Shelly Aldean guest col: The dangers of partisanship
As I witness the bitterness and ill-will created by the collision of ideologies at the national level I think of the concern so clearly articulated by George Washington in his Farewell Address to the nation when he warned against the “… baneful effects of the spirit of party…”
He cautioned his fellow countrymen against the union of individuals who desire to rule without considering what’s in the best interests of the nation as a whole.
“The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissension … is itself a frightful despotism,” Washington said.
Among our Founding Fathers, Washington was not alone in his concern about the impact of partisanship on the new Republic. This prescient warning was echoed by John Adams, when he shared his reservations about the divisiveness of party politics.
“There 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 potential evil under our Constitution,” Adams said.
Neither man, to my knowledge, offered an alternative to the potential pitfalls of the two party system but Washington, in particular, admonished his fellow Americans “The name American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than the appellation derived from local discriminations.”
Although intense partisanship is unfortunately inescapable at the state and national level, local politics is, for the most part, a welcome retreat from the odious rancor that infests much of American political discourse today. In his book, “Democracy in America,” French born political scientist and historian, Alexis de Tocqueville, exhorts the virtues of local self-governments precisely because they draw people together compelling them to exercise their liberty. “Local assemblies of citizens constitute the strength of free nations. Town meetings are to liberty what primary schools are to science.”
Despite an attempt by some to define our local politicians by their party affiliations, for the most part, those of us in Carson City seem content to evaluate candidates based on their character, credentials and deeds. Since local races are nonpartisan, voters aren’t chained to the ideological quirks of one party or another. Although they’re undoubtedly still guided by certain core beliefs, they have the flexibility of voting for the most qualified person without suffering from partisan guilt if they cast their ballot for a candidate who doesn’t bear the scarlet letter of their party. How refreshing.
Shelly Aldean is a former Carson City Supervisor and local business owner.