recognized the danger posed by politics and the parties that control the process.

Too bad our current elected leaders — and those who support them — vow allegiance first to a political party and not to a special place called America.

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18 Responses to Joining a political party means surrendering your freedom

  1. Fivebyfives

    March 23, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Sometime in the early 1970’s there was a parting of the ways in that politics and economics diverged. People join a political party in the belief (and hope, if that is not and over-used word) that in doing so they are aligning themselves with those who will work within government for their interests.

    Such is definitely not the case now. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that freedom itself is being deeply constricted by government, on behalf of political parties. I heard Mega-Twit Michael Bloomberg say on a Sunday talk show, “The whole purpose of government is to promote the health of its citizens.” Yeah, sure.

    The two parties are different in that one is dine-in and the other is drive-through. Either way, you pay for the same valueless tripe. The American people are so numbed by economic forces the only subjects that fire what little imagination is left in public life are social issues. As long as the drum is banged repeatedly over issues that do NOT involve economic pillage then the parties are secure in votes, one way or the other.

    Groucho Marx had it spot-on when he said, “I’m a man of principles. And if you don’t like them, I have other principles.” Both parties are amoral shape-shifters whose public mantra stays the same while the REAL agenda stays the same.

    To commit to such entities is not forgoing your freedom. It’s relinquishing your soul.

    • Almandine

      March 23, 2011 at 1:53 pm

      Never make the mistake of thinking that politics and economics have parted ways. It is only because of the finite character of worldly resources that economics has utility, and only because of economic reality that politics exists at all. Without politics, there would be constant bloodbath… unless and until the population and the amount of resources are in balance.

      In a well-ordered economic system, the resources become apportioned according to their highest use and greatest good, which defines the the greatest number of people that can be supported with the amount of resources available. Note that at this point the hand of govt control is NOT required, but in a poorly functioning economic system, the number supportable goes down in proportion to the degree of dysfunction, and when that is the situation, the question of course becomes, why? Too many times the economic factors… resources, distribution schemes, labor force, amount of consumption, etc., are not examined for the source of the problem(s), and the most popular answer becomes lack of management (i.e., governance) of the economic system.

      The proper role of govt – of, by and for the people – is to protect the [over] population, who have erected it for their common safety and security against that balance being disturbed. Equanimity is the goal. The problem with govt, though, it that it is made up of small subsets of the people who compete within the governed domain for the wordly resources available… and since the people and their governing subsets have differing values and goals, factions form to “manage” the competition for resources at multiple levels.

      Factions form alliances, both in and out of govt, including political parties, whose economic utility resides in their ability to [forcefully] acquire a “fair” share of the limited resources, although what constitutes a fair share is the universal question. All too often the differences in values and goals are social or religious in nature, which create demands for support beyond the legitimate apportionment of limited resources, and these demands are all to often the basis of political parties. Thus, political parties – by definition – function to thwart good government in the name of partisanship, favoring selected subsets of the people over the rest. Good govt thus becomes govt run amok.

      The competition for scarce resources has been “managed” so poorly by our own govt for so long that a well-ordered economic system is the last thing we could possibly have. Economics 101 would not have farmers paid not to grow food, nor would it have farmers grow food to fuel cars. People would not be paid to sit idle instead of work, nor would govt tax structures be created that favor astronomical payments to company executives, while their companies’ jobs are shipped to peoples in foreign lands. Half the populace would not be expected to work so that the other half could live off the mythical “fat of the land”. Yes, our govt (at all levels) – through the illogical and unsustainable demands we people have made on it, and the ill-prepared subsets of people we have elected to run it – has screwed the proverbial pooch… and now ALL of us are going to pay for it.

      The chickens have come home to roost, we all (should) know where we stand, and we don’t like it one damn bit. Angry… you bet. Snide… you got it. Accusatory… what else. Violent… just wait. You see, there just isn’t enough stuff to go around, and yet almost nobody is willing to function economically to the betterment of us all.

      Surrendering freedom ??? Get used to it.

