In 1791 the Federalist party was formed and the dawn of modern politics rose upon our young nation. Since then, countless parties have been formed, collapsed, spun off of each other, evolved and faded into history. The party system has always been a two-horse race. While those parties have changed over the years, the infrastructure of the party system remains a major part of American politics.
In many ways, the story of modern politics is shaped more by the parties than the candidates running under their names. They provide an ideological guideline. They tell their voters and their candidates or party members where they stand on issues. They provide financial support and work with and on behalf of those in their tents. They evolve with the times as we do. The democratic party of the 1800s stood for small government, states’ rights, and a very strict adherence to the constitution. Yeah, let that sink in.
The reason politicians run as Democrats or Republicans is clear. It is an uphill battle without the support of an established party with money in their coffers to support a candidate. The parties hold a tremendous amount of power over their candidates, after all they have the money and can choose to withhold support if candidates don’t sing the party tune. Parties will approve or deny a candidate's message to potential voters based on how far it strays from the party ideology. If a candidate strays too far from the path, the party can withhold all support, effectively ending any chance of a candidate’s success unless you happen to have Donald Trump money lying around. if so, give us a call, we take donations.
Let’s scrap all of that and imagine something greater. Let’s imagine a system built not for the success of a party pushing an agenda, but for the success of the people. Let’s pretend the two-party stranglehold is a thing of the past. Let’s imagine an America without political parties.
You might be asking yourself how this would work. How would we know a politician’s stance of current issues? How would they raise the funds necessary to campaign? Who would support them and provide the many services it takes to run a campaign? Fair questions.
Imagine a country where individual candidates ran on issues they believed in. Not issues they HAD to believe in, but things they truly believed. A campaign of ideas on how to better our nation. A whole election of passionate candidates lobbying for ideas to better the lives of their constituents, not for re-election, nor for their party. A local candidate, who understands the geographical issues their districts face and will stand for their constituents, not their party.
A political structure like this would require the will of the people to succeed. Fundraising will fall to the responsibility of the candidate and their supporters. A volunteer network would be organic and filled with people who have heard a politician’s message and want to further their cause.
Political debates would feature a stage full of individuals, each with their own ideas for a better America. Think about the diversity of thoughts you would receive when you no longer have to parrot party talking points like a parlor trick, but when you can stand for what the people need. Imagine the candidates with great ideas who don’t fall into mainstream politics that would suddenly have an opportunity to stand toe to toe with their peers and pitch their case for a better USA. How many qualified, bright, innovative candidates have never had their voice heard because they did not submit to the two-party system?
Odds are, we will never see a change to the system that has been in place for centuries. Odds are, our politics will remain diluted, directed, and controlled. Odds are, the vast majority of Americans will continue to be stranded by a broken, self-serving system that places party over country. We can still imagine a better system. And in America, sometimes all it takes is a dream.