The Founding Fathers Tried to Warn Us About the Threat From a Two-Party System

George Washington's picture

Polls show that a
majority of Americans say that both the Republicans and Democrats are
doing such a poor job representing the people that a new, third party
is needed

I've repeatedly warned that there is a scripted,
psuedo-war between Dems and Repubs, liberals and conservatives which is
in reality a false divide-and-conquer dog-and-pony show created by
the powers that be to keep the American people divided and
distracted. See this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this and this.

In fact, the Founding Fathers warned us about the threat from a two party system.

John Adams said:

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.

George Washington agreed, saying in his farewell presidential speech:

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


Without looking forward to an extremity of this
kind, (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight,) the
common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to
make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and
restrain it.


It serves always to distract
the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration. It
agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms;
kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally
riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and
corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself
through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of
one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.


is an opinion, that parties in free countries are useful checks upon
the administration of the Government, and serve to keep alive the
spirit of Liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in
Governments of a Monarchical cast, Patriotism may look with indulgence,
if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the
popular character, in Governments purely elective, it is a spirit not
to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will
always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And, there
being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be, by force of
public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched,
it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame,
lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

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Gringo Viejo's picture

Nice post GW. Unfortunately, I doubt 1 in 7 Americans today would have the slightest inkling what these enlightened, well-educated men were saying. To use a well worn phrase of Franklin's we HAVE sacrificed liberty for security.....we shall HAVE neither.

VEGANBEAR's picture

The Hegelian Dialectic lives.......

VEGANBEAR's picture

The Hegelian Dialectic lives.......

plata pura's picture

hey; you blokes, don't forget tommy paine

plata pura's picture

toss pot cypherin questions in order to post and shite.........

plata pura's picture

end corporate personhood

Boxed Merlot's picture

end corporate personhood...


tax corporate personhood. 

End individual citizenry "taxpayer" status.  (And the federal reserve responsible for coining the term)'s picture

dr guillotine in the audience? you are wanted.

rapier's picture

The dream of no factions was silly.  By the end of Washington's second term abouta third of the Senate opposed him.  He was being accused of being an agent of the English. Imagine that.  The so called father of the nation being called a trator by a political opponent.

It's human nature to pick teams and sides.  Us against them. You do it.  Everyone does it.  Some clever ones like TD manages to be against everyone.

A fundamental aspect of the American system is that it is a presidential system. Intented in part on the dream of no factions.  Parlimentary systems assume factions and parties.  One thing that is different now than ever in  US history is that one party, the GOP, has become totaly unified party, like ones in parlimentary systems.  In the past both parties have had disparate elements but no the GOP has unanimity that would make Stalin jealous.  In this circumstance the political system is breaking down.

History is moving against nations anyway as the modern business corporation becomes the dominant human organizational model.  So don't sweat the devolution of governance since that is how history is moving.


AnAnonymous's picture

It's human nature to pick teams and sides.  Us against them. You do it.  Everyone does it.  Some clever ones like TD manages to be against everyone.


Incredible. Let me guess: another US citizen who thinks he deserves every single cent he makes. Woaooo, baffling.

If everyone does it, how does it come that some clever ones manage to be against everyone? Should they not be in support of their own team, in the us vs them human nature style?

US citizens are so full of it. Cant tell words without sinking into cheap propaganda. Indians already observed it and I now better understand the torment they suffered at the hands of US citizens.

The US is not the solution. The US is the problem.

TheDumbBelgian's picture

A third, or fourth party?? Look what you wish for, we do have over 8 parties or so but no government.

Bansters-in-my- feces's picture

Bankers don't care who you are voting for,they will fuck anyone...

Ben Dover.

nathan1234's picture

So let's fuck the Bankers by taking our money out of the banks.  It's about time.


Panskeptic's picture

First of all, George Washington also wrote that "we are in no sense a Christian country." I wish all those feverish conservative revisionists who are trying to rewrite our history would remember that one.