  2. bogofree

    March 23, 2011 at 3:10 pm

  3. Carl Nemo

    March 23, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    I’ll have to say this is one of your better pieces of writing Doug since my landing on your site. : )

    Partisanship is a cancer that eats at the very fabric of our system of government. We are currently living in times where it’s reached a rabid level.

    Of course for the shadowy power brokers behind the curtain, such activity is to their advantage since it keeps the unwashed masses preoccupied with trivial matters while they raid the castle’s keep; ie, the U.S. Treasury.

    It doesn’t make a whit of difference if we have Democrats or Republicans in office since it’s obvious they’ve merged in terms of their seemingly unified mission to destroy our nation. America is now represented by a duopoly controlled by corporatist interests.

    We get no respite concerning the budget, the waging of endless zero sum wars or wise management of our tax dollars and resources. Everyday in everyway it’s a slugfest in the sandbox as if they are unruly brats, one side trying to prevail over the other, but at the end of the day always voting in a manner that irreparably damages our nation. Self interest reigns supreme with their mantra…”I’ve got mine, screw you” attitude not only on a personal level, but towards our nation.

    Myself and millions of other non partisan Independents are exhausted by this seemingly endless dog and pony show. Regardless, the beat goes on. : (

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duopoly

    Carl Nemo **==

    • Almandine

      March 23, 2011 at 3:33 pm

      Hey Carl… you’ll be non partisan right up until I reach for your Alaskan IPA.

      • Carl Nemo

        March 27, 2011 at 1:00 am

        Only if it’s the last one and you fail to share. : ))

        Remember you are your brothers keeper even if comes to sharing a brewski.

        Carl Nemo **==

        p.s. Sorry for the delay in reply, but your comeback consumed one line of text so I missed it.

        • Almandine

          March 27, 2011 at 11:59 am

          I’d actually be going for the Mac & Jack Amber.

          • griff

            March 27, 2011 at 12:15 pm

            “He was a wise man who invented beer.” – Plato

  4. griff

    March 23, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    Case in point…Newt.

  5. woody188

    March 24, 2011 at 12:50 am

    Those two freedom stealing parties run our election system. They decide where election resources are allocated, how votes are counted, and who gets to vote. Democratic Republic?

    More recently, they labeled people that displayed support for other political parties as potential terrorists. If it’s not the police state apparatus, it’s the Southern Poverty Law Center lumping political groups in with racist extremists.

    Freedom of speech…just watch what you say!

  6. Dale Anderson

    March 24, 2011 at 6:59 am

    Good piece, Doug. Kudos.

  7. Sandune

    March 24, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    I have an idea. I followed a link from RR and discovered that Michelle Bachmann will be running for POTUS. What a grand experience this would bring about as it would give the dingbats a chance to show what they want for a Federal Government. We know there is no difference between the DNC and RNC so let’s give the Evangelicals their chance. It could not get any worse.

    Woody, the Southern Poverty Law Center is doing the research on these supposed terrorists. I could give you 3 very active Social Conservative forums who label many of us as racial extremists. The S.P.L.C. is concerned with the violent nature of the arguments between the parties. They are also concerned with Americans who love their nation to such a point they would be willing to kill for it

    I wish you would travel to the areas where the skin heads are grouping. Some of the actions out of New Hampshire are shocking and deadly.

    Our elections have turned into wars with guns and threats in many of the meetings. Our courts are being armed with FBI just to guarantee all witnesses can testify. When a candidate for Congress won her election by claiming bullets are better than ballots; it should raise some eyebrows among all of us. How many, even here, consider this amusing?

    We are talking about electing leaders of America not a cowboys and indians game on the playground. I’m tired of being threatened by hell and damnation but some brain dead woman who knows nothing of American values but has a top heavy view of getting into Paradise.

    If the Poverty Center is your enemy, I wonder about your patriotism. CHB has been in seventh heaven with the rumors and lies from both parties. They hand us a target to get the ugliness out of our thoughts. Sorry, it is not doing anything but stirring trouble between the members.

    Sadly the brightest member here cannot voice an opinion. He will bring links from many other writers but he has given up his own. That is very typical of Americans at this time. The day he declares his opinions would be a great day for CHB. But giving up his personae would not be worth it He won’t elsewhere either.

