Political parties invoke dangerous follower mindset

By Stephanie Lingenfelter
Editor in Chief

George Washington warned against political parties by saying, “However [political parties] may now and 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 and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.” To no surprise, his fear has become reality.

Political parties have always been around and they’re unavoidable, but the way in which political parties are dictating people’s individual opinions is taking away from democracy. A follower mentality has set in, causing people to vote solely along party lines or go along with whatever that political party’s politicians are saying versus forming their own thoughts and doing their own research. This is allowing the manipulation of followers by politicians and introducing more corruption into the government. A politician could form this amazing image for their plan in press conferences and on social media that followers will wholeheartedly support without looking into the fine print or details. It could be horrible, but we’ve turned into blind sheep.

Political parties have become similar to sports teams. Each person roots on and is a devout follower of whatever side they chose. They display the politician’s yard signs in their front lawns and flood social media with their support for their party. The truth is, though, most people don’t know half the policies and beliefs of the people they’re voting for or what everything fully entails. They see Democrat or Republican like black or white and that’s it. Anything not within their party’s standard beliefs just gets a nose turned up at it.

There are stereotypes for each party that everyone is expected to conform to. There’s a belief that if you’re Democratic, you’re pro-choice and pro-gun control, but that isn’t always the case. People get too wrapped up in Democrat versus Republican and instead need to take a step back, look at an issue without considering a specific party, and then form an educated opinion. Everything humans do naturally has a bias, but the way in which people are making political decisions discredits individuality and democracy.

Democracy is supposed to be for the people with limited government power, but it’s now been turned into a competition between the people, giving the government more power. The goal of the founding fathers was to develop a government that concentrated that power in the hands of the people, allowing for true equality and the removal of corruption. Instead, political parties are causing two main groups to form and nothing to be accomplished. Our current Congress struggles to make changes and pass new laws because of an unwillingness to compromise. Each political party views the opposite as evil instead of truly looking into what they’re saying and working hard to find a solution that is best for the people, not the party. Politicians should be able to put their personal political ideas aside to generate solutions.

One of the options on the ballot is a straight ticket according to ncsl.org, which means the voter chooses to vote all one political party instead of choosing individual candidates for each position. This makes voters less likely to educate themselves on each policy and candidate. A Democrat can vote for a Republican and vice versa. All straight ticket voting does is encourage ignorance.

According to uniteamerica.org, 39 percent of people feel like they don’t belong to either the Democratic or Republican party, making them Independent, but those two parties are still the ones that dominate our government. Congress is split into Republican and Democrat and takes forever to reach any decision because the belief on each side that their party is superior. If 39 percent of the country is Independent, the political parties aren’t representing them, so that shouldn’t be as dominant of a force when trying to reach decisions in Congress. According to thehill.com, 80 percent of Americans don’t approve of Congress because of the tension between parties and inability to compromise.

Political parties are necessary for the function of our government, but the follower mindset they’ve established needs to end to encourage more independent thought and research. Someone’s decisions should be reached on their own instead of only seeing an elephant or donkey.

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