Secondly, the notion that there is no difference between Republicans and Democrats is an adolescent cop-out. Two words: Supreme Court.

JustACitizen's picture

The Founding Fathers would never have granted full rights and citizenship to an "entity" that cannot perform civic duties, has no loyalty to any nation and theoretically is immortal...

If anyone is dumb enough to believe that one side has a monopoly on judicial activism - think on that. Strict Constructionists indeed...

Just like fiscal responsibility or individual rights - both parties are intent on destroying the ordinary citizen - they just approach it from different directions.

michigan independant's picture

Aristotle in his Rhetoric (c. 322 B.C.) hit democracy as "when put to the strain, grows weak, and is supplanted by oligarchy.

Benjamin Disraeli, then a young novelist,

If you establish a democracy, you must in due time reap the fruits of democracy. You will in due season have great impatience of the public burdens, combined in due season with great increase of public expenditure. You will in due season have wars entered into from passion and not from reason; and you will in due season submit to peace ignominiously sought and ignominiously obtained, which will diminish your authority and perhaps endanger your independence.

Mises observed:

When pushed hard by economists, welfare propagandists and socialists admit that impairment of the average standard of living can only be avoided by the maintenance of capital already accumulated and that economic improvement depends on accumulation of additional capital. History does not provide any example of capital accumulation brought about by a government. The consumers are merciless. They never buy in order to benefit a less efficient producer and to protect him against the consequences of his failure to manage better. They want to be served as well as possible. And the working of the capitalist system forces the entrepreneur to obey the orders issued by the consumers. The corruption of the regulatory bodies does not shake his blind confidence in the infallibility and perfection of the state; it merely fills him with moral aversion to entrepreneurs and capitalists. No one should expect that any logical argument or any experience could ever shake the almost religious fervor of those who believe in salvation through spending and credit expansion. The final outcome of the credit expansion is general impoverishment.

Congress was relagated to local affairs long ago...

Libertarian777's picture

Which is why libertarians believe in the sovereignty of the individual. There is no state sovereignty. Each individual should be a 'party' unto themselves. They can band together through freedom of association, for common causes. But they should never end up in any large party that tells them exactly what to do for every point of their lives. It makes me wonder if this is why the libertarian party never gets anywhere. Because all the members go off on their own and couldn't be bothered to belong to a party.

The irony is that there are rabid democrats and rabid republicans. Neither of whom understand the individual. Yet each will argue their party line, but you can never get to understand their individual point of view. On,y what they've been brainwashed into believing. The main street media doing the daily brainwashing.

At least we have ZH and the onion to keep us sane

FreedomGuy's picture

Nicely stated. I hope you read my post farther up about not really having two different parties in America. Libertarianism is the solution to virtually all that ails us these days. Yet, it has little public voice...but it is growing.

sitenine's picture

I've repeatedly warned that there is a scripted, psuedo-war between Dems and Repubs

I disagree.  The problem is not that they work together, it is more in the false choice of either (D) or (R) in the first place.  There are no alternative solutions with any chance to compete.  If both (D) and (R) are wrong then we, as a county, are going to end up making the wrong decision in that particular instance by default.  The debate often needs many more competing viewpoints to be vetted out thoroughly.  Sorry, but 'scripted' is just a bit too tin foily for me to swallow.

JW n FL's picture

This is all Poppycock!


The Republicans Love "We the People"!

The Democrats Love "We the People"!