    So remain cowards living with names not our own.

  8. griff

    March 24, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    I wouldn’t necessarily say that the act of joining a political party constitutes surrendering your freedom, but the act of blindly and faithfully supporting one definitely does.

    I joined a political party for the first time in my life in 2007 for the sole purpose of voting in the Republican primary, for the sole reason that there was actually a candidate worthy of my support and my vote.

    I didn’t surrender any thing. Third parties are not viable because of the entrenched two party system, so change has to happen from within. The perception of the inability to win is a self-fulfilling prophesy.

    Parties are still made up of individuals.

    But the gist of this column is unfortunately true, as were Washington’s words.

    In 2008 there were some fierce battles within the Republican party, particularly in the caucuses. The Establishment Republicans pulled out all the stops in order to silence any opposing views.

    On the other side, the DNC also put all their money and support behind Establishment candidates running against true anti-war Democrats in the primaries.

    What is needed is more activity by people. I use every opportunity to voice my displeasure and disagreement with “my” party’s policy positions.

    What is needed is for more people to join these parties and change them from within.

    What is needed is resistance. By every one.

    Every piece of legislation they try to push, resist. I don’t care which party sponsors it or which party backs it. The last few decades should be proof enough that neither party works in the average American’s best interest.

    Turn off Limbaugh and Hannity. Turn off Matthews and Maddow. They don’t give a rat’s ass about you or me. Their sole purpose is to push an agenda.

    Turn off the television. Get off the couch. Get your blood flowing. Jump around. Stop being robots and start thinking outside the paradigm. It isn’t working.

    There are solutions to our problems. You won’t find them in either party’s platform.

    Re-Education – Rise Against style!

    “I won’t crawl
    On my knees for you
    I won’t believe the lies that hide the truth

    ‘Cause we are
    The rust upon your gears
    We are the insects in your ears

    We crawl
    We crawl
    We crawl
    All over you!”

    Crank it up people. Jump around. Resist.

    • Carl Nemo

      March 24, 2011 at 6:45 pm

      Good thoughts Griff. You mentioned registering as Republican to vote in the primaries which is required in most political jurisdictions; I.E., Independents and other party affiliations voting in a party based primary is not allowed.

      Have you considered dumping your Republican affiliation and switching to an Independent registration for the first time or again? As an Independent you can vote for whomever you like in the general election. I realize remaining a Republican registree that you can vote for Ron Paul in the primaries providing they allow him on the ballot. / : |

      I’m a firm convert and believer there’s no national respite to be found in either party. In fact it’s my belief that the only party that will save this nation is the “revolutionary party”. Change via the ballot box is like watching paint dry and the order of the day is degenerating so rapidly that it seems time is running out before our now rogue government declares martial law as as function of some domestic “false flag” op in order to totally suppress any opposition to their engineered ‘Nantucket Sleighride” for “We the People” down into their globalist hell on earth.

      Obama’s unilateral incursion on Libya tells me that we’ve reached critical mass because if he isn’t at least censured by Congress for his actions then it means they’ve given him and those to follow; ie., if any post 2012 presidents should hold office, the King’s X concerning not operating within the Constitution and our body of laws both domestic and international in scope.

      We now have a rogue government, no different than a ‘mad dog’ and seemingly needs to be put down before it injures anyone else either domestically or internationally. Our leadership is drugged out on a terminally dangerous drug; ie., globalism run amok…!

      Worse yet instead of heisting liquor stores, house robberies and mugging people, they’ve managed to heist the castle’s keep; ie, the U.S. Treasury along with an entire nation’s tax base to maintain their ‘habit’. : |

      *****

      “Crank it up people…Jump around. Resist!” …griff

      *****

      Carl Nemo **==

      • Carl Nemo

        March 24, 2011 at 6:54 pm

        “Obama’s unilateral incursion on Libya” …extract from my post re: paragraph 4

        To belay protests concerning my referencing his “unilateral incursion”; people should not forget that the only players we heard speaking out on the ‘Libyan condition’ , stoking the world at large is this President, his Secretary of State and talking heads friendly to the regime no matter what they cook up. As the strike commenced we then hear the word “coalition’ which somehow indemnifies the strikes and so too how the op is going to be ‘handed off’ to some other country or org such as NATO. I say bullsh*t. We’re going to provide the targeting and intelligence to run this op via Africom and so too get stuck with the bill while our European allies; ie, “parasites” enjoy a little target practice then go back to what they do best, ‘lay in the weeds’ letting the U.S. get bloodied politically and militarily.

