We live in an age where its become increasingly more difficult to discern truth from fiction, or opinion. We like to think that when our current disagreements become furthest from resolve that there are voices, figures, documents and books written long ago that bare the answers of a less divided time. We quote pieces of literature like the Bible and the Constitution repeatedly as a means to justify “our” side of that debate. And, there is much debate.
Lets face it, MUCH debate.
However, we are often left arguing what was meant or implied by these words, and therein lies the debate.
Semantics. Definitions. Intentions.
There are certain figures in our history whom the largest majority of us agree on for guidance. We patriarchally refer to them as the Founding Fathers. The framers of our Constitution. The first elected American President. And, there are words they have written to which there is no debate.
In June of 1792, near the end of George Washington’s term as our first President, James Madison drafted a farewell letter for Washington to read to the citizen’s of America.
“Friends and fellow citizens…” to be exact.
Washington ended up saving that letter and running for a second term after growing voices of division between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson threatened to tear apart the country he fought so hard to forge. But, at the end of that second term, he dusted that letter off, polished it up with Hamilton’s assistance and delivered it in 1796.
You can read the entire Farewell Address here from the folks at Yale University. (And, we really suggest you do)
However, for the purposes of this message, we’d like to focus on one paragraph from Washington’s Farewell Address:
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.
So, what does that mean?
In short, and without any debate, its Washington’s warning that a two-party system, like the one we currently employ, was one of the greatest threats to our liberty as a whole, because a political system consisting of only two sides would naturally erode and decay into a completely polarized dysfunctional marriage.
This led to a war that caused more American casualties than nearly ALL other wars combined, the American Civil War. And, its leading us down a strikingly similar one today. We have begun to fight each other based on party affiliation more than any period since that time.
So, how do we change this?
Well, there’s a number of ways and an even greater number of actions we need to take in order to reverse this path we have taken. Right now, there is one very pertinent task at hand.
Currently, less than 60% of eligible voters turnout on presidential elections years (2016 was lowest turnout in 20 years). Less than 40% on a mid-term election year (2014 was lowest turnout in 70 years). But, this is not even where the root of the problem lies.
Our two-party system was designed with a series of state-wide primaries which determine each party’s chosen representative to compete against each other. Our lack of participation in our own elections grows distinctly more concerning at this point, where a rough average of only about 20% of eligible voters turnout for primary elections. This small turnout has become increasingly more comprised of the most politically-charged, or moreover partisan-charged, electorate.
As our two-party system has become hyper-tensive as Washington predicted, so have these most-active voters. This has steered us further and further towards highly-polarized candidates, and in turn a highly-polarized America. Either side’s victory then becomes an inching of the growing divide of our country through its elected representation.
Remember, the term “lessor of two evils” widely used in our last presidential election? Well, that’s because there’s an 80% chance you didn’t vote for a better one in the primary.
Its a cycle. A never-ending one.
Until we choose to end it.
We are just past the start of the 2018 mid-term primary election season. Now, more than ever before, every count matters. We need to start to pull both sides back to center. Then, we can debate which direction we should move center, but we do it together.
All you have to do is:
1. Take two hours out of your day to properly research the candidates in your area and the subjects at stake in your area and nationwide.
2. Take one more hour on your primary Election Day to stop by your local poll and cast your votes. And, when you do,
Three hours. Thats all it takes to start to change the world.
Below is a list of primary election dates per state
And, and a table explaining your individual state’s primary type.
People. Planet. Participation.