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open letter

"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."

          ~ JOHN ADAMS, letter to Jonathan Jackson, Oct. 2, 1789

To the citizens of this country,

I ask for a few minutes of your time to read this letter with an open mind and consider the questions that it raises. I ask this because like you I love this country, it's people, and because it seems to me that we as a nation are at one of those moments in history that are so very, very important to our survival. And finally, because I do not hear anyone else asking for Americans to consider how we arrived at this point in time or what we can do to make things better.

I am just an average American citizen, much like the rest of you. And I cannot help but believe I am not alone in thinking that this country, the greatest experiment in democracy the world has ever known, has lost its way. Or worse, been led astray for reasons not known by most of its citizens. Now, I understand how unsettling a statement like this sounds, but I ask you to bear with me and see if what I describe is true or not. The only thing I ask is for you to have that open mind and to think for yourself.

John Adams is quoted above as issuing a warning regarding political parties and the division that can be created by them. And you know, I have to agree with him, if for no other reason than what I've witnessed in this country, and it's politics, over the last 40 or so years. Party politics has done an indescribable amount of damage to this nation!

Adams seems to almost have predicted today's current events with his warning. Was he a lone visionary out to spread some special knowledge that he, and he alone, had access too? No. It seems that many of our founding fathers, leading intellects, military generals, and many others shared his concerns back then. Including our first president, George Washington, who as he was leaving office said;

"They (parties) 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...... However combinations or Associations of the above description may now & then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the Power of the People, & to usurp for themselves the reins of Government; destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion."

          ~ GEORGE WASHINGTON - Farewell speech to the Nation. 1797

Do we not see this everywhere today? Isn't the delegated will of the people being usurped by the will of one party or the other? Do we not also see that it is the radicals of these parties, who are a minority, are actually controlling the majority? Do we not see parties causing, or at least hoping that, a program under the control of the opposing party will fail in order to make that party look bad?

And is this not exactly what we saw with the war in Iraq or the debt ceiling talks or the Universal Health-care legislation?

As we watch our representatives battle it out on Capitol Hill, the question of whether or not a particular initiative is good for the country never seems to come up. Instead, the support of one party or another, for any program, is determined by how the program's passage will help that party gain advantage over the other. What is best for America and its citizens has become irrelevant. The actual will of the people is hardly ever taken into consideration anymore and is most certainly never a factor in how the party leadership thinks or acts.

How can this be good for the country? This is not a game to be won or lost. It's supposed to be about doing what is right for America. Shouldn't we be rooting for the success of our elected representatives regardless of which party is in power?

"Were parties here divided merely by a greediness for office,...to take a part with either would be unworthy of a reasonable or moral man."

         ~ THOMAS JEFFERSON - Letter to William Branch Giles, 1795.

While most political organizations are founded with honorable intentions and proper goals, eventually most lose sight of their original purpose and replace that purpose with more base survival and power motives. The survival and status of the party becomes more important than responding to the needs and the will of the people. Each party survives and gains power largely by attacking the other party and generally creating division among the people. I would submit to you that all of Washington's, Adam's and Jefferson's warnings about party affiliation have come true in our time.

We are a people divided. We have allowed the parties to usurp our power. We have fallen asleep at the wheel and the truly unfortunate thing is that the parties have convinced us this is the way it's supposed to be. That the party itself will take care of everything for us. How else can we explain low voter turn-out and the overall lack of participation in the process.

During the 2014 election cycle the citizens of this country showed just how far we have strayed from the ideals of our founding fathers. That particular sitting congress was labeled the least effective congress in this nations history. It's approval rating was at a record setting single digit low. Yet not even that was enough to motivate the voting public to take action. Overwhelmingly, the people re-elected these same 'do nothing' incumbents back into office. In effect saying 'please go back to Washington and get more nothing done.'

But just so you know -- political parties are not part of the Constitution. The so-called political aisle that divides Congress and the nation is a creation of those who seek personal power over the good of the country. How does this happen?

Because those who are supposed to be guarding the democracy failed to do their job. In the end, if this experiment in government fails, it will not be because of war or economic failure. Instead, it will be because the people who were left in charge (its citizens) shirked their responsibility and proved that the founders of this nation were wrong to entrust its citizens with the sacred responsibility of holding our representatives accountable. Perhaps a dictatorship was the way to go after all. I can only pray that the founders were right to entrust us with this duty, and that we will all wake up and fulfill our responsibility before it is too late.