        I rest my case.

        Carl Nemo **==

      • griff

        March 24, 2011 at 7:06 pm

        Yeah I’m waiting to see what happens this time around. In the meantime I do enjoy filling out their surveys and questionaires. Maybe I’ll register Democrat next time so I can fill out theirs too. Ha. What a joke.

        I would be happy to see a good showing in the third party arena this time around, but I’m afraid it’ll be more of the same lesser of two evils, best liar scenario.

        I would have to agree with the “revolutionary party” thought. Sad, but true.

        It’s a scary proposition in that the more resistance they get, the more desperate they could become in order to maintain the charade. Nothing’s off the table when it comes to preserving the false paradigm.

        William Grigg – The War Machine on the East River

  9. Sandune

    March 25, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    My mistake was to research the platform and agenda of the Republican Party. I was 21 and voted for Ike. In the years following my actions, the agenda turned around away from a form of Capitalism that was free of corruption. Ike cleared it up with his final speech and I settled back within the GOP.

    I was disturbed with the Birch Society as they had another agenda for the GOP that was certainly not in mine. I set about seriously researching fiscal responsibility along with staying the hell out of the areas around Korea and Vietnam. My family was growing and a need for a school found me searching again for something academic. I found a system that was sponsored by the Christian Science church to start teaching. It worked but only temporarily. My husband was a professor of Physics at UCLA/Berkeley and Caltech and located an upper school that would qualify for the Universities.

    It took one term of President Bush 41 to show me the sell out of our American Capitalism to a global one world order. From that moment on, I became obsessed with free enterprise and locating a political movement to restore it. Okay so Perot became my man. I never stopped voting but I never again voted Republican. Today it is even worse as the GOP has forced itself under the thumb of Evangelicals and that is most certainly not my bag.

    I am a Fiscal Conservative and in Arizona I was told to turn my life over to Jesus to stay in the Party. I want to throw in the towel but when I read around other forums and see the basic hatred that Conservatives feel for others, it makes me sick.

    There are no choices for someone of my political beliefs. I was raised to vote carefully and consistently and the playing field quit.

    I do not belong here as Capitalism is a dirty word. Many here would want the redistribution of wealth as a short cut to improving our commerce. Individual freedoms must ride on individual profits made legally. Our culture must rise with love of our nation and each other. I often wonder how much damage Rush Limbaugh did to those who listen to his radio show daily. What is it about this uneducated loud mouth that attracts so many Americans? Is he the soul of a struggling losing pile of masses who have no ability to speak for themselves?

    Slowly but surely, many writers are just now exposing the Bush Administration for their abusive lies and I am waiting for them to touch on President Bush 41. It took a long time to develop the GOP and one rotten apple in the convention to destroy the base. There was no other choice except to bring Jesus into the Party but did it not also introduce the dingbats to the groups too?

    Griff, we are living in a charade. Not all is well and there is no indication that any improvement is being developed in any corner. I’m beginning to feel like those Jews under Hitler when it was obvious that his regime was planning a massive move to clean up his political movement.

    I have backed many third parties and never gained a damn vote for any of them. Before we revolt, what guarantee is there that our game will be better than the old one?

  10. bogofree

    March 27, 2011 at 9:40 am

    I’m active in a local campaign for Board of Selectmen and went to a potluck supper for my candidate last night. The person I am supporting named his daughter “Kennedy” so you know what political branch he is on. The person that is “running” his campaign is an old school Democrat. Last night at the function one of the current BOS members who is supporting my guy is chair of the Republican Town Committee and offered their phone list to whoever wishes to call. Hasalso written a strong letter that condemns two sitting members that are up for re-election and one is a Republican.

    Like Tip said “All politics is local” and in town government labels are meaningless and not even on the ballot.