Happy New Year! I hope you all had a great holiday season. I had a couple weeks off from work and it gave me a chance to rest and reflect. Congress returned to D.C. last week and, of course, the talk was about President Trump’s impeachment and when and or if the articles of impeachment will be sent from the House of Representatives to the Senate. President Trump has tweeted incessantly being ready to be vindicated from the “Impeachment Hoax.” A contentious showdown looms.
I don’t know where you stand on the impeachment issue. If you are a Republican, you probably think that impeachment was unjustified, and that it was a sham and partisan process. If you are a Democrat, you were probably shocked by the fact that President Trump was shaking down Ukraine for a personal favor and assistance in the 2020 election and even more so that the Republicans in Congress didn’t seem to think it was a big deal.
If you watched the impeachment hearings, you probably weren’t persuaded to the other side. The Republicans shouted their talking points about the sham impeachment. The White House refused to let people testify and turn over requested documents. Democrats talked about the Constitution and doing their constitutional duty while the Republicans were putting power of party over what was right. Welcome to the Divided States of America.
How did we get here? When President Washington left the White House after his second term, he warned the government against forming political parties. Why? Political Parties divide people and create conflict. He wanted government to be run for the benefit of the people, not the benefit of the political party. What did our Founding Fathers Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton do? They started the Federalist and Democrat-Republican parties. Hamilton and Jefferson were rivals and hated each other. They wanted to organize their followers and consolidate their power over the other side. Thus began our nations division.
Political Parties aren’t all bad. Their main functions are to nominate candidates for office, get out the vote, and help candidates fundraise. They have a foundational platform that usually helps the voters decide which candidates to vote for if they don’t know any of the candidates personally.
But there is a negative side to the two-party system in America today. The main parties grapple for political power. It creates division. The parties blame the problems in America solely on the other side. We’ve lost a spirit of compromise that our Founding Fathers thought essential in the process of governance. Imagine our government being in a marriage. The Republicans are the husband and the Democrats the wife. Or vice versa. Compromise is necessary to make a relationship work. You can’t have the attitude “I win, you lose” and have a successful marriage. You can’t blame everything bad on the other side and take credit for all the good. But that is what is currently happening in our government.
So what do we do? How do we fix the problem? Here’s a few suggestions: We can get rid of gerrymandered congressional districts in our state that are only created to keep one party in power. We can abolish straight-party options at the polls and hopefully voters will do their homework and understand where candidates stand while voting for the person instead of the political party. Maybe we can get everyone to run as independents and then we know they will serve our interests and not just those of their political party.
The voters need to hold all elected officials to a higher moral and ethical standard regardless of party and not just make excuses for candidates because “he is our guy.” Instead we need to demand that our representatives in government begin to work together and serve the American People. Let’s all work together for The United States of America and a spirit of compromise and good will in the future.
Jeff Saunders is a resident of Tooele City.