With all the infighting, hate, discontent, and incivility in Washington, DC, I thought it might be useful to review what our first president advised regarding political parties. Bluntly put, he opposed them.
Washington remained above the fray; he wanted to be a president of all the American citizens. The most important reason was he believed unity, not division, was necessary for a democratic republic to survive. Washington believed that political parties would divide and destroy the young United States.
His thought, in what became known as the Farewell Address in 1796, is clear: “the spirit of party” 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.
Throughout his political life, and until his death in 1799, George Washington was confident that the country could and should function without the existence of political parties. Maybe we should have heeded his advice.