Democrats claim to believe in civil liberties and that the government should be there to ensure equality across the board. But that doesn't come cheap. So, democrats are the first to take your money or tell you how to spend it. On the other hand, the Republicans believe that the government should be as small and un-intrusive as possible, yet they seem to love getting involved in legislating morality, and lately, the implementation of social programs and spending which requires bigger and bigger government. A large number of both parties members come from affluent backgrounds and therefore cannot relate to the way normal Americans live day-to-day. Our parties are filled with contradictions like these. Yet, because there are only two of them, we cling to ours like a toddler to his favorite blanket. Does anyone else see a problem here?

Of course, we will always have our ideological differences. That's just assumed. But the key is not to let our party affiliations define those differences. Why can't a person be "Pro Choice" and "Pro Family Values" or "Pro Development" and "Pro Environment" at the same time? Why can't someone believe that capitalism works best when workers have the right to collective bargaining and industries are guided by clear and effective regulations. I've never understood how or why we allow our party affiliation to shape what we think. When we are confronted with an important issue, we should not let the party we subscribe too tell us how we should view that issue. Nor should we be worried about whether the cause of, or solution too, the problem will make our party look better or worse. We should be seeing things through a common filter; how this effects America. Not looking at how something can be packaged to best fit a 30 second sound byte.

One of the best examples I can think of as to how the two party system has clouded our judgment came in the days after the election of President Obama. I cannot tell you how many people I spoke with who made the comment that they were hoping that President Obama would fall flat on his face. They were hoping for his failure so that a Republican could be put back in the White House. Honestly, these comments shocked me because they clearly showed a desire for party success over the betterment of the country as a whole.

Can it really be considered patriotic to wish for the country's failure so that your political party can regain power? Wouldn't it be more appropriate to hope that regardless of what party the president is a member of that he is able to lead this country to better things? I did not support many of George W. Bush' policies but I never wished for him to fail or do something that would cause major damage to the country. I can say the same thing about Barack Obama. Once they are in office they become "My" elected representatives. When they succeed, we all succeed. And if they fail, we all fail.

"If a political party does not have its foundation in the determination to advance a cause that is right and that is moral, then it is not a political party; it is merely a conspiracy to seize power."

         ~ DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, speech, Mar. 6, 1956

I have one final thought on this subject that I would like you to consider; Does it make sense in a country of over 300 million people that we are truly represented by a system that limits itself to only two viable parties? This isn't logical. I cannot believe that this country could agree on two types of ice cream to have for desert much less two types of political ideology.

If we are going to stick with political parties than we need more than just "Liberal" and "Conservative" to choose from. To adequately cover the various viewpoints and differing opinions of the population we need 10 or 20, maybe even more, legitimately accepted parties to really represent the ideological cross-section we have in this country today. If we had just a couple more parties holding seats in congress then, by definition, any legislation that passed would require "multi-partisan" support. Multi-partisanship is one of the best ways to ensure that those in government do not forget about the people who put them there. It ensures a wider range of opinions are included in the decision making process and it can almost guarantee that one party will never have enough power to block the will of the people simply by gaining a majority of seats in congress. How could that be a bad thing?

As one citizen to another, I ask you to consider leaving your party affiliation behind you. We have one sure way of sending a message to Washington and that is by leaving the party rolls en-mass. If enough of us dis-associate with either of the two main establishment parties, we would scare the hell out of the politicians in D.C and our state capitals.

Now, I'm not asking you to do this so I can get you to join a different party or trick you into not being able to vote for the candidate you think is best capable of leading this country. Who you vote for, and why, is a purely personal decision. You can still vote straight down party lines if that is what you feel is the right thing to do. All I am asking is that you consider becoming "non-aligned" -- simply as a way of sending a message to those who would seek to divide this nation.

If we can create enough uncertainty in the Republican and Democratic parties by convincing them that they can no longer take our vote for granted, then they will be forced to start listening to us again. And if they don't, then we have to show them the error of their ways and vote them out of office.

Remember; "United we Stand! Divided we Fall!" and the only ones with the power to prevent that fall..... is us.

Thank you for your time.

EJK

Eric J. Kiser

Eric J. Kiser

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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  • I really get frustrated when I hear this: “the question of whether or not a particular initiative is good for the country never seems to come up. Instead, the support of one party or another, for any program, is determined by how the program's passage will help that party gain advantage over the other”
    “all of Washington's, Adam's and Jefferson's warnings about party affiliation have come true in our time” This is partly because it has become a money game, IMO.
    “Citizens shirked their responsibility” 42% turn out in 2014? We sure did shirk our responsibility!
    "Pro Development" and "Pro Environment" Certainly we can achieve both. The development of new ideas on energy are creating industry that benefits the environment as an example.
    There just seems to be too much either or or, not enough, compromise.