They are just misunderstood, they just need to be talked too and maybe some Love and Guidance. I am certain that "We the People" can be treated like the Minority they both Love so much if we just Talk to Them.. the last 30 - 40 years of Talking to Both Parties has borne so much good fruit that the Minority Alone Enjoys! "We the People" are the Consumers only a Minority could Love.

blindman's picture

Huey P Long on the difference between Democrats and Republicans

blindman's picture

financialization is not about alternate means of production
but about stripping assets and their value to be used as
the basis for further shadow financialization, which is then used
to procure further assets through imbalances in leverage at local
levels. that is , we are doomed under this economic model, by design
and the needs of the shadow financial power usurpation scheme.
support it at your peril. sorta neo-fascist or neo-shadow-global
financial feudalism, but you can't see it ...........?
[KR162] Keiser Report – Europe’s Neo-Feudalism
Posted on July 7, 2011 by stacyherbert| 7 Comments
We interview Michael Hudson!
the financial doom of populations is seen as the market maker's raw material,
his opportunity. so the lord market maker must help himself by first destroying
the financial well being of a demographic using the inflating power in the shadow
banking tool box. global leverage and arbitrage orchestrated to turn everything and
everyone into a financialized commodity leveraged and traded in the shadows.
i see it as just another death cult with global ambitions that is looking for
a nice place to kill itself. like jone's town with the purple kool-aide.
i wish them all well and may they find whatever it is that has drawn them into
this pursuit.
this world view has a very short shelf life, imo

P-K4's picture



grunk's picture

If there's no budget deal by 08/02/11, and the world doesn't come to an end, let's just off drop Geithner and his overlords at the next passing asteroid. 

Enough with these reptilians.

G. Marx's picture

The founders eschewed 'factions' yet it didn't take long for them to split into them. They did so like, immediately. Totally irrelevant issue. An ideal that had no functional place in political reality then or ever.

Of course I can't help but wonder what the brilliant Naomi Klein thinks. I'm sure she's expounded upon, she has just about everything else.

bigkahuna's picture

It would be nice to think any political party really cares about the people, even those in the fly-over states. Unfortunately, they care not about their constituents and are constantly engaged in a beggarly deception against those same constituents. They rule by the consent of the ignorant. Too bad. The whole political system will crash before it ever lives up to what it is supposed to be doing. Come to think of it, the federal political monster gets more out of hand every day as it increases it's own power. Once upon a time in this country, if the feds set out to ruin you, they could only after vanquishing you in spirited combat. Now they can push a button and make you destitute and squish you like a bug if they so desire. 

Stuck on Zero's picture

A few questions:

1) If the founding Fathers didn't want a two party system why did they give us a winner take-all-system? 

2) Why don't we adopt a parliamentary system to allow minority representation?

3) Another problem with the two-party system is an old French expression rougly translated as: "The lunge of two widows."  It refers to two fencers who so desperately wish to kill the opponent that they thrust without blocking and both die.  Two party systems often do the same.  They will stop at nothing to prevent the other party from wining including: corruption, murder, spying, and prevarication.  Guess what we have?


AnAnonymous's picture

1) If the founding Fathers didn't want a two party system why did they give us a winner take-all-system?


Because of the slavery issue. US citizens wanted to maintain slavery and it was the best system to maintain it  as told by the FF themselves.

FreedomGuy's picture

U.S. citizens did not want to maintain slavery. Southerners mainly wanted to maintain it. Many opposed it, most ignored it. The FF's didn't want to take it on at the beginning as it would obviously fracture the budding republic..."as told by the FF themselves".

AnAnonymous's picture

I really wonder if US citizens realize how cheap their propaganda is.

So here, what we have:

Many opposed slavery, most ignored slavery but the topic was divisive enough to fear fracture of the Republic.

Another US citizen who thinks he deserves every single cent he earns.

When US citizens are going to human up and see themselves as they are?

FreedomGuy's picture

What is the propoganda exactly? Why doesn't a U.S. citizen or anyone else deserve every cent they earn? When a U.S. citizen "human(s)" up what are they? What are you asserting?



FreedomGuy's picture

I actually prefer many aspects of the parliamentary system. The main two things I like are first, the proliferation of parties and ideas and second, the ability to dissolve a government at any time. Waiting four years for a Presidential disaster to resolve is painful.

onthesquare's picture

A parlimentary system would be best if it have representation by population.  For some reason the Canadian politicians do not want that.

r101958's picture

Yeah, really working great in Japan and UK. Oh, wait, their debt problems are as bad as or worse than ours.

