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. George Washington, Farewell Address, Sep. 17, 1796
Franklin, NC -- (ReleaseWire) -- 07/19/2011 --Increasingly the debt ceiling dominates U.S. news. Debate is heated. Should Congress raise the ceiling to cover U. S. debt obligations and borrowing? How should we deal with budget cuts and increasing revenues? Neither debt nor raising the debt ceiling is new in the United States; our country was founded in debt. During the American Revolution, Washington was unable to adequately pay, feed or clothe the soldiers. With many of the wealthiest Americans remaining loyal to England, we became increasingly in debt to other countries, especially France, a debt we did repay over time.
Falling in the “believe it or not” category, Congress has raised or revised the debt ceiling 78 times since 1960. Both parties are guilty.
Today we have much at stake including, Veteran’s programs, Social Security and the stock market. The credit standing of the United States of America is guaranteed in the 14th Amendment of our Constitution: “The validity of the public debt of the United States……shall not be questioned.” Should we default, the U. S. Congress will have defaulted on the U. S. Constitution, which guarantees the public debt of the United States.
Our debt is 14.2 trillion dollars, roughly 98 percent of gross domestic product. The huge debt exists because we lost wealth when free trade was no longer defined as exchange of goods and services but rather defined as taking manufacturing abroad. Our manufacturing and technology had created our wealth. Our wealth has also been spent on foreign petroleum and on wars fought with borrowed money.
We have elected Congressional leaders more loyal to their political party than to the public welfare. If they cannot reach an agreement, a collapsing stock market, economy and huge job losses may follow.
How did we get here? Was George Washington right? We have been a fan of political parties. They balance each other; they keep each other honest, at least to a certain extent. The goal of political parties, however, is to control and gain power in government. They are not necessarily good at formulating policy. They are certainly not good at objectivity. Our nation is in crisis because our partisan controlled U. S. Congress is not working.
Is our current crisis a symptom that political parties are not working? According to recent Gallup polls, we are 30 percent Republican, 29 percent Democrat and 38 percent Independents. According to Roper polls, a majority of those polled have an unfavorable view of both political parties.
Counties and municipalities have increasingly moved to non-partisan elections. People fed up with the petty bickering concluded there was no Republican or Democratic way to pave a street or fix a sewer line.
It has been estimated that in the U.S. about half of elections are nonpartisan. Nebraska has a nonpartisan state legislature elective system that is ranked highly. Nonpartisan elections do not do away with political parties; rather they attempt to diminish damage political parties can cause.
Some of our founders, notably George Washington, believed that political parties were not in our best interest. Read his prediction carefully with an eye on our current state of affairs. A partisan controlled U. S. Congress passed huge budgets and tax cuts that got us in unmanageable debt, sent our manufacturing and jobs overseas, and developed policies leading to economic crisis.
We need objective, fair and intelligent leaders. The evidence is mounting that partisan politics is not what we need. We need to restore government by and for the people. Voters are not giving political parties high marks. George Washington may be proven right.
Dr. Gordon Mercer is international president of Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society and is professor emeritus at Western Carolina University. Marcia Mercer is a writer and columnist. The Global Digital Post is read in over 38 different countries. The views expressed in this column are our own and do not reflect the views of other organizations.