May 23, 2017

TWO PARTY SYSTEM; IS IT TIME FOR A CHANGE?

jefferson-vs-adams_11

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.

George Washington in his farewell speech.

 With the next presidential election within sight, one thing is obvious; the total dissatisfaction of the voters toward the ruling class.    This electoral uncertainty has been festering for decades, maybe appearing first during the Vietnam War era and the youth “hippie” movement.    In order to make sense of the present, it is always beneficial to look towards the past.    It is a common, but incorrect belief, that the two party system was part of our forefathers desires as a balance between an ideological domination.    To the contrary, the original idea was to elect a President out of the existing candidates, the runner up becoming the Vice President.    In fact, the mere idea of two parties’s reminded many of the England 17th century civil wars between the lavish lifestyle of the called “Tory’s” versus the budget slashing “Whigs”.    When Jefferson, greatly influenced by the French revolution, and fearing an abandonment of the will of the people for the wish of the higher classes, became a proponent of a two party system, his faction called the Anti-Federalists, Washington, fearing conflict, integrated him into his government in his second term in office.    After Washington retired, an epic and vitriolic battle of words and philosophy ensued between John Adams, our second President, Alexander Hamilton, and Sam Madison, author of the Federalists Papers, versus Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party that was later joined by Madison and the two party system was introduced.

Another myth worth noting is that most historians view the Jeffersonian Anti-federalist movement as the birth of the Democrat party, and the Federalist as representative of the Republican.    It is an inaccurate notion.    The Federalist desired a strong executive leader, dismissing the “will of the people” as unworthy.    They felt as they were the best suited with enough capabilities, by reasons of birth “aristocracy” and education to represent the public interests.    One of the mainstays of conservative principles is, like Jefferson, to give more power to the individual versus the self anointed “elite” that claims the right to decide for the majority.    In recent times the ideological split has been between the liberal and conservative ideologies.    Up until a few decades ago, most voters were among the called moderates, espousing the virtues of individual rights, small central government, free markets , and State rights, but also allowing the executive’s role to help the less fortunate in addition of the Constitutional mandate of defending the country, and maintaining the common areas like roads and parks.   Both tendencies when elected pursued its ideological agenda without letting it interfere with the overall functioning of the government, to wit; legislate and execute, not in excess, but enough to run and improve the needs of the population.

Today’s political disappointments are not secondary to the constant verbal sparring between the two parties, after all Jefferson and Adams had many severe ones, it is because the differences are nor based in ideology, but in the desire to gain power, control the decision making, and stay in command.    Human frailties like desire for control and greed have led the political and crony capitalistic structures to join forces, and have taken the country in the last years in a downward spiral, regardless of the Party’s name.    They both campaign representing differences, but govern without any noticeable distinction.    This is the etiology of our general discontent.    There is no ideological compromise as they govern with the main objective to continue ruling, main difference between them being what group of citizens and/or crony capitalists they help through doles and regulations in exchange of financial support and votes.    In this election cycle it looks like the electorate is so fed up with the lack of appropriate governance that they are abandoning the most moderate candidates.    The two frontrunners represent more of the same as both, Clinton and Trump, seek their self interests, both being “crony capitalists”, one deriving from the political establishment, and the other the financial.    In the second tier, representatives of both ideologies, Sanders and Cruz, are competing.    At this moment where the liberal and conservative divide expands, it might not be a bad thing to have “we the public” decide where it stands.    At least they are honest in their convictions, not “make believe” as the ones that have been elected recently.    Personally I still prefer a candidate that spouses clear conservative values, but have the leadership qualities to execute for all the people, and without renouncing his/hers core beliefs is able to lead the congress into negotiations.    In our separation of power scheme, principled disagreements are fought in the congress, and agreements are attained in the senate.    Few laws get to the president, who instead of imposing his will, leads and moderates discussion with emphasis on his ideals, but with the end game of achieving what is best for the citizens.    Maybe it is time to scrape the two party designs and go back to an election for president as it was originally intended, with the first two vote getters becoming president and vice for 8 years with no reelection allowed!    If I had the deciding vote in this election cycle, my vote would go to Kasich, and between the most likely candidates, I lean towards Rubio, but “holding my nose” could see voting for Cruz.    On the Democratic side, I could look at Biden, but not at any of the present two candidates.

 

Fernando J Milanes MD

 

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