Will midterm election move us forward, leave us stagnant?

Posted: Jul. 17, 2014 8:41 am Updated: Aug. 7, 2014 5:15 pm

To The Herald-Whig:

There are major differences between the political systems of the United States and that of most other developed democracies.

These include greater power in the upper house of the legislature, a wider scope of power held by the Supreme Court, the separation of powers between the legislature and the executive branches, and the dominance of only two main parties. Unlike Europe, where the royal court, aristocratic families and the established church were in control, the early American political culture was open to merchants, landlords, farmers, artisans, all religious denominations and other identifiable groups. Early America was fascinated by the political values that stressed equal rights, the need for virtuous citizens and the evils of corruption, luxury and aristocracy.

Much effort was also made to maintain separation of church and state. The United States Constitution has never formally addressed the issue of political parties primarily because the Founding Fathers did not originally intend for American politics to be partisan. In Federalist Paper No. 9 and No. 10, Hamilton and Madison both wrote about the dangers of domestic political factions. In addition, George Washington, our first president, was not a member of any political party. Furthermore, he hoped that political parties would not be formed, fearing conflict and stagnation. Nevertheless, the beginnings of the two-party system emerged from his inner circle.

Now, fast-forward 225 years and what did we achieve in contrast to what our founders wanted? We definitely have a two-party system that is nothing if not partisan, we have widespread conflict and stagnation, equal rights are a major issue and the economic equality has never been so out of balance. The evils of corruption are rampant, no one even knows what a virtue is, we are still arguing over church and state issues and in the luxury and aristocracy we get nearer to an oligarchy society every day.

We more and more use the Supreme Court to referee issues that Congress, as the legislative body, should have been able to agree upon. We now have a Supreme Court long viewed as unbiased and above politics making political comments and their invincibility is questioned by many. We have an important midterm election in November. Will the results move us forward, leave us in stagnation or be the final push towards oligarchy?

Dick Steele

Keokuk, Iowa

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