FreedomGuy's picture

I didn't say their system works better or is better than ours. I said I liked two "aspects" of it. I prefer to see a larger range of positions and opinions than we get in the U.S. See my earlier post on our virtual one party system.

r101958's picture

We need to get past this Repub vs Dem paradigm. We need to hold all of their feet to the fire and demand real cuts in spending not the meaningless crumbs they are throwing on the table currently. I'll post this again....perhaps for the 6th or 7th time and no less true than when I wrote it a year ago:

"Current politics is best represented by a two headed dragon. Politicians pay lip service to opposing ideologies but both the Republican and Democratic parties are part of the same big government dragon body. The body is moving in one direction; bigger and more powerful government. More control over the electorate. Having the two parties serves a greater purpose divides the populace (sheeple?) into two camps that are always at each others throat. I think this tactic is called divide and conquer. Until we wake up and get away from the 'Repubs this....' or 'Dems that....' blame game then we will be slowly boiled...just like the frog in the frying pan...all while the dragon stands by watching and laughing."

FreedomGuy's picture

I think you have it pretty much correct. I actually don't believe in a formal conspiracy of the parties...although I do believe the long termers consider themselves a ruling class. I think when you boil it down, both parties agree on pretty much the exact same thing, Soc. Sec., Medicare, Medicaid, income redistribution, Fed, income taxes, powerful executive, deficits, weak currency, etc. They just differ on degree. That's why we get different people but always the same result. There's one party with two faces, as you say. That party is left of center and still accruing power.

There are only two real parties in my estimation. There's the Communist Party which is the honest party and says "The State is sovereign and we own and control it all." All socialist parties evolve towards this. The other party is the Libertarian party which says, "The individual is sovereign and owns it all." This party had the U.S. in the beginning but lost out by the 20th century.

Ron Paul is the only certain true alternative to ALL the other candidates in both parties. Some of the Republicans might be but it's hard to tell. Mitt Romney is certainly NOT. He's total establishment.

So, I don't think the two party system would actually be so bad if we really had two parties.

dolly madison's picture

What they didn't warn us about is that the many being represented by the few leads to corruption.  Take a look around the world.  I think it is an easy fact to see at this point.

Shell Game's picture

We just didn't listen...


"My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government." -Thomas Jefferson

"If ever time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin." -Samuel Adam

"The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking, and writing." -John Adams

"The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government -- lest it come to dominate our lives and interests." -Patrick Henry

"Bad men cannot make good citizens. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience are incompatible with freedom." -Patrick Henry

"It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government." -Thomas Paine

jo6pac's picture

They had 2 parties, we have the party of dod vendors/corp. citizens

Greenhead's picture

The party system has been corrupted by the lobby system.  Government is now run by the donations from corporations, unions, pacs and other "non-human" entities.  Eliminate the ability of a non-human to donate to candidates and you have the ulitmate in accountability.  You also get a closer tie between the folks who vote and the folks who run for office, at least you can see who supports whom.  Which is the ultimate in freedom of expression.

BigDuke6's picture

What you say is simple but entirely true.

The greed has got out of control and these traitors-to-their-country on the gravy train will not give it up without a fight.

Whats it going to take?  Blood sadly.

magis00's picture

Yep, our High Court gave it the nod:

(Citizens United v. Federal Election Comm'n (2010))

KennyG09's picture

George Washington dreaded the two party system. Within days of becoming President there was already sides being taken. Too bad he had to go and take the side of Hamilton. Fail.

Seer's picture

"Too bad he had to go and take the side of Hamilton. Fail."

Yup, took a wrong turn, went Hamiltonian rather than Jeffersonian.  Since then we have been aimed straight at the cliff.