'Vote American?'
What does that mean?

      It was George Washington's idea.

      In his Farewell Address to Congress in 1796, after serving two terms as President, the "Father Of Our Nation" warned Americans to never let political parties dominate our national life. Heedless of his warning, we went and did just that.

      Today, everything in politics revolves around two opposing political parties, the Republicans and Democrats. As a result, our nation is fast becoming paralyzed, unable to agree on or accomplish anything. Our political parties and their constant bickering have worn us out.

      Many Americans are no longer able to read the words and phrases below that were eloquent even for Washington's times. Read them slowly, for understanding. Down through the ages, George Washington's wisdom and intelligence - and his predictions about what would happen if political parties came to control our government - shine through with clarity and truth.

      Here is President George Washington's advice on political parties for Americans of the future, excerpted from his famed Farewell Address:

            . . . They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.

      However combinations or associations of the above description 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.

. . .

      I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

      This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

      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.

      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 finds 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.

      There 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.

      Those words, from the great general who led our American Revolution to success, from the President who guided us to stability out of the chaos of the War for Independence, are the essence of the apolitical campaign to Vote American.

      I'm Joe Shea, founder of the Vote American campaign. We can't expect to have much impact on the 2014 mid-term elections, when the Republicans are expected to retain control of the House of Representatives, and perhaps gain a majority in the U.S. Senate.

      Yet, in the paralysis, debacles and divisiveness that have followed the creation of the Tea Party and the passage of the Affordable Care Act, we have seen precisely the spirit of dangerous partisanship that Washington warned us about.

      It should have been possible to embrace either a new political party and a vast new public program without the harm to national unity, the fiery recrimination and general ugliness that have come with them. And these are not the product of either the Republican or the Democratic Party; they are the result of parties having the upper hand in the political life of our nation, while the public interest is subsumed to them.

      Regardless of which party you may now support, it is our greater obligation as Americans to put our genuine personal and national interest ahead of all other considerations and political parties. I believe that when I cast my vote, I should do so to secure my rights and my heritage as an American, and to preserve those rights and that heritage for all of my countrymen forever. I hope you feel the same way.

      Those I choose to vote for should be those who would not try to alter our Constitution, to change or diminish our personal and national freedoms, who are honest and hard-working, and who share my views about always putting our country first and political parties second. Many would claim to do that now, but how often do they vote against the party line?

      In reality, while there may be an occasional exception, most of our elected Congressmen and Senators vote with their party almost all of the time, and only rarely vote with the interests of the entire nation first.

      Please join me this year and always in putting America - not a political party - first in your thoughts when you vote. That way, we will restore the true source of leadership to our nation: the people, not the party.

To read Washington's Farewell Address in its entirety, click here.

For more information about the Vote American campaign, and to help spread this message, write: Vote American, 4119 61st Ave. Ter. W., Unit 305C, Bradenton, FL 34210.

Copyright 2010-2014 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.

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